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The Case Against Final Cut Pro 14 Mar 2022 11:51 #119457

In this article, experienced editor Marcos Castiel puts the case for and against the use of Final Cut Pro. Marcos makes some very well made points and comparisons. Well worth a read.

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The Case Against Final Cut Pro 15 Mar 2022 15:08 #119458

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Why FCPX will (probably) never catch on.

Before you decide to TL;DR this comment: I originally started writing it as a spec article for this site in 2019. It addresses a lot of the same themes, but in a different way, and from a slightly different perspective. So if you are interested in the content of the article, you may find my comment interesting as well.

I have been working as a freelancer in NYC for the past five years. Before that I ran a production department at a website. When I started there in 2010, it was a FCP 6/7 shop. The owner was a major cheapskate. We had one academic copy of the software installed on three computers. They couldn't all be online at the same time while running FCP Studio. Who remembers those days? Shortly after FCPX launched, I switched the edit suite over. I think we switched when 10.0.3 was released (or whenever Multicam support was added). A big part of the choice was that I knew I could get money for it, since we were allowed at least five installs on a single license for $299. The owner of the website was ready to continue with our existing setup forever, but I sold him on the faster turnovers and render times. Switching to Adobe was out of the question. I had been begging him to buy a newer version of Production Suite, so I could up our titles and graphics. But we were limited to (I think) a version of CS 3.5 that had come installed on one of the computers that he had bought used. It was basically useless. Anyway, this is the long way to say that I am a diehard FCPX user from day one. It was an uphill battle, but I created a professional environment over the years, one that forced FCPX down the throats of more than two dozen junior editors, freelancers, and interns. But after the last five years of kicking around the NYC post production scene, I can say with great confidence that FCPX will never make a significant dent in the pro market.

I know the arguments. What is "pro"? What about this or that example? The world isn't just NYC and LA! I can't argue with any of that. I hope and pray that I am wrong. In my years of freelancing, I came across maybe three advertisements for FCPX gigs, and they all seemed to be posted by non industry people. They were artists or passionate amateurs who had raised some money for pet projects. They were not establishing longstanding edit environments that would force professional editors to change horses.

My experience with editors who I forced to switch when I ran the FCPX based shop was a mixed bag. I based hiring on editing ability and not software knowledge. It was a check in your column if you knew FCPX, but I just wanted good editors. When I first switched the shop over, we were straddling the fence. We still had some projects ongoing in FCP7 and all new projects were supposed to be started in X. My junior editor kept starting new projects in 7 and making excuses for why she wasn't switching to X. Ultimately, I think she was afraid of how different it was. It was really messing up my workflow for the shop, so after she did this on five projects, I uninstalled 7 on all but one machine and changed the password on it. She threw a chair at me and stormed out (after saying some awful things to/about me). That was the extreme, but I never had anyone come in and say, "I am so excited to work in FCPX!" Most of them are shocked when they learn the basics in about two hours. After two weeks (max) every person I brought in was basically up and running independently. But they still don't like it. I've only had two people really come to like it. Surprisingly, the woman who threw the chair at me, and the guy we hired right out of school who replaced her when she left. There was this one guy that we hired during a busy period, who worked pretty much full time for two years, and he actually knew X when we hired him. He never liked it. All his personal projects and independent client work, he did in Premiere. After knowing him for years, I asked him why that was. He said that there were all these track based things you couldn't do in FCPX and he could never get the bins organized right. I realized that for years he had been forcing FCPX to perform like a regular NLE. I would have hated it too.

