I have heard several people on Twitter say that they are thinking of switching to Adobe Premiere or Avid Media Composer after the release of Final Cut Pro X.
As we announced earlier this year, we will be releasing a new version of FCS Maintenance Pack soon called Pro Maintenance Tools. This will support Final Cut Studio, Final Cut Pro X, Avid Media Composer and Adobe Premiere Pro for Mac, so whatever decision you make we've got you covered.
And if you're an existing FCS Maintenance Pack customer who purchased the software on or after 1st February 2011, you will be eligible for a free upgrade to Pro Maintenance Tools upon release.
Are there features you like in Final Cut Pro X but wish they were in Final Cut Pro 7 or Adobe Premiere Pro? We've got you covered there too with Pro Media Tools.
Pro Media Tools adds support for Quick Bins (Apple calls these Clip Collections in FCPX) and you can see a complete overview of the media, effects and markers in Project Overview (Timeline Index in FCPX). Project Overview is more advanced than FCPX's Timeline Index because it allows batch modification of the data, printing, import and export to marker and Avid locator lists and more. A 15-day trial is available here.
We're interested to hear from anyone with requests for other Final Cut Pro X features they'd like to see ported to earlier versions or other NLEs.
I've already mentioned The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Final Cut Pro X but when it comes to developer features, there's a lot more to like.
Chris Kenny has been doing some delving and discovered that there are references to Python and AppleScript in the Final Cut Pro X app. This would be a big step up from the current method of sending commands via Apple Events.
There are also references to XML import and Final Cut Pro XML import, which implies that they will be two different formats. This makes sense, as the structure of FCPX projects has changed significantly (no more bins and no concept of tracks for instance) and there is a greater focus on metadata.
Neither of these are publicly accessible right now but they show that Apple has at least experimented with these functions and it is likely that they will be enabled in a future release. There has been speculation that import of FCP7 projects or XML may never come as the project formats are too different, but I think it's likely that we will at least see an FCPX-specific exchange format at some point in the future.
Final Cut Pro X now uses the Motion engine to render effects, which means that plugin output is now consistent between Final Cut Pro and Motion - something that was not the case in previous versions. Developers need to wrap their Motion plugins as Final Cut Effects in order for them to show up in Final Cut Pro X.
Other notable changes include more control over plugin user interfaces, support for multi-threading, keyframing, undo and bezier paths. These have been requested for a long time so it's great that they're now here. Thanks to Darrin Cardani and Paul Schneider at Apple for listening to the needs of developers.
Final Cut Pro X and Motion 5 require plugins to be compiled as 64-bit so most users' plugins won't be compatible. This is only a temporary problem until plugin developers catch up and the benefits of a 64-bit environment and FxPlug 2.0 will make it worthwhile. (There are, of course, some bugs in the implementation as would be expected in a 1.0 release.)
Just before Final Cut Pro X was unveiled at NAB earlier this year, I wrote a post about my Top 5 Developer Requests for the Next Final Cut Pro.
Storing settings in preference lists was number one and, as expected, this was implemented. While the reasons for wanting it so badly (mainly for programmatically changing scratch disk locations) are less important in Final Cut Pro X, we can still do a lot of things with it.
Making the Final Cut Pro project format more open was second on the list. This one is a little more complex because on the one hand, it's in SQLite format which makes it readable by the sqlite3 Terminal command but on the other, Core Data assumes that no-one other than the owning application will ever touch those files and so it's very easy to corrupt it if you're not careful. Also, while the SQLite format offers some predictability, Apple are free to structure the database any way they see fit and change it without notice in future versions. I've written a basic filename parser but I'm going to wait for official documentation or an API before doing anything more substantial.
Third, fourth and fifth on the list were requests for more API control. This is not in the initial release of Final Cut Pro X and remains to be seen if it will be in future versions.
Of course, I wrote this on the assumption that FCPX wouldn't remove any developer features that were in the previous version. While the developer features are sparse in the current version, the future looks bright, especially as it appears that Apple is expecting third-party developers to fill in many of the gaps in FCPX's feature set.
