What follows is mainly directed at folks who cut in FCP “classic”. It also assumes you either have not used FCP X, or have tried it at some point in the past, stared at it in confusion, and given up. Finally, it assumes that you cut “professionally” and know what you’re doing.
Anyway, first thing you need to do when you open FCP X is . . . forget everything you know. Not about the actual creative process of editing, but the technical process that your brain and muscles have memorized over the years. Tracks, Bins, Subclips, etc. It’s all there but it’s. . . different. X does all the same stuff, some of it better, but it ain’t the same. If you have this attitude:
“I’ve been cutting 40 hours a week for over a decade and I know what I’m doing so just show me how to set I/O’ points and cut clips in and I’m good to go. I can figure the rest out”
. . . you might as well stop now. You’re gonna get confused and annoyed, give up, and become part of the FCPX is no good chorus. You can’t just figure it out without help. You know too much. Trust me on this one. This tip brings me to the first thing you need. Tutorials. Macprovideo, Ripple Training, Lynda, YouTube, there are a million of ’em. Get one. Also, get the GEM manuals here. They’re really inexpensive, and really good. Spend a little time to understand the X workflow, especially the project timeline, before you even launch the app. You’ll spend less time swearing at it. After you’ve gotten a basic understanding of FCP X, Here are a couple other timeline tips/ways of looking at things that might make the transition a little easier. . .
–Forget tracks ever existed. X is clip based. No more patching or track tetris.
-The Skimmer will drive you nuts. Use it. Especially Clip skimming. Don’t fight it, it’s really great once you get used to it.
–The Magnetic Timeline will drive you nuts. Just go with it, you’ll get used to it too, and figure out how to control it. Then you’ll wonder how you ever cut in a “normal” timeline.
–Sync Audio rides with the video, if you have a multichannel source just cut it all in, you can disable/enable the channels later if you need to. If you need to move the audio to cheat dialog or something you can detach it, or expand it in place to edit individual channels. It’s really nice.
–Assign Roles to everything as you import it. Video, Dialog, Music, Effects are in the default list, you can make as many as you need. You can do it at any time, but it’s best to assign Roles to Master clips. You can assign Roles to multichannel sources by opening them in a timeline. Proper assignment of Roles is easy, and really important!
–Everything sticks to whatever it’s connected to in the Primary Storyline and….
–The Primary Storyline works like Media Composer in ripple mode. Gap, the stuff between noncontiguous clips, is treated like media, even though it isn’t. In some ways, the X timeline is easier to “get” if you have some MC experience.
-The Position Tool is your friend. It lets you move stuff around in the primary without Rippling everything.
-The tilde key (~) is your friend too. It overrides clip connections when held down. Also, something you won’t find in the manual… If you press ~ and then SHIFT and release the keys, it locks the override until you hit ~ again. Useful!
–You can work like FCP 7 if you cut in everything as connected clips. You’ll need to make secondaries or move clips to the Primary if you want to add transitions, but it’s great to be able to rough out chunks as connected clips, and then dump each section into the primary once it’s kind of where you want. Popping in and out of the Primary is kind of like having Media Composer and FCP 7/Pr all in one.
–Secondary Storylines are invaluable for things like music beds made from cut up clips that you want to keep together, or may not want to them to move when you move a chunk of video and the clips connected to it. Put these clips in secondaries connected to the Primary at the head of the timeline and they function more or less like tracks used to.
–The timeline index is really useful. Assuming you’ve assigned Roles properly, you can do things like mute, solo, select all clips for particular Roles. And more…
**Edit: 12/21/13 As of FCP 10.1 -The ancient Project Library/Event workflow is gone. It was confusing as hell, and has changed. Ignore anything you hear or read about it. 😉
-Libraries are (kinda) the new Projects They hold a collection of Events and (FCP X) Projects
-Events are (kinda) the new Bins.
–Keyword Collections are the new Folders (though there are still actual folders), Smart Collections are super Folders. 😉
–Projects are the new Sequence
I could prattle on forever, but that’s a start. If you need to move back and forth from X to FCP 7 and/or Premiere, you absolutely can. Easily. 7toX is $10, Xto7 is $50. They work really well, so you have a safety net if you need it. Great to have when you’re just diving in or need to swap stuff with folks on other NLE’s. Getting in and out of MC is do-able, but’s it’s unfortunately a PITA.
You’ve also probably heard that X can’t export OMF’s, EDL’s, Change lists, and other esoteric things that “pro’s” need. And in the app itself, this is technically true. But, believe it or not, not everybody needs this stuff, just like not everybody cutting in FCP 7 needed AAF’s. Remember Automatic Duck? Remember how much it used to cost? Well, If you’re using X and you need these features (I do) for about the same price you can do all those things and more. Smoke and Resolve currently open fcpxml files with no translation, but to talk to other post workflows here’s a little list of the basic stuff you’ll want:
Compressor– $50 – X has a subset of compressor built into it, but for all the random export formats we need, get this. Make presets in compressor, access them from X without switching apps.
Motion– $50 – Open and tweak 90% of X’s built in effects. Make your own effects, generators and lot’s, lot’s more. Get it.
X2Pro – $149 -Makes ProTools (and other DAW) compatible AAF’s. Set your Roles properly and it’ll create a perfectly split out session with 1 or 2 clicks. It’s awesome.
EDL-X – $99 – Generates CMX 3600 EDL’s. Also you can edit the source table, and any markers you add to your sequence will show as comments in the EDL.
Clip Exporter – Free – delivers your entire timeline to After Effects or batch exports selected clips as Quicktime movies or Nuke files.
Resolve Lite – Free – Pretty much the same as the full version but only up to 2k resolution.
