The Day the Music Died

I wanted to use “So Long and Thanks for All the Fish,” but didn’t want to copy Shane Ross at It’s a sad time for video editors. The Final Cut Pro (FCP) line has died (as we know it – more on that later). For those who don’t know, Final Cut Pro has become the industry-standard program for video editing. A short sampling of movies edited with it include Cold Mountain, 300, The Corpse Bride, Enchanted, Eat Pray Love, True Grit, and The Social Network. As you can see, it has quite an impressive resume.

I started using FCP 4.5 back in 2006. I stepped through versions 5, 6, and 7 through the years, and view it almost as another arm when it comes to editing videos. The hot keys, menus, layout, and integration with the rest of the suite (Color, Motion, LiveType, Soundtrack Pro, Compressor, and DVD Studio Pro) has become second nature to me. I can snap together a video stinkin’ fast because of the muscle memory I’ve developed through five years of using this program at work. It’s an amazing program and I used to sing it’s praises any time I met someone even remotely interested in the field. So you all get it. It’s been a great program. Now to the bad news. Final Cut Pro X. (Yes, I know the current version is 7 and they’re skipping to 10. But that’s beside the point.)

The newest version of Final Cut is X, or 10. But people who used any previous version won’t recognize the new version. Since I don’t plan on wasting my money on this program, here’s a list compiled on

  • Chapter Markers: Apple seems to have done away with DVD Studio Pro, but you can now burn DVDs from directly within Final Cut Pro. In earlier versions of FCP you could add markers and include them as chapter markers upon export. This feature has inconveniently been left out of FCPX, making the ability to architect a commercial DVD fairly infeasible.
  • Limited Export Settings: You are limited in the formats and sizes you can export from FCPX. Whereas before you could export a variety of codecs and formats out of FCP, you now must complete more specific encoding in Compressor.
  • No Export for Hi-Res JPGs: If you want high resolution screenshots you must save them as TIFF or PNG files. JPG stills can be saved out of FCPX but they will be low resolution files.
  • No Support for EDL
  • No XML Import: Word on the street is this will be accomplished with a future third party plugin (for an additional fee, certainly).
  • No OMF export: Again, this should be able to be completed with a third party plugin sometime in the future
  • No Native Support for Red Raw files: With the wide range of codecs and file formats that FCPX natively supports, it may be a bit of a surprise that they don’t natively support this now popular video format.
  • No Multicam: The initial release will not have support for multicam, but sources close to Apple say that it will be included in future updates. If you use Multicam often, the lack of this feature could be a deal-breaker.
  • Inability to Open Projects Saved From Previous FCP Versions: The initial release will not allow you to open up projects saved from previous Final Cut Pro versions. There may be some ability to import legacy projects in future updates, but for this reason alone it makes sense to keep both FCPX and an older version of FCP on your machine.
  • No Capture from Tape or Output to Tape: Tape is slowly being phased out in most forms of production, in favor of solid state and file based systems. It’s no surprise that this one wasn’t included, but it may be a deterrent for those that are still working in a tape based environment. UPDATE: You can capture from camera, but does not appear to have batch capture function.
  • Limited Options for Arranging Your Workspace: Say goodbye to editing on 2 screens and sending the video signal out to a third monitor. The workspace is primarily “locked” and windows cannot be rearranged.
  • No Native Support for Third Party Plugins: We can anticipate this being a feature in immediate updates to FCPX. For now however, you are relegated to Final Cut Pro X’s built in plugins and filters until the SDK for developers is released. Your FCP 7 and earlier compatible plug-ins WILL NOT work in FCPX. UPDATE: Noise Industries reports an update to it’s FX Factory bundle with over 140 effects, transitions and generators for FCPX.
  • Support for External Monitoring?: Early reports state no support for external monitoring on a calibrated video display. UPDATE: There is external monitoring with an AJA card and new drivers.

The biggest ones that get me are Chapter Markers (long DVD creation is out, then), Multicam (back to the old days of FCP 5 where you chop manually – two major version ago!), inability of open old FCP files (Seriously!? I can’t open old projects!?), no tape interface (I think you can capture from, but no giving videos to old production houses – like most big production companies, TV stations, etc.), limited arranging of the workspace (the default never works for me), no third-party plugin support (Dropping support for the 1,000s of current ones. That’s nice…), and external monitoring (Hope they straighten this out). Hmm, my list is almost everything on the list I copied in. That’s neat. Also, there is no physical media with FCP X. You purchase it in the new Mac App Store and download it (all 1.33 GB of it). Hope you never have to reinstall on the road!

P.S. They also dropped DVD Studio Pro (and added in DVD burning into FCP X), Color (added into FCP X), and Soundtrack (as far as I can tell). Motion and Compressor are separate apps. FCP X is $299.99 and Motion and Compressor are $49.99 each (totaling cheaper than the previous $1,299-ish price tag).

And so we have the day the music (or video editing) died. Bye Final Cut Pro. Now we have iMovie Pro.

Leave a Reply