Final Cut Pro X – first impressions

Since FCP X just came out this morning, this post is obviously far from comprehensive, but here are my initial thoughts. Some of this stuff might be inaccurate or just different from the old version and not immediately apparent, but they’re the impressions of an experienced FCP 7 editor.

File management: they’ve taken a page from iMovie, and moved to “Events” and “Projects.” I’m not 100% sure why I need both, and can’t just have a folder with my FCP file, and video files. If you have a file management system you’re used to using, it appears you’ll need to rethink most everything.

Editing: by default the timeline isn’t visible. I spent about a minute and a half swearing and trying to drag clips around. Command+2 brings up the actual timeline you need to put a project together. Also, the default view for the audio portion of the clip is tiny. If you expand it so you can actually see what’s going on with the audio, it looks like you can’t trim audio and video with one move. Think of it like having linked selection off, permanently.

Audio meters are hidden by default, if you click on the icon next to the timecode, it’ll bring them up.

I’m having problems with playback lag. I pulled some 1080p30 ProRes 422 LT clips into FCP X, and it’s definitely dropping frames where it never did before. I’m on an i7 MacBook Pro with 8GB of RAM and GT330M, also connected to a 30 inch Cinema Display. Haven’t tried it without the display, but this is ridiculous. If I hit K (stop) while a clip is playing, it takes at least two seconds to respond. It’s set to high quality playback. Switching to “better performance” smooths out the video, but my audio meters still aren’t in real time. This is bad.

They also changed many of the keyboard shortcuts, so my six month old FCP keyboard is useless. They got rid of the F9-12 quick keys to insert clips. It looks like W is the new insert (old F9) and E adds the clip to the end of your sequence.

There is no pen tool. UPDATE: FCP X keyframe editor

Tracks in the traditional sense are gone, you get little bubbles for your clips, which can still be layered. Like this:

Two layered clips in FCP X





There’s no saving, everything is automatic a la iMovie.

I haven’t tried adding non-video media, so I’m not sure how it handles stills or audio yet.

I hate to sound negative, but it seems like they did everything I was afraid of when I first heard about FCP X. Making a video editor that works for absolutely everyone is a pretty tall order, and one I’m not convinced is a good idea at all. I’m not giving up on FCP X, but using it gives me a huge sinking feeling. Did the best video editing suite on the market just take a big step backwards?

UPDATE: I forgot to mention the App Store purchase process. One glaring flaw with my actual purchase of FCP X was that the App Store offers very little control over how  you actually pay for things. If you have a gift card balance, it’s going toward your purchase whether you want it to or not, and it doesn’t support multiple credit cards. I had to go in and switch the payment card over to my business AmEx, then change it back, because I don’t want iTunes purchases going on that card all the time. I also lost my $15 gift card balance. I can write off the cost of FCP, but music isn’t tax-deductible, so it would’ve been nice to actually keep my balance.

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  1. Pingback: Apple’s Final Cut-pocalypse: FCP X and what it means for video editors

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