Final Cut Pro X – negative reviewers failed to clue in

Reading some of the negative reviews and articles on the new release of Final Cut X makes me wonder why people don’t research before they purchase.


Most of the negative reviewers out there — especially comments from Apple’s App store — failed to do their research. They’re surprised about such lack of features as no full version of Color, SoundTrack Pro, no compatibility with earlier versions, multicam support?


They actually went out and purchased a totally revamped piece of software — essentially a version 1 — and expected all of these elements to be in place?


Do your research people. Larry Jordan’s been mentioning this for some time and a recent blog post from a Los Angeles Final Cut User Group meeting states that Final Cut X “will not be ready for professional use.” He told the group to keep Final Cut 7 and do your professional projects on it and run the new version, test it out, and wait until it meets your need as the software evolves.


What we get — an intuitive interface, facial recognition, background rendering, fantastic organization tools, slick design, ease of use, color correction where I can actually figure out how to mask a person’s face and key frame it without having to use a manual — far outweighs what is not currently there.


Here, I’ll provide some counter-arguments to the detractor’s missing features:


Fails to open Final Cut 7 projects

Hello? Did you not read that Final Cut X was built from scratch for 64-bit processing? Would you expect AVID, Premiere Pro, or Sony Vegas to open in Final Cut X — which is essentially a new software program?


Yes, Apple took advantage and kept the same name, when they probably should have come up with a new one so as not to confuse those who don’t do their research.  And they should state outright that it’s not compatible with Final Cut 7. They took advantage of the marketing power of the Final Cut name. Get over it. The old version of Final Cut evolved from Macromedia and Apple never designed the original interface. Haven’t you ever wondered why Final Cut up to now was extremely non-intuitive, never felt like an Apple product?


This new version feels more like Apple far more so than the earlier version of Final Cut ever did. This is the design they should have provided ten years ago when Vegas came out, blowing the doors off of the pre-Final Cut X with its background render (never had to sit around and wait back in 2001) and its intuitive interface.


Walter Murch didn’t have half the features of Final Cut in 2003, when he edited Cold Mountain with it. (See Behind the Seen: How Walter Murch Edited Cold Mountain Using Apple’s Final Cut Pro and What This Means for Cinema.) His pioneering efforts forced Apple to evolve and change the software so it could approach a professional status.


A version 1 software, such as Final Cut X, will not have everything in it and it will be buggy. Perhaps Apple could have called it Final Cut X Pro I (reboot). We need to push our projects and send requests to Apple to meet the professional demands. From what everything Apple has said, they’re not going to ignore you. Later versions of the software will likely have most everything you need (except for Final Cut 7 compatibility, it’ll unlikely happen since it’s a new architecture).



Missing Apple Color

I was able to shape a mask over a person’s head, and by clicking on keyframes, I was able to map the motion of the person’s movement without any fuss or frustration—or a manual. I figured it out intuitively. I provide a screen shot here (lesson coming in a later post):



The version built in to Final Cut X meets all of my editing needs. If it doesn’t meet yours, you still have your old version. No one’s preventing you from using it.


Missing Sound Track Pro

Final Cut X accesses audio libraries quite nicely and I can layer and mix sounds. I still have SoundTrack Pro and I can still use it and import a fully mixed file into the new version of Final Cut, if needed.


In short, I can focus on my edit as storytelling and not worry about all the clunky engineering, poorly-designed interface issues of the early versions. I can  start having fun editing, instead of being frustrated half the time.


I like what David Leitner said in Filmmaker Magazine, as cited in Apple Insider:


  • “Great design, like great music, is almost always foreign at first, if not disturbingly strange,” David Leitner wrote for Filmmaker Magazine. “You have to spend time with it. But if it is great, and if you invest your attention, it will change the way you look at the world. After using FCP X for a week, Premiere Pro looks to me like the past.”


As for AAF or OMF audio files for Pro Tools exporting, Automatic Duck, has an export app available for Final Cut X users:


Multicamera support

You don’t think they’re working on this now?