This list will document the bugs in Final Cut Pro X as they become apparent.
This one is scary. There are several reports of people losing work due to FCPX's autosave function (which is the only way to save) not working.
When you add media from another drive and choose not to copy the files to your Final Cut Events folder, FCPX adds symbolic links to the Final Cut Events folder that point back to these files.
Some people have been reporting that they relaunched FCPX to find all of their media offline. When they looked in the Final Cut Events folder, FCPX had either deleted the symbolic links or failed to save them in the first place.
You can reconnect them by going to File > Import > Files but this causes another bug to surface: the files will always be copied to your Final Cut Events folder even if you deselect the option to do so.
Some people are reporting that Undo is disabled for them. What makes this an especially big problem is that FCPX saves automatically and so any mistakes they make are immortalized forever if they can't undo them.
There are reports of projects disappearing from the project library.
If you experience problems with media, I would recommend updating to OS X 10.6.8 which "Fixes an issue when importing certain media files into Final Cut Pro." I don't yet know if it solves these particular issues though.
Apple recommends only running FCPX on machines with one graphics card.
This can be caused by templates from previous versions of Motion residing in the ~/Library/Application Support/Motion folder. To get around this, move the templates from this folder. More info here.
This can happen if certain folders exist on the drive. The poster in this forum thread says folders called "private" and possibly "backup" can cause this issue:
I'd be interested to hear if anyone finds any other folders that can cause the drive to disappear in FCPX.
More bugs will be listed as they surface.
Final Cut Pro X is finally here and I've been playing around with it this morning. I haven't used it for any projects yet, so don't consider this a formal review, but here are my first impressions.
As a software developer, I understand that a 1.0 release is difficult and not every feature can be added. However, I feel that Apple made some glaring omissions with FCPX that I will cover in the "ugly" section.
As you can see, there are some serious issues with FCPX. However, the biggest problem is that Final Cut Pro 7 support ends today. All of the above issues could be forgiven if Apple had allowed the two to co-exist until FCPX had matured enough to be a viable replacement. This is especially important considering the lack of support for importing Final Cut Pro 7 projects.
Unless you're using DSLRs to create content solely for the web, I would recommend having a more fully-featured NLE on your system in addition to Final Cut Pro X. Apple has made this difficult by discontinuing Final Cut Studio 3, so I would recommend Avid Media Composer or Adobe Premiere Pro. (Premiere Pro is probably easier for Final Cut Pro users to pick up.)
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about Final Cut Pro X.
Q: Does it overwrite Final Cut Pro 7?
A: No. All of the Final Cut Studio applications are moved to a Final Cut Studio folder in your Applications directory.
Q: Can I still purchase Final Cut Studio if I need it?
A: Not directly from Apple. I'm sure third-party resellers still have it in stock, but probably not for very long.
Q: Is there Motion and audio content like in previous versions?
A: Yes, but it is not installed by default. You need to launch Final Cut Pro X and go to Final Cut Pro > Download Additional Content.
IMPORTANT: Even if you don't need the content, I recommend doing this so that you have access to Final Cut Pro X's codecs.
Q: Should I also buy Compressor 4?
A: I would recommend it because Export to QuickTime Movie only offers a handful of codecs and options. To have control over the files you are exporting from FCPX, you definitely need Compressor 4.
Q: What about the other apps like Color, Cinema Tools and DVD Studio Pro?
A: They may come later but don't hold your breath. DVD Studio Pro is almost certainly dead.
Q: Will it work on my Mac?
A: Final Cut Pro X and Motion 5 require OpenCL-compatible graphics cards (not to be confused with OpenGL) and the Mac App Store will prevent you from purchasing it if you don't have the correct card. Apple has provided a list of cards that are not compatible.
However, HardMac is reporting that it does work on supposedly unsupported systems if you purchase it on a supported system and transfer it across. I would not recommend doing this in mission-critical or production environments though.
Q: Can I install it on more than one computer?
