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FCPX - First Commercial Project

In last months blog I mentioned that I was trying out FCPX and really liked some aspects of it over the Adobe CC suite I use all the time. Things have moved on a bit so this month I cut my first client project on it. Read on if you want to see how I got on.

My experiments so far with FCPX were with 1080p50 clips but this commercial project was shot in 4K (actually UHD 3840x2160p, 25fps 100Mbps XAVC L-GOP - from my Sony FS5). The project was relatively simple - lots of specialist demo videos with a presenter showing off different bits of kit and telling the viewer how to use them. It was filmed in 4K not because it'll be streamed in 4K - it'll be delivered in 1080p and 720p - but for flexibility. It was simply to allow selected crops as needed for closer in shots (on top of the deliberate close-up and macro cut away shots that were also done for each film). I had to produce 16 similar videos, each demonstrating a different bit of kit but as I'm still learning FCPX it was the ideal project to try since the client is in no particular rush for the finished films.

I elected NOT to transcode the raw clips as Adobe CC has absolutely no issues at all handling this 4K XAVC footage natively on my new Mac Pro/RAID5 systems even when using multiple layers of 4K and quite complex edits. Once editing began I noticed straight away that the interface not as responsive in FCPX compared to Adobe Premier Pro (or indeed FCPX with the previously used 1080p50 raw clips). It was by no means "slow" but could sometimes be a bit sluggish, especially when scrolling around the timeline etc. This needs more investigation - see below. For sure, it was not as slick as I was hoping - but it never became frustrating - and importantly it never crashed on me (Regular readers will know that I had a few crashes when testing FCPX last month with the 1080p50 footage).

For sure, I could have produced these 16 short videos quicker in Adobe Premier Pro (at the moment) simply because every now and again I had to consult Rick Young's excellent guide to FCPX or the web to work out how to do something specific. And that was the point, of course. Using FCPX on a client project forced me to learn new aspects of FCPX and its interface. I'm a lot happier with the audio aspects now as well as some of the title, graphics and video manipulation features. I sure missed Adobe Audition though as there were some issues with the sound which would have been super quick (and easy) to sort out - but I sort of got there anyway, just, with the audio tools FCPX has.

The Rough Cuts are with the client now (they are very happy with them) so they should go live over the next few months. They are going to be "drip fed" out on social media, I believe.

I also now have a bigger/much more complex project lined up with this particular client so I'm probably going to stick with FCPX for that work as all the titling and branding graphics are established in FCPX (and some of the cut aways will be re-used). That'll also be filmed in 4K XAVC so once I've finished that video I'll have a much better idea of which NLE to use on simple or complex client projects going forward. I think I'll try transcoding the raw clips with that project before editing starts to see if that improves the responsiveness of the interface.

At the moment, I'm currently leaning towards FCPX for the quick turnaround "cut & shut" edits and Adobe CC for anything complex or sophisticated, especially since I mostly shoot in 4K XAVC these days. Don't knock it though, that may change - and choice is always a good thing!