Evolution of FCP . . . 7 to X

Apple’s version of Final Cut Pro, called FCPX, hit consumer shelves June 2011.

Its appearance was highly anticipated. Apple promised to make the once industrial looking platform 1) user-friendly, 2) affordable, 3) fast and 4) able to address editing needs for the next 10 years. They succeeded . . . to an extent.

FCPX closely resembles iMovie, which emulates a myriad of editing programs already used by weekend movie makers, who can transition with little training.

At closer inspection FCPX is a more powerful tool than its cousin, iMovie. But why pay an additional $299 for a few new bells and whistles?

Here are a few of the changes that caught my attention:

* Audition, a new pop out window, allows the editor to compare the same video clip, side-by-side, each with its own effect. Powerful!

* For speed, popular shortcut keys are streamlined – no need for many keys combined with the Command, Option, Control or Shift attribute.

* Visuals. More windows appear alongside the Browser, Viewer, Canvas and Timeline. The Viewer & Canvas split into an array of smaller windows. Transitions has its own window. Apple developers utilize the workspace without data feeling cluttered or squashed. A new window appears, data resizes seamlessly.

* Audio and Tool palettes; Insert, Overwrite and Replace buttons are gone.

* Editing tools – the Slip, Roll, Slide functions are assigned solely to the Razor Blade tool.

* Keyframes have been added to the Timeline. For example, use keyframes to fade sound in the Timeline instead of using the Effects tab, or Audio bar. Fantastic!

* Compatibility. FCPX trashes edits made by FCP7. At this time, Apple has no plans to support FCP7. They want to look forward, not back.

Upgrade? FCP7 power users are cautioned not to jump ship . . . yet. Wait until developers have a chance to work out most of the kinks. While it’s not yet perfect, and may never live up to hardcore editors’ expectations, in Apple’s hands, with the benefit of Apple’s expertise and long range planning, future editions of FCP promises to become a robust editor.

FCP7 users are cautioned NOT to upgrade to Lion operating system. Many of the features will not work, especially the function keys and many of the shortcut keys.

A few days after FCPX was released, a group of FCP developers – Michael Wohl, Larry Jordan and Philip Hodgetts – visited a meeting of the Los Angeles Final Cut Pro User Group to answer professional editors’ questions and concerns.

Larry Jordan offers a great analogy about the future of editing. He compares editing to reading and writing. At one time few humans could read/write. When the masses learned these skills, though used differently, everyone made money because they could read and write. Some used it to fill out a job application. Others became well-paid professional novelists. Success depended on how they used their skills.

Four 15-minute clips of their Q&A can be found at the following website. (Jordan’s analogy appears on the 3rd video.) Enjoy!

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