On April 12th, 2011, the editing community laid their eyes on Apple’s next-generation editing software labeled Final Cut Pro X. On June 21st, 2011, the world was able to get their hands on it. For only $299, anyone could download it onto their Mac from the App Store. However, from that moment on, our perception changed. We realized how radically different this new program was to legacy Final Cut. This caused many to demand refunds or turn to new non-linear editors. However, for those who decided to stick it out and brave into the new editing world, they realized that it isn’t that bad. Plus, FCPX is fast! And it has killer new features! Hopefully, with this guide, I will show those who are use to “classic” Final Cut Pro that Final Cut 10 isn’t that bad.
First let’s start with what hasn’t changed. For those who prefer using the keyboard, almost all the shortcuts are the same as legacy FCP. There are a few that you’ll find are different, but you can always change them back. Just go to Final Cut Pro > Commands > Customize.. There you’ll see a keyboard which will allow you to change them to what your little heart desires.
Next I want to make a little note about saving. If you head on over to the File menu, you’ll notice there is no saving option. What the?! How are we suppose to save our work? Have no fear; Final Cut Pro X saves automatically! In fact, if you try pressing command+S, you’ll hear the Mac error sound. No longer do you need to worry about saving after every edit and praying to God that you saved your project after FCP crashes. It’s all done behind the screen, automatically.
Now onto some basic terminology. Final Cut Pro X has a few name changes:
- Project = Event: In legacy Final Cut Pro they were called projects, but in FCPX they’re called Events. This is where you import your media for your cut.
- Sequence = Project: Final Cut 10′s version of a project can be compared to sequences in FCP7. A project is your timeline where all the media in your Event is cut together.
- Bin = Smart/Keyword Collection: you know those folders you would create in Final Cut where you could arrange the media in your project? Well, Apple has decided to rename it. There’s actually two types of “bins” – Keyword Collections and Smart Collections. Keyword Collections are a group of clips that share the same keyword. Using the Keyword Editor, you can apply certain key-words. Any clips that have the same keywords will be put automatically in the same Keyword Collection. The other type of collection is a Smart Collection. These are pretty much done by Final Cut X. When you import a clip, you can tell Final Cut to organize clips based on the type of shot – wide, medium, closeup – or the amount of people that are in the shot. Plus, you can filter your media and much more.
Now that we’ve gotten the basic terms down, let’s take a look at Final Cut Pro X’s layout.
Think of the Event Library as the Browser. This is where all your Events and media are stored. By default, FCPX displays all your media as filmstrips. I am guessing most of you will want to change the layout to “list view”. For more information on organization in the Event Library, check out this tutorial.
When you open up Final Cut Pro X for the first time, you won’t have any projects to open. So, you may look at FCPX and wonder, “where is the Timeline? All I see is this ‘Project Library’ thingy.” Believe it or not, that actually dubs as the Timeline. When you have projects in Final Cut 10, they are all displayed right there in the Project Library. If scrubbing is turned on, you can hover over the filmstrip for each project to see what is in each project. Find the one you’re looking for? Double-click on it and the Timeline will slide in with your edits.
Speaking of the Timeline, that’s what we’re going to focus on next. The Timeline is the exact same thing as it was in legacy Final Cut Pro. Although, at the same time, it is completely different. If you take a look at any images of the Timeline in Final Cut 10, you’ll notice there aren’t any tracks. Plus, there are these “snorkeler”-looking things attached to each clip. Well, Apple has decided to “revolutionize” the way we edit by offering the Magnetic Timeline. Instead of tracks, you have Connected Clips. Here’s Apple’s thinking:
Say you’re editing a documentary. When you’re working with tracks, what usually goes in V1? Your talking heads. Then, what usually goes in V2? B-roll. The B-roll in track 2 usually is a visual aid to what the person is talking about in track 1. Now, what happens if you decide you want talking head one to go after talking head two? You would need to move both the person talking in track 1 and the B-roll in track 2. This could get messy, especially when you’re working with several tracks. So, Apple came up with the Magnetic Timeline. You have a “Primary Storyline” where your talking heads can go. Then you have “Connected Clips” that literally attach to your Primary Storyline. If you decide to move talking head one behind talking head two, it’s a lot easier. All you need to do is drag the talking head clip over. All your Connected Clips will stay intact and talking head two will slide over to make room.