A: You can install it on up to five systems. All systems must be 64-bit Intel and running OS X 10.6.7 or higher. To install it on the target system, launch the Mac App Store, go to the Purchased tab and click the Install button next to each item.
(Note: some people are reporting that the Mac App Store is "forgetting" their purchase of FCPX)
Q: Can I open old Final Cut Pro projects in FCPX?
A: Not directly. You can import FCP 7 XML files via 7toX but be aware that not everything can be transferred across.
Q: Can I import or export XML?
A: Yes, in FCPX 10.0.1 or higher. Note that XML does not contain all of the contents of a project or event so it is not considered a suitable backup or replacement.
Q: Can I export EDLs or marker lists?
Q: Can I import layered Photoshop files?
A: Yes, in FCPX 10.0.3 or higher.
Q: Can I capture from tape?
A: Yes, but only through Firewire, which limits it to DV, HDV and DVCPROHD capture. It's very basic and there's no way to customize it so I would recommend using another application to capture from tape.
Q: Can I output to tape?
Q: Can I use my old Final Cut Pro 7 plugins in Final Cut Pro X?
Q. Can I export a QuickTime movie with chapter markers?
A: No, but we have a workaround here.
Q: Does Final Cut Pro X have native R3D or XDCAM support?
Q: Can FCPX work natively with H.264 and DVCPROHD from P2 cards?
Q: How do I change where my render files are stored?
A: Render files are stored in the project directory so you need to move the project to a different drive. To do this, click the film strip icon in the bottom left corner to open up the Project Library, then drag the project to another drive. Only HFS+ drives will be displayed in this list - you cannot copy to Xsan, AFP, NFS or SMB volumes. (Thanks to Shamol Majumder for the tip)
Q: How do I reconnect media?
A: Go to File > Import > Files and browse for the original media files. If the files are already in the project, they will be reconnected.
There are two caveats: firstly, there is no way to reconnect to a different file (such as if you were replacing a temp VFX shot with the finished one) and secondly, it will always copy the file to your Final Cut Events folder even if you tell it not to. The latter would appear to be a bug.
Update: FCPX 10.0.3 now has a Reconnect function.
Q: Can I export a reference (non-self-contained) QuickTime movie?
Q: Can I output to a broadcast monitor?
A: FCPX 10.0.3 has a broadcast output feature however this is currently considered beta quality.
Q: How do I output OMFs / AAFs to Pro Tools?
A: Purchase Automatic Duck Pro Export FCP.
Update: Automatic Duck has now closed its doors and users are reporting that Pro Export FCP does not work with FCPX 10.0.3. One alternative is X2Pro which offers AAF output from FCPX.
Q: Can you split the interface across multiple monitors?
A: To a limited extent. In the Window menu there are two options: Show Events on Second Display and Show Viewer on Second Display.
Q: Is there an Autosave Vault?
A: FCPX saves all changes as you make them and autosave now replaces the regular save function. However, there is no autosave vault where you can go back to a previous version, only a single project backup that occurs every 15 minutes (with FCPX 10.0.3 and higher).
To regain autosave vault functionality and the ability to revert to a previous version in case of project corruption or undesired changes, use Pro Versioner.
Q: Is there an audio mixer?
A: No. There is no mixer and no way to keyframe audio in realtime.
Update: There's been a little bit of confusion over this statement. I'm not saying you can't keyframe audio at all, just not in realtime while your timeline is playing.
Q: Does FCPX support Euphonix control surfaces?
No. This thread quotes an Avid representative:
"As of this moment, no - Apple has not integrated EuCon support into FCPX. They have the option to do so, but would need to do the work on their end to support EuCon. Whether or not that will happen is unknown - given the nature of FCPX, my guess is that it's intentionally been left out. "
Q: Can I run Final Cut Pro X and Final Cut Pro 7 at the same time?
A: No, FCP X detects that FCP 7 is running and asks you to quit.
Q: Can I park the playhead on an individual field?
A: Yes! This is a feature long overdue for FCP.
