Final Cut Pro X – Getting Unpacked

Last week I wrote a short post about my first experience with Final Cut Pro X. Over the few days I’ve gotten to play with the interface some more so I thought I’d share some expanded thoughts.

My biggest issue with the design of Final Cut Pro X was the implementation of an iMovie-like shared library for media. I didn’t relish the idea of having my library grow exponentially as my projects piled up, and so the inclusion of a shared library did irk me. As I’ve worked with FCP X over the course of the week, however, I realized my initial assumptions were wrong. The editor does utilized shared libraries, but these are more like the libraries of Aperture, or a password vault in 1 Password, than the library which adorns iMovie. The function is very similar, but unlike iMovie libraries are meant to be created, opened, and closed on the fly. I can actually see this coming in handy. If I’m working on a promotional campaign for one event, for example, I can create a library for all the media related to that campaign. I think have access to all my media files for the campaign in one place, even if they will be spread out over several projects. I can even open a second library which contains elements like video titles which will remain the same through many campaigns. After getting to know the way FCP X handles the library feature, I’m actually quite pleased.

Unfortunately, I’m still getting used to the interface. I miss my dedicated preview window, even though the same functionality is present as a preview in the library window. It will take some getting used to, but I think I’ll get there eventually. Sadly, this app doesn’t fit nearly as nicely on my MacBook screen as Final Cut Express did – it feels cramped in a way the older version of the software didn’t. The interface is customizable, however, so I’l eventually get it set up in a workflow which I like. This is just going to take some time. I do which I could preview clips in the viewer, however. I may be able to, but I still haven’t figured it out.

The speed of FCP X, however, is simply amazing. Videos compile quickly, and the screen draws very smoothly. The addition of multi-touch gestures to manipulate the timeline is a welcome touch. Pinch to zoom is, in particular, a killer feature for fine edits. Videos can also be quickly identified for potential problems, such as audio levels. As my current setup requires me to keep the mic levels low, FCP X does a nice job automatically analyzing the wave-form and making necessary corrections. This saves me a lot of time.

As I continue to work with the application I’ll share some more thoughts. If you’ve been holding off upgrading to FCP X, it might be worth the migration. It does take some getting used to, but once mastered the potential for the editors is enourmous.

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