To me, this gets to the core of why FCPX will never catch on in the wider pro environment. Laziness. I don’t mean that he wasn’t a hard worker (he was). There are a lot of different kinds of laziness, so this may not mean what you think it does. What opened my eyes to this was not an experience with FCPX, but with DaVinci Resolve. As much as everyone hates FCPX, people (in theory) love Resolve. For years Blackmagicdesign has been steadily building up Resolve, but in the past it never could really crossover widely. My experience (and the widely held consensus) was that the editing functionality just wasn't there yet. The color tools are great, but the edit tools and environment just weren’t good enough to work in natively. In my experience, this all changed with the release of version 14. Since then I can say with confidence that it has come to perform better than Premiere. Playback is almost on par with FCPX, and it is really developing into a great organizational tool. After a particularly nightmarish Premiere/Resolve round trip, I convinced this one production company to try doing an upcoming broadcast commercial soup to nuts in Resolve. It was the perfect test. We were shooting RAW, there was no Dialogue, and it was a pretty straight forward 30 second spot. From my POV it went off close to perfectly, but the owner of the company hated it. He likes to go in and tinker with edits. He's not an editor, more of an enthusiast. Resolve has kind of a steep learning curve. I did a lot of work to become fluent with it. He wants to just pop in on a whim. I notice that even with Premiere, he still hasn't transitioned completely from FCP7 (mentally). Again, this is a bit of an extreme case, but it is representative of the attitude I experience with most editors.

"I'm too busy to learn new software!" they tend to say with an aggressive tone. Often, there is a thinly veiled criticism of all my perceived free time (that I must have since I know FCPX, Premiere, and Resolve about equally well. I would jump on an AVID edit in a heartbeat too, but it has been years since I used it regularly). Most people who say this to me are no busier than I am. All it really takes is finding the right project and saying to yourself, " I will cut this in NLEofyourchoice." And then there is a little pain, but ultimately one project is all it takes to learn most of what you need. So it is a kind of laziness that leads to the decision. Your choice is: you could do this project in the NLE you are familiar with in 4 eight-hour days, or you could do it in 4 nine-hour days (and maybe one of those will be ten hours because something is bound to go wrong). And maybe to prepare for this leap of faith, you will need to spend your train ride watching tutorials and reading user manuals. Maybe you'll have to skip watching a football game one weekend. But the pay off is that you will have all the benefits of this new tool. With Resolve, those amazing color tools are always right there and you will save yourself the pain and minimum of a half day with a Premiere round trip (that XML language is ancient and the AAF is broken). With FCPX the improved playback is like getting a new computer, the Multicam tool, the metadata organizing, same day turnarounds, etc. So it is laziness. The person who would rather stick with what they know for an easier ride in the moment, rather than invest a little time and effort for future benefits, is just being lazy.

Whenever I tell people I prefer to work primarily in FCPX, they think I'm joking. Seriously, this is true. They laugh, and then look uncomfortable when they realize I am serious. I’m not exaggerating. This has happened to me many times. Well, in the last few years I have transitioned to working pretty exclusively on VFX and motion graphics. I am no longer in the trenches of the NLE wars. I wrote the majority of this in 2019, when I had only been freelancing for a little over two years. It doesn’t seem like things have changed much, judging by Marcos’s article. But, like him, I do believe that ultimately all of the advances that FCPX pioneered will become part of every NLE. Resolve and Premiere each have implemented strange little iMovie-esque apps or interfaces, Resolve has really been leaning into metadata in a very FCPX way. We may not get there in the way that we want, but eventually all of our proselytizing will have been proven right.

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The Case Against Final Cut Pro 15 Mar 2022 18:28 #119460

There is actually no such thing as "standard" XML. Technically the format for FCP classic XML is xmeml. The format for FCP X XML is fcpxml. The XML format for Motion is yet another XML format. The project format for Premiere Pro is an XML (but undocumented), and many cameras include XML files as sidecar files for metadata.

And we (the makers of XtoCC and SendToX) aren't going anywhere.

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The Case Against Final Cut Pro 15 Mar 2022 18:39 #119461

I've got to chime in from the standpoint of looking at DaVinci Resolve as the greener pasture. It's pretty cool for editing simple projects. But...

