PRODUCT: Apple FCP X V.10.0.3
PRICE: $299 via App Store; free 30-day trial
- Multicam editing
- Improved chroma keying
- Clip Compound and Audition
- Broadcast monitoring
In my opinion, Apple prematurely released Final Cut Pro X this past June. That’s pretty much why I didn’t opt to review it for Post until now. It just wasn’t ready for prime time. Nor was the professional post market ready to downgrade from Final Cut Pro 7. All that has changed in just a few months, especially with the release of Version 10.0.3. Now with downloadable updates from the App Store, it seems clear that Apple will be making constant improvements to the functionality of the software based heavily on user requests.
UNDER THE HOOD
The iMac is not considered a workstation at all, but boy-oh-boy, it certainly feels like one. The “chosen host” is of particular interest to me as this is my first review for Apple where they specifically wanted me on an iMac to do the review, rather than the usual Mac Pro tower-of-power that I normally work with. Not to get too geeky with the specs, but it is interesting to see what the Apple video folks must have felt the ideal scenario for my review would be.
They shipped me a loaner 27-inch iMac, with 3.4GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7 processors, 16GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM, a 256GB solid-state primary drive, and a 1TB Serial ATA drive for media. It was rounded out graphically with an AMD Radeon HD 6970M 2GB GDDR5. As configured on the Apple Website, this puppy would set you back $3,499. But you will definitely notice the break-neck speed of this hardware/software combo punch. Primarily because FCP 7 was 32-bit, which couldn’t take advantage of more than 4GB RAM. But now in 64-bit, with support for Mega-RAM and multiple cores found in all recent Macs, this new app processes everything you do in the background, so you can keep working.
This was a re-write from the ground up. Its dramatically zippier 64-bit multicore code now boasts powerful XML import and export, the ability to store media and projects on XSAN storage, and a streamlined Media Stems export capability. The best part? Third parties are not sitting by idly; plug-ins are popping up at an unprecedented rate, with major ones now available from Noise Industries, Red Giant and GenArts. The new XML 1.1, is a format that allows you to import and export data from your project and its clips to and from other programs. This means it’s now finally possible to bring your projects from FCP 7 into FCP X — currently done through a third-party program called 7toX.
BETTER EDITING TOOLS
Compound Clips will be a welcome addition to most pro editors. It lets you group together clips, audio and effects so that you can move them as a unit and everything will stay in sync. This really unclutters the timeline, by showing just a single clip for the compound. You can easily re-expand the Compound clip at any time for further tweaking, separating it into its component elements — nothing is permanently flattened or joined in the compounding process. Think “nested.” It’s a very handy way to deal with complex combinations of elements.
I also quickly became a fan of Auditions. When you drag a new clip on top of one already in the timeline, you get the option of adding it as an Audition. This put a little spotlight icon in the clip entry, which, when clicked, opened a viewer/chooser for as many Audition clip options as I’d added. This viewer lets you create a simple way to line up comparisons of all your choices. Just open the Audition window, select a track and then play the overall video with the auditioning clip in place. Change clips and repeat until you see which one works better for your cut.
I loved cutting multicam in FCP 7, so when I first saw FCP X, I felt a bit handicapped. I’ll be the first to admit, it wasn’t ideal in 7, in fact it was a bit tedious to set-up. Apple recognized this and completely revamped and simplified multicam editing in this version. Now it’s far easier to adjust and manage the multi-camera clips once they are created, even after editing has begun. You can now even switch between 64 camera angles. This is made especially easy by the new Angle Editor, which is pretty much a dedicated timeline where you can see all the angles stacked in sync in different video layers. There you can view and scrub angles, rearrange angles, add and remove angles, adjust and slip sync, and add filters and effects to individual angles. The new Angle Viewer lets you view and switch angles in a 4, 9 or 16 split.
With this latest version, FCP X 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. Now that we have multicam editing, better XML, and external video monitoring, the choice now comes down to the individual editor’s preference in GUI user and editing metaphor.
Tor Rolf Johansen is a Director/Producer based in Los Angeles. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.