tech tv fcpx

UK production company Tech TV made the transition from Final Cut Pro 7 to FCPX and they haven't looked back since. Head of Production Matt Smith describes the reasons and benefits for switching.


A year ago, life at our video production company Tech TV was very different.  We were cutting on FCP7 and taking a lot more coffee breaks.

With 7, we always seemed to be waiting for something to happen. Waiting for the rushes to transcode, waiting for the software to reboot after yet another crash, waiting for the render bar to limp across the screen and then waiting for Compressor to do its thing with the master export.  And then waiting for the final files to upload.

Now we seem to breeze through this stuff with relative ease. FCPX has made us faster, more creative and is winning us awards. And we drink less coffee.  

All true - well, maybe not the coffee bit.  


To give you an idea of how we use FCPX, here’s a quick upsum. We shoot and cut corporate videos and films for companies and corporations from our bases in London and Surrey in the UK. We tend to film in the UK and Europe and do the bulk of our shooting using large sensor cameras - mainly Panasonic AF100/101s with prime lenses.  We also use DSLRs for video blogging and full-sized Sony XDCAMs for run-and-gun events.

The workflow with the Panasonic AF101s really couldn’t be easier. We grab the SD card out of the camera, put it in the iMac and bring in the AVCHD rushes through the import window. FCPX then does its thing and we get cutting in minutes.

Location-Photo-1 fcpx


When we started the company three years ago, we were working on FCP7 but I’d been interested in FCPX since the launch. As a former national TV reporter and producer, I’d spent thousands of hours in edit suites at the BBC, Sky and London facilities houses. Everything from Avid to Quantel; offline and online. I’d learned how to cut to very tight deadlines with an editor. I’d also edited a bit myself but found FCP7 a bit unfriendly and - well - grey and dated looking.

So when FCPX launched, it piqued my interest. The interface looked fresh and modern and seemed to feed into the DSLR and shallow depth-of-field revolution. The fact that so many were quick to condemn, only made me more interested. Looking back, I agree that it was half-baked at launch and lacked vital features but with every version update that came along, FCPX got more interesting.

So at Tech TV,  we decided to run a few smaller, less critical edit projects on the new software to test it out, while keeping FCP7 going for the larger jobs.

Editing-2 fcpx


There were frustrations. I remember trying to export 43 self-contained interview clips - all with lower thirds - before range selection was introduced. God, that was painful. It actually involved exporting ProRes timelines and then firing up FCP7 to finish the job, which was a bit soul destroying. The inability to split apart and edit audio tracks in the timeline in the earlier versions was also a bugbear.

And the lack of features meant some of us took a bit of convincing:

“I hated it, it didn't make sense,” was the view of our editor and producer Tash Jones on first look. She’d joined us from another corporate video production company and was an advanced user of FCP7. Initially, didn’t see the point of switching to FCPX.

“I couldn't do what I wanted to do as I could in FCP7,” she recalls. “Plus, I had heard from Creative Cow, Twitter and around the web that it was iMovie Pro and not to bother with it.”

But by the time update 10.0.6 came along, things were motoring and FCPX was winning us around.  

“Once you gave FCPX a chance, I actually realised that it was better [than FCP7],” she adds. “Because it made the whole editing process faster.”

“It was realising the opportunities that were there, the plugins, the fact that the magnetic timeline actually sped things up, once you gave it a bit of time.”

So when we switched offices in January this year, we switched software and decided to go full time to FCPX. We’ve honestly not looked back.

Edit-Suite-2 fcpx


In terms of kit, there was no new Mac Pro on the horizon back in January. So we re-kitted our main edit suite with the fastest iMac we could lay our hands on. The new thinner iMacs had just been launched, so we placed an order for a 3.4Ghz, 27” iMac and maxed out the RAM to 32Gb. We added a Dell UltraSharp 27” as second monitor via Thunderbolt, G-Tech Thunderbolt 8GB Raid, Blackmagic Thunderbolt Mini Monitor driving a 42” LCD and some Fostex audio monitors.  

The machine is really quick - much quicker than the old Mac Pro we used to use -  and rendering is pleasingly fast. We also run a second dual-screen set-up on a 21” iMac, which we use for simpler edits. It’s slower than the main suite but it still works fine. We also have another 21” iMac for overflow and a MacBook Pro for mobile edits.

Edit-Suite-1 FCPX


We love a plugin and that again is an appealing element of FCPX.  Current favourites include FCPEffects’ WhipPans; HyFx’s HyGear transitions, mGlitch and mSpy from motionvfx and Digital Heaven’s SubtitleX.  We have many more installed and find them inspiring, liberating and a bit addictive.  

