I’d been excited about FCPX since I heard rumors about it at the end of last year. Six months was far too long to have to wait for something like this. Two months ago, they gave people a sneak peek. I ate up every bit of information I could find. Eight weeks felt like torture. Then, not much more than a week ago, it came out.

In the last week, I’ve read dozens of reviews and rants: editors who can’t believe that Apple would betray them like this, Adobe fanatics who are giggling at the chance to convert Apple fanboys, bloggers who really don’t know anything about it and just want page-views. Eventually, I remembered that my personal opinions aren’t really affected by those of the general population and decided that the only way to proceed was to try it out myself. So I did. Here are some random observations based off of a single video edit.

First off, I didn’t go into it blindly, as so many have tried and failed. I found some tutorials to go through before I started, and they helped A LOT. Anyone who wants to give this a shot needs to know what they’re getting into.

It does feel a little dumbed-down, but that’s mostly because of the user-friendliness. For some reason, people have it in their heads that professional applications need to be ugly and hard to use. That’s like trying to convince somebody that Tumblr is an amateur blogging platform because the admin section doesn’t look like Wordpress.

Really, I only have two major issues with FCPX, and both will likely be fixed in future updates. The lack of 3rd party plugins is a little annoying, and I wish they had a dedicated color application. The included color effects aren’t enough for me. Also, my laptop has a really slow hard drive, so it tends to crash if I try to do too much at once…

There were a lot of things I like about it. 64-bit is awesome; background everything is awesome; the keyboard shortcuts are awesome; the audio enhancements are awesome and extremely intuitive. I’m convinced that once I have a decent machine, I have time to get used to everything, and Apple comes out with a few key updates, I will be able to edit much faster on FCPX than any other editing software.

A lot of rants have been focusing on a few, albeit major, issues. The software isn’t backwards-compatible; there is no support for XML, EDL, etc; no multicam editing; and the list goes on. Most of these seem like valid complaints until you begin editing with FCPX. Then (if you’re smart) you realize that there is no possible way the software could be backwards compatible. None of my previous projects would work on Apple’s new magnetic timeline. The reason that none of the acronyms are supported yet is because it’s a brand new application. They’re still working on it. In fact, that could be a valid answer to basically every single complaint. FCPX is a brand-new application. It wasn’t rebuilt; it wasn’t based off fcp7; it was built from scratch. A lot of time and work and creativity went into building this application, and feature-set is amazing. The problem that people have is that it’s not the feature-set they were expecting.

Let’s use a metaphor. Someone likened iMovie to a bicycle, so I’ll continue on that vein. If iMovie is a bicycle, let’s say that fcp7 is a car. People were happy with their car even though it was getting old, and they liked the distinction between the car and the bicycle. It made them feel more important. Then Apple comes out with a motorcycle. Suddenly, bicycle-riders have a cheaper alternative than the car. They can get to the same places for half the price, sometimes even faster and more efficiently. The people in the car switch over, then complain that they’re missing two wheels and a gas pedal. Apple has compromised by showing them the throttle and promising them a sidecar, which is uncharacteristic and ridiculous. Apple should have told them to grab a helmet and a jacket and learn to ride. If they really need four wheels, plenty of other companies are making cars nowadays.

As for me, I’m content to let FCPX be what it is and not to confuse it with fcp7. If I ever feel like I’m limited by it, I’ll have no problems finding something else that will do the job.

AuthorSheffield Leithart