PC Magazine: Apple’s Final Cut Pro X makes serious leaps and bounds past its predecessor

“Apple’s completely revamped Final Cut Pro X makes serious leaps and bounds past its predecessor in terms of usability and performance,” Michael Muchmore reports for PC Magazine. “The upgrade is a complete from-the-ground-up-rewrite that takes advantage of modern 64-bit multicore CPUs, and is a radical departure for the increasingly popular software suite.”

“In fact, it’s changed so much that it may throw some professional users for a temporary loop; more on this later,” Muchmore reports. “But for the pro-sumer enthusiasts that make up the bulk of PCMag’s readership—people moving up from iMovie or another consumer-level app, Final Cut Pro X is a huge leap forward in terms of usability and raw power. While its interface looks a lot more like iMovie’s, with a free-form trackless ‘Magnetic Timeline’ view, the program still packs vastly more editing power than the iLife video editor.”

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Muchmore reports, “The pro video community is in a furor over this new release, and they have some valid complaints, like the lack of multicam support, the inability to open projects created in previous versions, and fewer disc output options. But it’s important to remember that, although this is version X, it’s also, in a sense, a version 1.0 application. Apple takes its pro users very seriously indeed, and I would expect to see them address many of the complaints in an update; there are rumors to this effect already. Once those issues are addressed, the performance gains thanks to 64-bit and multicore support, the two-thirds price cut, and some nimble new tools in a fluid, highly usable and precise interface should go a long way to winning even dissenting Final Cut users’ approval.”

Much more in the full review here.

Related articles:
Shake product designer explains Apple and Final Cut Pro X – June 29, 2011
Apple answers Final Cut Pro X questions; promises multicam editing and more – June 29, 2011
Change.org petition demands that Apple not change Final Cut Pro – June 27, 2011
Final Cut Pro X ‘backlash’ coming from competitors scared to death over Apple’s $299 price tag? – June 24, 2011
Conan blasts Apple’s new Final Cut Pro X (with video) – June 24, 2011
Answers to the unanswered questions about Apple’s new Final Cut Pro X – June 23, 2011
‘Professional’ video editors freak out over Final Cut Pro X – June 23, 2011
Apple revolutionizes video editing with Final Cut Pro X – June 21, 2011

40 Comments

      1. Someone obviously more informed about the pro market than you.

        It’s amazing how you guys start foaming at the mouth when someone says something slightly unflattering about Apple. I love Apple as much as all of you, but they goofed this time.

      1. That’s the problem. It’s called Final Cut “Pro” with a feature set supposedly catering to pros. When you remove features pros need it is no longer a pro application.

    1. I think that 90% of the decent is not from high end users.
      Anyone complaining about the loss of their “expertise” with the old version of FCS are very suspect to me. Anyone with any experience has likely learned several editors and is aware that to step up you often have to step out (of your box)

    1. Not at all. With OS X, you could still access your OS 9 content. With FCPX, your FCP projects can’t be imported.

      It was actually a transition from OS 8 to OS X. That’s how serious Apple was about making it a smooth transition. OS 9 was created so that developers could build universal binaries that worked with both OS 9 and OS X.

      OS 9 was then supported by allowing Macs to boot in OS 9 instead of OS X or to run OS 9 on top of OS X. OS 9 was supported *years* after OS X was launched, and was still available after OS X was declared ready for primetime as the default OS.

      OS X was made available in preview and betas available to developers as well as consumers (and IT managers). People had years to transition wherein they could still *buy* OS 9.

      Even despite all of this, had Apple did the same thing with OS X as they did with FCPX, users wouldn’t have had the same complaints since their *content* was still compatible and they could easily access their files.

      Sadly, FCP -> FCPX is more like the transition from Apple II to Mac, where Apple didn’t provide any path for Apple II users until it was far too late. As a result, many schools transitioned from Apple II to PC instead of Mac, and questioned Apple’s commitment to education (especially K-12).