Q: Why do DV files imported from iMovie play without audio?
A: iMovie creates raw DV files without track information or other metadata. FCPX is expecting the files to contain information on the structure of tracks. To fix this, you must rewrap the .dv files as QuickTime movies. To do this, open them in QuickTime Player 7, go to File > Save As and choose the option to save as a self-contained movie.
Q: Why do I get an error message when I launch Final Cut Pro 7 saying it is incompatible with Motion 5?
A: After installing Motion 5, you need to launch Motion 4 and then close it again to make this error disappear.
Q: Can I open my old Motion projects in Motion 5?
A: Yes. You will be prompted to upgrade the project (not recommended) or open it as an untitled project (recommended) in order to save it under a different name.
Q: Are Motion and Compressor compatible with Final Cut Pro 7?
A: Neither Send to Motion nor Send to Compressor work with the newer versions, however they both function as independent applications so you can still use them separately.
You cannot embed Motion 5 projects on a Final Cut Pro 7 timeline (it displays a message about missing media, even if you only add generators to the project) but you can export a QuickTime movie and bring it into FCP7. Also note that Motion 5 projects are not compatible with Motion 4 and there is no way to downgrade them.
Q: Do I need to buy Motion 5 in order to use third-party plugins?
A: Although FxPlug 2.0 plugins use Motion's rendering engine, you do not need Motion 5 installed on the system in order to use them.
Q: Compressor looks almost the same. Has it changed?
A: The biggest change is that Qmaster is now integrated directly into Compressor.
Q: Is Compressor now 64-bit?
A: The background task that handles encoding is 64-bit but only for 64-bit codecs. The Compressor user interface is still 32-bit.
Q: Can I use the Send to Compressor command in FCPX to send to Compressor 3?
A: No, you need to purchase Compressor 4 to use this feature.
Q: How do I get Compressor 4 to use all of my processing cores?
A: Go to Apple Qmaster > Share This Computer. Tick the option for Share This Computer and select Services Only.
Then, when submitting a batch, tick the option for This Computer Plus.
Q: Are there are incompatibilities with Compressor 3.5 and Compressor 4?
A: Yes, you must disable Compressor 3.5 Quick Clusters before using Compressor 4 Quick Clusters otherwise batches will fail.
Q: What about Final Cut Server and Final Cut Express?
Q: Does Final Cut Pro X recognize Xsan, NFS, AFP and SMB volumes?
A: These volumes do not appear in the Event Library, however you can still import files from them by going to File > Import > Files.
IMPORTANT: Be sure to deselect the option to copy files to Final Cut Events folder otherwise all of the media will be copied to your local disk.
FCP X will then add a symbolic link to the remote media on your local hard drive. Be aware that render files will be stored in the same location as the project file. To move the project, drag it to another drive in the Project Library. This can only be an HFS+ drive so you cannot store it on an Xsan volume.
(thanks to Brian Summa for the clarification)
Update: FCPX still doesn't see SAN locations automatically but you can now use File > Add San Location to add one manually.
Q: Does Final Cut Pro X work with ExFAT volumes?
A: Apparently not, but the workaround for Xsan volumes listed above may solve the issue for people experiencing this problem.
(ExFAT is a new cross-platform file system that is much better than FAT32 for transferring files between Mac and PC.)
Q: Can I store projects or events on different drives?
A: Projects will be stored on the local disk by default. To change this, click the film canister icon in the bottom left corner to open up the Project Library. You can then drag the project to any supported drive in the list. (Thanks to Shamol Majumder for the tip.)
Events can be stored on external disks by going to File > Import > Files, selecting Create New Event and choosing the name of the disk under Save To. You can change the location of an existing event by going to File > Move Event.
Q: How do I get a refund on FCPX?
A: Use this form and select "The app didn't function as expected". Even though Apple's terms and conditions prohibit refunds, several people have managed to get them by using this form.
I will update this FAQ as more questions and answers become available.
Update: Apple has posted an official FAQ here. It has fewer answers than ours but gives a good indication of Apple's future roadmap.
