ben treston

Final Cut Pro X - A leap into the unknown

Final Cut Pro X Screenshot

So Apple officially unveiled Final Cut Pro X at the NAB show this year. With the amount of pre-event leaks and whispers in the post production business it would have been a huge disappointment if they had not shown anything, but they took the wraps off the new baby with a room full of overly excited editors to witness it.

The biggest comment afterward had to be “this is just iMovie”. Sure, the basic window layout and some of the buttons and controls borrow from it’s consumer sibling, however rather than iMovie feeding Final Cut Pro, I think it was the early builds of Final Cut Pro X that internally at Apple fed iMovie, and now we have the results of their labour to view. So how is it?

Randy Ubillos - the father of Final Cut Pro took it for an on-stage test drive, and the initial fears that this new package was not fit for purpose were put to bed after watching the (non-official) video of this. The biggest requests I have been wanting (Cocoa, 64-bit, background rendering) were all shown off in full glory, and better yet there was mentions of Open CL and Grand Central, so finally now Apple is now laying the pro-app groundwork for the future, and laying it down properly.

There looks like a learning curve for sure - I don’t use clip linking and unlinking a lot, however in FCP X this now looks like a really easy way of sub-sequencing and seems very intuitive, being able to nest sets of clips deeper and deeper so you have a very compact looking timeline. The audio controls look very slick and finally appear to have some excellent transitions for finer detail, along with the waveforms that you can now see when peaking, even before playing any audio.

The automatic colour correction was very impressive and when mixing formats between DSLR and other cameras, might make this an amazingly easy matching experience. Also mentioned was the ability to drop in the native media from DSLRs without having to transcode - an amazing timesaver for me.

I suppose the most exciting thing was the actual content they were using for the demo, a nicely shot piece for the Audi R8. This mixed DSLR, tapeless and minicam (GoPro) formats on the same timeline, which is something I do nearly daily now, and also the timeline looks very familiar as well - actually doing this demo was like it was made for me.

There are still a few questions, regarding plugin and filter compatibility, XML export, project exchange etc - however I for one cannot wait to get my hands on this and really get under the skin of the new system. It’s a really new way of working so I imagine those resistant to change may be scared off or angry that it’s now how it was - but that is the price of progress and this feels like a massive change in the right direction for Final Cut Pro. Bring on June - and stay tuned for a full hands-on here.