Iain Anderson's new book on Final Cut Pro X has just been published. He tells us what's in it, who it's for and why he wrote it. There's also a link for a free chapter to download.
This crazy year, I wrote a new book to teach Final Cut Pro X, and I’m sure you’re wondering why.
But first, here’s the first chapter for free, here’s my site with a bit more information, and here’s where you can buy it, from Amazon, Packt, Waterstones, and perhaps even your favorite online bookseller, in paper or electronic form.
So — why write a new book about FCP X? The simplistic answer is “a publisher asked me to, and during a global pandemic it seemed like a good idea” but there’s more to it than that. Books aren’t dead just yet, Final Cut Pro X is still going strong, and people need to learn how to use it.
Everyone learns differently, and while in-person training is still the gold standard, it’s relatively expensive, and impossible for many. Remote in-person training is more possible, but still pricey for most.
Online video training can be good, and I’ve made many courses on FCP X for macProVideo.com, but online video isn’t perfect, as it moves at the speed of the presenter rather than the student, and that could easily be too fast or too slow.
YouTube can be good for answering specific questions, but short videos don’t usually give a complete picture of the software. (You can’t get the right answers if you don’t ask the right questions.)
Video is a good way to see something happen, but complex workflows and concepts are still best discussed in written form. I don’t think of myself as a particularly verbose writer, but I ended up with over 150,000 words, and the final printed book (including pictures too) is over 750 pages. The information density of books is much higher than video, so there’s a lot of content inside, with plenty of steps to follow.
Books have other advantages too, and they’ve always been my first choice for learning. You don’t need to pause a book to try something, it doesn’t take up screen space that the app could use itself, and you can even read it in bed. Books are cool. I think books are just fine electronically (and searching is easier!) but if you prefer the smell and feel of a real book, no problem. It’s available in both formats.
The current official Apple manual is a couple of years out of date, and it certainly seems as if the Apple Certified Training program (which the book supported) has ended for Final Cut. As an Apple Certified Trainer I’m sad to see all my old certifications (FCP 6 through 10.4, plus Final Cut Server!) gather dust, but as an author of a new, comprehensive textbook, I wouldn’t be unhappy if the Apple manual remained out of date.
While there are other manuals out there, I thought there was room for a fresh approach teaching best practice with the app, so I planned the book outline around the structure of an edit. New FCP X editors will be able to attack a project as they work through it, and experienced editors can dip in and out where they need to update their knowledge. These three parts each include 5 to 6 chapters:
Part 1: Importing and Organizing
The first part of the book covers the basics of the app, along with huge tips on organizing your media with Keywords and Favorites, preparing your footage and more. There’s also a whole chapter about shooting, to make sure that you have the footage you need for the edit, and if you follow the advice here, you’ll understand why you should mark up your footage instead of building stringouts.
Part 2: Rough Cut to Fine Cut
Next up, you’ll build and rearrange a rough cut (thanks, Magnetic Timeline!) and then finesse it to a fine cut, working with the best trimming techniques, multicam editing, split edits, storylines, compound clips, and tons more. There are lots of pictures, plenty of examples, and as many tricks as I could pack in.
Part 3: Finishing and Exporting
The final part of the book covers the finishing process, from colour correction, through scaling, cropping, effects, transitions, retiming, audio sweetening, titling, captions, and all kinds of exporting. Captioning and multiple aspect ratio support are more important than ever, so I wanted to include a special focus on these, including new features from the most recent updates.
Don’t try to read it all at once, but there should be something in there for everyone. While new editors obviously have the most to learn, I’ve written it for the broadest audience possible, so it’s relevant whether you’re cutting for your own YouTube channel or cutting for broadcast delivery.
One thing I’m especially happy about is that I was able to include some of the FCP X community as part of the book. Each chapter opens with a quote about FCP X from an experienced editor — not about the book, but about why they use and enjoy the app. Contributors include fcp.co's very own Peter Wiggins, multiple Emmy winners, YouTube superstar Justine Ezarik, and ex-Apple FCP X Senior Product Manager Steve Bayes.
Huge thanks to all of them for their words, and if you’d like to see your name attached to a quote in the next edition, all you have to do is write a glowing review of the book so the publisher can add testimonials on the back cover. (No, really, please do! Reviews really help!)
Going forward, the goal is to keep the book up to date with future updates to FCP X. I’m going to release revisions to the text free of charge, so that anyone who buys a printed copy now will be able to print out an update and insert it at the right spot. The wonders of print-on-demand and electronic books mean that I can actually keep this thing up to date. All the latest features in the most recent versions of FCP X are discussed, with plenty of detail.
So who’s it for? If you’re reading this, probably you! Anyone who wants to learn more about Final Cut Pro X is welcome, from any editor who wants a reference that works at their own speed, to a producer getting their feet wet, to an experienced editor transitioning from another platform, or for a totally new user getting started. It’s a pleasure to be part of the FCP X community, and I hope this helps to grow it further. If you’ve read this far, please check out the first chapter, and if you like it, there’s a lot more.