Final Cut Pro X

Using Final Cut Pro X

Most production companies nowadays commonly use Adobe Premiere for editing,  which we happily have installed on our systems and use occasionally.  But the main bulk of our work we complete in Final Cut Pro X, a Mac-only application that we’ve rather fallen for.


Why Final Cut Pro X?

The main thing about FCPX for us is speed.  It is fast, responsive, and gets out of the way so we can work on the actual editing – which isn’t something we can say about Premiere.  Most of our footage nowadays is filmed in 4K, and we can just chuck it into the program and get on with life, and with an eGPU it exports videos in a matter of seconds.  Fundamentally, it’s meant a lot less time watching blue bars cross the screen, and a lot more time focussed on getting a great edit complete.


What don’t people like about FCPX?

When it was released there was a mixture of excitement and horror in the community, as Apple had pressed delete, and started again.  7 was used industry-wide and just throwing it away was a bold move.  Well, that’s one word for it.  The first version of X really wasn’t great, but after the past 5 years of solid development it’s now a great program.

FCP 7 was, much like Premiere today, a bit of a mess, piled on top of very old code that wasn’t ready for upcoming technologies, amongst them the move to 64-bit programming.  They started again instead of trying to polish that particular (add rude metaphor here).


Usage paradigm

It takes a moment to get used to the new way of doing things, which may be why it’s disliked in the editing community as it is a bit of a learning curve.  To keep life organised, FCPX uses Libraries, Events and Keywords, and to do editing it uses the Magnetic timeline, both of which are powerful features, but take some getting used to.


Libraries, Events and Keywords

Libraries hold the whole project, and you would usually only require one in total for each project that you’re completing.  Inside Libraries are Events, which often hold one day of filming, and keywords which separate everything.  Individual pieces of footage can be split into multiple keywords, making selecting related footage a very convenient process.


The magnetic timeline

This can be the most polarising part of using Final Cut Pro X, as it’s very different to any editing program.  When you drop footage onto the timeline in FCP, the rest of the footage gets out of the way, unlike in most editing programs when dropping footage onto other footage deletes it.  The first time you see this, it can be quite annoying, but if you stick at it you start to realise it’s immensely powerful, and minimises the amount of times you accidentally delete something.


Converting to Adobe Premiere

The best plan with any project is to just keep to one editing program, as Premiere and FCP are very different beasts and don’t work well together.  Our first bit of advice about converting to Premiere would be ‘don’t’, as it makes the whole project a mess and it’s often quicker to just rebuild it.  If you have to, we use XtoCC, which is available on the Mac App Store.  Start by taking the FCPX project and making it as clean and simple as possible – no transitions, generators or other plugins that won’t work on Premiere anyway, and no Compound Clips or Multicam Clips.  Once you’ve tidied, export an XML, then convert it with XtoCC.  Import it with Premiere, cry, delete it, make a new project and rebuild everything.