Final Cut Pro X First Impressions or “FCP, I Hope You Feel Better Soon”

With the major changes in Apple’s new version of Final Cut Pro X, we’ve had a lot of people asking if MediaStorm is making the switch, and what we think of the program. This essay is the first in a series of MediaStorm producers responding to FCP X.

Apple giveth and Apple taketh away. And with the release of Final Cut Pro X, Apple did a lot of both.

Among the missing (at least for the moment):

  • the ability to import FCP 7 projects.
  • the ability to export only a portion of your project
  • multicam support
  • the auto-save vault

And on and on. 

To be fair, Apple recently promised to reintroduce absent functionality in future versions. It’s still painful to work with an incomplete toolset, particularly given that the toolset was doing pretty darn well just last week. Yes, FCP X is a 1.0 release but Apple is not new to this market. They’ve been shaping how we edit over the past 12 years of Final Cut Pro’s development.

What Apple has given us is a reinterpretation of the editing metaphor. Organization is now based on metadata, not bins. The Timeline allows for clip connections so that chunks of your project move together, dynamically, as a way to avoid inadvertent collisions. Only one sequence is allowed per project. There are ways around that, but, to be sure, it’s a whole new game. And at the moment, Final Cut X is still too awkward and clunky to play big-time ball. 1

In the end, I hope that FCP X will make editing easier. But that’s certainly not the case right now. And that’s the crux of my complaint. FCP X (pronounced “ten”) leapfrogged over the previous version, which was No. 7. Missing in action are FCP 8 and 9. That’s significant. 

Instead of a transition–a continuation of the Final Cut Pro story, if you will–Apple redefined the narrative without preparing editors. As blogger and editor Adam Lisagor noted, it’s like Apple is a TV network that suddenly decided you’d be better off without the main characters you’ve been following closely for more than a decade. No warning, no nothing. One day they just decided, Those old folks, don’t worry about where they went, you just pay attention to these the new, hip youngsters and everything will be fine. 2

Apple does what Apple does. And most of the time, despite early protests like this one, we come to appreciate the rightness of their decisions. From the iPod to OSX, examples abound. A year from now, let’s hope we can say the same about Final Cut Pro X, but right now I can’t recommend using the program.

Learn more about our approach to producing multimedia by purchasing MediaStorm’s Post-production Workflow. Spanning more than 200 steps, the workflow covers every phase of editing, from organizing and editing assets in Final Cut Pro 7 through backing up and archiving your project. The workflow includes exclusive access to our Aperture Workflow and our Final Cut Asset Parser. Learn more about MediaStorm’s Post-production Workflow.

  1. Initially, I had a more tempered response. Then, I tried outputing audio only and received a frustrating number of “fatal errors.” But that’s nothing compared to the two day’s of work Tim lost.

  2. Apple has not only stopped selling FCP 7, they’ve begun to pull it from the shelves of retailers, too.