Final thoughts

This is not the end of the world for Final Cut editors. I’ve been using it and teaching it for over three years and have never been happy with it. It’s extremely frustrating to teach and use — until now. It’s a new beginning and I’m not going back. The pros far outweigh the cons. If you want what you’re missing, stick with Final Cut 7 until it meets your needs.



Kurt Lancaster, PhD, is the author of “DSLR Cinema: Crafting the Film Look with Video, Focal Press, 2011.” He teaches digital filmmaking and multimedia journalism at Northern Arizona University’s School of Communication.

21 thoughts on “Final Cut Pro X – negative reviewers failed to clue in

  1. FCP X is a philosophical shift in what Apple (not editors) believe an editing application should be.
    In a conference some time ago Steve Jobs compared traditional computers and tablets to cars and trucks by saying most people will eventually only need tablets while some would still need the added utility of a PC (Trucks).
    I think this is his/their philosophy with professional applications. Although Final Cut Pro Users wanted a better truck, with FCP, X Apple delivered a two-seater electric sports car.
    They think this will be good enough for MOST users. Yes assume they are right. It will be! But that is not the argument being made, by it’s detractors, which keeps being skirted.. Most users are NOT professional. This is NOT a professional application. It might be great for what it is, but it does not meet PROFESSIONAL needs!
    …And the pathetic excuse that this is a 1.0 release is hogwash. A professional application, regardless of release number, would prioritize professional requirements at the expense of bells and whistles. THIS IS NOT a 1.0 release. It says FCP 10! If it wasn’t meant to replace fcp7 why was FCS pulled from the Apple store?
    The smug people saying things about change are quite frankly fools. Only an idiot would think that changes that make collaboration difficult to impossible are good. It is insulting to assume we are not ready or unwilling to adopt.
    And you teach? I guarantee that no one on your tech staff will want this installed in any of your computer labs. It is nothing but trouble in a multiuser multi-computer environment. Here at our much larger facility we have tested all possible scenarios it is a non-starter. And we have no choice because Apple pulled FCP so students won’t be able to purchase it.

    1. Oh and the automatic duck plug in? Are you kidding? There is no way to arrange audio tracks as you’d like according to stems etc. Even if you could export what would you get?

        1. So Kurt, when will they address it? Next month, next year or never? What guarantees do we have that it will be resolve in a timely manner? Are you actually making a living off of final cut pro? I mean every dime that comes in to your household is from editing videos. Probably not. That will explain why you are defending FCP X.

          1. I don’t work for Apple, so you need to address this question to them. I give them a year. In either case, I’ve downloaded Adobe Premier and it works way better than Final Cut 7. I’ll use Final Cut X for most of my independent projects, but if I need some heavy lifting or need things Final Cut X doesn’t have, Premier’s a great option.

    2. Was it really ever a Pro tool? Really? I don’t think so. In either case, did filmmakers in version 1 go out and expect it to do everything needed of it? You’re acting like this is the final version, when it will evolve.

      I’m ready to teach with it, so don’t go predicting what’s going to fail.

  2. “Missing Apple Color
    I was able to shape a mask over a person’s head, and by clicking on keyframes, I was able to map the motion of the person’s movement without any fuss or frustration—or a manual. I figured it out intuitively. I provide a screen shot here (lesson coming in a later post):”

    Cool, but tell me, can you look at the result on an accurate monitor? Does it even support video IO cards?
    If not, it’s not suitable for grading; it’s a toy.

    1. Do you think Apple isn’t working on this issue now? In order to stay in the game, they’ll need add this kind of support.

  3. Let’s not get hung up on some missing features. We all know that they can be added – either by Apple themselves or by third party developers.