I'm currently grading a film that was cut on Resolve and I'm having to do editorial fixes on it now. If you try doing edit changes to a feature film timeline after there are a bunch of grading nodes on every clip, performance with native media is absolutely glacial. R17 is pretty buggy and there have been a lot of glitches. In general, I would have had a smoother process if this had been cut in Premiere or FCP and round-tripped to Resolve for the grade.

The editorial model in Resolve leaves a lot to be desired. Definitely not ready if you want to use it as an uber-NLE for really complex jobs.

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The Case Against Final Cut Pro 15 Mar 2022 23:02 #119483

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Oliver Peters wrote:


I'm currently grading a film that was cut on Resolve and I'm having to do editorial fixes on it now. If you try doing edit changes to a feature film timeline after there are a bunch of grading nodes on every clip, performance with native media is absolutely glacial.
Have you tried using the "ByPass Color Grades and Fusion Effects" button on the color page? It's for your exact use case...

See attached image.
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The Case Against Final Cut Pro 15 Mar 2022 23:12 #119485

Yes, didn't help.

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The Case Against Final Cut Pro 15 Mar 2022 23:21 #119486

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Yes, didn't help.

Have you tried caching/"pre-rendering" nodes? Here's a decent article that mentions some of the more common ways to optimize the performance of Resolve:

5 Tips to Improve Performance in DaVinci Resolve 

Hmm. If your "native media" is something other than a flavor of ProRes or DNx that may also explain why the "magic button" didn't help. There a lots of way to optimize Resolve. Curious...

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Last edit: by DaveM.

The Case Against Final Cut Pro 15 Mar 2022 23:34 #119487

Thanks for the suggestions. As a frame of reference, I've been grading with Resolve for over a decade. Since around Resolve 7 or 8.

This is a film made up of native RED 6K camera files. I have completely graded the film. The current issue is simply sliding a few clips a bit earlier on the timeline. These are outtakes in the credit roll that need to be adjusted to fit into the modified credit roll. The credit roll is a pre-rendered 4K ProRes 444XQ clip. Trimming the ends of clips responds quickly. Dragging and sliding is insanely slow. Bypassing grades and effects makes no difference.

As far as caching, I've run into all sorts of issues on this project with caching. For example, when I was using caching, I was unable to duplicate a timeline. Beachball for 30 min before I quit. This has been a problematic project where I've had to migrate the timeline about 4 times into fresh, new projects.

So right now, Resolve is on my s-list. My general feeling is that it's far too complex of an application with way too many settings minefields to be casually approached as an NLE in the same way people can approach FCP or even Vegas on the PC side. And people think Media Composer is complicated :)

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Last edit: by Oliver Peters.

The Case Against Final Cut Pro 16 Mar 2022 00:42 #119488

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Thanks for the suggestions. As a frame of reference, I've been grading with Resolve for over a decade. Since around Resolve 7 or 8.

[clipped]

So right now, Resolve is on my s-list. My general feeling is that it's far too complex of an application with way too many settings minefields to be casually approached as an NLE in the same way people can approach FCP or even Vegas on the PC side. And people think Media Composer is complicated :)

Hmm. Sorry for my somewhat facile questions/comments.

I approach Resolve primarily from an editor's POV (been revisiting/using Resolve since v.12). Things have changed a lot in the last few versions (w.r.t. performance related aspects), so I try to revisit the manual whenever it is updated (Chapter 8, especially).

So, are you using an optimized media or proxy workflow, at all? I've never dealt with native RED files (everything I use for editing is in an appropriate flavor of ProRes, with proxies made as needed). I wonder if you might be "fighting" the way that Resolve is intended to work best for editing. Maybe I am missing something...

30 minute beachballs gotta suck. I would imagine you have to have a good amount of experience to even let something go for that long without just force quitting... ;-)

Heck, I've run into cases where certain H.264 and H.265 HD-size files have caused issues or less-than-stellar performance if not transcoded first...

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Last edit: by DaveM.

