Final Cut Pro X, One Year Later

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Apple’s Final Cut Pro X was met with a lot of upset editors when it was announced last April and subsequently released in June 2011. The software’s largely reconstituted features resembled Apple’s “amateur” editing program line so much that it was mocked as “iMovie Pro.”

Even though its price was significantly lower than previous versions of FCP, the price of sealed packages of Final Cut Pro 7 shot up on eBay like a fine vintage. Apple responded by releasing upgrades that slowly restored some of the features deleted from FCP7.

Now that the dust has settled, where do we stand?

In a post last week, Philip Hodgetts noted one surprising fact: Installations of FCPX have surpassed those of FCP7. It makes sense in a lot of ways — At $299, more people can make the leap than with the $1,599 price they had confronted in the past. For newbies, the program builds from their iMovie experience. Hodgetts notes that, according to research, Apple’s share of the professional market has dropped, from 55 percent to 52 percent. Users are shifting to Avid and other programs. Hodgetts also notes some of the initial FCPX purchasers may have been people simply willing to try it:

First challenge [to the statistics] is that they all purchased Final Cut Pro X “to test it out” and no one’s using it. Well, Apple had already demolished the “no professional is using Final Cut Pro X” canard the week before NAB with the Final Cut Pro in Action stories. But could it be that only one copy was sold to each facility and that gives them 52% of the “pro” market. I don’t find that particularly credible, given that we know that Bunim Murray alone purchased at least 40 or 50 Media Composer seats in that time.

So are professionals warming up to FCPX?

Tor Rolf Johansen of Post Magazine feels FCPX was rolled out prematurely, but has gained back some credibility with its updates. FCP 10.0.4, he says,

…has returned to stake its claim in the pro NLE market. Many of the pro features missing from FCP 7 have been restored and many of those features are actually better and faster now than they ever were in FCP 7. FCP X is lightning fast with get-up-and-go performance. The speed gains (from 64-bit code and multicore support), the two-thirds price cut, and some innovative new edit tools make this update a true contender.

Not all agree.

In the April/May 2012 issue of Streaming Media magazine, Jan Ozer’s “How Apple Took The ‘Pro’ Out Of Final Cut Pro” says that while some features of FCPX are commendable,

Overall, though, I abhor the program. When I run FCPX, my reaction is visceral; I feel the walls pressing in and my blood pressure rising. I adore the clean slate of Adobe Premiere Pro and its doppelganger Final Cut Pro 7. FCPX has so much structure, so many completely foreign concepts, that it feels like my 31? monitor has shrunk to 17?. With such a supposed focus on simplicity, how could a company run by (Steve) Jobs produce such a program?

Meanwhile, programs such as Adobe Premiere CS6 are gaining some ground. For serious filmmakers balancing cost and performance, the variety of choices for editing is making Final Cut Pro less of the go-to program it was.

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Edward J. Delaney
Edward J. Delaney
Edward J. Delaney is a journalist, author, filmmaker and editor of DocumentaryTech, an online project that explores documentary filmmaking techniques and technology.
  • Bart

    my experience is that those who have worked with it for a while, like it,
    I clearly is faster than other editors.
    I like to say you glide off the ground when cutting rather than having you feet on the pavement.
    Some editors like their feet on the pavement
    it really is a different “feel”

  • Ricardo

    I was trying to download video tape into final cut Pro seven from my camera, so I started with the new projects , and received a message, “The current audio device does not support the number of outputs set in the Sequence Settings Audio Output tab”.
    Where  is the, Sequence Settings Audio Output tab?

  • Katy Farzanrad

    I hate it. I absolutely hate it. I’ve been using Final Cut for a long time and this makes me want to pull my hair out.

  • bluedotproductions

    I am loving FCPX, and I HATED it at first. Really hated it, viscerally like the quote in this article. I felt fear of losing my workflow. I felt fear of what was going to happen.

    I tried PP for a few months, cut some shorts with it. Then I tried FCPX on a few projects, and worked up to a doc we are currently cutting in it. The metadata stuff is out of control and is a game changer. Editing tools should be easy, our jobs are being storytellers.

  • John

    I’ve been using both (having FCP for years). I have X on a mac running lion, 7 on an iMac running leopard. I’ve tried. I really, really have tried. But I just can’t stand X. One grand example: the very nature of a clip tells us that the edges should be SQUARE! It’s even philosophical! So why, why on earth make the edges of clips all cutsie and rounded?! It’s ridiculous. It should be a straight line, edge to edge. I keep seeing it as a gap, like the “tape” got “dog-eared.”

    And I really did actually LIKE the mindset behind sequences and bins, I simply don’t like their new system. Sure, I’ll have to get used to it if I want to stay with FCP, and yeah, there’s a helpful plugin for media managing, but at this point I’m utterly frustrated with it all. I keep trying to use it, only to eventually move the project to FCP7 (having to start over way too often). And I really am trying to make it work out!

    Yes, I love that they’ve made it perform more optimally– but couldn’t they have done that without blowing up the entire layout? It’s like, you choose: you can have A) longer rendering and FCP 7 or B) faster rendering and FCP X. Lame.

    Bottom line for me thus far: on an important project, I work FCP7 on the iMac, and FCP X gets no love. I realize that in time, I can’t keep this up forever. So yes, I got a great deal on Avid, and I’m looking seriously at Adobe Premiere for the first time in my life (since I first began editing with Premiere 5.something-or-other). If anyone on earth actually believes Apple cares about anything other than the bottom line ($$$), they are insane. It’s quite obvious why they’ve gone this direction. The Apple consumer (and even prosumer) market kicks the stuffing out of the pro market, so why bother?

    But I’ll tell you this: Apple kinda had me brainwashed a bit, thinking they cared about me a bit (even though they wanted to make some $$ in the process). FCPX is like smelling salts– finally I’m awake again.

  • hexaplosion

    I’m a staff editor at a post house in Chicago. Whenever FCPX comes up while talking to colleagues at other post houses it’s always in the context of a joke. Nearly everyone uses Avid, and those that did’t used FCP7. FCP7 has been replaced by Premiere 6 or (re)adoption of Avid across the board.

    At NAB last year it was largely the same. Storage and shared editing vendors mentioning FCPX support under their breath, met by muffled chuckles. The pro industry has moved past FCPX and any updates are far too late to change this. It would take a true FCP8 to begin to turn the tide back. Apple apologists and hobbyists, with a few die-hard FCP fans, are the only ones defending FCPX.

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