Final Cut Pro X Review

Apple calls it a “major breakthrough in video editing”. Editors have said “it’s not ready for professional use.” In the Mac App Store, most users have given it a one-star rating. But, here is my review of this application called Final Cut Pro X. To get to the actual review, jump down a couple paragraphs.

Before I Begin…

First off, I’d like to thank Sorenson Media for sponsoring my purchase of Final Cut Pro X. I presented the idea to the COO and he was immediately on board. They were very kind and supportive during the whole process. Thanks to them, I was able to purchase FCPX immediately after it came out. Recently, I did a review on their video encoder, Squeeze 7, a great alternative to other transcoders, like Compressor. For those who are using FCPX, once Apple allows 3rd party plugins, Sorenson Media has told me they will release one.

Now I’d like to explain a couple things. I am not, in any way, a big-time editor. I’m only seventeen years old and have used Final Cut for the past 5 or 6 years. Now, some of you may close down the site right now. “I can’t read this review, it was made by a kid.” But, I assure you, I am no ordinary “kid”. I have produced a few documentaries and dozens of short films. I almost got certified in FCP7, that was until I heard of a possible update to FCP. But, enoughabout me, let’s move on to the star of the post: Final Cut Pro X.

Onto the Review

When FCPX was first announced back in April, I can say I was very excited to get my hands on it. It looked like a great upgrade from legacy versions. Plus, it had amazing new tools such as the Magnetic Timeline, DSLR stabilization, and Smart Collections. However, all the excitement went away on June 21st when Apple released Final Cut 10 to the world.


What I first saw when I opened FCPX. Not a good sign.

As soon as I was finished installing it, I opened it up. I was not happy with what I saw. “Import iMovie Project”. Hmm, not really what I want to see when I have at least 30 FCP files from the past couple months. But, I ignored that and made a new project so I could test it out. Keep in mind, I did this will no training at all – not a good idea.

After about 30 minutes of trying to figure it out, I shut it down and walked away from my computer. Thanks to work, I had to wait about two days to get back to it. But before I opened it, I purchased Ripple Training’s FCPX training videos. Very good decision on my part. They include sample video that allows me to work side by side with the training. I highly recommend them. In addition to Ripple Training, I’ve also attended webinars which have cleared things up.

Final Cut Pro X in full-screen mode

Final Cut Pro X interface. Click to enlarge.

Now back to Final Cut 10; after learning the different features of it, it became easier to use. Plus, background rendering, Smart Collections, auto-color match, and more are great bonuses.

FCPX Skimming feature

FCPX Skimming feature.

My favorite feature in Final Cut Pro X would have to be skimming. I love how I can easily hover my mouse over the timeline and all the clips in the Event Browser. And, the audio skimming option is just awesome! I can find out where someone begins talking with precision.

I’m not going to lie, I actually like the complete UI (user-interface) redesign. It looks much more sleek than legacy versions of FCP. I also like the fact that it’s darker, so I can focus more on my work at hand. Some of you editors might not welcome the design as much as me, but I am also a graphic designer. I find designs like this fresh and current.

However, not everything about FCPX is good. In fact, I would say as of right now the cons outweigh the pros; at least for professionals. But first, what is this word “professional”? We keep tossing it around. It’s in the name of the application. Larry Jordan says Final Cut Pro X isn’t ready for professional use. So, who are professionals?

Well, I am going to refer to a YouTuber known as MattsMacintosh. When FCPX was first released, Matt made a video entitled “Is FCP X Professional?” I think he did a great job at defining the word. So, I’ve included his clip below.

His analogy with the race car and monster truck is great! Both are professional, they just do different things. A professional doesn’t have to be someone in Hollywood with the fastest, most expensive computer. It can be someone with a computer that has 1GB of ram and freezes left and right. It all comes down to the story, not what you’re editing on.

Now onto the negatives. When I opened Final Cut X for the first time, I was greeted with a negative. I couldn’t open Final Cut 7 projects. Not a good way to start a relationship. Another huge con for me was no multi-cam support. If you’ve been paying attention to the Final Cutnews, Apple has said that they will be adding multi-cam options in future updates. Unfortunately, Apple likes to keep updates and new products secret to the public. So, there’s no date mentioned.

