Joe Patrick, one half of Republic Publishing’s award-winning video team, vents some of the frustration he’s had with Apple’s supposedly perfect video suite, Final Cut Pro X. Are the new updates too little, too late?

When it comes to technology, I’m a creature of habit. Which, in a world of endless software updates, where new features are drip-fed to you as and when they’re ready, can be a dangerous thing.

I’ve been using Apple’s Final Cut Pro since I was sixteen. I’m now twenty eight.

That’s one, two, three…. some years of loyal service to a piece of software that has, apart from the occasional Kernel Panic, served me very very well. Until now…

Let’s start at the beginning of the end.

Back in June 2011, Apple released Final Cut Pro X in all of its not-quite-finished-yet glory – claiming the program had been “completely redesigned from the ground up.”

Its arrival sparked a universal huff from professional editors around the world. For most, it was clear that what was once an industry-leading piece of software was now more concerned with getting in on your Dad’s home movie action. (No, not those kind of home movies, no one wants to see those – again). It was dubbed “iMovie Pro” by many – and rightfully so. It simply didn’t have all of the professional tools we’d come to expect from FCP. You couldn’t even open older projects. Madness.

At the time, I myself was kindly offered a copy of FCPX for review for this very publication, but so convoluted were the installation instructions from Apple (amongst other things, I was required to partition my hard drive because FCP7 and FCPX couldn’t bear to share disk space), and so frustrating were the resultant glitches, that I had to abandon the trial and regress back to FCP7. I was disappointed, but hopeful that the new direction would come good in the end.

So here I am, over a year later, still waiting to make the jump from 7 to X. Admittedly, Apple has released several updates to FCPX (we’re currently on 10.0.6) and the general consensus is that it is listening to user feedback and slowly moving in the right direction. But where does that leave me?

The ‘redesigning from the ground up’ approach is all well and good, but it’s left me curled up in a dilapidated, albeit comfortable, piece of editing software, waiting for the builders to put the windows and doors in at the new apartment I stuck a downpayment on fifteen months ago.

The main problem? I’m constantly having to sift through review after review to see whether it does those core things that I need it to do. Not to mention cross-referencing all of Apple’s ‘updates’ so far, to see if it still does that thing that it didn’t do, but then suddenly did. And at the moment, it just doesn’t.

From a company like Apple, who famously prides itself on user experience, the experience of updating to FCPX has, for me, been catastrophically unacceptable. What should’ve been a seamless transition from one piece of software to its sexier younger sister has turned into an aimless pursuit of a flawed, twitchy, botoxed step-cousin.

And so, it was with with great reluctance that today I googled the words ‘switching from Final Cut Pro to Adobe Premiere’.

There I’ve said it. Now, it may not sound like a big deal and I sure as hell won’t switch straight away – but for the first time in my professional career I’m willing to consider it. Up until now, switching wasn’t even an option, I always had faith in Apple. But I’ve just gotten bored of waiting.

And I need to get on with some proper editing.

  • Rugar8

    You nailed it perfectly! Same here, and with Adobe’s Cloud Subscription, you have all pro apps available instantly – smart move by Adobe at this crucial time. Shooting a small independent feature now, and planning on doing all post in Premiere. It’s sad, I”m over it, and moving on with someone who cares about me.

    • Joe Patrick

      Thank you for your comment, sir. I think you’ve made a good point there. Apple didn’t initially seem to care about the people they left behind with the initial release – but they are listening and that’s promising. I would never say I’ll leave FCP behind for good, but this whole furore has encouraged me to explore the other options – which can only be a good thing.

      Good luck with the film!

  • Gabriel Spaulding

    I am a huge fan of Final Cut Pro X, but use the Adobe Production Premium regularly at my day job. Both platforms have their own strengths and weaknesses. I much prefer editing with FCP X, though for tape-based media Premiere is the way to go. I have to say, though, that for $300 why not have a copy of FCP X on hand? Take some time to actually use the software, and get your own opinion, rather than basing it on reviews. Most of what can be done in Premiere can be done MUCH faster and more efficiently with FCP X. Also, please keep in mind that while Adobe touts the ability to work with all sorts of media natively, this does not mean that it works well with all sorts of media natively. And unless you’re able to take advantage of the Mercury Playback Engine, you’ll have to do a great deal of rendering (and with the 10.0.6 FCP X update render times have decreased dramatically).

    • Joe Patrick

      Hello Gabriel. Thanks for your advice. I’ve had very limited experience with Premiere – but I’ve heard, like you say, what it can do, does vary slightly from what Adobe says it can.

      I do have a copy of FCPX, I just haven’t been compelled to use it much yet. I’ll definitely take some time to explore it further – I just need to find the right project to do so. I don’t want to get knee-deep in a commercial project and realise I can’t do something I really need to. That’s one of my biggest concerns about the “starting from scratch” approach. Features you expect to be there, often aren’t when you go to use them.

      I think above all, like you suggest, it’s becoming clear that keeping a finger in each of the programs is the best way forward – but there you run the risk of becoming a jack of all trades and master of none.

  • sefanzed

    I’m still working on fcp7 and additionally, in fcpx for smaller, less critical projects. With the latest update it has become much more useable than before. Support for freeze framing, compound clips, etc is way more improved. My biggest gripe was that some idiot at apple decided to change the paradigm, creating new language to “repackage” concepts that were fundamental to fcp7 so that the transition was further complicated by the obvious lack of professional input. The result of course was a learning curve that requires more work than is actually necessary. The biggest draw back for me so far is the lack of roundtripping to motion and back. There are ways around that of course, but it’s a pita. I’ve considered premiere, but that program has its complications also. I’d like to point out there is a white paper from apple titled: FCPX for Final Cut pro 7 editors that does a nice job of pointing out all of the improvements and changes. I recommend reviewing that doc, as it’s very concise.

    • Joe Patrick

      Hi. Thanks for your comment. Yeah, I’ve dipped my toes into FCPX a few times since the initial release – but mostly due to being busy with other projects, I haven’t had the time to commit to exploring it fully. I guess that’s another kicker; having to spend time re-learning the program “from the ground up”.

      And many thanks for the heads-up on the white paper – that is really useful.

  • SWF

    When I first released FCP X Version 10.0.0, I jumped straight in, with great intentions, but it wasn’t meant to be and parted company pretty quickly as too much was missing – like many was given a refund by Apple, then quietly carried on with FCP 7. I waited and watched from the side lines as more and more updates were delivered and then finally decided to spend time with FCP X now version 10.0.5. WOW. What an improvement. Now with version 10.0.6, things just keep getting better. Give it time and you will be amazed. It took just over month to find the things that you must have and now things are rocking with the MBP retina display.

    • Joe Patrick

      Yeap. Sounds exactly like my experience. Except I haven’t jumped back in yet. I will though. Definitely. I think. Yep. Definitely. Tomorrow. Definitely tomorrow.

  • David Burckhard

    In the meantime, I’ve jumped head first into FCPX and, despite, some lag in features that are only now being met by Apple and others, am finding it approaching the perfect solution for satisfying paying clients. My real concern is Apple keeping up on its hardware.

    Dave Burckhard
    PicturePoint On-line

  • Stok

    Its now 15:53 on 01/11 is their not been any tech news since 4:36PM yesterday.Pathetic website.

  • B

    What does it not do? I was often compelled to come to the same conclusion because of reviews such as this but with a little digging have found that it does everything and much easier. I think there is anair of protective behavior in the pro community that secretly does not want things to be made easier as it would threaten their premium on knowledge of tired copycat non-linear editing systems. The steeper the learning curve, the more convoluted, the better.

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