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Final Cut Pro-X

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As a Final Cut Pro 7 user. I have been following the advance of the new software FCP-X. Is it worth it to upgrade or let the dust settle on the new software until a few more items are sorted out?

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"we were just out on the plaza and four flaming horses rode by…"

"reverend Gary says that super gay horses are one of the signs of the apocalypse!"

from 30 Rock S06E01


with the arrival of Final Cut X I feel even more strongly that other platforms should be explored and used. it's not that I'm suddenly anti-Apple. but I feel like there are better or similar tools. and sometimes for lots less money. for example Adobe Premiere CS5 is working out to be a way better editor compared to Final Cut Pro 7.


before FCX came out I experimented with Adobe Premiere as a replacement for FCP. I did this with two things in mind. the first was is that Premiere is cross platform. the thinking here was that the tool is the tool no matter where it runs and that story telling doesn't care if it's done on a Mac or Windows and IJKL, N, M, A, B, I, O are only part of what drives it. if I was using Premiere I could jump to other hardware that was not only cheaper but has more options for video cards, storage and the opportunity to DIY a machine together.


the thing about Adobe tools is that using them is same as it is on a Mac as it is on Windows. and if I was editing all day every day I'd get a box that was more suited to my job. and that box would NOT be from Apple. my other tool is a word processor. and I have no allegiance to any writing tool. in fact, the keyboard is more important to me than which werp is in front of me. HP and Leveno makes some snazzy hardware. and I'm not opposed to parting together a box of parts into the specific thing I want. hello 16 gigs of RAM. hello dual dual 2 gig GPU. hello 4 port SATA III board. hello eSATA. hello more GO FAST modern computer!


the other part was about formats. as it stood Final Cut did a pretty poor job of dealing with all the odd ball video that I was getting from clients. to get FCP to be speedy every HD format needed to get converted to ProRES which adds a crap load of time to an edit. that or I had to wait for renders with each edit, transition added or title overlay. what was worse was Exporting video from the timeline. a 15 minute video was taking 3 hours to render if I used the native footage in the edit. if I converted HDV to ProRes (which took about the same amount of time) it allowed the Export to go fast fast. either way it wasn't working for me.


because Adobe provides 3o day demo versions of everything there was noting to lose in looking things over. what I found was not the Adobe Premiere that I left so long ago. instead it was some kind of awesome.


in a nutshell anyone doing editing is crazy to ignore this product! why? it's wicked fast. footage that brought my Mac to a standstill worked in near realtime on Premiere. it didn't seem to matter if it was HDV, MPEG2, MPEG4, AVCHD or even the dreaded FLV. it didn't go slow.


titles. OMFFSM (flying spaghetti monster)…I'm in love with the Title tool in Premiere. you have very likely heard me bitch about the Titler in FCP. this stupid feature had not changed since 1.o was released. it offers very little control of typography. it's such a worthless POS that I did all titles in Illustrator saved as PNGs. but AP's Title tool is a work of art. it's got everything from kerning to text on a path. it works just like Illustrator / inDesign / Photoshop. this is alone is worth the move.


next thing that I really liked was how AP works exactly like After Effects. key frames, setting numbers, adding effects is the same. as much as I've complained about the clunkyness of AE it became the devil I knew. and I'm really fast in AE because of that. even better is the integration between AE and AP. it's seamless. it's like the two programs are really one. Motion and FCP could only wish to be so integrated.


for a comparison I recreated the same project in AP and FCP. I started with FCP only because I know the program (as I've been using FCP for over a decade) so I thought I'd just zing through. it took about an hour from start, draft, finish, and export. doing the same thing in Premiere took 20 minutes. un-believing my results I did another project from scratch using found footage and found similar results. positively unscientific but it showed me just how creaky FCP had become.


when FCX finally came out I decided that buying it went against my principal of "never ever never use a dot oh release in production." a few month later got some hands on time and I did prove by testing that FCX is radically faster than FCP . yet something wasn't right with it. it felt like I was not using the same program. which is in fact true. it's not Final Cut. it's kind of the same feeling. the background rendering might make it feel that way. and the un-timeline is odd at first. old twitches that I had didn't work. I felt that as long as I was re-learning it was better to spend zero time learning FCX. that sealed the deal and my jump for going with Premiere.