        1. As has been pointed out before:
          Yes, FCP7 will still run, provided you need no additional licences.
          It will not run in 64bit mode, and does not take advantage of multiple cores, which makes it slower than competitors.
          Apple has stated that many features will be reimplemented in the next “major release” but given no clear timeline.

      1. OS9->OSX is a COMPLETELY different paradigm than FCP7->FCPX. to compare the transition of an entire OS to that of a niche video editing program is disingenuous at best. Sure, FCP7 is getting long in the tooth, but it’s unreasonable to expect Apple to port a 12-year old framework when moving video editing into the future. Everything that was great about FCP7 before X is still great today. The program will continue to work for years to come. Yes, Apple should step to the plate and make sure the app is supported. If they don’t do that, I may be disappointed. More likely, I’ll be making gobs of money using FCPX while the crybabies continue to whine about their relocated cheese.

        As to Apple II to Mac. Schools chose PC because of price, period. $2500 retail was not justifiable to most school districts. Fortunately, mine didn’t cheap out and I was exposed to both Mac and PC.

        1. @MrEdDon’tKnow,

          You might want to start at the top of the thread. I’m not the one who compared OS 9 -> OS X to FCP7 ->FCPX.

          “FCP7 is getting long in the tooth, but it’s unreasonable to expect Apple to port a 12-year old framework when moving video editing into the future.”

          Funny, FCP projects survived a transition from one company to another, to Windows and back to Mac, from OS 9 to OS X, and finally from PPC to Intel. Yet, they couldn’t do anything to provide any import functionality whatsoever? They couldn’t even match the level of import functionality of competing software from Adobe, Avid or even Sony?

          Apple didn’t need to support the core FCP architecture forever, but allow some level of transition. For example, by allowing project assets to be exported in a way that was organized for FCPX and to place the assets on the timeline, thus creating a rough cut. This would get editors at least 90% there and would be a *very* simple addition to help people transition.

          “Everything that was great about FCP7 before X is still great today.”

          Except for the ability to buy it.

          “The program will continue to work for years to come.”

          Nope. Maybe. Who knows? Apple won’t tell us. Therein lies the biggest problem. They’ve announced that they won’t sell it anymore, and that it will work with Lion when it comes out. Will it work with 10.7.1 or beyond?

          What people need to understand, is that even the smallest of studios (like my company) has millions of dollars worth of projects developed over the years in FCP. As such, those who livelihoods depend on a professional level of support expect, and need much more than this.

          What Apple did here is really unprecedented, at least for a company to both kill of their existing pro user base while at the same time claiming to release a replacement tool for pros.

          As much as I love FCPX, I don’t know a single person using it professionally who hasn’t started planing for a migration to Adobe or Avid. Worse, for a lot, this means ditching the Mac as well.

          “I’ll be making gobs of money using FCPX while the crybabies continue to whine about their relocated cheese. ”

          Well, the crybabies you’re referring to are those who won’t be able to use new Macs or software to work on the library of content worth millions of dollars that they produced over the years. It’s not so much about relocated cheese. I see very few people who don’t appreciate FCPX in of itself, more so, I see people who complain that they can’t use it.

          “As to Apple II to Mac. Schools chose PC because of price, period.”

          No. While many schools did choose PCs over Macs because of price, the issue was that they couldn’t continue on the Apple II platform and since there was no transition support (until too little too late), schools were left needing to replace their entire systems at once, making cost, and thus the preference of PC for many, a greater significance.

          I was involved with educational sales at the time. I saw it over and over again where schools had invested heavily in the Apple II platform in both hardware and software and felt very betrayed that Apple was turning their backs on them by phasing out the Apple II (hey, why cry, they still run!!!) and leaving something not as well suited for (lower) education in its place.

  1. This is a relatively old review (June 23). It came out *before* Apple posted their FAQ.

    Apple has addressed the missing pro features, and for the most part, they’re coming. One notable exception is the inability to import FCP projects.

    As I’ve stated in previous comments, this is a deal breaker for many pros who have libraries of FCP projects they’ve developed for many years. My company for example has thousands of archived projects.

