Apple FCPX: Not what you think it is

Published by | Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Let’s come out and say it: The launch of Final Cut Pro X has been controversial. With FCPX, Apple has released a new piece of software that is not only different from its previous version, but completely different from any other application in its field. I wouldn’t dare tell you whether these changes are right or wrong for your editing workflow. I’m not a journalist or an evangelist. I can’t even say that I’m a video editor—I gave up the freelance editing life nearly three years ago. What I am is a teacher. This is a great time to work for, because what editors need most right now is to learn what Final Cut Pro X is really capable of.

Lately, it seems like the Internet has gone crazy over FCPX. Initially, the word was that professional editors were angry about the drastic changes in Final Cut Pro X, while consumers and amateur editors were curious about this new editing tool. But in the last few days, I’ve seen that tide changing a little bit. Professional editors seem to be giving FCPX a bit of a chance. They are learning that it introduces incredible new tools like clip auditioning and connected clips. They are learning that some of the bad things they’ve heard are simply not true, like the rumors that said Final Cut 7 and FCPX could not be installed on the same machine or the rumors that said 3rd party plug-ins were not supported. They are hearing announcements directly from Apple saying that certain valuable features are going to be added via software updates, including Multicam and support for exporting XML.

As a Training Producer, I’ve been working closely with author Abba Shapiro, feverishly pushing to record and publish FCPX training in the library as quickly as possible. I’ve been learning incredible things about FCPX that have honestly changed my perspective. Abba knows things about this application that nobody else in the world knows about, short of the engineers that built it. I’m thrilled that he is working with to get that knowledge out to the world.

Also, I just finished listening to episode #250 of the Macworld Podcast, hosted by another author, Chris Breen. In this show, Chris interviewed Gary Adcock, a well known Final Cut and video production veteran. Gary paints a very enlightening and balanced picture of the FCPX release, the reactions of pro editors, and the true potential of the application. It’s clear from listening to Gary that the more professionals learn about FCPX, the more their attitudes are changing.

All of this leaves me with the following conclusion: I can almost guarantee that FCPX is not what you think it is. This is truly a case where learning everything you can about an application is one of the most valuable things you can do. I am extremely proud to be a software trainer right now, and to work closely with Abba Shapiro, an even better software trainer. It’s a joy to watch Abba assemble a piece of training that I know will immediately effect the lives and professional development of thousands of people. When we published Creating an Effective Resume, I felt the same way. Building something that will help people make the right choices in their professional lives is extremely rewarding.

I hope you check out our FCPX courses when they are released in the Online Training Library®. And I hope those courses help you make informed decisions for your next video project, whether that be a feature film or cherished family video project. Abba Shapiro is working on two FCPX courses that will be released this month. Here is a quick look at the first one, Migrating from Final Cut Pro 7 to Final Cut Pro X.

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25 Responses to “Apple FCPX: Not what you think it is”

  1. Thom says:

    Thanks for the article, Nicholas. I check the site daily hoping to find the new FCPX training series, and am glad to hear that one is in the works.

  2. Theo says:

    I can’t wait for the Final Cut Pro X training videos.

  3. Jeffry says:

    Wow. Everything… I MEAN EVERYTHING that I’ve read, heard, felt, etc., has FCPX in the doghouse. I’m an editor and producer who is not even close to upgrading until Apple addresses and FIXES the mess they’ve hatched with FCPX. I’m extremely skeptical that you’re hearing folks giving FCPX a chance. My experience [and the people I run around with] are saying the complete opposite. I think you might want to check your sources… I’m just saying…

  4. David says:

    I can’t wait! I’m so excited…

  5. James Branch says:

    I’ve been holding off buying any training until this comes out. I’ve been using FCP X for the last few days and it’s brilliant. However, it has some bizarre quirks. For instance, you can’t present 720×576 anamorphic as 16×9 like you could easily do in FCP7. I can’t find a way to hear audio scrubbing with just the playhead – you can only hear it with the skimmer switched on. You can’t conform 25fps to 24 fps. I can’t see timecode as an overlay etc. A lot of ‘old’ workflow stuff isn’t there. It’ll be interesting to see what gets re-instated and what doesn’t

    I think Apple are approaching FCP X like it’s an iPhone. A brilliant core product that will be made exceptional by the efforts of 3rd party developers competing to make the best add-ons for the best price. I’ve been tempted to buy half-price Premiere or Media Composer software but to hell with them. They are still over-priced and what’s inspiring about learning a new piece of software because you are afraid? Every time I hear someone call it ‘iMovie Pro’ I feel like punching something.

    Get proper training, give constructive feedback to Apple and be patient. This this is going to be amazing.

