We are ALL still at the learning stage with Final Cut Pro X.

When it comes to Final Cut Pro X, one of the things that has become blatantly clear is that:

We are ALL still at the learning stage with Final Cut Pro X.

No matter how long anyone has used Final Cut perviously and no matter how experienced they are, we are all at the learning stage for Final Cut Pro X.

What I am finding, the more I use FCPX, the more I appreciate the factors that must have been in the minds the developers and programmers to produce the Final Cut that we now know as FCP X.

It seems a pity that the whole mould for the previous version was thrown out the window. But it has happened and we have to live with it – we have the following choices; stay for the time being with FCP 7, move to FCP X or to another application Avid, Premiere, or whatever.

For these intending to move to FCPX There are is a growing amount of experience and knowledge being gained by other users and I hope the following will help you catch up.

It will seem obvious but: The first thing I would like to emphasise is that Final Cut X is only at version 1- and it shows – with the amount of instability in the program – it crashes frequently and it is slow to catch up with renders (no matter how powerful a computer you are using.)

We don’t notice the crashing as much as we might, because of the “instant save” feature of FCP X (I have to admit, I am still in the FCP 7 habit of doing a “Command S” automatically when I have completed a complex series of actions) Of course, now, the “instant save” is a feature that I miss when I go back to FCP 7 projects. I am sure the more we use FCP X the more we will miss the X features that are not in FCP 7.

I am sure that the instability will improve as updates to FCP X are released. And I am sure that the slow renders will improve. But at this stage it is not only the well publicised features that are missing, like:

FCP XML support
OMF, AAF, and EDLs support
External video monitoring
Separate audio tracks for export
XSAN support
Export portion of timeline with in & out points

There are a number of minor “features” and workflows that we FCP 7 users have gotten used to over the past 10 years.

Here are some of them that you should be aware of:

Out of Sync indicators for detached Video and Audio: the familiar red indicators may seem to be redundant in FCP X, with it’s magnetic timeline, but the ability to know where the sync was (and to get back to it) seems to me to be important for audio that has been detached.

Ability to do gradual keyframed timing changes. Currently FCP X has a fixed four segment method that lacks flexibility.

Markers: only one type of marker is offered in FCP X – for identification or “to do” – you will miss chapter markers and also the different coloured markers you used for different identification. The new “to do” marker feature is good in FCP X but it would be nice to be able to search for “to dos” that have not been completed.

Reconnect Media: Any media that was moved in FCP 7 could be searched for. There is no ability to do this is FCP X except with “Modify Event References” which reconnects an entire Event, if an Event has been moved, but you can not look for or reconnect a single media file.

Favourites BIN for customised Effects, Transitions and Titles.

Save customised Window layouts.

Import of Photoshop layers into separate tracks or attached clips.

Colour picker: The little magnifying glass in the colour picker has gone so we are not able to select a specific colour from another clip.

Ability to lock a clip: or attached clip, so no further edits can be accidentally done.

Paste Attributes: FCP X does allow pasting of effects but all effects and attributes are changed in bulk. It will not allow audio and video only paste.

There is an annoying process with FCP X that will not let you quit the application while background processes are active. This is even more annoying if you want to open an old FCP 7 project for an edit, as both FCP X and FCP 7 cannot run on the same volume at the same time.

Ability to add effects to any track in FCP 7: Not all effects can be added to connected clips in FCP X – this is very inconvenient should you want to make minor adjustments, like colour changes in a connected clip and not have that effect change the main clip.

Auto Save: in FCP 7 it kept a “snap-shot in Time” of your edits. FCP X does not, it just keeps your CURRENT project updated. There are no timed previous versions retained. Be aware that with the auto save feature in FCP X you lose control of previous versions of an edit. You NEED to manually duplicate a project in FCP X to be able to keep a previous versions intact.

Smooth feel of selecting an edit point or inserting a keyframe on an audio line in FCP 7. I have to say that every-time I try to select an edit point in FCP X I find it needs an extra effort. It just feels jumpy and is not as smooth as selecting an edit is FCP 7. You need to get much closer to the edit point. It makes my mouse feel like a PC mouse (did I say that?)

Over time we will become more comfortable with the different way that FCP X does things. Though I must say that when I go back to do earlier projects in FCP 7, I do feel some of the warm and fuzzies of familiarity. (especially those edit point selections) – That is until I look for a feature that FCP X has lured me into feeling I need.

There are a number that make life easier, I had a recent request to provide a long standing corporate client with an edit for his daughter’s 21st. This was to use footage taken from DVDs he had burnt from video footage over the previous 21 years. The family’s request was to have lot’s transitions and effects and titles to boost up the footage (from VHS and even super 8 footage).

I do not like lot’s flashy transitions and normally would not use them, but this was a clients request – and the “customer is always right”.

I have to say Theme effects and transitions in FCP X are very easy to implement and are just enough adjustable to not look all the same.

So, what I am saying here is it is “horses for courses”. I was surprisingly pleased with the results as they were not just off the shelf and could be modified enough to look a lot less iMovie like.

I will still be using Final Cut 7 for some time yet, but the new FCP X has its place and hopefully will catch up with the flexibility and smoothness of Final Cut 7.

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