First, I’d like to point out two excellent articles about FCP-X and the future of post. First, a blog post by Oliver Peters, and then a Creative Cow Article by Walter Biscardi. Both very good and in depth.
OK, now on to me.
I finally downloaded the FCP-X trial and explored the application for a full day. Prior to this, I used it briefly for two hours. But now, while spending all day trying to make something with it, I discovered that I disliked just about everything about it. Every minute I spent using it made it worse because it was backwards from the way I like to work. But I guess that is how it is designed…to be unlike any other NLE, and to do things very differently. But is the different way better? Not for me. Am I too tied to TRACKS? Maybe. To tied to two monitors when working? Maybe. Dislike that I needed the Skimmer on to view footage in my EVENT, but that meant that the Skimmer would be on in the timeline too, and every time I moved the mouse, I’d be hit with a barrage of hyper fast audio? Definitely.
I had a list of all the issues I had with FCP X, and I was going to gripe about every one, but then my blog went down for five days giving me time to think about things and I’m not going to post another rant. I am only going to say that I will not be using FCP X in the forseeable future. Why? Well, it doesn’t solve any post issues that I currently need solving, and the whole reason why I moved to Final Cut Pro in the first place was that it solved a big post issue I was facing
You see, I started this blog many many years ago, April 2005 to be exact, when I made my leap from Avid Media Composer to Final Cut Pro. I had been using FCP for a couple years before that (starting with FCP 3) on smaller side projects, like actor demo reels, a handful of short films, a couple of corporate videos. But I didn’t think it was quite right for me to use on broadcast work…even though FCP 3 was enabled to do this with the RT Mac and Cinewave hardware cards. It wasn’t until FCP 4.5 came out with it’s native workflow with DVCPRO HD that it caught my attention.
See, I was working at the time on a National Geographic series that was shot with the Varicam to tape at 23.98…720p 23.98. But the Avid Meridians that we were using couldn’t deal with that format…they were SD only…so we dubbed all the footage to DV tape and offlined that way. And then when the time came to online, we were faced with a big issue…The Avid Adrenaline that we were onlining with didn’t do 720p…only 1080. So we needed to upconvert everything, and deal with the 29.97 to 23.98 frame rate difference, and that was complicated, and costly. We went over budget by just over a hundred grand for 9 episodes. Not good.
Shortly thereafter I was asked to edit a History Channel series on the Mexican American War…and the producer wanted to shoot with the Varicam. I was hesitant, given my recent experience. And while Avid did release an update shortly AFTER our online to allow for 720p onlines…I had just been to a LAFCPUG meeting where I saw FCP 4.5 demo’d showing how it could capture DVCPRO HD from tape natively. No offline/online…it was online from the start. And it was 720p…23.98. Final Cut Pro offered a solution to a post production issue I needed solving. So I leapt on it. Then we were going to also try to shoot with the new Panasonic P2 cameras as b-roll…and FCP was the only NLE to actually work with that format as well…so it was a no brainer. (If you want to see my experiences with that, dig into the archives).
So…with the release of FCP-X and how Apple seems to have changed the way it feels editors should work…it doesn’t offer any solutions to any post workflow needs I have. In fact, it actually lacks many features I need for the type of work I do. Other than being able to string pictures together to tell a story, and make the audio sound decent and picture look OK…it is missing everything I need to master for broadcast. You know the list…no OMF for audio mixing, no output to a broadcast monitor for color grading, no ability to export to Color or Resolve for grading, no way to export multi-channel audio that I need (oh, wait, with the update I now have ROLES…), and on and on.
So, instead of trying to make it work…or wait for it to eventually work…I will be looking at the alternatives. Going back to Avid Media Composer…and exploring Adobe Premiere Pro…both of which are making advances yet retaining the basic editing methodology that editors rely on to edit quickly, and concentrate on the creative and not the technical. They solve the post issues that I am currently faced with.