Post Production

8 Ways to Make the Leap Easier to FCP X

Photo by Lars P.


I don’t think the end of the world prediction back on May 21st holds a candle to the kind of reaction the new version of Final Cut Pro received yesterday. Just look at the app store comments. For some dyed-in-the-wool editors this may feel like the beginning of the end. Some of us view it as the continued consumerization of the professional space by the iMovie crowd. There are some valid reasons to feel this way in respect to a lot of pro features that did not make thecut into the new version of FCP.

Apple may be listening.

It looks like Apple may be including some of these missing features like multi-cam and XML support in a future update.

But it’s clear that there has been a new paradigm shift in the editing world. And I think despite the current controversy, for better or for worse, in a year’s time FCP X will be commonplace and maintain Apple’s dominance in this industry.

Luckily, there is a ton of documentation and training already available. While I was downloading FCP X, Compressor 4 and Motion 5, I read the free 86-pgFirst Lookdocument that Ripple Trainer Steve Martin put up on Ken Stone’s site. It really helped me get my bearings as I navigated the alien landscape of the new Final Cut. Since the document is such a great in-depth tour (among others) of the new form and function of FCP, I decided not to to write a general review.

Instead, I wanted to look at “learning-hacks” we can use to make the transition to FCP X faster. So here are 8 ways to make the leap easier to Final Cut Pro X:

1) Try to recreate a short project you recently did in FCP 7 in FCP X. And when I say short, I mean :30 spot short, not 30 min film short.Post Production

And unfortunately, you can’t have an instance of FCP 7 and FCP X open up on the same computer. But if you can figure out a way to do set up a side-by-side recreation of a past project you can go along way to understanding the major differences between the two apps.

2) Start becoming more familiar with Smart Folders on an OS level. In fact, create smart folders for all of the media associated with your last short project. I have more detail about this in a workflow on my blog, about how to Work Faster with Smart Folders.

FCP X creates Smart Collections based on your clip meta-data information. The more familiar you are with the process of organizing media around meta-data, the more intuitive this new new component of FCP becomes.

Final Cut Pro X

3). Use Mnemonic Devices. You are going to have to channel your inner Johnny Mnemonic to learn the new lexicon of FCP X.FCPx

For instance, going back to the previous tip – what was once called a bin in FCP 7 is now a Smart Collection in FCP X. A mnemonic example for remembering this would be:

Attention JC Penney shoppers our clearance BINS have been removed on aisle 10 and replaced with SMART COLLECTIONS.

As silly as this sounds, just saying it a few times in your head could go a long way towards be able to remember that bins are now smart collections.

4) Intentionally record bad audio and video. I know this will be insanely hard, but try. The reason is that you want to see how well the new media analysis tools in FCP X works with the type of media you typically use.Final Cut Pro

The above example is a from a clip that was recorded with low reference audio. When it’s brought into FCP X it is analyzed and is suggested that background noise be removed. Since I’m very familiar with the clip, I know that there is not background noise so much as there is just low signal to noise ratio.

So by learning how FCP X interprets your footage you will have a better understanding of the kind of tolerances you’re dealing with during acquisition and the kinds of adjustments you will have to make when using this feature.

5) Creating iteration workarounds. Since you can’t iterate your project progress now that sequences are gone in FCP X, you’ll have to create a workaround. You can make a copy of your project at any time.  This allows you to save its current version. Just click on the current event in the Project Library and choose File -> Duplicate Event. Use your existing naming convention but make sure the project version number is in the suffix. Example:


6) Map your FCP 7 keyboard shortcuts to FCP X. If you use your existing “muscle memory” you will learn the new FCP X world a lot faster. In FCP X the keyboard editor is now called the Command Editor but it is actually much better.FCP

7) And yet another way existing multi-touch users can leverage “muscle memory” is to take advantage of the multi-touch capabilities in FCP X. We’ve been able to use multi-touch on an OS level for a while now with the trackpad, Magic Mouse and Magic Pad. Now, that same ease of use is built into the FCP X timeline navigation controls.Final Cut Pro X

8). Upgrade your 3rd party plugins as soon as FCP X versions become available. There is already support for FCP from one of the biggest 3rd party plugin developers FXFactory. And we can expect that these developers will be working around the clock to rewrite their plugins to work with the new FXP code base.

I hope that these tips are useful and keep in mind that they may be re-evaluated, updated and modified as the functionality of FCP X changes in the future.

So what ways are you trying to make ease the transition to the new Final Cut Pro?

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1 Comment
   James Wood - United By Photography said on November 22, 2011 at 1:48 am

First start of traditional FCP users, decided if FCP X is right for you or the work you deliver on regular basis.

If not stay where you are until something more improved suits you better.

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