FCPX: The Turning Point
RevUp Transmedia by Bill Davis
Two years ago I wrote a piece called FCP X: the missed opportunity. At the time I wasn’t bashing the program, but rather Apple’s seemingly clumsy approach to the transition, and today I can still smell the lingering smoke from those burned bridges. Reading it today, I stand most of my original assertions: FCP X 10.0 was essentially beta software, but not bad software. Apple dropped the ball by not providing a clearer roadmap for deeply invested customers who had used previous versions for over a decade, an error they eventually tried to reverse by being very un-Apple like and pre-announcing features the pros were looking for. Adobe and Avid smelled blood in the water, and fought hard to pick up those dismayed FCP 7 expatriates.
By the fall of 2011 I had downloaded first the trial and then the full version of Final Cut Pro, but didn’t spend much time with it. I felt like it was too limiting and that it was trying to somehow save me from myself. After all, I had spent almost 20 years meticulously building timelines without clips “magnetically” sticking together. Nonlinear editing systems from their inception in the 80s built their workflows and terminology upon concepts established a century earlier with cutting film. ”Clips” represented snippets of film hanging in “bins” that allowed editors to quickly organize and “splice” them together. Final Cut Pro X was scrubbed almost entirely of this language, and it felt somewhat arbitrary.
In 2012 I started to spend more time with FCP X and tried to really understand it. Dismissing it before ever really using it just didn’t feel right. I eventually chose the “trial by fire” approach: I had a willing client with some patience to spare, and we jumped in. The first day was frustrating for me, but the second was much better, and by day three I was fairly confident that I knew what I was doing. Since then I’ve only edited projects in FCP X unless I had to go another way (the lack of tape support still sends me to FCP 7 to master to HDCAM). I truly enjoy the non-destructive nature of the timeline, and the database driven organizational tools are amazingly flexible. The software (usually) feels fast and responsive, and the modern architecture with AV Foundation allows me to mix and match formats and framerates quite fluidly.
In the months and years since its launch, Final Cut Pro X has evolved into a different animal than it was on release day. Apple’s steady drumbeat of software updates (9 by the most recent count) introduced new features and stability. Sales of FCP X have already exceeded those of the previous version. The third party plugin market is flourishing. read more...
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