Hi there. This is a little blog about FCP X. “The internet is full of blogs about FCP X” you say. “Why bother?” Well, I just thought I’d add my opinions and experiences to the 800 billion others out there. Also, I am selfish. I Like FCP X 😛
Been a while since I spouted off on anything, but here we are. 🙂 FCP (not X!) 10.6 was released this week and, along with some bug fixes (that are actually listed!) and some cool new features – Apple Easy® Object Tracking & Cinematic Mode – it has unleashed the predictable Chorus of Disappointment™. :sigh:
It never fails… Excitement builds! Rumors fly! The big day arrives and… it’s just not enough! No Roles mixer! Can’t flatten multi-cams! No built in collaboration! Etcetera! Apple. Hates. Pros! …c’mon, get a grip people.
Now, I should point out that I would love it if any of those features were to appear. (especially the mixer thing 😉) But I really just don’t understand people who are/were champions of FCP, constantly announcing to the world their intention to jump ship with every point version upgrade of FCP. What’s the, uh, point? Seriously. If Resolve or Premiere or Media Composer or Lightworks or Lumafusion or whatever better suit your needs… use them.
I mean, when FCP can’t do something another NLE can, I just use another NLE. Broken record here, but for me, FCP is the easiest, most enjoyable app to work in. Easiest by far with which to find images (Filmstrips and Skimming). Easiest (only?) NLE to do great titles/GFX/compositing without leaving the timeline. Easiest on the eyes and, because of the trackless timeline, the easiest to just… cut.
I’ll spare you the re-hash of why I prefer FCP and use it alongside other NLE’s when I’m using them. Which I do. If I’m part of a team using Premiere, I use Premiere. (while finding shots and doing quick comping in FCP) If I need to do compositing/color stuff FCP can’t easily do, I jump into Resolve. If I need to open an Avid Bin, I use Media Composer. What’s the big deal?
Anyway… I do hope FCP get the ‘missing’ features we all crave. But their absence doesn’t change the fact that cutting in FCP kicks ass and, like all the previous updates, this latest version has some great additions. The lack of a mixer, or collaboration or whatever doesn’t change the fact that I can cut faster and have more fun and be more creative in FCP than any other option.
As for all the ‘useless’ features the have been added over the years… I actually do use 3D text. I use the audio signal path features all the time. I use the shit out of Filmstrips, Clip Skimming, Roles, Lanes, Audio and Video effects, and everything else that is built into FCP.
And now, I’ll be using the new Object Tracker too. It’s ridiculously simple, and you can kinda mimic Power Windows for color correction with it which is very handy. Cinematic Mode seems very cool too, though I’ll probably never use it. Well… until I shoot my new spec script on my new iPhone that I don’t own yet. It’s gonna be a great film! The working title is STFU.
K, rant over. See ya in a year or so! lol
NOTE.. I wrote this a while ago but for some reason never posted it. I Just ‘rediscovered’ it and I think it’s worth throwing up here 🙂
So… the other day we got a gig which we planned to cut in Premiere. It was a short piece, a couple minutes long with about 8 takes, 2 cameras rolling on each. We got the sources, R3D 4k files, 1080 422 HQ ProRes transcodes, and multichannel WAV location audio.
As it was a 1080 delivery, the plan was to use the transcodes. Easy right? It was a quick turnaround gig, first cut due the middle of the next day.
Right off the bat there were a couple issues. We had a little difficulty synching the audio but got that sorted out. Next issue… We made multicams but, even though there are only 2 angles and we used the ProRes files, they were not playing smoothly at all. It may be a network bottleneck, but I made duplicates in FCP X and they played fine.
Also, the audio was a mess, difficult to tell who was on what track, and all of it was noisy and/or over modulated. Bad audio isn’t Premiere’s fault of course, but Premiere does use tracks, and Track Tetris with unlabelled multichannel clips sucks.
To save some headaches, I decided to sync the files in FCP X while they watched the footage and then export multichannel QT’s that they could work with. I brought in the files. The WAV’s were of course all nicely labelled with iXML channel names. Everyone was excited about that, until I told them that that would all go away when I exported the QT’s to use in Premiere.
The syncing took all of 5 minutes. I exported the files, the folks on Premiere now had files they could work with, and the editing got started. As I had the original synched files and had made multicams in FCP X, I started my own (very) rough cut. End of Day 1
I finished my cut, and the guys had finished theirs. We watched them through. Mine kinda sucked. I wasn’t “officially” working on this, but a sucky cut is a sucky cut. lol So… we now had a good rough cut to polish up. But sorting through and working with all the audio was still not easy in Premiere. Again, nothing unusual when working with tracks, but it was really slowing them down and the clock was ticking.
Because of the ease of working with multichannel audio in X, we decided to import the cut from Premiere and do the final audio editing in FCP.
WHY WORK LIKE THIS…
I got the xml from Pr, ran it through Send to X and imported it. The audio was messy and of course all of it was detached from the video and labelled A1, A2 etc. Effing tracks! Even though I had the original synched files with Roles in X, the sequence now linked to the QT’s I had made. No problem.
