Making the Movie

Filmmaking tips, resources, reviews, news and links.

Final Cut X is here. What you should know…

Do I need to rush out and buy this right now?

No. I don’t recommend major software changes without at least waiting a few months for other people to work out the bugs. NEVER even run a small update to software in the middle of a project (unless not doing so would prevent completion of the project). One of the worst ways to kill forward momentum is to install some buggy new upgrade. Don’t do it!

Should I even buy it at all?

If you’ve got a workflow that is working for you, maybe not. As the Pixel Corps‘ Alex Lindsay has said on the recent episode of MacBreak Weekly, this new Final Cut is not an upgrade. It is a whole new program. It lacks many of the features of previous Final Cuts used by pro editors like Walter Murch (such as XML support – see updates below). It seems geared toward people making short pieces who are not already familiar with editing. Lindsay believes Avid’s MediaComposer is still the standard for a feature-length project, because it built to handle many pieces of media. I trust Lindsay’s opinion. He’s a Final Cut fan who knows Avid and Premiere as well. And if he’s not recommending Final Cut Pro X to cut a feature film, then that’s worth considering. UPDATE: Other filmmakers are weighing in — see below.

Still, it looks cool.

It sure does. Read MacWorld’s rundown or the earlier coverage here on Making the Movie about some of the new features.

Seriously, I’m between projects and I like being a guinea pig…

That’s great. One last thing: if you already have working NLE software, is the $299.99 USD still best spent upgrading to Final Cut X? Would you be better off investing in a lens or a boom mic or some other equipment?

No. Want. Must have. Where can I get it?

Right now it is only available through the Apple App Store. At the time of writing, to use the Apple App Store, you must have an Intel machine and be running Snow Leopard (10.6). Here is the link for Final Cut X on the app store.

But Final Cut Studio used to come with other apps. What happened to them?

A new Motion is in the app store. That’s an additional $50. Compressor is $50. Color, Soundtrack Pro and DVD Studio Pro are merged into Final Cut X. (Sort of. Not all features from these programs have made the transition.) Even with sub-frame audio editing in app, Alex Lindsay recommends roundtripping to Pro-Tools for the mix. Automatic Duck has apparently found a way to go from Final Cut X to ProTools and back, even though FCPX lacks track assignments.

What are some of the initial issues people have reported?

No audio track assignments, as I just said. FCP 7 gets moved to a hidden folder. Problems importing files from FCP 7. Lack of multi-cam support, ganging.

For bugs on installation, the place to start is always Apple’s own forums. Rumors have it that backwards importing and multicam support are coming in six months.

Here is a tutorial on installing FCPX and keeping FCP7 safe. I haven’t tried this and can’t vouch for it.

Thank you, kind sir.

You’re welcome. Please leave any additional questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

UPDATE: Yikes! Scathing review from Walter Biscardi on Creative Cow.

FURTHER UPDATE: David Pogue has answers for some of the criticisms from Pro users.

FURTHER FURTHER UPDATE: Richard Harrington responds to Pogue.

FURTHER FURTHER FURTHER UPDATE: You can still order Final Cut Studio (Final Cut Pro 7) from Apple if you know the right phone number.


  1. Man, taking a look at the App Store reviews and the comments on Walter’s article, Apple pretty much dug their own grave. It makes me wonder if Apple is ditching their core support for a larger market share a bit too early?

  2. Bogdan Niculescu

    June 26, 2011 at 11:02 AM

    What happened with color? For me is the most important app from FCS!

    • @Bogdan,

      Some color correction got built into FCPX, like the very cool feature that will auto-match the color of all the shots in a sequence. But a lot of the fine-grained controls offered by Color that pros loved appear to be lost.

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