Years ago I entered the wedding industry shooting wedding videos. The NLE (non-linear editing) software I used in the past was Adobe Elements, Pinnacle Express, and Adobe Premiere. My favorite one though was Avid Xpress Pro. Then I switched to the digital SLR and pretty much left my video days behind. I am now a professional photographer, NOT a video editor in any way shape or form… but then I switched to Mac.
On the Mac there is this thing called iMovie and it got me back into video editing, but only on the basic level for personal use. I am in no way writing this blog post as a video editing expert. iMovie is not a professional editing app, but great for short projects or home videos. I like iMovie a lot and have used it for Shutter Wars and personal home videos. But I have always wanted a little more, but without too much complexity. Enter Apple’s newest and notorious video editing app, Final Cut Pro X!
Here’s a quick sample cut I recently did from a lighting demo and editorial shoot in McKee-Beshers sunflower field. Nothing too fancy, just demonstrating some of the new transitions, generators and titles:
Final Cut Pro X has been receiving a lot of criticism lately, particularly from professional video editors. I have read in countless blogs, tweets, and Facebook statuses that many are not happy with the missing components they loved about past versions of Final Cut Pro. I don’t know every detail about this video editing app yet, but after working on two short reels I must say that I really do like what I see so far.
THE PROS AND CONS
Here are just a few things I really like about FCPX:
- Cool new themes, animations, text and transitions
- Magnetic timeline where clips snap into place so no more unwanted gaps
- The new timeline lets you “stack” multiple tracks of videos and audio for easier editing, similar to pro apps
- Automatic audio sync… YES that’s right! Very helpful when filming in dual system mode, or audio recorded on a separate device. I haven’t tested this out yet but if it works, no need for third party sync plugins!
- 1300 royalty free sound effects – nice!
- Clip Connections – this was quite helpful to me keeping my clips and audio together when I move things around
- Inline Precision Editor – love this one as it helps me cut clips and audio more accurately at exact points all in one timeline
- Auditions – this is VERY cool, letting me easily skim over a group of selected clips or effects within a point in the timeline to decide which clips I like better
And that’s just scratching the surface. There really is a lot more to take a look at and try. It’s basically iMovie on steroids. AWESOME.
What do I NOT like? Well, I can’t really say at this point to be fair. I’ve only had this less than a week, and to be honest, I am just expecting something that has a little more to offer than iMovie. And so far FCPX really delivers. I am still grinning knowing that I can sync audio to video in post without the use of third party syncing apps! The only thing I am having an issue with is the new 64-bit architecture lets your computer use all the RAM you have so that it can handle larger frame sizes and keep more frames in memory. The benefit is that you can work with multilayered effects and create bigger projects. The downside is that it sucks up a lot of your CPU and memory, at least on my machine.
WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT FCPX COMPARED TO iMOVIE?
Right off the bat, FCPX has more horsepower and a richer feature set. Visit the Apple site or the Mac app store to learn more. But take a look at the following screenshots. If that doesn’t make you scratch your head a bit, I don’t know what will. They look awfully similar…but trust me, they are different.
If you look at the screenshots above, you’ll notice how similar the user interface is between iMovie and FCPX. The layout and flow is virtually similar to one another. You gotta wonder why Apple didn’t just call it iMovie version 18.9 or something. If you’re comfortable with iMovie you’ll find your way around FCPX. Upon editing a couple of sizzle reels over the last few days on my MacBook Pro 17, I noticed FCPX had a few moments of the dreaded spinning color wheel (e.g., computer hang up). My system does meet or exceed minimum system requirements, so other than the occasional color wheel, this thing runs smooth.
WHO IS FINAL CUT PRO X FOR?
In my opinion, FCPX is a much better video editing app than iMovie for the camera dad like me who happens to be a professional photographer. Not to mention the huge market of photographers incorporating HD video services into their business model. Now there’s the kicker. Apple’s timing could not have been better. The rising popularity of DSLRs with HD video was screaming for more horsepower than iMovie, minus the advanced editing capabilities of some of the past Final Cut Pro apps. I can’t help but think that Apple was responding to that market, which happens to be much larger than the niche market of professional editors. Is this indicative of a potential business plan that Apple will no longer be supporting professional video editors and turning their attention more to the masses? Time will tell.
That said, I am sorry to hear that Final Cut Pro X disappointed many professional video editors, and I can see why. There are a lot of things you cannot control or manipulate that professional editors want. However, I beg to differ with those who do not believe this can be suited for professional projects. If you’re a good editor, you can make the most of FCPX and produce some amazing results. Not to mention you can add on Motion 5 to enhance your production value in post. And as for the millions of consumers and professional photographers with HD video cameras who want to dive into more video editing with a fluid app, you might be in for a treat. I believe this app was made for you too.
Final Cut Pro X is available in the Mac app store for $299.99.