Final Cut Pro X 10.1Review

Three years (and versions of OS X) later, is FCP X worth using?

Final Cut Pro X was poorly received upon release in 2011 (many essential features from Final Cut 7 were missing). Since then, a string of updates has reinstated features such as multicam editing, project export as XML, and previewing on broadcast monitors.

10.1 can exploit the Mac Pro’s dual-GPU configuration, preview on an external 4K monitor, and titles and effects are designed for that resolution. But it also continues the steady flow of feature enhancements to get the job done on any Mac. Libraries change the workflow for the better. Projects and events are browsed in a single pane – libraries contain events, which contain clips and projects (‘sequences’ in Final Cut 7 parlance). Like their counterparts in Aperture and iMovie, libraries look like a single file in the Finder, but you work with them like documents.

They’re a natural way to separate work for clients and productions – just like Final Cut 7’s project files. A library can contain more than timelines and links to media; your media can be stored in them, along with render files, analyses of camera shake and other generated files. This siloing of your work and its by-products is easier to manage than Final Cut 7’s system folders.

Archiving events and projects is done by copying them and the original media into a new library, while omitting things that can be recreated from them. Ensuring referenced media is copied into the archive makes this a two-step process using separate menu items, so Apple’s media management PDF is a must-read if your work isn’t disposable (See bit.ly/JN9L0A). On the creative side, clips can be retimed to an exact duration, and more or less of the source can be used to avoid ripples in the timeline. Complementary to this is a Retime to Fit option when replacing something with a new clip. Moving, copying and pasting keyframes in the timeline is trivial, but observing parameters remains awkward due to the Inspector being crammed into a small height.

Motion’s full-height sidebar is better. However, trying out alternative edits is simpler with snapshots, which cut out the media management questions asked by the Duplicate Project feature. Many editors don’t need to use custom frame sizes, but this capability makes it easier to edit for portrait displays.

Three years of major additions and tweaks add up to making Final Cut Pro X 10.1 the first release it would have been in an ideal world. Once you adapt to its presentation and shortcuts, its workflow and performance are a delight. Final Cut 7 might still run on Mavericks, but now’s the time to stop ignoring Final Cut X: it makes better use of modern Mac hardware.

Verdict:

Outgrown iMovie? Good news for you, because Final Cut X has evolved to be powerful yet simple to use.

Pros:

Libraries organise work logically

Simple retiming

Multicam editing

Custom frame sizes

£200 Developer: Apple, apple.com

OS OS X 10.9 or later Requires 4GB RAM (8GB recommended for 4K), OpenCL-capable graphics card or Intel HD Graphics 3000 or later