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Apple Final Cut Pro X 10.1 Review

Screen capture of the Apple Final Cut Pro X 10.1 editing program

Final Cut Pro X has taken great strides and matured into one of the most innovative video editing software titles in recent history. Apple has been working hard over the past two and half years to update and improve Final Cut Pro X, and the latest version, 10.1, brings tons of great improvements that may have you thinking twice about your editing software of choice.

When Apple unveiled Final Cut Pro X back in April 2011 at a National Association of Broadcasters event, many in the audience were stunned and impressed by the overhauled user interface, the robust additions that made better use of newer hardware and operating system technologies, and for showing how the current paradigms in video editing software could be changed for the better. After releasing the software in June 2011, Final Cut Pro X received a fair bit of criticism for not including many long-standing features from Final Cut Pro 7, including support for multicam editing and XML/EDL imports/exports.

Over the past two and half years, Apple has released 10 software updates to Final Cut Pro X, most of them containing many returning features from Final Cut Pro 7 along with other new features, never before seen in previous versions of Final Cut Pro. The newest version released on December 19, 2013, version 10.1, includes many additions that prepare Final Cut Pro X for the future of video of production and help to make a video editor’s job a little bit easier. 

New Features

After several years of waiting, Apple finally released the new Mac Pro with vastly superior hardware to the previous model and Final Cut Pro X 10.1 has several improvements to help take advantage of all that power. Version 10.1 has been optimized for better playback and rendering using the dual graphics cards available in the new Mac Pro, and there is now support for video monitoring up to 4k via the Thunderbolt 2 and HDMI connections on the newest Mac models. Final Cut Pro X 10.1 reinforces support for 4k by also including new 4k versions of titles, transitions, and generators that can be used in your 4k projects.

One of the biggest changes in Final Cut Pro X 10.1 is the way that it handles the user’s Libraries. In previous versions, there was no easy way to ingest footage from your cameras to any storage location outside of your Event’s storage location. In version 10.1, you can now ingest media to any mountable storage location including SANs or other network storageThe Libraries themselves have also been converted to an all-in-one format, storing the event and project files (and the events’ footage if it is not stored somewhere else) inside a single file that makes it very easy to share with others. 

Apple Final Cut Pro X 10.1 New Browser
This is also great because you can close any open Libraries in the Browser (formally Event Browser) when you are done with them, cleaning up your workspace and allowing you to safely eject removable media that may have stored those Libraries.

There have also been some improvements to previously added features. The multicam feature has been upgraded to allow detaching audio from multicam clips to allow separate manipulation of the video and audio tracks. You can also perform video- or audio-only edits with the timeline tools on multicam clips. The replace and retime tools have also seen a few improvements, allowing you to perform a replace and retime in one step, create more precise retimed edits by entering speeds numerically with the keyboard, and there is now a non-rippling retime option.

Final Cut Pro X 10.1 also includes an automatic Library backup feature which backs up the Library metadata to any location, including network locations. In addition to full Library backups, there is also the option to create project snapshots, which are essentially a copy of your edit with a time stamp attached that you can return to later.

One old favorite from pre-X versions of Final Cut Pro that made its return is the ability to remove "through edits" and an indicator that shows where they are in your timeline. The user interface has also gotten a little more streamlined and flexible, allowing you to hide the Browser window in addition to the Libraries drawer. 

Solid Performance

Final Cut Pro X 10.1 has a truly gorgeous interface that makes even complex timelines appear simplistic. It allows the editor to get back to what’s really important: the content. With all the buttons and dials out of the way, your content becomes the star of the timeline. You don’t have to worry about accidentally knocking items out of sync with the magnetic timeline features that link relevant clips together and you can combine complex sets of clips together into compound clips to reduce clutter on the timeline. The brilliance of these features is that you can have timelines that still have complexity, but by designing the interface in this way, Final Cut Pro X is approachable in a way that has never been seen in professional video editing software. Granted, sometimes the interface is so streamlined it can still be difficult to find the exact feature you are looking for, but the help menu will usually highlight a feature in the menu system when you search for something, or give you more information in the help files.

With the new Library management, the previous challenge of managing your Events and project files becomes rather straightforward, especially if you elect to store all your video assets within your Library files. The background rendering system works great as well and it’s always a joy to return to your edit and find it fully rendered after stepping away for a few minutes. 