  6. Daniel says:

    I gave FCPX a chance and I am happy I did! As a dslr shooter who shoots short interviews with b-roll can now move quickly and edit on the fly faster then before! :)

  7. garry burgess says:

    I’m looking forward to the new training series. I’m also hoping to see one on Motion 5.

  8. @Jeffry: The point of this post (and the Migrating course) is to provide you the information and real-world comparison of FCP7 against FCPX so that you can make an informed decision if FCPX is right for you and your needs.

  9. Carl Olson says:

    There is a very vocal minority that has raised a ruckus. Admittedly, for a few high end post houses and especially those in broadcast television (a dying breed), the current incarnation of FCP X is missing a few critical pieces. However, for the rest of us, FCP X is an amazing tool with a lot of potential. Especially notable is the tight integration of Motion 5 with FCP X.

    I think part of the mass hysteria is actually a manifestation of fear. Another entry barrier has been thrown to the ground. More and more people will be doing their own post whereas before they may have felt they needed to hire someone else. I don’t have any facts to back that thought up… it’s just a hunch, and perhaps a flawed one at that.

  10. @Garry: The estimated publish date for Motion 5 Essential Training is August 5.

  11. I’ve used Final Cut Pro for years and I currently have FCP 7 but for me, FCPX is an unbelievably huge leap forward.
    Editing with FCPX is a dream.
    I only wish people were able to relax and learn something new, rather than putting their foot in their mouth by a) listening to all the hysteria and b) then shouting about it as though they know what they’re talking about.

  12. Richard says:

    I have been using FCP X with limited knowledge for about a week. I love it and I don’t even know how to use it to its maximum capacity. I am a professional editor/producer looking forward to learning more about how FCP X works. Thanx,, for what you do.

  13. HR says:

    I panicked when I opened FCP X for the first time. Completely lost, no tools, didn’t understand where I was or how to do anything. Then after actually hammering away at it, and with guidance Ripple Training videos (first out of the gate with Larry Jordan), I discovered that the tools were all there, just in different places. Some tools had changed, expanded with additional abilities. The fundamental metaphors have changed, e.g. there are NO tracks of any kind. In place of tracks is a single “magnetic storyline”. Once you wrap your head around that difference, and it’s huge, you suddenly discover that FCP X is incredibly fast. I kept having the feeling, oh I’ve already done that. Yes, there are tools missing from FCP X that are crucial. Apple says these tools are a priority and that everything will be restored and improved. Most importantly, not only does it prevent knocking audio and video out of sync and other welcome improvements, it is extremely precise with edits, color, stabilization, and boasts many other advantages like optical smoothing, 64-bit, etc. etc. Sure FCP 7 will be used for a while until FCP X is complete and everyone actually dives in and sees the advantages. I’m using this time to learn everything I can about FCP X and Motion 5 (which is another absolute wonder). Can’t wait for the series!

  14. skeptikos says:

    “Jeffry” is right.

    I’ve been using FCP since the beginning and I’m a full time self-employed shooter & editor. I’ve been an Mac user since 1989.
    Since the release of FCP X I’ve read and viewed and listened to everything I could find about this. I’d caution people from dismissing the critical responses as “hysteria” or pigeon-holing the tremendously negative response as just from a bunch of Luddite old-school types who refuse to accept new technology. It’s much more than that.

    The big question is do you trust Apple as a partner in the future of your business or career? I think the answer is no. I’ll be moving away from FCP because I no longer consider Apple as having an interest in the professional market. I think the reasons are pretty clear and have been explained well by many others (see Larry Jordan’s blog or Walter Biscardi’s articles about moving to another platform). From the casual killing off of popular products (DVD Studio Pro anyone? Color? Livetype?) to the lack of backwards compatibility to FCP7, to the exclusion of essential features, it’s very very clear that Apple just isn’t interested any more. And that’s fine — they’ve made their business decision, and we’ll make ours.

    There’s no doubt that FCP X will improve with time and become a very good product for its new target audience. That’s really not the question though. For a lot of us it’s a business decision, and my decision is to move on. No hysteria, just facing the facts.

  15. Matt says:

    It’s amazing what removing ignorance can do to pacify an angry mob. Certainly there are problems with FCPX, but once people can get a calm and collected overview of how editing in the new program actually works, I think a lot radical opinions will become something more nuanced. It’s 1.0 software, but FCP has a very bright future. Thanks for the work you are doing on this series, and I can tell from the sample clips that it’s going to be worth the wait.

  16. Colin says:

    I enthusiastically purchased FCPX shortly after it was released and was unfortunately quite disappointed. I get all the talk of doing things differently and new approaches etc, but I found the workflow too strange. Also the scope for customization in project preferences was quite limited. I felt that the software was making too many assumptions for me. Output options were also quite limited compared to other packages around for either Mac or pc platforms. After perseveringly for a while I gave into frustration and would you believe it… Apple refunded me in full. But I’m always open to new ideas and will watch the lynda tutorials with interest and may give it a second chance. But I must also say, Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum 11 is extremely capable and very good value by comparison. Its currently my product of choice. Horses for courses… C.

