You’d think that Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) was a pox-ridden kitten-killing mon­ster, the way some edi­tors and film­mak­ers go to great and painful lengths to avoid it. It isn’t, but the fear, uncer­tain­ty, and doubt (FUD) asso­ci­at­ed with Apple’s non-linear edit­ing app clings like stink on pig shit, even over four years after launch. Let’s dive in and mix some more metaphors as we exam­ine why…

Grant­ed, the pub­lic bungling of the FCPX launch (April 2011) left a bad taste in the mouths of video pros every­where, thanks to a pre­ma­ture release (oh, like miss­ing some basic FCP7 fea­tures) and the imme­di­ate killing off of FCP7. If Apple had launched FCPX as a mod­ern “tech­nol­o­gy pre­view” app, along­side FCP7 as an option or com­pan­ion, or even giv­en it a dif­fer­ent name, I doubt the Apple NLE world today would see so much avoid­ance and aban­don­ment to alter­nate solutions.

Now, I’ve been using Final Cut Pro since ver­sion 1.2.5 came out (with such sophis­ti­cat­ed fea­tures as 16:9 sup­port and the abil­i­ty to make ref­er­ence movies). In ret­ro­spect, it wasn’t all that much for $999, but it was a hell of a lot more than any­thing else for the mon­ey (Video Toast­er, any­one?) and it was on your own G3/G4 com­put­er. Peo­ple were excit­ed and eager to get their hands on it and use it on their projects, in spite of the fact that Apple’s mar­ket share was some­thing like 2.8% and didn’t have any fan­cy iPods or iPhones (yet).

Edi­tors real­ly start­ed to take notice about four years after launch when Wal­ter Murch cut Cold Moun­tain on FCP 3(!) and wide­spread use of FCP real­ly seemed to take off and grow at a rapid pace amongst film­mak­ers of all types. Until April 2011, that is, when it screeched to a pan­icked halt.

It is inter­est­ing to see that four+ years after FCPX’s launch, we might well be at a new “Cold Moun­tain moment,” with both Focus and Whiskey Tan­go Fox­trot being two higher-profile Hol­ly­wood films cut in FCPX. Yet the lack of excite­ment and the dai­ly grum­bling and repeat­ing of fal­si­ties on social media and out­right dis­missal in con­ver­sa­tion baf­fles my mind. Why is this the case?

To me, it seems to come down to hurt feel­ings of aban­don­ment, per­cep­tion, and iner­tia. And too much silence on Apple’s part.

Aban­don­ment. Yes, it was shock­ing to see Apple end-of-life FCP7. Yes, they han­dled it very poor­ly. Yes, dear Steve was dying from can­cer, even. But Apple’s nev­er been one to light­ly pussy-foot around tech­no­log­i­cal advance­ment. Peo­ple cried out when they removed the flop­py disk. They cried out when they removed the CD-ROM. And they cried out when they removed a micro­scop­ic key­pad from a new phone. But guess what? We need­ed to do those things. Do you miss flop­pies? Or ZIP disks? CDs? Or even Black­ber­ries? I don’t. Sure, some­times Apple takes a big swing and miss­es, but hon­est­ly, what oth­er com­pa­ny has such an influ­en­tial record? Yet for this NLE, that track record appears to mean nothing.

Per­cep­tion. This is prob­a­bly the area that irks me the most. Some exam­ples you may have heard: “It looks like iMovie, it can’t be pro.” Or how about, “It doesn’t have bins, how could we pos­si­bly use it?!” Or “Well, I do a lot of work with This Oth­er Soft­ware and it doesn’t link up.” And I know that some­how the crazy afford­able $299 price tag makes peo­ple sub­con­scious­ly val­ue FCPX less (a one-time charge, mind you, sav­ing you $2700 over Cre­ative Cloud*). If it looks sim­ple and is afford­able, clear­ly it can’t be pro­fes­sion­al and pow­er­ful. Maybe we should just go back to quills and ink pots, clear­ly these new fan­gled ball­point pens are too sim­ple and affordable.

Iner­tia. “The indus­try has moved on to Pre­miere Pro.” Well, the per­son­al com­put­ing world used to be almost 100% Win­dows, yet here you are on a Mac. So, clear­ly, you used to be a trail­blaz­er com­pared to the indus­try. Yeah, change is hard. And if you’ve been edit­ing for a few years, you’ve got a library of lega­cy projects to con­sid­er. Guess what? Even four+ years after death, FCP7 will still open and run just fine, right along side FCPX. Your lega­cy projects can still be accessed when you need them (prob­a­bly less than you think), or you could even migrate them over with a $10 app (7toX) or the free and crazy pow­er­ful DaVin­ci Resolve.

