Final Cut Pro X’s Out; I’m Worried

Final Cut Pro X

Yup, worried. Though maybe I shouldn’t be. It sort of looks like I am the target market for Apple’s new video editing software, Final Cut Pro X.

Except, maybe I’m not.

Apple is getting crucified in the blogosphere right now about its new app, particularly from the professional community, which had come to view Final Cut Pro 7, the earlier incarnation of the software, as an indispensable tool for broadcast and film-quality video editing. In some cases, it may be a case of users not being able to locate familiar tools that actually are in the software, but which after just 24 hours of tinkering, they haven’t yet been able to find.

Much of what it appears the software has going for it sounds to me like a massive upgrade. The fact that it is faster and that it does its rendering in the background is a gigantic stride forward. I’m a user of the most recent iteration of Final Cut Express, a pretty good trimmed-back version of Final Cut Pro 7 missing some of the goodies, like the Color and Soundtrack Pro apps.

Which means that I’m not a pro by any means, but a slightly more advanced hobbyist than the usual iMovie user–albeit a guy who has gotten paid a few times for my video work.

That means that Final Cut Pro X should be nothing but a step up for me. Probably that is true. But some of what is being shouted about does have me concerned and hesitant:

• Some people seem to think that there is no way to set up a scratch disk. I’m seeing some indication that they are wrong, but if they are right, that is a huge problem. You don’t want to be loading and editing massive video files on the native hard drive of an iMac.

• The lack of multicam support may or may not be a problem. Certainly I use more than one camera on most of the projects I do, but I have a hard time believing that it will be impossible to work with video uploaded from multiple cameras. So this might a problem only to those people who have gotten accustomed to the full-blown Final Cut Pro app of the past. But if you truly cannot use video from more than one camera, this is another huge problem.

• The inability to upload previous Final Cut files–like my documentary, which could stand some editing with really good software–is a real drawback. The fact that you can’t do that, but can upload previous iMovie files gives a lot of credence to the idea that Apple is forsaking the pro and prosumer crowds for people who are even bigger newbies than me. A bummer, since I have no desire to fork over big money for really expensive software like Adobe Premier.

• Soundtrack Pro and Color are no more, not even as apps that can be purchased separately. Color’s absence is probably not a problem for me, since the enhanced color controls embedded in FCPX will certainly be a lot better than what was previously available to me in Final Cut Express. So I won’t notice that as a problem. The audio handling might not be a problem, either, if I can port my audio into Logic Pro for treatment as I have done before. But if I can’t even do that, then, boy, I don’t know about this software.

Again, I am not a pro. I’m just someone who has been doing a fair amount of video work to train myself to work in another medium besides the written word. You can see examples of my work here and here and here. As you can see, James Cameron has nothing to worry about.

But I’ve been plenty excited about the new Final Cut Pro X, and waiting for my chance to buy it. But I think I’m going to take a pass on the “.0” version and wait to see how Apple responds to the criticism–and whether it fixes some of the problems that have been identified.

Late Addition, June 22, 2:38 p.m.: Well, at least the New York Times‘ generally reliable David Pogue has some reassuring words.


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