I batch set the Roles on the imported multichannel QT’s to match the original sources. That took 2 minutes. Then I went through the cut, matching back and replacing each clip. Since there’s no tracks/targeting needed in X, it was literally 2 keystrokes per clip, using the KB to select each clip. Another 3 minutes.
WHEN YOU CAN WORK LIKE THIS…
Now the fun part. Using the audio Inspector to clip-skim the subroles, enable/disable channels (components), expand clips in the TL to edit the components, and get the cleanest audio cut that I could. Fast and easy, as usual 😉 Added some bits we liked from my version to the cut, made a few tweaks, and met the deadline.
The next day we went through a few rounds of changes and eventually the cut locked. Since we’re finishing picture in house, it was time to do some simple grading. The Color tools in FCP made this a piece of cake.
Now, of course this could have been done in Premiere or any other “Pro” NLE. But, because of the time constraints, without FCP we would’ve likely had a nightmare on our hands. And it certainly wouldn’t have been any fun. And if you’re not having fun, why are you editing?
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE…
Actually, it definitely would have been a nightmare, for two reasons that popped up right before delivery. The first was a biggie. All the source files, the Premiere sequence, and the FCP X Project were 23.98 ProRes. But the delivery needed to be 59.94 DNX HD. Whee!
I have Media Composer, so the codec wasn’t a problem, but I was… concerned about the timebase change. I shouldn’t have been. I created a new 59.94 Project, copied the 23.98 timeline, and pasted it in. Perfect. FCP X did the conversion and every frame was exactly where it should be. Made a DNX share preset and exported. Done.
The last fun thing was during the mix. I had disabled various channels as I was editing, and created the AAF via X2Pro. The mixer called in the AM and wondered if I could send an AAF with all channels enabled on all clips.
Now, in Premiere or really any legacy NLE, I would’ve had to match back to each clip and overcut all the channels, carefully targeting tracks to offset overlapping clips etc. I have done this often in the olden days. It’s awful, and can take forever…
In FCP X? Easy. KB shortcut to select each clip in turn, enable all it’s channels in the Inspector, and export AAF. It took maybe 5 minutes.
So, once again, FCP X comes though. Now, to be fair, the original version was cut in in Pr, and it could have stayed there, it’s a perfectly good NLE. But it woulda sucked, and passing it to FCP X made everything easier.
So why does everyone still gravitate to Premiere or Avid? Here’s my theory. FCP X is easy to learn, but for seasoned editors it requires some “unlearning” and that takes some time. It’s also ‘missing’ a few features that pro’s are used to having. Not deal breakers to me, but Premiere/MC work like they always have so…
Welcome to Hollywood. Hey, I’m trying!
Hope you all have a great one. Not a lot of activity on my part here, but the blog is not dead!
Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’re familiar with the very cool LumaTouch iOS NLE from LumaFusion. It’s a full featured NLE for your iPad, or iPhone for that matter. Multitrack editing, compositing/keying, titles… pretty much anything you need, and really nice to use.
And now, you can export your cut right into FCP X. Not some convoluted process, just make a few decisions about media and location, export fcpxml, and open in Final Cut.
It works pretty much flawlessly. Your FCP timeline will look just like your original, titles and all. It’s a $20 in-app purchase, but totally worth it. Until Apple puts a full version of FCP on iOS (not holding my breath), LumaTouch is the way to go. Cut a spot on your phone at the beach, open it in X, tweak and deliver. 😉
I’ve been messing around with it. As a test, I Downloaded an old Alien Covenant trailer from youtube and cut a :30 spot. Trailer pix source, and some random MX/FX I have. I did it really quickly but what I found was – if I had had actually spent time on it – I easily could have cut something that could be delivered to a client. It’s that good, everything you need is right in the app.
The point of this post though, is how easily and how well it imported to FCP X. Here’s a video of the 2 timelines (no audio, not gonna license the music for this demo lol) where you can see, it’s the same… No fiddling needed, opened just as you see it. Check it out…
Broadcast Mixing In FCP X
Thought I’d pop in with a little post about what’s been up. Doing a couple interesting things Using X in concert with other NLE’s lately. First one is broadcast Mixing in X. 🙂 Cut some spots in Premiere and we decided to mix in house. I could of course use Logic, but these are pretty basic spots and everything I need is in X, so in it goes!
Export final 422HQ pix from Pr. All done and colored already, so why re-invent the wheel? Then use SendToX to get the audio in. A few minutes to set roles correctly, and off we go.
Get everything to a nice even level, comp the VO and add the handy Voice Over Enhancement effect to the VO comp. I really like this, because it’s just 3 bundled effects in one, which you can open and adjust (or not) to taste.
Do the mix, then comp it all, use Klangfreund Multimeter to get the mix CALM compliant, toss a Broadcast Safe filter on the pix… Done.
Honestly, for uncomplicated mixes, X is way faster than using a DAW. Using Compound Clips as ‘buses’ for signal processing works essentially the same way really. And the plugins are exactly the same as those found in Logic or other DAW’s. Could the functionality be better? Sure. But for short form stuff like this it works great as is. It’s fast, and uncomplicated.