Apple just gave a sneak preview of Final Cut Pro X at the NAB Supermeet. I wasn't there so thanks to everyone who tweeted and posted photos of the event.
There's a lot to like - 64-bit Cocoa rewrite, OpenCL and Grand Central Dispatch support, color management to prevent gamma shifts, no rendering or transcoding, native support for DSLRs and many more features. You can read the full list here.
Apple only talked about new features so there was no mention of existing features that had made it into the new version. Consequently the presentation left more questions than it answered - what about XML, EDLs, tape workflows, scopes, DVD output? We won't find that out until the release.
There is an emphasis on automation in the new version - it can automatically detect audio hum and remove it, and the magnetic timeline can simplify L- and J-cuts by automatically moving clips to a new layer to prevent clip collisions. I think this is great, as anything that makes me a faster editor makes me a better editor, however I can see a lot of cases where this would be unwanted and I hope it can be disabled when necessary.
My favorite features are the 64-bit rewrite, the lack of rendering, the new keyframe editor and Plural Eyes-style audio syncing.
The feature I'm most unsure about is dynamic tracks. Tracks will appear and disappear as you move clips around and new tracks will be added when you use the magnetic timeline. This could cause organizational problems if you always put music on tracks 8-9 for instance, and it would be a nightmare if you need to output a multi-channel show. Apple sought professional feedback so I assume this issue was brought up and that they have a solution for it.
There was no mention of other apps in the suite. Final Cut Pro X will be sold in June via the App Store so this means it will be a self-contained app. There is no way to sell a group of apps via the store, however it would still be possible to sell them separately like iWork. It also means there is no way of upgrading if you own an old version of Final Cut Pro, however the $299 price point is the same as the FCP 6 to FCP 7 upgrade cost.
What about my top 5 developer requests? Number 1 looks to be done; I'm not sure about any of the others.
Although I haven't tried the new version, I'm cautiously optimistic. There are a lot of features designed for speeding things up and that's always a good thing. It's also clear that Apple isn't trying to do everything, so it leaves a lot of gaps for third-party developers like myself to fill. As it is an App Store app, it won't overwrite the old version of Final Cut Studio so you can still go back if anything is missing.
The new version would be great for a lot of my smaller projects for the web but I don't yet know how well it would translate to larger projects where I need Cinema Tools, tape ingest / output and DVD creation. That's something I'll only find out when it's released.
P.S. Anyone else prefer the old icon to the new one?
Update: "Today was just a sneak peak of Final Cut Pro, stay tuned," an Apple representative told The Loop. This implies that there may be additional apps available separately.
Lots of people have been posting wish lists for the next version of Final Cut Pro with such features as 64-bit support, OpenCL, etc. One thing I haven't seen is a wishlist from a developer's perspective, so here's mine.
I've included a description of the feature, how likely I reckon it is to be implemented and what we could do with it if it was.
Apple introduced a standardized format for preference files in Mac OS X that allows applications to easily read and write from them. Final Cut Pro, which dates back to the days of OS 9, uses a proprietary binary format that only Apple knows how to read from and write to. It is also the reason why Final Cut Pro preferences get corrupted so easily.
Likelihood: Certain. If they've rewritten FCP, there is no reason why they would not use the standardized OS X preference system.
There is currently no method of reading from or writing to Final Cut Pro project files. The workaround is to export an XML copy from Final Cut Pro. The downsides to this are that Final Cut Pro has to be running, exporting to XML is slow and it locks up FCP so the user can't continue working.
There are several solutions to this problem - Apple could keep the format the same and release detailed specifications, they could create an API for reading and writing or they could convert the Final Cut Pro project format to XML (perhaps with binary and plain-text options like Maya). I don't really mind which method they choose as long as a solution arrives.
What we could do with it: FCP Versioner would be faster and would no longer lock up Final Cut Pro when exporting to XML. Pro Media Tools would be much faster and would not require FCP to be installed in order to read an FCP project file.