    My company can get by with using dedicated Macs that won’t be upgraded, but just sit there for FCP.

    Other studios will find that this will be a much bigger problem.

    One thing for sure, the statement “Apple takes its pro users very seriously indeed” doesn’t reflect the sentiment of the film/tv industry.

    The FAQ helped, and many pros are cool with where things stand. I love FCPX and it’s worth the wait for the pro features and the cost/resources for maintaining FCP. However, Apple really should have released this as Final Cut X, and announced the Pro version coming soon.

    Some other counter-intuitive things that upset some pros:
    They’re massively under-charging. There’s no reason to charge pros less than $1k. By pricing it so low, it’s almost like acknowledging that it’s not a pro app.

    iMovie import should not have been included. Sure, having it helps the few iMovie to FCPX users, but it’s really insulting to pros to see that the millions of dollars worth of FCP projects they have can’t be imported, but “Grandma’s Bingo Nights” from iMovie can. If anything, they should’ve added iMovie *export* to FCPX instead. It accomplishes the same thing, just less insulting. Plus it advertises FCPX to iMovie users.

    Really, on the FCP import issue, I really hope Apple changes its mind. While the core structure is radically different, and things couldn’t match 100%, Apple does have the ability to easily create a project transfer app that moves all the assets over in an organized way, and then places them on the timeline, creating a rough cut. This is over 90% of the work for editors, and would be really easy for Apple to develop.

    Finally, Apple should continue to sell FCP7 and be really clear as to when it will no longer be supported/updated/compatible.

    To be absolutely clear though:
    If you don’t already have projects in FCP that you need access to, FCPX is an awesome app. The missing features will come soon, but the functionality (and speed) that is there now is friggin’ awesome. If you’ve ever wanted to get into video editing/production, now is the best time ever.

    1. Price is great. Many more can take up final film editing as a career and replace existing ‘pros’ with their new talent and imagination.

      I look forward to the complaining pros being blindsided by the unexpected talent that surfaces to challenge them.

      1. Yea, Hollywood is going to hire some guy in Podunk to edit their $100,000,000 film just because he bought a copy of iMovie Pro X Vista.

        Don’t hold your breath.

        1. Perhaps the $100 million dollar film is not the future. It’s not like FCP is being used for most of those anyway. So, Apple is not missing out on much by going after a market that will make them more money. They’re not in the business of making software just cuz.

      2. Hey Smart and Upcoming…

        My company is relatively small, our projects can be in the thousands of dollars. Overall, we’ve done several million dollars in sales over the years.

        If you can work with our projects in FCPX, we’d love to hire you. Heck, we’ll pay you twice what our other editors make!

        Too bad you can’t work with our projects in FCPX, because Apple didn’t provide any import functionality.

        We’re far from being alone.

        In fact, every studio in the world with any existing film, tv show, commercial, or anything else edited in Final Cut will face the same problem… FCPX simply can’t be used to edit any of the projects they already created.

        Now, if you have some sort of talent, or can imagine your way past this issue, by all means go out and get snapped up by an employer begging to hire you. Otherwise, if you want to *work* in the industry, it looks like everyone is migrating to Adobe or Avid.

  2. Yea, it’s so advanced that compressor now stops rendering unless it’s kept open unlike the previous version & it’s still a 32-bit app.

    It makes no damn sense to release a 32-bit version of this app in 2011. The whole advantage of 64-bit capable SW/HW is wasted by this steaming pile.

  3. Coming from a wintel source speaks loudly and objectively about the powerful and feature-rich FCP X.

    I can attest to the compliments because I have been using and loving it, so much so I have agreed to produce a video of my niece’s upcoming wedding, saving her thousands of dollars from paying a pro shop. I simply cannot do it to the professional level that she wants without FCP X. Thanks to Apple, we now have a choice of doing it ourselves.

