Samstag, 30. Juli 2011

QC survived, FCPX a success-story?

So the file is with the broadcaster, we can reflect on the last 3 weeks of FCPX as in 10.0 experience.

Do we like FCPX? yes, some of it.
Does it frustrate us? yes, a lot at times.
Is it ready for broadcast. Definitely not, not on its own. You can produce good results with it, but not without help from FCP7. And that needs to be addressed fast or they lose their fanbase VERY VERY quickly.

Where can I start?

I speak exclusively for the stuff we imported: XDCAM EX, DVCProHD, Canon and Nikon h.264 VDSLR flavors

XDCAM EX….still the same transfertool from SONY needed; then it edited fine, although on my Macbook I felt a transcode to ProRes helped when I was mixing material. We hope there comes the day when XDCam is imported like the other formats and FCP works first native, then automatically switches to transcoded material.

DVCProHD: on my Macbook I had errors, on my Mac Pro no problems really. Only I had a clip corrupted in the timeline once ; don´t know if it had to do with the codec

h.264: works as advertised; import, edit and while you work it transcodes to ProRes

The automatic fixes during import are a waste of time and CPU energy. It is better to fix the shots that need fixing in the timeline. 

skimming…….how fast can you breeze through your files.

Once you understand the eventstructure and you buy more harddrives so you can copy the media into the event-structure, then the way FCPX organizes your media and helps you to keep it organized is great.
there is no re-connect yet, so you can´t link to your camera-media without risking losing the connection when moving these files!! Therefore I recommend using the "COPY to FCPX" structure.

The way FCPX allows you to take parts of an event to another drive and user and then get the project/timeline back and reconnect to your original event is really a nice way to allow for multiuser work, BUT there has to be a masterevent. One event has to be the one with all the footage and motionfiles.

Editing is the one thing FCPX does best. It truly is fast and efficient. I had hardly any problems with the magnetic timeline. The connected clips help when rearranging a timeline and in fact I used a lot of secondary storylines also. 
You don´t really miss tracks IMO and I also like that the audio is implemented into its original videoclip, because it just keeps things more organized.
It is nice when you adjust things (like audiolevels) without FCP stopping to play; and you can for instance jump out to photoshop and FCP keeps playing in the background; maybe you want to hear the rest of an interview or just get a feel for the music.

Finally FCP is smart enough to know where I am with my pointer to change itself into a rippletool or a rolltool etc. I need "A" and "T" and that´s the shortcuts I use for hours. I practically never use "P" which is the FCP7-mode. Instead I add gaps (OPTION-W) to put clips further back.
There are also a few very nice new shortcuts, which I will post in another blogpost. Most have them are not originally assigned!

But there are a lot of missing pieces. Just one example: I have no clue what portion of a clip I am having in my timeline. In FCP7 you just double click on it. It opens your viewer and shows you the I/O. In FCPX you can also "reveal in event browser", but when in icon mode you have dozens of icons and need to look for the one that has a grey bar to show the I/O…..hardly recognizable; and in listview it shows you the clip, but not your I/O. 
Another weirdness:  If you have a clip in the primary storyline and a connected clip and you lift the clip from the primary storyline, then the connected clip of course also goes up one layer. BUT if you have a title connected and lift the clip, the title stays connected to the gap and is underneath the clip it was connected to.
No audio-only roll trim? No audio-only fade without being a storyline? The list is long.

These little bugs/features/anomalies and also inconsistencies in the user-interface, and there are many, are making you scratch your head and are clearly a sign this software is not finished yet. But it might be "finished" in the upper markets soon, because pros (people who earn their living with these tools) don´t have time to scratch their heads too much.

Yes, people need training, but when I have training then I expect a software to react similar throughout the interface, FCPX is far from. Every window and many working-steps within certain windows are different from each other. It seems the programmers have worked separately and everyone has tried to solve a problem without looking at what the others did to solve theirs. 
To throw away certain standard terms to create a new language is another weirdness. No more In-Point, but "Selectionstart"? What are they smoking in Cupertino. It is like "Hit ENTER" is taken from a computer-programmer. Oh well, there is no "Enter" on my iphone.....let´s say we take the "Slash" away from them, see how they like that and how they type an adress then......

the lack of a proper preview is simply stupid and dangerous, becaus when you want to have a decent grade you need to SEE IT. This is VIDEO/FILM. Apple do you listen?
If Apple had just implemented 3 more tools: the preview, the audio-track-selection and the XML-compatibility, the noise would have been much less.  

