Final Cut Pro X: Step up from Express, but missing “Pro” part

I’m not a professional editor for big house productions, but I make a living shooting live events, producing mini documentaries, and doing some creative work. For this type of work, Final Cut Express actually satisfied enough of my needs (albeit painfully). Hearing the next version was coming out, I eagerly awaited Final Cut Pro X rather than purchasing Final Cut Studio.

Finally it came.

And oh boy, Apple sure created a mess of a controversy with this release. It’s missing multicam which would have saved me hours on live event shooting. They also provided no way of converting FCE/FCP files to the new version, stranding many of my beloved old projects. And they were also forcing me to relearn many of the commands and tools.

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Screenshot of FCPX. Click for full size.

But on the other hand, I work with a purely digital workflow (no tapes for me please!) and I deliver almost exclusively on the web now. Hearing that it was still a good product for people like me, I was ready to learn and give it a shot.

Now that I’ve spent some time cutting together and delivering a TEDx talk, I feel good again. Final Cut Pro X is a huge step up from Final Cut Express. Let me enumerate the ways.

  1. I can apply effects and continue to edit while it processes in the background.
  2. Rearranging clips is so simple now with magnetic timeline. I use to have to create space (changing my whole timeline) then cut / paste, etc. Now I just move it.
  3. Synchronization works decently but not as well as DualEyes and of course no multicam so no PluralEyes like functionality.
  4. Metatags work much better, but doesn’t quite fit into my workflow. I usually transcribe and make notes separately on a log allowing me to quickly read through and find the material I need. If FCPX could provide space for that or even automatically try to transcribe it, I’d be in heaven.
  5. The trimming tool now intuitively does rolling edits, slide edits, and trim edits depending on where you place the cursor. I had a momentary panic when I saw that those tools had been removed.
  6. The automatic color correction does a decent job of making a first pass at it.

All these time savings and benefits taken together makes for a great upgrade from Final Cut Express. And for all my old projects, I can still use FCE although not simultaneously with FCPX because it complains.

But for anyone habituated to what you can do with Final Cut Pro, I can see that it’s a step down in many cases. Nevertheless, if Apple fixes the problems and soon, I really think this will be a great product. If they don’t, well, a small voice in the back of my head is considering the Adobe Suite for the first time.