I’m not going to count the numerous bugs I’ve run into as a negative, only because I consider Final Cut Pro X a 1.0 version. Hopefully they’ll get fixed fast. Since users can only download FCPX through the Mac App Store, it should be easier for Apple to push updates.

Another huge thing about Final Cut 10 is that Apple decided to rename and change a lot of the things around. For example, bins are now collections, projects are now events, sequences are now projects, and more. That makes it pretty confusing for legacy Final Cut users.

The last con I am going to mention for Final Cut X is one that Apple praises! It’s called the Magnetic Timeline. In a way it’s great: clips slide out of each other’s way to avoid clip collisions. But, I view the Magnetic Timeline as a negative. Before FCPX, I was able to freely drag and drop clips anywhere in the timeline. If I wasn’t sure where to put a clip, I could just drag it over to an empty space in the right. However, thanks to this Magnetic Timeline,  I can no longer do this. Yes, I can use the new position tool, but that leaves annoying gap clips and makes a mess. Sorry Apple, I’m just not liking it.

FCPX creates slugs in between clips when using the 'position' tool.

FCPX creates slugs in between clips when using the ‘position’ tool.

There are other negative features of FCPX, however I’ve already named most on this post.

And that pretty much wraps up my review for Apple’s latest editing application. Yes, I know, I didn’t go too in-depth with FCPX, but that’s because of two reasons.

  1. I have made a couple other posts already explaining my thoughts.
  2. I haven’t used Final Cut 10 enough to give a huge review. So far, I have only used it during training sessions and test videos. To get an accurate review, it would have taken months. Maybe when the one-year anniversary of Final Cut X comes around, I will write a more precise review.

Final Thoughts

For those who don’t really have the time (or patience) to read the post, here is a basic summary of my thoughts. Final Cut Pro X is a great non-linear editing application; but, it’s missing a lot of features. It’s a 1.0 version, which means things will be missing and there will be bugs. There are tons of great features such as Smart Collections, audio/video skimming, live preview of effects, background rendering, 64bit, and more. But, there are also tons of “bad” things like no – well, barely any – support for tape, the magnetic timeline (in my opinion), no multi-cam features yet, lack of export options (without the purchase of Compressor, and that’s still limited), and more.

Please note that the pros and cons I have listed in this post may differ from yours. As I mentioned, I am not a “professional” video editor, so my needs may vary from others. Back to more information about me: I use a Canon DSLR. Final Cut X is great for tape-less media! Plus, the Smart Collections feature is truly amazing! Now don’t go thinking I go pledge to Apple like this guy thinks. Yes I am somewhat of an Apple fan boy, but Apple has really pissed me off with this release. I mean, some of the missing features should have definitely been included.

Who would I recommend this to?

You might be wondering, “who is Final Cut Pro X geared towards?” Professional editors are complaining that it’s too dumbed-down. But, those who are just starting out might be overwhelmed with the interface. In my opinion, FCPX is meant for those who want something more than iMovie or even Final Cut Express (remember that?). Also, those who do not use tape as their source of media and are going to export to the web will like Final Cut 10. If you are a film student, this is good for you. If you use a DSLR, this is good for you. If you are looking to publish videos to YouTube, this is good for you. Even some “professional” editors may find Final Cut X a great tool. Plus, I’m sure Apple will slowly realize how stupid they were and add necessary tools that can be found in legacy versions of FCP. If you’re an editor who relies on tapes, bringing projects to outside applications, XML, multi-cam, and more, I highly recommend waiting and seeing what Apple does.

Thank you to those who stuck around and read this whole review. I hope you found it helpful. If you need more information, feel free to look at my previous posts regarding FCPX. You can also hit me up in the comments section below, @reply me on Twitter, or leave a comment on the Facebook fan page. Plus, subscribe to the Final Cut Whiz YouTube channel for tutorials.


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