The Case Against Final Cut Pro 16 Mar 2022 01:41 #119489

Admittedly my approach to Resolve is as a colorist and online editor. I have not used it as my primary, creative ("offline") editor, although my son does use it for his YouTube channel. Tracks make more sense to him :) So the editing I have done is in the context of finishing and that's always with native files. However, this has included completely overcutting every shot in a film, because the AAF from Media Composer ended up with shots not quite in sync.

To be clear, you don't grade a movie from optimized files if you have camera RAW files to work with. For instance on this film, I've had to make significant changes to the RAW settings. Quite a few would appear underexposed if I had stuck to the clip's recorded metadata. If the film had been shot with H.264 media, then I completely agree, optimized would be the way to go for performance.

As far as using it as a primary NLE, I don't believe in the user-app, all-in-one NLE. It's hard to do it right and none have been commercially successful thus far as the dominant NLE in their class (think Avid DS, Autodesk Smoke, etc). I also feel it has an awkward editing model and is the worst of the 4 main contenders when it comes to pure editing. Plus the bizarre fact that it has 2 completely different editing model. So it just isn't the NLE I turn to because there are better options.

As far as the all-in-one idea, Fusion and Fairlight and bolted in and feel the least integrated of all the Resolve tools. As an example, you can't grade a clip in the Color page and then enter that clip with the grade back into Fusion. You have to apply separate color tools inside of Fusion, since it more or less works like a compound clip or maybe a Dynamic Link clip in the Adobe world. And then if you do apply a Fusion color tool, those control don't show up in the Color page. So there's a definite "left to right" workflow in moving through the modes/pages.

Let's talk about color management. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find any general editor who can completely explain the various color management options in the project settings. Get them wrong, change them midstream, or send the timeline file to another editor with different settings and you have a mess. For example with RED files, you get a totally different look if you use their LUT versus a Color Space Transform vs DaVinci Color Managed.

I'm not saying it's a bad tool. That's certainly not the case. It is, however, a very deep tool with quite a few potential gotchas. It's just not the tool that people should be jumping up and down about as the obvious alternative to FCP. Or as an alternative to Premiere or Media Composer for that matter. Of course, others probably have a completely different experience. I get that and that's fine, too.

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Last edit: by Oliver Peters.

The Case Against Final Cut Pro 16 Mar 2022 07:49 #119491

I found the “Avid = Porsche, Premiere = Ferrari, FCP = F18 fighter jet” analogy pretty funny. I use a similar one. For me, Avid and Premiere are 4-cylinder gasoline engine cars, and FCP is a Tesla.

They’ll all get you where you want to go, but two of them are slow and underpowered (track management alone is like dealing with stop-and-go traffic), while the other one will get you there faster and in style.

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The Case Against Final Cut Pro 16 Mar 2022 11:38 #119493

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Well I am happy to learn that I have a Tesla.
Probably the only one I can afford ;-)

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The Case Against Final Cut Pro 17 Mar 2022 09:58 #119503

I've kind of grown into FCPX from FCP7 but unlike many others, instead of mocking the seemingly simplistic magnetic timeline, I stuck with it. I've tried editing in Premiere after using FCPX for so long and I hated it, too clunky, too messy. I was asked to look into Resolve because 'it's what everyone uses for grading'. I disliked Resolves (v16) editing tools because it's just not as easy as FCPX. I did an edit in FCPX and used the xml into Resolve for grading and then back into FCPX. I hated that, because invariably changes, little 'tweeks' are made after the grade. In FCPX I've gotten used to doing all my colour work using adjustment layers. I find this is similar to nodes in resolve in that I can copy adjustment layers onto other similar clips, I can rename all the adjustments to something meaningful so at a glance can see what effects they have so when I show other people I can turn on an off options I think they might like to see.

A few years ago, I went to a expo all to do with the industry and there was a company that did a demo of their FCPX training. I thought I'd sit in as there's always benefit in seeing how other people do even the simplest of things. Anyway, after the demonstration I overheard a conversation from a guy that worked in the BBC and was asking what kind of discount he could get to train 200 people in FCPX. I thought to myself if the BBC are looking to switch to FCPX, it shows they must think it's a great product. I do. At the end of the day, you feel most comfortable using what you like and have experience with. I do think the slur on FCPX for being a 'not serious', being for kids, it's a toy etc is actually a good thing. Who wants to work with something overly complex and unwieldy? Give me easy to use every time.

