Everyone has an opinion on Final Cut Pro X. Here’s mine.

Everyone has an opinion about Final Cut Pro X, including me. Here it is.

Short version:

  • This is a totally new program, a move that was technologically needed. (from a 32-bit structure to 64 bit.)
  • You can’t equate it with any other version of Final Cut. Accept that now.
  • It’s backend architecture is quite strong.
  • It’s front end interface is too amateurish, but that’s the market they were aiming for.
  • The high-end professional market is really small — I’m told just 2% — so as a business move it makes sense to want that consumer market. (One reason for the significant price drop.)

Longer version:
I can accept all of these things about FCPX (pronounced “pro ten.”) If I were a solo operation my decision would be stay with my current version of FC (Express in my case) for another year while Apple responds to all the comments about FCPX. Apple will be making continuous changes (they’ve already had two updates) and what we’ll see in a year will be markedly different from today’s product. And better.

If you can’t afford to wait for these upgrades I’d say accept that you have to learn something completely new and dive in now — it WILL get better. If you don’t think you can do that, take advantage of one of the many “crossgrade” (http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/avid-adobe-pile-on-final-cut-pro-x-with-cheap-crossgrades/51795) offers popping up from Avid and Adobe. I talked with a super user today and he tells me that FCPX makes wonderful use of the full power of your computer. In just four hours of testing the app he found that it will cut significant production time in his work. If he were grading it, he’d probably give the back end architecture an A+.

The interface, however, is another story. There are numerous things he either can’t do (he’s using FCP7 now) or hasn’t figured out how to do. I watched him work and found the interface to be a nice compromise between any professional editor and iMovie. I can see how Apple was designing for mom and pop editors. I also know enough to see exactly the kind of problems this new interface presents for the power user. There are just too many quirky user problems for those who already know how to use video editing software. It’s unfortunate that Apple decided not to use an interface more like FCP7. Grade for the interface: C-.

With the release of FCPX, other versions of FC are obsolete and support for them will fade out, probably over the next year (that’s just a guess.) This pretty much forces companies to make a move — or continue to work with software that will never be updated. Consider a move to FCPX as on the same learning curve as moving to Avid or Adobe Premiere.

Apple answers questions about FCPX

In the next post I’ll talk about our particular conundrum: deciding which program to use for teaching.


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