Initial Thoughts on FCPX

object009I’ve recently started a project on FCP X and here are my initial impressions.

Of course at first I was tearing my hair out, but with an open mind, the manual and the internet I’ve been making steady progress.

Most of my work these days in on documentaries or reality tv so that’s where I’m coming from.

The most important thing you can do to get the most out of FCP X is put in the ground work with keywords before you get to cutting. This is same for any non linear editing system of course but even more so with FCP X. Once it’s done I was shocked at how much faster I was able to find material over the older systems.

Example of looking for footage.


Find bin and start double clicking on clips to skim through footage.

Keep going back to the bin and double clicking and skimming.


Type in a couple of keywords you know. Boom.

All clips are there before you in a pseudo timeline.

Skim across them until you find the shot. Not one click involved.

This saves so much time it’s not funny.

Next is working in the timeline. At first I was distressed to see that Overwrite was missing from the main interface and put into a obscure menu item and a weird keyboard command. D?

Well now I understand.

You know us NLE snobs who always looked down on the Noobs who would only do edits on the layer above because they couldn’t commit to a design or didn’t understand how to use tools like the ripple/roll tool or the slip and slide tool? Well their methodology has been vindicated in FCPX. It is encouraged that you perform all your overlay edits (American’s call it b-roll for some bizarre reason) on the second layer. Because of the way that clip connections work it makes sense to do it this way. You don’t really ever have to worry about throwing your second layer out of sync by making changes to your base layer. Even more powerful is the way you can create a second storyline. Allowing you to ripple trim clips sitting on top of the main story without throwing sync of other clips further down the timeline.

And then there’s compound clips. This is the way that nesting always should have been in FCP 7.

At first I was really frustrated that I couldn’t perform a double sided roll trim on a music track that I had effectively synchronised to a later beat further down the track. Then I just pulled it down to a new layer and and used arrow tool to reposition the edit. (with nice crossfades too I migt add) Once done I selected both tracks and hit Option G. Boom! new track that acts like one track, I never have to worry about the edit becoming unstuck ever again.

If I want to return to the way it was I just hit Shift-Apple-G, if you want to edit inside the nest just double click it.

If you think of G as ‘Group’ it’s easy.

G = Hold down to create or add to storyline

G+ALT = Nest

G+Command = New Storyline

G+Command+Shift = Un-Nest

G+Command+ALT = Synchronise Clips (Audio and Video)

This of course takes some getting used to. You really do need to throw out a lot of your preconceptions about the timeline.

But once you’ve done that I guarantee you will wonder why it wasn’t always done this way. It just makes sense.

Deficiencies? There are plenty. Too many to list in this first post. But I’ll say this. When Final Cut Pro 1.2.5 came out, was it as powerful as Avid Media Composer? No. Not even close. Then why did it succeed?

1. It was cheap.

2. It did a lot of things better.

3. It was an open system.

Will this be the same story for FCP X? I think it will.