Silence. In the past cou­ple years, with Apple large­ly remain­ing pub­licly silent (but still putting out over 18 updates for free), var­i­ous third-party sources have stepped in and spread the good word about FCPX. The web­site FCP.CO has been post­ing great arti­cles, news, and has active forums. Chris Fen­wick put out an aver­age of two pod­casts per week dur­ing 2014 and into 2015 with his amaz­ing FCPX Grill show. There are well over 300+ video tips and tricks relat­ing to FCPX, Motion (Apple’s pret­ty pow­er­ful motion graph­ics app), and more, at MacBreak Stu­dio. And Alex4d has pub­lished quite a few use­ful free plu­g­ins (Grow-Shrink is a must-have) for FCPX. So, sure, Apple could and should make more noise about how great their NLE is, but a bit like the App Store, the FCPX ecosys­tem is a (very) robust place for oth­ers to shine.

My experience

I’m run­ning FCPX on a new Mac Pro, with Thun­der­bolt 2 RAIDs, hooked to two Dell Ultra­Sharp Pre­miere­Col­or mon­i­tors. I main­ly shoot AVCHD (Sony) in both HD and 4k res­o­lu­tion. Is my sys­tem fast? Yes. Quite. Does it crash? Very rarely. Is it fun to use? Heck, yes! I’m eager to be work­ing on projects and I’m able to ingest, cut, and deliv­er videos faster than ever before. It stays out of my way and doesn’t make me do stu­pid workarounds. The meta­da­ta and key­word­ing and skim­ming and mag­net­ic time­line and real­time play­back are a won­der. Did I men­tion it is fast? Export­ing is a breeze. And there is so much pow­er to make cus­tom con­tent when every plu­g­in is a Motion project that can be mod­i­fied (True fact. Motion lets you make plu­g­ins for FCPX). I haven’t wor­ried and haven’t looked back and believe that for my busi­ness, FCPX makes per­fect sense.

If you haven’t tried FCPX yet (well, thanks for read­ing this far, I guess), go grab the free tri­al down­load from Apple and then enjoy this com­pli­men­ta­ry FCPX train­ing course from Rip­ple Train­ing.

Case Studies

(thanks to FCP.co for the col­lec­tion and community)

How Swiss TV went FCPX — Final Cut Pro X in Nation­al Net­work Operations

How the Hol­ly­wood film Whiskey Tan­go Fox­trot was edit­ed on Final Cut Pro X

How the Hol­ly­wood fea­ture film Focus was edit­ed on Final Cut Pro X — Part 1

How the Hol­ly­wood fea­ture film Focus was edit­ed on Final Cut Pro X — Part 2

Cut­ting the Game of Thrones trail­er on Final Cut Pro X

Post Pro­duc­tion on “What Hap­pened, Miss Simone?” An Oscar Nom­i­nat­ed Doc­u­men­tary Edit­ed on Final Cut Pro X

How I learned to stop wor­ry­ing and love Final Cut Pro X (Chal­lenger Dis­as­ter: Lost Tapes)

Lore­ak, Spain’s offi­cial sub­mis­sion in the 2016 Oscars’ best for­eign lan­guage film cat­e­go­ry was edit­ed on Final Cut Pro X

Final Cut Pro X cuts the major A&E doc­u­men­tary O.J. Speaks: The Hid­den tapes

Emmy Award for Harlem Glo­be­trot­ters doc­u­men­tary cut on Final Cut Pro X

Emmy win­ning ‘Best of the Bronx’ cut on Final Cut Pro X

* Can you real­ly com­pare pric­ing? Well, I’m an Adobe Cloud sub­scriber (have been since it was intro­duced because I do use Pho­to­shop, InDe­sign, and Illus­tra­tor quite a bit) so I feel I can. You can spend anoth­er $100 on Motion and Com­pres­sor (I’d say they are vital), bring­ing your cost up to $400. Some choice plu­g­ins like Hawai­ki Key­er (green/blue screen, $49), Slice X (masks/tracking, $99), iZo­tope RX5 (advanced audio repair, $99/$349), and NeatVideo (noise reduc­tion, $99), not to men­tion all the great tem­plates and plu­g­ins from Motion­VFX, and you’d still be $1700 rich­er than the cloud. And you rarely have to leave your NLE, mak­ing you more productive.