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The Case Against Final Cut Pro 17 Mar 2022 14:05 #119506

FCPX was actually what made me decide to go all-in on video as a "career"!
Before FCPX I had only dabbled in video, but I just didn't like editing... when FCPX was released and I read all the horrified reactions I just got curious, and I just loved it straight away. Finally an NLE that worked the way my mind had always wanted video editing to work. And editing was now fun! So I promtly bought my first professional video camera and off I was! :)

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The Case Against Final Cut Pro 17 Mar 2022 16:54 #119519

"I hated that, because invariably changes, little 'tweeks' are made after the grade. In FCPX I've gotten used to doing all my colour work using adjustment layers."

I've been grading in Resolve since the BMD software version became available and Apple Color was EOL'ed. Obviously, the color tools are the origin of Resolve and the item everyone looks at as being best-of-breed. However, I've graded with a bunch of different systems over time, including within several different NLEs. While I like Resolve, I preferred Color, both for its quality and workflow.

Resolve is great for "surgical" work, but I always felt Color gave me a more pleasing result. It also used a layer method, somewhat like adjustment layers.

Where Resolve breaks down for me - versus grading within other NLEs like FCP - is the poor workflow when you need to grade in-context. For example, stack up 4 clips with different grade in each. That's easier to do within the timeline than it is to do in Resolve's node and clip/filmstrip structure. You can't grade within the edit page on the proper timeline. Plus on long projects, once you end up with a very complex graded timeline, performance is very poor if you try to go back and then make more editorial changes.

For most jobs, it's often easier and faster to grade in Avid Symphony or FCP or Premiere with Lumetri. There's a reason so much TV programming is graded in Symphony and not roundtripped to Resolve. The FCP color toolkit has become very good and if you want more, then up it a notch with Color Finale or a similar plug-in.

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The Case Against Final Cut Pro 17 Mar 2022 17:17 #119520

Thanks for the feedback Oliver. I'm pleased that someone as experienced as yourself respects the colour tools in FCPX. I'm by no means experienced in resolve, I only did a little training and grade one 30 second ad, but it was enough to want to keep to a pure FCPX workflow. I'll have to have a look at Color Finale. That's another thing I love about FCPX is the many different and often free plugins.

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The Case Against Final Cut Pro 17 Mar 2022 19:28 #119522

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From what I have seen, people just don’t take the time to learn what FCPX can do. In YouTube comments I see people say “I’ve been using FCPX for 5 years and I didn’t know it does that” and it’s typically something that, if they’d had any formal training, they would have learned in the first hour. I have been using FCPX/Motion since it was released (and editing professionally for 40 years) and the few times I’ve gone back to Premiere and Resolve I just shake my head and wonder how anyone (except where they don’t have a choice) would choose one of them over FCP. FWIW I think Ripple Training is best. I have no connection to them except as a customer.

PS - I have done all color work with FCP tools or Color Finale.

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Last edit: by anickt.

The Case Against Final Cut Pro 17 Mar 2022 19:31 #119523

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Making their better product better won’t make much difference if Apple won’t develop and maintain an ongoing marketing strategy

It’s a mindshare battle, not a features battle.

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The Case Against Final Cut Pro 17 Mar 2022 20:52 #119525

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It’s been that way for a while hasn’t it

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The Case Against Final Cut Pro 17 Mar 2022 20:58 #119526

It’s been that way for a while hasn’t it
Let's just hope it doesn't meet the same fate as some other abandoned Apple tools. The photo management and editing software called Aperture is a great example. No idea why they killed it off. It was a slow demise as well, like they just lost interest and forgot it was there, then it just became incompatible with their own OS

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