The colourboard is fast and works in great quality. But it allows for illegal colours, there is no option to make it a standard colourwheel and it lacks important features like tracking. For a 299-app it is good, but I am afraid in the long run I will have to buy something that supports colour-grading (DaVinci Resolve?!). But that again only works, if we ever get XML-out or some other tool to open the timeline in other programs.

What is amazing is the whole Motion-publishing and rigging program. It is so cool to have titles and effects made in Motion, then publish them to FCPX and work on with them there. This feature is a reason why I hope FCPX will evolve into more, because this is a killer-feature.

But then the CONNECTION TO MOTION is gone. In FCP7 how often did I click "Send to…Motion"….How they can make this Motion-highway a one-way-street is another mystery to me.

Well, there are many good filters out of the Logic suite now and while I haven´t used much yet, I dropped the logic-compressor onto every interview in this project. 

The lack of audio-track selections (on output) has been commented a lot so we leave it up to Apple to fix this, because this is one of the real dealbreakers for many.

Is FCPX a proper and complete NLE? Not yet, honestly.
Can I recommend it? Not yet. Especially not to someone who doesn´t have FCP7.
Do I keep using it? You can bet on that.

Huh? Yes, I will keep using FCPX, because the one thing it is good at is editing and I like editing with it. When you get back to FCP7 you are astounded at how backwards it is; even if it works snappier and especially the output options are exactly what we need. Gone are the days when you lock tracks, select clips on 3 tracks, avoid clipcollisions 2 minutes down the line, hit RR, then S then SS, then A, sleect more tracks, then blade then RR again then … know what I mean. so many steps for the most basic functions.

If I wouldn´t own FCP7 I couldn´t use FCPX as much as I do now. It lacks too many features. Since Apple EOLed FCP7 they HAVE TO upgrade FCPX soon or by christmas they will have lost their opinion-leading clients and will indeed only sell this to potential iMovie-Pro-customers, even if it is much more than that.


  1. Very well written post on FCPX, thank you! I'm in the middle of deciding what NLE path to take, and this definitely helps for making a decision.

  2. Johannes my advice: wait a few weeks and see if Apple turns the corner.

  3. Great post . Agree with most of it.

    >I have no clue what portion of a clip I am having in my timeline. In FCP7 you just double click on it. It opens your viewer and shows you the I/O.<<<

    Control click on clip, and select "open in timeline." (Needs a key command set.)

    >No audio-only roll trim?<<<

    Expand clip and go to audio edit point. Key command: shift-\ then use key commands or timecode entry.

    >No audio-only fade without being a storyline?<<<

    Works here with non-primary storyline audio. Or are you talking about not being able to set a audio-only transition?

    Thanks for testing FCP X out on a larger project...

  4. albion:
    i have "open in timeline" set as a shortcut, but it is a long road to find out where you are on the clip.

    audio-roll should be a mouse-function also, not only keys and entries

    i meant the audio-transition, yes, sorry for not being clear there.

  5. thanks a lot, i hope apple will finally use their advantage of having a fresh and newly written editing software to give it the features we need (preview, xml, audiotrack export (via keywords?), multicam and lots of other things they obviously didn t had on their screen when they were drinking too much coffee to release this version in time) to then come to a very innovative editing solution and a game changer, like apple is wantig it, if you look at their marketing.

    on the other hand i m afraid that this time they re screwing us just like they did with the shake users, leaving the market and leaving their customers on their own. what have they been thinking when deciding that we wont get any chance to open all of our past projects? ok fcp 7 runs on lion but in further versions of mac os?

    its the same as with that virgin airlines food complaint letter. It felt like like a childs expectations for the last and biggest christmas present turned into finding a dead hamster inside the box..