    I see a much bigger problem with the new FCP X (as much as I like the new tools and look): With its new way of media management, I don’t see how more than one editor can simultaniously and easily work with the same media. I don’t see how sequences (sorry, projects) can be opened up and tweaked by editors in other bays – and I don’t quite see how you can easily make copies and copies of sequences while you’re trying to shape a cut. I am looking at my current FCP 7 project right now – it contains 45 individual sequences. All different versions, variations, different spots… With FCP X giving each sequence its own personal project folder, we are facing some major organization problems, since everything has to be down there in the project browser with its film strip views.

    I don’t see how THAT can be fixed easily. It’s a fundamental design choice. It may fit the single low demand edit station, but for high volume, shared editing, this could be a major long term dealbreaker

    1. David Pogue at the New York Times said he talked to Apple about many of these issues. The response for this one by Apple was:

      Complaint: You can’t share a project with other editors. In professional editing companies, editors routinely exchange projects. But in FCP X, “all of your project organization is now globally contained in the application rather than in your project file. You literally have to give that other editor your entire computer,” writes one blogger.

      Answer: Not true. You can share your project, your files, or both.
      If the other editors already have the raw video files, you can hand over the project file. The other editors can inspect the Project Library; on its Info panel, they can click “Modify Event References” to reconnect the project to their own copies of the media files.

      If the other editors don’t have the raw files, the various commands in the File menu let you move the project file, the media files, or both to another computer on the network, to another hard drive or whatever.

      His blog is worth reading:

      But it’s clear that Apple didn’t plan some of their features properly and should probably have held off with a statement: Final Cut Pro-Am, then released Pro X when most of these issues were covered.

      In any case, it seems to work well for the independent filmmaker, documentary producer, and backpack journalists — especially when using DSLRs in the workflow.

      1. Thanks for the link Kurt. I will certainly check it out. I can see how you can have a copy of your event files on another system/drive and you just hand over the project (sequence).

        But what happens when all the media lives on a huge SAN (storage area network)? Can more than one editor work with those event media files simultaniously? They can now with FCP 1-7? And on that SAN, how do you restrict media access to only a few systems (for security – we deal with highly secure footage every day)? How do you prevent editors from looking at EVERYTHING on that huge SAN all the time, because that’s how their event browser is designed.

        And you are right – for single-station editing, for DSLRs etc. it’s a wonderful piece of software already.

        The rest of us just takes issues with their terribly arrogant move of discontinuing a perfectly working v7 of FCP, while at the same time stressing that the new version is a whole new application and really a version 1. So why go ahead and kill that other perfectly working program that X has nothing in common with? All we need is a transition period. I guess, it’ll take 2 years.

  4. Kurt

    I just read all of your input about the new version. I just don’t understand why people are defending this version of software. As a working professional with over 20 years of experience my clients demand the best from me at all times. I also demand the best from the hardware and software that I am running, whether it is Discreet Smoke, Avid Media Composer, After Effects or FCP. Sorry this application is NOT professional. Why should we accept the fact that its OK or it will be fixed later. I expected the new version to have more features not less. Sorry this is not meant to be a personal attack but I am very disappointed and honestly cannot use this software in my business model. Its a competitive world we live in and our clients expect the best. I am a client of Apple and expect their product to be the best and this is not. Not even close!

    1. I’m in agreement with you 100%. Apple had 5 years (FCP Studio 2 was not a true upgrade IMO, just a update) to get it right and they failed. I’m really getting tired of hearing this is version 1.0. 1.0?!? They have been in the Pro market for 10+ years, they should know by now what the pros need. And if they didn’t they should have stepped off their high horse and asked a REAL PROFESSIONAL what we wanted. But Apple is too arrogant for that, they want to spoon feed us what they THINK we want.

      FCP X was built for non professional such as hobbyist, Photographers turned videographers, my grandmother, students, and youtube stars. Any real professional who makes a LIVING off this will not like FCP X.

      For me, it’s time to move on, I guess I will be switching to Avid or Premiere. Farewell FCP it was a nice run.

      1. As said elsewhere, it does work for professional who are working independently of post-houses and it’s great for multimedia journalists.