Our productions on FCPX have won awards.  In the trophy cabinet that’s pride of place in our office, I can count three statues that were in part, thanks to FCPX and more that we have certificates for.  And we think we’ve got a chance to win more with the sort of work we’re now making in the edit suite.

As people who make a living from making video, we’re always trying to be better than the competition.  And above all, I think that’s what FCPX helps us do.

“I can do so many more creative things,” says editor Tash.  “The stuff I'm sending out is leaps and bounds above what I was doing before.  I'm cutting quicker and the stuff I'm doing is so much better.”

Archiving and sound mixing using the software is still a bit of a headache.  There are also a few other little niggles that sometimes annoy but I’m excited about the future of this software. We’re on the cusp on version 10.1 and a machine designed with FCPX in mind.

(Click for larger image)

Tech-TV-FCPX-Timeline small


I think that might trigger a sea-change in views. I’m already noticing a curiosity among other editors who would previously dismiss FCPX out of hand. One told me on a shoot the other day that he felt he should now give the software “a second look”. He seemed to acknowledge there was a learning curve involved too - which is a healthy shift away from the previous “I can’t work it, so it must be useless” attitude.

I really hope so - even if it just means we can get some edit help. Finding a freelancer who can cut on FCPX is still a bit of a challenge.


But in the meantime, FCPX has sharpened our game and we’re enjoying the easier workflow.  

We upload to Vimeo an awful lot for client previews at the end of an edit session. Now being able to simply to click a single button and walk away is really pleasing. With FCP7, it used to be a 3-stage process of export, convert and upload.

The result?  It means we get more time to drink coffee.


matt smithMatt Smith is the Head of Production at Tech TV, an award winning video production company based in London and Surrey. Shooting on large sensor cameras with prime lenses and editing in FCPX.





Written by
Top BloggerThought Leader

I am the Editor-in-Chief of FCP.co and have run the website since its inception ten years ago.

I have also worked as a broadcast and corporate editor for over 30 years, starting on one inch tape, working through many formats, right up to today's NLEs.

Under the name Idustrial Revolution, I have written and sold plugins for Final Cut Pro for 13 years.

I was made a Freeman of Lichfield through The Worshipful Company of Smiths (established 1601). Though I haven't yet tried to herd a flock of sheep through the city centre!

Current Editing

great house giveaway 2020

2020 has been busy, the beginning of the year was finishing off a new property series (cut on FCP) for Channel 4 called The Great House Giveaway. I also designed and built the majority of the graphics as Motion templates. It has been a great success and the shows grabbed more viewers in the 4pm weekday slot than any previous strand. It has been recommissioned by C4 for 60 episodes, including prime-time versions and five themed programmes. The shows have also been nominated for a 2021 BAFTA.

Tour de france 2020
Although both were postponed to later in the year, I worked again on ITV's coverage of the Tour de France and La Vuelta. 2020 was my 25th year of editing the TdF and my 20th year as lead editor. The Tour was the first broadcast show to adopt FCPX working for multiple editors on shared storage.


BBC snooker the crucible

BBC's Snooker has played a big part in my life, I've been editing tournament coverage since 1997. I'm proud to be part of a very creative team that has pioneered many new ideas and workflows that are now industry standard in sports' production. This is currently an Adobe Premiere edit.

amazon kindle BF

Covid cancelled some of the regular corporate events that I edit such as trade shows & events. I was lucky however to edit, from home, on projects for Amazon Kindle, Amazon Black Friday, Mastercard and very proud to have helped local charitable trust Kendall & Wall secure lottery funding.

As for software, my weapon of choice is Final Cut Pro and Motion, but I also have a good knowledge and broadcast credits with Adobe Premiere Pro, MOGRT design and Photoshop.

Plugin Design & Development

I'm the creative force behind Idustrial Revolution, one of the oldest Final Cut Pro plugin developers. It hosts a range of commercial and free plugins on the site. One free plugin was downloaded over a thousand times within 24 hours of release.

I also take on custom work, whether it is adapting an existing plugin for a special use or designing new plugins for clients from scratch. Having a good knowledge of editing allows me to build-in flexibility and more importantly, usability.


Now in its 10th year and 4th redesign, running FCP.co has given me knowledge on how to run a large CMS- you are currently reading my bio from the database! Although it sounds corny, I am pretty well up on social media trends & techniques, especially in the video sector. The recent Covid restrictions has enabled live FCP.co shows online. This involves managing a Zoom Webinar through Restream.io to YouTube and Facebook. 

The Future

I'm always open to new ideas and opportunities, so please get in touch at editor (at) fcp.co. I've judged film competitions, presented workflow techniques to international audiences and come up with ideas for TV shows and software programs!


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