  17. Diogo Estiguer says:

    Thanx Nicholas and I’m looking forward to the new training series.

  18. CharlieT says:

    From an educational standpoint for our full-time Creative Media students FCP X in it’s current incarnation can’t be used. We have 50 seats in 3 rooms used by multiple students, until they can store their entire project (event and media) on their scratch drives it won’t work for us.

    However for part-time evening classes aimed at home or one-man-band clients the power and speed will be a huge bonus – looking forward to the training series!

  19. Nicholas Brazzi says:


    Please watch Migrating from Final Cut Pro 7 to Final Cut Pro X when it releases in the next few days. Storing projects and media on a secondary scratch disk is something that FCP X does very well. It will even detect this material automatically when you launch the application, and it won’t even hiccup when it isn’t there. That scratch drive will move from machine to machine much easier than I’ve seen with FCP 7.

    I have no idea if FCP X will be right for you or your students (which is my answer to everybody). However, you certainly will be in a better place to decide when you really know what it does.

  20. tom says:

    As someone who is in the midst of editing 50 years of family home movies, (about 20 hrs of video), I’ve been working my way through them, sorting clips into bins and sequences. Correct me if I’m wrong, but FCPX has completely trashed all that effort, and there is no way to carry over that work into FCPX

  21. Rob Ainscough says:

    I wouldn’t expect to be objective about FCPX considering they would most likely want to support more people “learning” FCPX. So take this article into context of where you are reading it.

    It’s more than just a “few” professionals that do NOT want to use FCPX and feel they’ve been left out in the cold by Apple (which for the most part they have). Apple have also made NO SECRET that FCPX is never going to be a “Professional” tool, not now, not with upgrades (free or paided).

    Like others, I bought FCPX, tried it, got disappointed, uninstalled it, and got a refund from Apple. I don’t mind changes … I like changes, BUT change for a reason, not just to be different. The changes in FCPX have NOT made my workflow easier or better or more efficient … just different, and “different” doesn’t help me get work do more quickly.

    And finally, it’s MISSING a huge amount of functionality beyond just “multi-cam” and XML. I could list them all, but there just isn’t enough comment room.

    And then there is Motion 5 and Compressor 4 … two additional tools for FCPX that have not changed at all??? Support for 3D objects in Motion 5 is virtually non-existant, just a it was in Motion 4. Compressor 4 interface is virtually identical to prior version and is no faster. And where is Blu-ray authoring (you know, menus, titles, etc. like DVD Studio supported)??

    I’m sorry, but 3+ years in the making and FCPX is the best Apple can do given the current wealth and resources Apple now has?

    The road is clear for me, I’m migrating over to Adobe who are currently offering 50% discount to FCP owners. But fortunately has Adobe training also … As a long time premium subscriber to, I’d rather see more training videos and excercise files around Adobe’s suite of tools for professional and non-professionals.


  22. Tre says:

    Hey, whose going to use DVD’s in 5 years? Getting rid of building DVD menus makes my job as a wedding videographer a lot easier. I love X! It’s going to just get better and better.

  23. Timothy says:

    What other courses does have lined up for FCP X? Any advanced material?


  24. For those waiting for our Final Cut Pro X course, it’s out now. Final Cut Pro X Essential Training:

  25. Chris Conti says:

    I am a long time apple user and have been using FCP since version one. I am an educator, a freelancer and a former broadcast veteran.

    It is possible that people are formulating opinions too quickly, without fully testing the waters. Can you blame them? We spend extreme amounts of time and money buying and learning programs – only for them to be discontinued, after what is in my opinion – a relatively short time following updates.

    I am not even entirely sure what programs still exist from the traditional studio bundle. I truly don’t know what I’m going to do at this point. Should I go back to Avid? Should I dive into Premiere? I am careful to research the things that I read on these forums and I always want people or companies to have the chance to defend themselves.

    Those calling this hysteria are being just as ignorant as the folks you are accusing. For ten years I looked forward to new updates to the amazing program that FCP had always been. I so far don’t like what I am seeing or hearing. I don’t have the time right now to completely re-learn a program that I already knew and mastered to find out that it is not for me. If it is indeed true that you cannot open up an old project on the new version than I would have to strongly consider that a deal breaker.

    Even if I do switch to a new platform I will always check back with my old love. I am hopeful that Apple will remain the awesome company they have always been and realize that the people complaining just might have a legitimate gripe. How about hosting an internet forum to answer questions and concerns. Who knows? They might clear up a lot of bad rumors. One thing is clear – They have some explaining to do.

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