        I’ve downloaded Premiere, and frankly, it’s much better than Final Cut 7. As for Final Cut X, I give them a year to bring it up to professional status.

        I highly recommend reading Larry Jordan’s blog about this: “Moving Forward”

  5. Sorry, but the only person that needs to “clue in” is the one who wrote the above review.
    The ones complaining are mostly the professionals who have been waiting a long time for this update as final cut went from leading the way… to far behind. For many, a strong belief in the brand, time, money and patience is what kept us from jumping ship as we waited for this long overdue release.
    I wished you could have “clued in” to our meeting yesterday when our company (like many others) entertained the thought of changing platforms after 9 years of being fully “final cut”. The costs are huge. It was especially sad to see our senior editor (because of his 10 years dedicated to final cut) agree that we should consider avid or adobe, versus wait it out. His opinions were far deeper than the current release feature sets …good and bad. Thoughts like who is truly dedicated to the professional market? How long will x take to evolve to pro? If apple was prepared to dump on the pro market like this can we trust their loyalty to our segment of the market in time to come?. Do we really want to keep building projects on final 7 for another year of hour glass time on the 8 and 12 core mac pros …the software outdated to the hardware, slow, on its final legs . Apple have made their position clear. Risk a piece of the pro market today for the much larger semi pro, novice and new pro market. It’s numbers. Todays pro market, have clearly spoke loud and clear in a overwhelming manner. The very market that will employ your students. May I respectfully suggest YOU “do your research” as this goes far deeper than
    “ mask a person’s face and key frame it without having to use a manual.. far outweighs what is not currently there.” Sorry..but there is a lot more at stake in the professional world and for you to question those who are in it and voicing their valid concerns prompted me to make this 1st in years. I found this most concerning coming from a teacher who’s job is to best prepare students for the professional marketplace which is now more confused than ever. As far as teaching may I respectfully sugeest that “respect” to those who make their living in the industry ,the ones you and your students depend on, is a good place to start. The very thing that your article lacked.

    1. Dave:

      Thanks for the response. I agree with you, that Apple blew it in terms of postproduction houses. I teach to multimedia journalists and independent filmmakers, so Final Cut X works well with them.

      I’ve downloaded Adobe Premiere 5.5, and frankly, it’s much better than Final Cut 7. I’ve never liked the interface of Final Cut (until now) As for Final Cut X, I give them a year to bring it up to professional status, or they will really lose t heir postproduction house audience.

      I highly recommend reading Larry Jordan’s blog about this: “Moving Forward”

      If I were a postproduction house, needing the features Final Cut X is lacking, I would take on Adobe Premiere 5.5 without hesitation.

  6. I think Apple is a VERY astute company and they make decisions that have proven to be spot on for the most part. FCPX may just end up being an unmitigated success when it comes to the larger market and not just the small niche market of the Production Houses etc. My wife, son and I have been doing video production in Macon Georgia and this area has very few capable Video Professionals. We’re not at the Elite level yet. FCPX is going to help us tremendously. There are so many people like us out there and we far outnumber the pure professional with a need for the highest levels of functionality. However, many of those same people will eventually grow in their knowledge and skills and they’ll be solidly in the FCPX camp.

    With video being included in just about everything and lots of amateur videographers out there, perhaps they look at this as the long term best course of action. I can see High Schools buying, teaching and using FCPX. It just fits the larger market more perfectly and in time those users will come to dominate not only the low level users, but creep up into the pro level too. IMO Apple has proven to understand how to create and grow markets and each time they’ve been doubted and misjudged.

  7. One interesting note to consider. Anyone who is new to the FCP franchise will be getting a great deal. A $299 price point is going to bring a lot of filmmakers into the tool who may have not been able to afford it before. I imagine everyone who plunked down a lot more for v.7 is at root of much of the criticism. That and its hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Don’t worry. With all the criticism out there, I have a hard time Apple is going to leave the functionality out of their landmark tool.

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