Dr. Strangesplice Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Final Cut Pro X

Apple just released Final Cut Pro X, a completely new version of its lauded video- and film-editing software. The editing world was hot with anticipation over its 64-bit architecture, background rendering, increased native video formats and a handful of other gold plated carrots that the Cupertino crew were dangling in front of us.

The gold plating turned out to be tin foil, and what it was wrapping, well, I’ll let the fine editors at Conan O’Brien weigh in.

The new face of Final Cut Pro

Conan’s editorial staff humorously sums up the frustration and anger that many professional editors are feeling with the release of X. I myself got caught up in the Simpsons-esque pitchfork-wielding mob as I read the initial reactions and  just as the whole mess was about to do my head completely in, I took a deep breath and thought hard. We happen to be in the market here at Fast Horse for upgraded video-editing software, so this whole thing is a critical situation for us.

I took a look at the complaints and applied them to my production situations. One of the biggest and loudest complaints is the removal of backwards compatibility. Apple didn’t bother to announce that legacy versions of Final Cut would be all but ignored by X, a pretty cold way of saying “This is the way it is from now on.” Shops with multiple projects in the works could put themselves out of business with the simple push of the “Buy App” button. In the case of Fast Horse productions, this has little impact. We have our legacy machine and can open our existing projects for modification with ease. We also happen to be in a fortuitous stage where all of our projects are in pre-production. Everything we do going forward can be edited in X.

What burns me up most about FCP X? They changed the icon. Bastards.

Many high end editors are upset about the removal of other features that made Final Cut Pro, “Pro”. Multicam cutting is gone. Importing XML files is gone. No external monitoring. No support for third party plug-ins. No RED Raw support. There’s more but unless you’re an editor it’s boring stuff. What I did list is downright offensive to any editor worth a toss to not have at their disposal. Does Fast Horse need any of this? No. We shoot on one Canon 5DMKII. I won’t miss multicam and won’t have much use for it when it gets re-implemented as a free update. The day a Fast Horse shoot gets so big we have to have an XML document to organize the footage is the day I recommend we open Fast Horse Filmworks and start producing feature films.


External monitoring? As much as I’d love to have a nice big flat panel TV up on the wall of the bay to watch my work, I don’t edit for broadcast or the big screen. I edit for the web or in- house presentations. The supported dual monitors are plenty enough for my needs, and that external monitoring is still there, you just need to buy an expensive card for it now.

As far as third party plug-ins are concerned, I like watching demos of what they can add, but have never been able to afford the really useful ones. I don’t miss what I’ve never had.

What of the popular RED camera and it’s lack of support? If you’re editor for David Fincher (“Fight Club”), I’ll bet you’re pissed. I am not David Fincher’s editor and renting a RED for one day costs more than I make in two weeks. You’ll see no tears shed here over that omission.

Jeff Uemura

Jeff Uemura sets up Fast Horse's new Mac Pro

Fast Horse is a boutique agency who just happens to have a stunningly handsome videographer and editor. We are not a post house or studio. Since I doubt Quentin Tarantino is going to stop working with Sally Menke anytime soon, I’m not going to worry that I don’t have all the tools I’m accustomed to in FCP X.

FCP X is not complete. It needs a good dose of free updating to start to smooth out the PR mess Apple has on their hands over this. While it’s not a complete suite for the motion picture or television editor, It’s a fantastic new start for small shops. Let’s face it, Apple has made it perfectly clear they’re not going back, so editors, roll your sleeves up and jump in. I’ll be waiting to hear you complain after you get used to X and XI is released.

Fast Horse has not yet adopted Final Cut Pro X. Many of my video-editing peers would laugh me out of the studio if I were to go to them and say I was recommending X for the shop. For cost ($300) and functionality paired with what I need to accomplish on a daily basis at our awesome little agency, Final Cut Pro X is right up our alley.

One last thing, every little mistake you see in the Conan video can easily be made in FCP 7. It all depends on how long you’ve been using the tools.