    1. @ kippi: I’m glad you’re enjoying it and having success. To make a living though you chances are you will have to move beyond Apple’s iCookieCutter mentality. Pros dealin much, much more (usually) than just web and DVD video. Welcome to the ranks and good luck! Don’t let the tool get in the way of true creativity though.

  4. This is a re-post of mine from another site, but I thought it was appropriate to this discussion:

    I think that among a lot of the fuss, complaints, attacks, etc.. we have missed another sideline. Assume for the sake of argument that FCPX will be the best thing since sliced bread. That all of the concerns and worries are resolved and this truly becomes a professional level product that can properly interface with the business world. How long do you think it will take to get there? One Year? Two? Three? More? If you read the FAQ Apple will support Multicam in “the next major release.” Given Apple’s track record, that will be about 18 months away before we get v1.0 of mulicam. My personal guess (no facts, just a guess) is that it will take at least 2+ years before this product is ready for the professional market.

    Considering that we have not had a material upgrade to FCP in over 2 years already, that would mean that I would be sitting on the same basic software deck for 4+ years.

    This is what irks me probably the most, as now I am confronted with two options: 1) Stick with what I have for a couple more years with no updates/support and hope that I will like where FCPX lands or 2) Jump ship and start over with another package.

    Tossing coin in the air……
    What a shame.

  5. @David,
    It’s probably a mistake to make any judgements about this regarding “Apple’s track record” because this is a substantially different matter. First it’s a pro app (or is meant to be) and the clear intent was to broaden it’s market by making it more approachable and cheaper. Done.

    Second, given the furor over this release, the unprecendented offer of a refund, you would think (and I’m betting they will) a series of rather dramatic upgrades will be coming out forthwith. Witness the furor over Antennagate. Whether this IS bad form for Apple or not, it LOOKS like it due to all the teeth gnashing. So..don’t be surprised to see a faster time table on multi camera support, a way to hide or shield other content from view (for clients who see competitors work on your screen), and possibly even a means by which FCP 7 projects CAN be imported into FCP X…It’s not an impossible task by any means (just some naming and file conventions to be dealt with and some coding issues to address…) There will be upgrades to this WAY sooner than most people suspect because Steve HATES bad press…and because as they almost always do…it’s the right thing to do.

    1. @PR,
      I do hope that you are right. Though I have not seen many major release jumps come out very quickly, I can definitely see your point and can’t argue with it. I’m currently taking a wait and see attitude as I can continue to work as before.

      1. @David,

        I think PR is very much correct. I’d also add that if importing of existing projects isn’t an issue for you that you have little to worry about really.

        For my personal use, I’m really good with FCPX. For my company, the benefits outweigh the issues, with the exception of inability to import. We’ll survive this, but many pros I know are hurt big time. I really hope Apple gives us something for import as well.

  6. I understand the perception thing of the pricing, but I don’t think it’s valid. On the last go ’round of Logic Studio the price was cut in half from $999 to $499. I know many audio guys who own both Logic and ProTools or another DAW.
    I also understand how places have workflows in place etc. But, at some point, you have to let go of the old code and think of a new way of doing things. Pros (and people in general) don’t often like to have to change and learn new things.
    And to those that don’t like it, don’t upgrade until it has the features you need/want.

    1. @Scott,

      It’s not about changing workflows. It’s not about not liking change or new things.

      It’s about being able to access and work with the existing libraries of projects most pros have because there is no import function.

      “And to those that don’t like it, don’t upgrade until it has the features you need/want.”

      What happens when you need new licenses for FCP7 or the OS or other software isn’t compatible with it?

  7. Apple has clearly drawn a line in the sand.

    It’s not like they don’t know how to make a professional editing package with all the features required, it’s that they have chosen not to.

    Pros are clearly not the target market for FCP X anymore. It was dishonest of Apple to still pitch it as a pro solution with so many essential features stripped.

    They could have communicated the omissions to users but they chose not to.

    I’m already looking at the alternatives for my business, as I can’t wait another 4 years for upgrades that may or may not be delivered on the whim of an engineering team, which clearly has the average home user who dabbles in video foremost in mind.

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