Final Cut Pro X

 

Picture of the Final Cut Pro X interface

Very few companies have introduced more truly revolutionary products than Apple.  The Mac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad have all completely changed their respective markets and even created brand new markets.  But one product often overlooked when talking about Apple’s impressive track record is Final Cut Pro.  Final Cut Pro truly changed the way people were able to create films, putting the power of editing into the hands of the masses, while at the same time becoming an industry standard for feature films such as The Social Network, No Country for Old Men and 300.

When Apple announced the new Final Cut Pro X in June 2011, the reaction was mixed.  FCPX wasn’t just an updated version of the software that changed the way people edit films, it was a completely new program built from the ground up.  If there’s one thing editors hate more than anything, it’s change.  While some of the criticism of FCPX’s missing features was warranted, most of the criticism was simply because it looked and behaved differently than previous versions.  Apple has done an outstanding job of updating FCPX, adding back many key features that were missing from its initial release.

As the iTunes U Media Specialist, I edit all of our iTunes U content using Final Cut Pro X. Not only does it offer amazing benefits over previous version of Final Cut, but also over other competing editing programs, such as Adobe Premiere and Avid Media Composer.

Here, I’ve highlighted 5 benefits FCPX offers that make it a great choice for anyone looking to create their own video content.

 

1) Price

With previous versions of Final Cut Pro, Apple didn’t sell it as a stand-alone program.  Rather, they bundled it together with other pieces of software and labeled the suite “Final Cut Studio.”  It was priced at around $1,000.  With Final Cut Pro X, Apple has broken up that suite of programs and even eliminated a few whose core functionality was integrated into FCPX.  You can now buy FCPX as a stand-alone program for just $300 from the Mac App Store.  This price is a steal, especially when compared to the competition.  Adobe Premiere and Avid Media Composer are probably the main competitors for FCPX.  Like the old Final Cut Studio, Adobe doesn’t sell Premiere as a stand-alone program.  The cheapest bundle that includes Premiere is the Production Premium bundle, which is priced at $1,899.  Avid Media Composer is a little less expensive at $999, but still nowhere near how inexpensive FCPX is.

2) Organization of footage 

One big change from Final Cut Studio to Final Cut Pro X is the way raw footage is organized.  FCPX gives users the ability to group footage into “Events,” as well as create subcategories using “Keyword Collections” and “Smart Collections.”  This makes finding particular video clips incredibly fast and easy.

3) Usability

One of the big knocks on many of the non-linear editing programs out there, including the old Final Cut, was the steep learning curve.  If you’re someone who maybe has been using a basic editing program like iMovie, but want to take the next step up, making the move to Final Cut Pro X is going to be a much easier transition than from any other program.  FCPX and iMovie are built on the same core, therefore many tasks function the same.  Some people have noted this as a negative of FCPX, saying that Apple has “dumbed down” Final Cut in this version, but I think anytime you can make something more user-friendly without sacrificing power, that’s a good thing.

4) Speaking of power…

Continuing from the previous point, FCPX has some serious muscle.  Anyone who’s ever edited with the old Final Cut knows the pure evil that is “rendering.”  Any time you added an effect or made any kind of edit, you were forced to render your changes before you could play it back.  Depending on the length of the clip this could take a long time, thus making editing a prolonged process.  With FCPX, all rendering is done in the background where you barely notice it.  You can play back your footage and continue editing while FCPX does the work.

5) Integration with the web

The vast majority of videos today are shared via the Internet, rather than on physical media such as DVD’s.  FCPX has built-in presets and shortcuts for uploading to online sites such YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook.  Being able to share your work to the world in a matter of clicks is extremely handy.

 

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be going over the basics of how to actually get started with using Final Cut Pro X, so be sure to check back!  In the mean time, if you have any questions about FCPX, feel free to shoot me an email and I’d be happy to help!

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