24 June 2011

Initial Thoughts of Apple Final Cut Pro X

I know I said in me previous post that I would talk about my experience with immigration to Canada, but I have been sidetracked with some new software I have been having a play around with. This software I mention is Apple's new Final Cut Pro X, the software that has the film editing professionals talking, but are they talking about this software in good favour or something else?

I have spoken to a number of professional film people about this development and they all seem to be in hot debate with it. As loyal users of previous incarnations of Final Cut Pro the outstanding point that keeps coming out is that this new version is a bloated version of iMovie! But what does this mean? Well dig a little deeper and arguments that have substance are that FCP X has reduced features for editing than previous versions, doesn't support industry standards, isn't industry standard, has less hidden details that the film professional is accustomed to in the modern industry. Do a search on Google about this topic and you will find many stories and horrified professionals condemning this move that Apple has made.

But what about MY experience with it? I am not a professional film editor, I have played around with old versions of FCP, Adobe Premiere, iMovie, Moviemaker etc, but I would never consider myself a professional in this field. So what would I consider myself in order to give this review a benchmark? OK I am not new to computers at all, as I have said I have opened and played around with other video editing software's, I am a designer by profession and I have taught many software's to groups especially in the Web Design area, so the Adobe software's are not a stranger to me, I like film and photography, I have an interest in design, I own a Mac. That probably sums up my background and knowledge base to quantify this review. But remember I am not a professional film editor, this is where the line is drawn and the arguments start regarding this new software. On a side note however, recent comments have suggested that Apple will be releasing updates to this new Final Cut Pro, that MAY include some of the features that the film professional is apparently missing in this version. This is to be seen of course, but I digress from the purpose of this review.

I have included a link to a video I created in a few hours which included processing, rendering, colour adjustments, cutting, shifting, slicing, adding sound, editing sound all at 1080p resolution on a MacBook Pro 4gb Ram i7 processor. Don't judge me on the design or planning of this video, it was for experimental reasons only. Oh and please excuse the transitions, I will come back to them in a moment. Click here to view the video.

So overall performance was pretty good, a few glitches here and there but remember working at 1080  resolution and it did crash I think twice. The interface is fairly intuitive again bearing in mind I have looked at other film editing software, it has features above and beyond the capabilities of iMovie etc. One thing I did notice was that the colour corrections I made in the preview window did not match the final exported movie, not sure why that was, I did fiddle with it to see if I could find something in the preferences but I could not as yet find a solution to that problem. There are lots of built in effects and transitions including the one I used in this movie, however in order to edit these transitions you would need to purchase Apple's Motion software, which I have yet not done. Export options are limited to the new Share menu which allows quick sharing to the likes of Facebook, Podcasts, DVD, Blu-Ray, Vimeo, or export at current project settings. This is all well and good for the social media person, or people producing quick online news feeds etc, but in order to have more control in this area you will need to also purchase Apple's Compressor software. This is something previous versions and users of FCP will find irritating. I would have embedded the video directly inside this blog however the export options didn't really allow me to do this.

Overall I enjoyed using the software, again I am not a professional film producer but it suited my needs giving me more options and capabilities than say iMovie, but keeping the accessibility and ease of use of iMovie. For professionals maybe this is not for them, but again maybe Apple will introduce the features these professionals are used to in time, but as it stands, probably not the option. Of course these users can continue using older versions of FCP, but eventually Apple will stop support for this software and maybe we can consider this software a skeleton on which Apple will build in more professional options.

For me this software is in a way ideal! And if you are interested in film producing, for family, for yourself, as a semi professional, as a wedding video producer etc then this is great, for the professional, perhaps not, or should I say, perhaps not YET! Of course there is always a knee jerk response from the industry towards the new, and yes it does have an effect including a economic effect when converting to a new standard. Professionals have suggested that Apple have shunned the 'industry standard' approach to this software and may move towards Adobe Premier or Avid, which is ironic as before Apple FCP came they were the standard, maybe it was the elitist approach of users that made them move to Apples FCP in the first place. With this software Apple have opened a fairly technical area of film production to the masses, allowing new people, hobbyist, people like me with creative interest in film access to some intuitive and visually impressive film production techniques and application.

On a personal note as a creative and someone who has delivered instruction on many creative softwares, this reaction from the industry is something I would have done myself a while ago. I would have had the elitist opinion on these softwares saying things like these creative softwares are only for the professional etc. But the more I look at the industry who develop these softwares and allow more accessibility and usability to the masses a saying springs to mind:
"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink"
Basically what I am saying is that you can teach someone the tools of any software, in particular creative software, but what a person does with that software is what sets a person outside of the masses! Creativity is the way forward and its very difficult to teach that with a manual, or with software training, it is something that is absorbed and nurtured through experience. So the knee jerk reaction from the professional film persons in this case is something they should not fear.  Final Cut Pro X does not mean you are out of a job just yet!

Visit my professional website at http://iamliamroberts.com