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FCPX - It's Growing On Me

I've had FCPX installed on my main editing 8-Core Twin D700 'Trashcan' Mac Pro (and a rMBP) for several years now - but rarely used it compared to the Adobe Creative Cloud suite. That might be about to change.

Like many in the early 2000's, I cut my teeth editing with Apple's FCP in Final Cut Studio (after some forays with Vegas Pro and other NLEs on PCs beforehand). I got as far as FCS 2/FCP 6 but did not see the point of updating to FCP 7 with it's minor tweaks…I thought I'd wait for FCP 8 to launch - and as we now know that never came!

FCPX was launched in 2012 and I really did not like the look of it at all. So I went to Adobe Production Premium 5.5 - and then to CS6, which I still have installed on my Classic MP and use for some legacy work/re-edits (even occasionally with FCP 6 too!)

About 4 years ago, wishing to remain with the Adobe suite of tools, but now using newer cameras and codecs, meant I had to go the subscription route and get CC2014. I needed it for fast and familiar editing capabilities and backwards compatibility, which is huge for me and some of my clients. At the same time, I also bought and installed FCPX, Compressor and Motion on the Trashcan and the rMBP. I'm currently on CC2017 in Sierra OS and it's been a rock stable, wonderful tool for what I do.

NOTE: I always "lock down" my edit bays once I've got everything working how I want and strongly resist ANY prompts to update anything (non-critical) for several years!

I'd occasionally open FCPX and have "a bit of a play around" but never really had the time to learn it well - or I'd get stuck on something and give up/resort to doing it in Adobe Premier Pro/CC. But every now and again I read about the continual improvements to FCPX, not to mention the speed of using it with the fairly high spec Apple hardware such as I have in my studio. It made me think, I should give it another go…Well, I just have!

Having just completed a Rough Cut (on a non-urgent project) in FCPX I'm very impressed with many aspects of it. I'm also (currently) slightly frustrated with some things too, especially audio editing! But I suspect that as I learn more and more it will become more intuitive and much easier to do what I want to do. I'm on FCPX 10.3.2 by the way, not the latest 10.4, for the lock-down reasons mentioned above.

For example, this project had lots and lots of hand-held footage, shot mainly onboard bobbing boats of various sizes - and most of it required stabilisation in post! I'm really impressed with the (lighting!) fast speed and effectiveness with which FCPX does this (often in the background) compared to the speed of Adobe's Warp Stabiliser on the very same hardware. Rendering in general just seems really fast. Also, skimming through raw clips in the Browser and selecting each section that's wanted is very fast and intuitive too - love those yellow boxes! I can already see that for certain (simpler… at least initially) client jobs this might be the NLE I will use as it'll (eventually) allow faster turnaround. Sure, I'm not confident enough yet to use it on a short deadline project - but I can see that's potentially on the horizon.

However, I'm still getting my head around the "magnetic" timeline and I've experience a couple of crashes/lock-ups when using FCPX. Adobe CC2017 NEVER crashes on my system, touch wood! It's unlikely to be my hardware, which includes 2 pretty fast 4-disc RAID5 Thunderbolt 2 G-TECH units that all my media and the Libraries sit on. Having said that, FCPX projects always re-open without any issues, at least so far! Of course, there are lots of little things that I know how to do in seconds with Adobe CC but which leave me scratching my head for a while with FCPX - but that'll improve as I use it more. FCPX's strengths in certain areas (as I see them) have certainly given me the impetus to continue learning it - so watch this space.

Finally, I would strongly recommend getting Rick Young's 'The Focal Easy Guide to Final Cut Pro X, 2nd Edition' as that's helped me a lot with my (initial) learning curve. That along with various online resources are proving invaluable.

So, if you've been wondering about FCPX, maybe give it a try. It might surprise you!