Likelihood: 50/50. I'm sure Apple will make big changes to the file format but we'll have to see if these are developer-friendly.
The only way to get timecode from a Final Cut Pro project is to setup a fake MIDI device to receive the information. The downside to this method is that it is not very user-friendly - the user must specifically setup the device as a control surface in FCP and must have the audio mixing window open at all times.
A playback and timecode API would allow developers to control the Final Cut Pro timeline and receive timecode without any intervention on the user's part.
What we could do with it: Final Cut Pro syncing for Cut Notes with no complex setup for the user.
Likelihood: Ordinarily I would think this was unlikely but there are rumors that there will be an official iPad control app for Final Cut Pro. If this rumor is true, I highly doubt that Apple is using the user-unfriendly method of setting it up as a MIDI control surface.
With Apple Events, developers can send commands directly to Final Cut Pro for such tasks as saving a project or highlighting a clip in a bin. There is no way to automatically export a sequence to a QuickTime movie without user intervention.
What I'd like is a command that exports all or part of a sequence to a file the developer specifies along with the ability to specify export settings such as the codec, if it is self-contained, whether or not it should contain markers, etc.
What we could do with it: This would be incredibly useful for a super-secret future product...
All third-party applications have to be launched separately and there is currently no way to integrate a third-party application with Final Cut Pro. What I would like is the ability to add interface buttons or menu items to send data to third-party applications in the background. The applications could then send data back without the user leaving Final Cut Pro.
What we could do with it: Lots of things, including adding buttons to manually initiate FCP Versioner backups from within FCP, a "Send to Edit Detector" command that cuts up a clip on your timeline at each edit point, an "Add Quick Bin" menu item, and more.
Likelihood: It's a long shot.
I hope at the very least that 1 and 2 are implemented in the new FCP. I guess we'll find out tomorrow. Do any other developers have requests?
Does your Compressor settings window have missing items or is completely blank? Here's how to restore the default Apple-supplied settings.
1. Close Compressor if it is open.
2. Navigate to your Applications folder.
3. Ctrl-click on the Compressor application and select Show Package Contents.
4. Navigate to Contents/Resources/English.lproj (or whatever your language is).
5. Cmd-click the following folders to select them: Apple Devices, DVD, Formats, Other Workflows.
6. With all of them selected, ctrl-click on one of them and select Make Alias. Four aliases will be created with filenames like "Apple Devices alias" and "DVD alias".
7. Move the four aliases to ~/Library/Application Support/Compressor.
8. Launch Compressor.
You can add one more item to the ever-expanding list of things that break Final Cut Studio: Bootcamp. Yes, if you have a Bootcamp partition, Final Cut Pro can in some instances hang at startup and refuse to launch.
Luckily the fix is very simple. It seems to be caused by Spotlight indexing and users have confirmed that adding their Bootcamp volume to Spotlight's Privacy list in System Preferences solves the issue for them. Apparently you need several restarts to get the setting to stick but once it does, Final Cut Pro should be able to launch again.
If you did experience this issue, please let Apple know.
Last month I reported that ProKit 6.0.1 was breaking Final Cut Studio (primarily DVD Studio Pro) for some users. Well, it would appear that OS X 10.6.6 automatically installs ProKit 6.0.2* which is causing the issues all over again.
Here are some forum threads on the topic:
LAFCPUG: WARNING: Mac OS 10.6.6 UPDATE (ProKit 6.0.2)
LAFCPUG: I think I installed ProKit 601 by mistake - crashing
Apple Discussions: Prokit 5 v 6 Cant use DVDSP and iLife at the same time
Not everyone will suffer problems with ProKit 6.x but if you're one of the unlucky few, follow these steps to downgrade to ProKit 5.1. Note that this will probably break iLife '11.
It is clear that Apple's engineering team is having difficulty working out what the problem is, so if you are experiencing this issue you should file a bug report (requires free developer registration) and give them as much information as possible.
* For some reason I still have ProKit 5.1 after installing OS X 10.6.6. I don't know why this is but I'm not complaining.
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