Audio also works the same way! If you have a sound effect attached to a clip, it will also move with the video in the Primary Storyline. The only thing I don’t like about this is when working with music. I don’t want my music to necessarily be attached to a certain clip. I may want it to just play throughout the whole video. That currently is not possible. You can find out more about audio in Final Cut Pro X right here.
In legacy Final Cut Pro, whenever something needed to be rendered, a message would display over the video. However, FCPX introduces background rendering! You can continue to play and edit clips that need to be rendered. Also, rendering will be done in the background. For more information, check out my tutorial on background rendering.
One of the first things you may notice is that there are no longer two previews (Viewer and Canvas). Instead, Apple decided only one preview is needed. When you play footage from the Event Library, the Viewer will display that video. When you play your Timeline, Final Cut will show that video.
Below the video screen are clusters of tools. To the left are tools to resize, crop, and distort a clip. In legacy Final Cut Pro, these options were found if wireframe was checked and was done by moving your mouse to the edge of the clip. Also, the crop tool was in the tools palette. Now, they can all be found in the same location and prevents anything accidental from happening. Fullscreen and loop playback can also be found below the Viewer.
Now that Apple has done away with the Viewer/Canvas relationship, how do you customize a clip’s settings or adjust filters? Final Cut Pro X has a new “window” – the Inspector. Think of this as the “motion” tab found in the Viewer in FCP7. It allows you to adjust a clip’s position, rotation, size, and pretty much everything else you could do before. To access it, simply click on the icon with an “i” found on the right, above the Timeline, or press command+4.
Also, you will see a new section labeled “Color” and “Correction 1″. For every video clip (and image) this will automatically be there. No longer do you need to apply a three-way color corrector. It’s built right in. If you’d like to adjust color settings, click on the arrow to the right of “Correction 1″. For more information on color correction in Final Cut Pro X, check out this tutorial series.
The Inspector also features an “info” tab. Here is where you can find the media’s name, notes, Roles, duration, frame size, and more!
Effects, Transitions, and More
So now that you know where to edit your effects, where do you find all of Final Cut’s effects? In legacy FCP, they were all found in the “Effects” tab of the Browser. But, in Final Cut 10, they are all found in a group of buttons below the Inspector.
The first button allows you to access all the effects. This includes both video and audio effects. What’s great about X is that you have an instant preview of the effect!
The next two buttons actually aren’t effects, transitions, etc. Instead, they give access to your photo and sound/music albums. If you use iPhoto or Photo Booth, the button with the camera can be helpful. The audio button to the right allows you to add music from your iTunes library or GarageBand. Plus, there are folders of sound effects and loops that comes bundled with FCPX.
Following those buttons is where you can access all sorts of transitions. Everything from blurs to wipes to dissolves.
Next is the Title Browser. You’ll find tons of pre-made templates, some of them cheesier than others. If you just want a basic title like legacy Final Cut, just choose the “Custom” title. Speaking of text and titles, Final Cut Pro X is 10 million times better with handling text than older versions of FCP. All of the typing can be done on the Viewer, which makes it much easier when you are concerned about Title Safe. Plus, the font selector actually shows what the font looks like!
To the right of the Text Browser is Generators, including gradients, textures, solids, and more. The last button features a Themes Browser. Basically, this is FCPX’s version of Motion Templates in legacy Final Cut.
Final Cut Pro X is much different than previous versions of FCP. However, most changes allow editors to work faster and have access to the tools they need. And, hopefully with the help of this guide, FCPX is now easier to understand.
If you don’t already own X, Apple now offers a trial version for you to test for 30 days. So, if you’re hesitant about purchasing this application, try it out. It is much faster than its 32-bit brother.
For more tutorials on Final Cut Pro X, including Final Cut BasiX, subscribe to the RSS feed. Also, follow @FinalCutWhiz on Twitter and become a Facebook fan. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below or contact me.