To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade?: Final Cut Pro X

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Apple's Final Cut Pro X

Apple’s Final Cut Pro X
Are you upgrading?

Apple’s Final Cut Pro 7 was well on its way to becoming the right arm of indie filmmakers everywhere. Even Oscar®-winning editors Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter of The Social Network relied on Final Cut Pro 7 to craft the Hollywood blockbuster. Now with all the anti-buzz surrounding the release of Final Cut Pro X, Apple’s newest version of its nonlinear editing software, what’s an editor to do?

First, the good news: the new Final Cut Pro X costs $299, a steep discount from previous versions. FCPX’s new media organization, with its custom keywords and metadata, makes clips easily retrievable, and the upgrades in rendering are standout improvements.

But instead of embracing the leaner and meaner program, many in the video-editing blogosphere have been bewildered by the new version and its missing features, such as backwards compatibility with FCP7, multicamera support and workflow from tapes.

Adobe, maker of the rival nonlinear editing system Premiere, is capitalizing on the resistance by discounting its products and targeting Apple’s customers.

On the Final Cut Pro X FAQ page, Apple says some of these features will be “available soon” and the company reiterated the promises with enterprise users earlier this month. David Pogue of the New York Times defended FCPX in a rebuttal of sorts and author Philip Hodgetts answered more questions on his blog.

A 7000-plus-signature petition calling for the reinstatement of the previous version of FCP as Apple’s professional editing software may not have much impact, but the concerns continue to provoke discussion online about whether FCPX is worth the upgrade for individuals and production houses.

Eric Maierson of the Emmy/Webby/duPont awards-winning multimedia studio said in a post, “Final Cut X is still too awkward and clunky to play big-time ball,” while professional editor Matthew Levie arrived at a similar conclusion after a five-day test drive, saying despite key advances, “it will still be very difficult to use professionally”.

But the Conan O’Brien editors may have summed it up best, creating this viral video that captured what many video editors have been feeling:

Are you upgrading or abandoning? Are you making a big change in your production house or institution? Facebook or reply to us on Twitter @povdocs with the hashtag #fcpx and we’ll follow up with your responses.

Alva French
Alva French
Alva French is a freelance multimedia journalist and was a POV Digital intern in Summer 2011. She has been blogging on French and Francophone music, politics and culture since 2007 and is an aspiring documentary filmmaker. Alva is currently an M.A. candidate in International Reporting at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
  • brent gudgel

    I’m currently in the middle of editing a simple doc project in FCPX as a test. It’s infuriating at times how some of the most basic in editing has become more confusing. But then at other times it’s quite brilliant.

    I’d say that for documentary projects with lots of locations, subjects, and footage to sift through, the new sorting abilities in FCPX are a game changer. Revolutionary. That is, it will be a game changer when Apple makes it so that you can export for professional color and finishing. At that point I’ll probably use it for all my doc projects.

  • plumbing

    According to some blog I read, replacing final cut pro 7 by final cut pro x is not wise.  They said to forget about the idea of it but I’m still willing to try FCPX.

  • Trevor Meier

    I was initially quite upset at the new version, but as I’ve slowly digested the new reality (and examined the alternatives) I’m starting to see a lot of storytelling potential in FCPX. It needs a few things, for sure, like monitoring & the ability to get in & out via XML but that will come in time. I think what it really offers is a new paradigm more tightly focused around tools that aid storytelling in the edit, along with a lean & mean foundation good for another decade or so.

    While I was initially looking over at Media Composer (and gave Premiere a solid look) FCPX is slowly starting to win me over. We’ll see what the next few versions bring.

  • John W the Editor in New York

    The dust is starting to settle on the fallout already, with many people I know planning their exit strategies from the FCP platform. Features are one thing, but on the other hand, the sheer hubris of how Apple handled the release — and how they treated their end-users and their third-party hardware vendors — more than anything else convinced me that the best defense against this happening again is to maintain a diversified skill set and an agnosticism toward software platforms and computer brands. 

    I won’t go so far to say that Apple is not to be trusted as a platform around which to build one’s profession, but it’s pretty much on the tip of my tongue. And it’s going to take a long time and a lot of righting to make me feel otherwise.

  • Music Library

    The initial reception was frosty but everyone’s now used to FCPX and the new easier ways it allows editors to work with. Essentially removing the familiar, yet complex knowledge required and making it simpler.
    Mark –