Change is Good

Ten software updates later, Final Cut Pro X is really starting to feel like a polished and precise editing suite that should be an attractive option to several varieties of video editors. If you stepped away from Final Cut Pro since Final Cut Pro X was released, it is definitely worth your time to check out this new version. It’s very fast and has tremendous scalability whether you are throwing together quick dailies or editing together your cinematic masterpiece. Apple worked really hard to update and improve Final Cut Pro X, bringing you the tools you need to succeed as a professional video editor. With all the recent improvements and a very competitive price point, Final Cut Pro X 10.1 is a force to be reckoned with in the video production industry. 

Apple Inc.
www.apple.com
$300

Tech Specs

Minimum Operating System: OS X v10.9 or later
Minimum RAM: 4GB (8GB recommended for 4K)
Minimum Hard Drive Space for Installation: 3.5GB
Minimum Graphics: OpenCL-capable graphics card or Intel HD Graphics 3000 or later
Minimum VRAM: 256MB (1GB recommended for 4k)
Trial Version Available: Yes, 30 days

Strengths

  • Overhauled Library management
  • Robust support for 4k content
  • Many “missing features” have returned

Weaknesses

  • Simple design can conceal advanced features
  • Magnetic timeline can be cumbersome


Adam Vesely is a Videographer/Director of Photography and Still Photographer.

Tags:  March 2014
Adam
Vesely
Sat, 01/18/2014 - 9:39am

Comments

lin2log's picture

... that you clearly don't grasp that the two "Weaknesses" you list are in fact two of its biggest strengths! The fact that rarely used "advanced features" are tucked away is the pinnicle of brilliance and one of the things that in fact makes FCP X that much faster than any NLE I've used in over 20 years in the business.

 

And sorry, but if you find the magnetic timeline "cumbersome", then you clearly just don't get it. Learning how it in fact works and how to use it would probably help. It's not cumbersome, it's DIFFERENT. In the best way possible.

AustinMace's picture

I wrote my thoughts of FCPX 10.1 for Nofilmschool.com (http://nofilmschool.com/2013/12/first-impressions-of-final-cut-pro-x-10-1/) the first weekend after it came out and not much of my opinions have changed. For me personally, I think another weakness/ What I Don't Like that I would have added was that it's cumbersome to update projects to the new version if you have multiple events and projects spread across multiple drives. 

I was lucky and started working with FCPX at the infancy of my videomaking career and had not in-depth knoweledge of any NLE past or present at that time. That is what allowed me to thrive with FCPX, and after working in Premiere for 8 months in a job that had required it, I could see how extremely difficult it could be for seasoned veteren editors to fully commit to FCPX. FCPX 10.1 makes editing (for me at least) faster then ever, and really can't wait to see the spike in performance when I finally get my hands on my new Mac Pros this weekend :) 

RicoRizzo's picture

The problem with FCPX comes down to one thing...the "User Interface".

Place the FCP 7 UI ontop of FCPX and Apple will silence all doubters and win back 75% of the editors they lost with FCPX! I would be the first to start the parade.

 

It's that simple Apple. Every time I see "update to FCPX" I pray Apple has re-arranged the UI to function like FCP 7 but not yet.

 

FXPX is a case where you cannot accept the critism of MOST editing professionals who used to love FCP and hate the UI of FCPX.  

Sometimes you have to admit you tried something new and it's not as good as what you had,  and re-assess.  In this case you are epically wrong. 

 

I'm sure FCX UI is adequate for a new editor who doesn't know better, for everyone else it's a whacky non-intuitive app to be avoided. (see iMovie Pro) 

 

 

 

 

AqwaAngel's picture

i Have to say that i was really Skeptical about Final cut pro X as i use to use FCP7 and i was bad mouthing the app for so long until one day i finally had the time to play with it and amazingly enough to like it. I Volunteer at a TV studio here in town and i do some editing for them and now trying to start my own business on video editing and i'm still on the learning curve and i have to say that i'm taking everything back about FCPX. true the GUI is different, but you get use to it, But it is really easy to use and user friendly. I'm now buying more plugins for it and learing more about the app online and books and again! i find it easier to use than FCP7. the only thing i need to master is the Audio track and some effects, but over all? it is user friendly and i like it. it renders as you go, doesn't slow down my mac while it renders it, easy to use. i'll say 2 thumbs up. i'm really glad that i moved on over my critizism over 7 being better than 10. i moved on and i'm loving 10 better than 7 now. 

 

Cheers :D