Compositing FCP X
Cutting some other spots in Premiere as there are multiple folks working on them so… 🤷♂️ A lot of other GFX are being done in AE, but these spots have a ton of shots requiring tracked iPhone screen replacements with video playing onscreen. Some of these have fullscreen video zooming in/out of the phones. To lighten the load, I’m building the Screens with video in X…
Importing to Resolve and doing the screen replacements with Fusion and doing some light CC on the comps…
Importing the comps to FCPX and using Coremelt SliceX to track some moving fingers covering the screen and osmFCPX Add Motion to do the zooms in/out of the phone to fullscreen. — Side Note: osm.iPhone is pretty great too, used that in some other stuff for this campaign.
Export, stick into the spots in Pr… done. 🙂
Sadly, these projects need to remain ‘undisclosed’, but they look/sound great. They’re out in the world on National TV and/or the big 3 Social Networks. FWIW, Fusion does really great tracking. IMO it’s better than, um… the other one most people use. And FCP X, along with all its amazing built in and 3rd party plugins makes the ‘complicated’ stuff easy. As usual. 😉
Ah well, back to work….
EDIT: Got a good question about the mix in comments.. “would (it) have saved time if you simply used buses and the track editor in Premiere and avoided round tripping altogether?”. You can see my reply below, but just for laughs prepped the timeline in Premiere, and they did the equivalent prep in X.
Pr: Split clips out. Assign tracks to submixes.
X: Assign Roles to clips
Here’s the result…
Update: Someone on Twitter asked to see how I mix levels. Here it is. Just how I do it, not a definitive guide 🙂 I’d love to be able to play it but unless I can find the spot on Youtube and link to it, no can do. 😦
Seasons Greetings! Once again, in lieu of actual content, I invite you to download this gift! Again. It’s the fabulous pile of GeekCo Generators!
Bars! Checkers! Trailer Tags! Other Random Junk! Click either pic below to go to the ancient post from which you can download it all!
And have a Happy Politically Correct Non-Denominational Generic Holiday! 🎄✡️🕌👺
As you all know by now, FCP X 10.4.7 is out. It’s a huge, mostly under the hood update resulting in a big performance boost on Mojave, and an insane performance boost on Catalina. Really great update, you can read all about it in the usual places 😉
I did, however, run into a little issue that I wanted to share. Ya know, in case I’m not the only one… NOTE: this is a Mojave OS issue/conflict with some apps, including FCP 10.4.7 and VLC, Not an FCP X bug!
Anyhoo, if you install 10.4.7, and your OS menus completely freak out system wide when you launch FCP, here’s the fix… (from this VLAN Thread)
Open System Preferences -> Accessibility. Select displays, and make sure “Reduce transparency” is NOT selected. (note that selecting “increase contrast” will also select the transparancy box, so ya can’t have that on either.
I imagine not many people had this selected as I did, but if FCP X freaks out, this is the fix. Enjoy the update, it screams! 🙂
Maybe I’m the last person to discover this but… if you quit FCP X using OPTION-COMMAND-Q, the next time you open it, you’ll be right where you left off. Am I late to the party? In any case, happy I found this one. 😀
EDIT: Turns out FCP X may not restore windows by default based on your OS “General” settings. Specifically this setting... HT Marc Bach FWIW, in most apps I like the setting to *not* restore windows, so glad to discover a way to override it when needed. This shortcut also works in all apps that respect the system settings. (Pixelmator and others)
You may have heard about Off The Tracks, a documentary about FCP X that came out a year or so ago. It’s a a great story about the launch -and subsequent blowback against- what should be everyone’s favorite NLE. 😉
A free, abridged version was just released, and you really should check it out. It’s well balanced, and though the POV is that FCP X is a very good NLE choice. it’s not a “fanboy” take at all. Worth the 45 min or so to watch it, and the full length version can be found via Google.
Let’s talk about dissolves… Yeah, I know, boring right? Well, today I was working in Premiere – doing some fancy multiple dissolving shot sequences – and I realized how much better the Dissolves in FCP X are. In Premiere, it’s a pain to get a decent ‘look’. Changing blend modes on the shots and stacking them, or keyframing opacity… basically fiddling around endlessly to try to get a nice, smooth, soft effect. It’s do-able of course, but annoying AF.
You also have the option of “starting” your dissolve on the cut, or “ending” on the cut, or trimming one side or the other of the effect to get an “asymmetrical” dissolve. But all that actually does is move the midpoint of the dissolve without you needing to move the cut point. With one exception (see below) there is no such thing as an assymetrical dissolve in any NLE. Don’t believe me? Wade through this discussion for the explanation.
In FCP X, you just put the dissolve on the cut, pick the “Look” (blend mode) tweak the amount (mix) and adjust away. Much easier to get a nice, smooth look. Here’s the infographic!
If you want “real” assymetrical dissolves, the only way to do it is to get Super Dissolve for FCP X. 🙂