By Simon Walker Macworld UK | on March 12, 2012
Price When Reviewed: £167 plus VAT
Pros: Multicam; relink media; automatic backup; migrate previous projects; multiple small improvements
Cons: External monitoring still in beta; reliance on third-party support for key features
Since the release last June of Final Cut Pro X, rather than talking about its editing capability, most of the conversation has been about the missing broadcast features, the lack of backwards compatibility, and the need for third-party utilities and plug-ins.
However, Apple has been answering its critics by adding multiple new features via regular App Store updates, and the 10.0.3 release finally includes some of the most requested functionality.
Top of the list of requirements was Multicam, which has been implemented in a way that’s simpler to use and much more powerful than in FCP 7. Clips can sync multiple ways, including by audio, timecode, markers, clip start and automatically, and FCP X allows up to 64 angles, mixing multiple formats and frame-rates. The preferences have been updated to allow creation of optimised media for Multicam clips, which greatly improves playback of multiple streams of video at the same time.
Another welcome feature is the ability to relink media. This means as well as fixing broken links, you can relink to different or updated clips. Other significant additions include automatic incremental project backup, improved handling of keyframes when moving to a new point in time and changing a parameter, more advanced controls for the excellent in-built chroma keyer, and the ability to adjust the date and time of clips if they’ve been imported with the wrong time data.
Apple listened to the complaints and FCP X 10.0.3 offers multicam editing, updates to Chroma Key, beta broadcast video monitoring, and an assortment of other improvements
Additionally, FCP X now imports and edits layered PSD files, with transparency, although layer effects are not supported and need to be rasterised in Photoshop before import.
The XML 1.1 update now allows FCP X to migrate previous projects via the third-party 7toX utility by Intelligent Assistance (reviewed on page 24). While 7toX employs some clever tricks in its transfer process – most importantly, translating FCP 7 sequences to Compound Clips and Bins to Keyword Collections – the method is not entirely seamless, and still needs some clean-up work in FCP X.
FCP X 10.0.3 now allows third-party effects by developers such as Red Giant and GenArts. This should help editors who were waiting to make a decision on when to upgrade from FCP 7, as many users of Red Giant’s Magic Bullet Looks plug-in were holding back from jumping to FCP X until Looks became available.
Still, the reliance on the third-party ecosystem to provide solutions is something that many feel Apple should be providing themselves. The external monitoring facility, still in beta, requires Lion, with third-party PCIe and Thunderbolt devices, and leaves it to the manufacturers, AJA, Blackmagic and Matrox to supply drivers. Not all professional editors have the time to experiment with untested features, or risk beta drivers interfering with their existing setup, so as welcome as monitoring is, it would be better implemented as a fully tested feature.
However, the speed in which Apple is releasing updates – three major releases in seven months – indicates its commitment to improving this software. In fact, it’s this frequency of updating that is beginning to win over end users, and move the conversation about FCP X back to focusing on the powerful way it deals with metadata, and its innovative editing features.