I have not moved totally to Windows. Premiere on a Mac is fine. it's WAY faster than FCP which solved 95% of my issues. and because I'm not doing editing work for hire on a regular basis (this year anyway) there was no need to spend that money. the hardware I have still works. there isn't a pressing need to make it faster if the software was the upgrade. if I was editing all the time I'd fork over for two boxes today. (I can talk about how two machines is better than one some other time.)


it's an interesting future.


PS: here's a fold-a-book that I layed out for "The Edit Doctor". he's been very vocal about the shortcommings of FCX.

Edited by johnfoster

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Thank you very much for that in depth report. I started my life on a Mac and editing on iMovie. Over the years i have moved up the ladder with Final Cut Pro 3 and stayed with iMovie for fast work. Today i still use FCP7 it still does the job. Looking at FCP-X it looks slicker and has the same movements as iMovie 11.

There are people who have money to play around with other editing software and need it for their work.

I cant afford to alter my equipment to a PC to get a better software in your case as you stated.

What you have said, is a question of dont bother with the new FCP-X. ?

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I didn't actually say don't bother with FCX. the TLDR summary is more like: FCP was sucking the life out of me so I looked to alternatives and found Adobe Premiere did the job.


here's a rule about tools:


if the tools works for you then it works. there is no need to upgrade or switch hardware. this is true with any software. I ran FCP 6 for over a year before upgrading to FCP 7 after it was released. there wasn't a feature that I really needed. and I bumped up more because of Sound Track Pro.


if it works don't fix it. my rule about upgrades is don't. better to wait until things shake out before I make the leap. usually I wait for a dot release. or I read reports of how it's going for people. this makes it possible to skip upgrades or versions altogether. time is money so there's no need to lose the ability to do work because of the unknown.


don't be a pioneer. unless you job is to review software for a living there isn't a single reason to be the first person into the wilderness. a new restaurant is the best real world analogy I can think of. if you go on opening night or within the first month you'll find that lots of things aren't so good. the servers might flub. the food might be too salty. or everything is slow. it's because they aren't clicking yet not because they suck. better to go when the buzz is forgotten and things are humming about a month later.


NEVER upgrade during the middle of a project. EVER. this is a sure way to have problems because you have deadline looming and a client breathing down your neck. you have to wait until after you ship before making any upgrade noises.


NEVER EVER NEVER use a dot OH release in product. you will always get burned. this is my primary reason for not using FCX. the code is not mature. there will be problems. not every case can be tested in beta because it's too small.


developers ship code with known problems that they won't disclose. it's the dark side of being a publisher. those things are usually edge cases. bugs deemed to be so remote or weird that no user would ever find it. sadly, we find these bugs. you have to know this about software development.


test it before you commit to it. in production where the tools are the life blood of your work it's easy to want to believe that it will work and skip this step. but do it. make a copy of your main hard drive. do it at the end of the day so when you show up in the morning it's done. make sure your Time Machine (the other backup) is current. then and only then can you install the next. be sure to R4, R5 your projects because versions often aren't backwards compatible. and then do some work. if you find a show stopper nuke the hard drive from orbit using your backup.


if there isn't a demo version find a way to see it before you buy it.


with CPUs as fast as they are today you have to have a really big jump in performance to justify getting a new box. I don't really look at benchmarks because it's a dumb way to evaluate performance. instead I take something I already know, in this case a HDV video exporting took 3 hours, and run that on the new something. in my case it's pretty easy to walk into Apple on Stockton, plug a drive with a project on it and render it using that hardware. and that gets you an idea without actually buying something.

Edited by johnfoster

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