That pretty much takes care of the basic post needs and more for $350. Auto duck was $495 before it got EOL’d, so we’ve still got $145 to play with right? So…
Get Slice-X with Mocha for $99. In app Planar Tracking. It’s freaking amazing. Save the rest of your $ to put toward this. It’s in Beta testing now but allows for full 3D .obj files and texture maps, up to 8K in size. Sort of like Element3D inside FCP X.
OK, I really will stop now. But that’s just scratching the surface. Google will find you pretty much anything else you can imagine. Have fun….
Or make the switch to Adobe Premiere CS and spend less time conforming to yet another platform and more time creating great work. This whole “just get used to it” would make sense if it were a monopoly, but luckily the world of video editing software isn’t. So we have a choice – and mine was to jump to Adobe Premiere – and I don’t regret it one bit. Sorry, but Apple really blew it.
Nothing wrong with Premiere, I use it too on occasion. I’m not saying “just get used to it” as some sort of commandment though. Use whatever NLE works for you. What I’m saying is, for me, actually taking the time to learn the app made me realize that Apple didn’t “blow it”. I thought they did too, at first. Turns out they actually made something quite nice.
By all means, jump to Premiere and RENT your buggy siftware from Adobe. No thanks. I love my “X”!
These conversations always seem to end up here… Every NLE has something about it to dislike right? I’ll say it again, Premiere, MC, Vegas, whatever… all good tools. What bugs me, and is the reason I barfed up this blog, is that a large percentage of people who believe FCP X is no good have never used it and mistakenly believe that “pros” don’t use, or like it. It’s a myth I’d like to dispel.
Thanks for the brief overview, I will be sure to share it with people.
I am working on season 7 of a television drama cut in FCP 7. Though we will likely use FCP 7 until the show ends (how many seasons can a Canadian 1 hour drama go, after all) the editing team are all thinking about what we will be cutting the next series in. Avid is a strong contender but it has not resolved all of the issues that caused us to choose FCP 7 the last time we had to decide. Premiere Pro lost us when half the team was unable to install CC because of the known persistent install bug, though we all have to keep paying for it as there are no refunds on the subscription; kind of lost faith in Adobe with that one.
What about FCP X?
I have cut a few side projects in it (EPIC short, multi cam music video, documentary) and really liked some of what I discovered. Fact is, sitting with the director I could make changes in FCP X faster than any other NLE I have used in the last decade or so; Auditioning is amazing, the multi cam is second to none. Sure, some things still tripped me up but I suspect at least half of them are simply things I need to learn. Hopefully most of the other half will be resolved in the soon to be released FCP X 10.1 version (Remove Attributes, please).
What I don’t know how to do and have never met anyone who can explain it to me is how to work with FCP X with a team. On our show we have two editors and two assistant editors using FCP 7 and Editshare, plus additional storage on a Mac Server, all through 1GBe. How to I replicate / rebuild / work around this kind of workflow with FCP X? If someone would write the detailed guide to that I know I would be buying a copy to figure it out. Truth is, FCP Classic made me a lot of money in the past as a Trainer and Consultant (still does) and I would like to see that happen again with FCP X. Just need to figure out how to really make it work for groups. Oh, and convincing people they really need to give it a fair Shake and not let the introduction Color their perspective (puns intended).
Thanks for reading. . . I pointed out in another post that there are hints that next version of X will let you have pretty much the same shared workflow as you currently have with FCP 7, I’m sure there will be new features as well. And though you can remove attributes on one or more selected clips by deleting them in the inspector, having a pop up to do that would be nice as well. Also, I’m totally stealing your last sentence. 🙂
I am sincerely hoping the next version takes sharing seriously, there certainly are reasons to believe this will be the case. As to Remove Attributes, I am referring to the function in FCP 7 under Edit > Remove Attributes or Opt Cmd V. Paste Attributes was given back to us in FCP X, but I really miss the Remove Attributes function.
And consider that final sentence a gift. I am glad you appreciated it.
I’m with you on the Remove Attributes feature. And as to sharing, they’re taking it seriously. 😉
Ok this is where I sit in this whole debate:
yes, I make my living making videos of various types,
yes I’ve used FCP 7 for several years,
yes I hate the Mac bean-counters guts for making the next phase 64bit program so different that its like putting all the letters on a QWERTY keyboard in a different place,
yes I tried then avoided FCP X
yes I considered switching to Premiere Pro, AVID and everything else except Vegas which I consider occupies a level lower than a snake’s belly,
yes I’m hoping I’ve procrastinated long enough for FCP X to be half decent or at least the good blogs and tutorials online are informative enough and plentiful
yes I’ve finally dived into FCP X and
yes it does do some things better and others in a totally confusing way (but I suppose that is always the case when you’re learning something new)
and yes I do resent the hundreds of hours its going to take to be as fluent as I was on FCP 7 but at the end of the day, and this is the point of this long list of Yes’s, I MADE A DECISION, make a choice and stick to it. All this software has plus’ and minus’. I kept going with FCP7 until my dslr files got so large that the rendering time finished it off.
lol. Nice comment. 🙂 X will drive you batshit crazy for a while. Then, at some point, you’ll do a gig in 7 or Pr or MC… and the creative benefits of working in X will be apparent. I jump between NLE’s pretty regularly. X is hands down my favorite, warts and all…
It’s possible to remove attributes. Select the multiple clips and open the inspector. All at once you can remove effects, reset scalling and position, cropping, etc. Now if there’s an effect on some clips and not others, it may not show up in the inspector when you select multiple clips. I noticed some effects show up and others don’t, so it’s not perfect, but it’s still possible.
Yes, that works. I think it would be nice to have something similar to the “paste attributes” dialog though. 🙂