I’ve just finished editing my first big project on FinalCut Pro X and I’ve learned a lot about the new program. I want to share what I’ve learned with anyone who reads this site.
People give FCX a bad wrap for a few reasons, the first being that it had a bad release. Apple put it out prematurely and it was missing a few important features, like multi-cam editing. In addition, you cannot bring projects into FCX from previous versions (like FinalCut 7). But I think the primary issue that users have with FCX is that it’s different from FC7 in many fundamental ways, with a new interface and format. The timeline, for example, is not made up of several independent video and audio tracks: instead there is one primary video track to which you connect additional clips. So, for example, if you are editing an interview about bowling, the primary video track would be interview footage, and you would connect to it shots of people bowling. When you move the primary video track, it brings all video and audio that is connected to it along.
As I mentioned, many are resisting format changes such as this. I think people need to stop being conservative and give the program a chance. IF they would take a few days to get to know FCX, they would see that it is a tremendous program — both faster and with a better workflow than FC7.
I would like to take this space to discuss two points about the organization of FCX.
- A COMPLICATION: I’ll start with what I see as a complication of FCX. Apple continuously releases new versions of FCX: first they released FC 10.0.0, then 10.0.1, 10.0.2, and the latest is 10.0.3. This can cause an annoyance for users who are working in labs where different computers have different versions because the versions are NOT backward compatible, meaning a project that has been worked on in one version CANNOT be worked on in an earlier version. I, for example, started a project in 10.0.0. Then the computers in my school’s lab were switched to 10.0.2. But then it turned out that one aspect of 10.0.2 was incompatible with the lab’s multi-user computers, so they switched back to 10.0.0. This was a problem for me because the minute I first opened 10.0.2, FCX “updated my catalogues,” meaning it somehow turned my entire project into a distinctly 10.0.2 project. This is fine if I continue working only in 10.0.2 and subsequent versions, but I cannot go back to an earlier version. So, when my lab switched back to 10.0.0, I had to start FRESH from the beginning of my project. That was crap.
My advice is that you should be acutely aware of the specific version of FCX you’re using, and avoid going to previous versions.
- SIMPLER ORGANIZATION: I must say, however, that I generally find FCX’s organization extremely useful and manageable, far more logical than FC7′s. A key step in understanding this organization is to translate FC7′s terminology into the world of FCX. A “project” in FC7 is called an “event” in FCX. A “sequence” in FC7 is called a “project” in FCX. These are the key vocabulary.
Equally important is how these projects and events are managed. There is no such thing as “saving” in FCX. New users are often baffled when they first go to save a project and find no “save” button. But rest assured, FCX saves each step for you the moment you perform it. Unlike FC7, FCX allows you to “undo” steps even after they’ve been saved. All this is very convenient. My one small issue is that it seems the continuous “saving” may slow down the program a bit.
- KEYWORD EDITOR: This tool does a tremendous job organizing clips. Especially because a clip doesn’t have to belong to just one folder! E.G. Let’s say I have a clip of my friend Henry eating cake. But this is just one of many clips in my movie, which is about friends and sweets. I have many clip folders in my event: one is called “cake” and includes clips of people eating cake, the other is called “Henry” and includes all clips of Henry. In FC7, I would have had to decide whether to keep my “Henry eating cake” clip in the Henry folder or the cake folder. But in FCX, I can give that clip two keywords: “Henry” and “cake”, which will automatically include that same clip in both folders. Perhaps my example is absurd and it sounds like a obscure problem, but it’s NOT: often organizing clips can become a maddening process of not knowing where to put each one. The ability to cross-reference a clip is really helpful! This way if I want to edit a sequence about cake, I know where to find ALL of my clips; OR, if I want to edit a sequence about Henry, I know where to find ALL of my clips. You can apply several keywords to one clip.