Digital innovations and Filmmaking -

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Be prepared for Final Cut Pro X

A few months ago, I talked about non linear editing softwares (NLE). I often use open source softwares for many reasons : I can use it freely, I have worked a lot in open source projects at Obeo, I like to work in big open source communities (like Eclipse or Acceleo) and, above all, I like the open source way of thinking. Concerning Filmmaking, I like to work with CeltX for the pre-production stuff and I often use Avidemux in my post-production process. I use open source softwares almost every day, I also frequently use Audacity, Gimp, Inskape, Open Office, Eclipse... For the editing step, I have already tested Lightworks, Cinelerra, Kdenlive, Kino, LiVES and I really like all that stuff. But... I think that  Open Source NLE softwares will be KO more sooner than expected. Apple will probably release a revolutionary version of Final Cut Pro in June at only 299 dollars. I hope that one day there will be a great open source NLE software for professionals with such a level of features and a user-friendly interface. It ain't over till the fat lady sings. The new version of final cut pro is announced to be something as revolutionary as the first version. Truth or illusion?

Final Cut Pro X (FCP X) will be out in June and I think that a lot of Indie Filmmakers are waiting for that for a long time. Apple announced FCP X at NAB 2011 in april and the debate has been vigorous between professionals. Some of them in the attendees said that FCP X is not so new. Mike Jones shared his point of view in this good article. My point of view is that the user experience will be revolutionary : no more than full, simple to understand, and natural. Now, my mum will probably be able to use a professional NLE software. Isn't it crazy? More seriously, I think that this new version will also be great for old users. I like this new timeline, cleaner and smaller. Apple teams took the best of the best in other NLE softwares and they have added some user friendly features that bring simplicity in our editing experience (the precision editor for instance). 

Many people said that iMovie'11 and FCP X are looking the same and many of them think that it is a regression for Final Cut Pro. What's that fuck? Let me say that quite plainly, I really like iMovie'11 and I hope that FCP X will be at least as good as a mix of both worlds : iMovie'11 and Final Cut Studio 3 (FCP 7 + Color 1.5).

I decided to use iMovie'11 since the NAB show... since I know that FCP X would bring the same editing experience. I think that it was the best way to get a real opinion and to be prepared when FCP X will be out. I really like the iMovie experience. Of course, color grading features are missing (with histograms)... What I prefer in iMovie'11 is probably the simplicity of the timeline. I don't waste my time in my video resources or in my timeline. I find very quickly what I'm looking for, and I can see in a few seconds what I have already used. I found the following video which shows how you can customize iMovie right now to get it look like FCP X. Of course, you don't have all the FCP X features but it's a good way to try the FCP X user experience.

I used iMovie'11 to edit my last short film The Little Memories because I hope that there will be a fully functional bridge between the 2 softwares.

Thanks to Mike Jones, here is a list of really "new" things in FCP X, meaning specifically features or functions that don’t otherwise exist elsewhere, for instance :

  • Editing whilst ingesting
  • Colour, clean, stabilization processing on ingest
  • People and shot detection
  • Compound clips (collapse clips into a single clip)
  • Auditioning (sampling of different versions of edits)
  • Timeline Index (an index of all the clips in the timeline)
  • One click to match color between clips

Finally, I would like to highlight those features :

  • No more need for Plural Eyes, FCP X will sync your secondary audio upon import
  • Native Editing, no transcoding of your H264 Canon 5D Mark II footage!
  • Dynamically handle massive quantities of media
  • Resolution independent playback system
  • Color correction built in, you can do secondary color correction built right into the application
  • Full color managed based on ColorSync
  • Instant color matching, unbelievable grade with 1 click
  • Grand Central Dispatch, using all your cores
  • Instant render in the background all the time, does not at all affect editing
  • Ramping and changing speeds of clips can be done right within the timeline, it doesn't damage the timeline
  • Handles up to 4K
  • 64-bit, with OpenCL support

See the following videos if you want to see FCP X in action at NAB 2011.

Here is another article where you can see FCP X cool features, and Here is a full article with shots of the new user interface.


  1. So far so good for me. I've really fell in love with the software however it is very similar to iMovie and I can see why some people are frustrated about it. Luckily it was cheap.

  2. Me too... I totally agree with you! I think there are good and bad reasons to be frustrated about it, and the most important thing is to be aware of that before buying it... I often read "it is more or less like iMovie PRO", and in my opinion, it is not a good reason to be frustrated, the iMovie user experience is also good for professionals. Otherwise, the plugins compatibility issue is a good reason to be frustrated... I like the philip bloom first impressions :