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Lifewire / Todd Braylor Pleasants
Supports 4K, 8K and VR video editing
Advanced post-production color grading tools
Fast 'Metal' render engine
UI and magnetic timeline is divisive
Will not support legacy file formats starting this fall
Apple's Final Cut Pro X is a professional-level video editing program designed for users who find Apple’s design and OS the most natural environment to work within, and it comes at a competitive price point in comparison to other popular video editors.
First released in 2011, Final Cut Pro X is Apple's stalwart video editing program and is used by professional video producers and hobbyist video editors alike. FCPX 10.4.6 is more powerful than ever and now offers advanced color grading, 8K video support, and 360° video editing.
The new version of FCPX does away with a number of legacy features that reflected long-standing traditions in video editing interfaces, like 'bins' or folders to manage your content. It also scraps the separation of preview screens (for edits) and final 'print' screens, and adds workflow augmentations like a trackless timeline.
FCPX is really user friendly and features some non-traditional workspace elements that have become staple functions of the FCPX workflow, stuff like a magnetic timeline, unorthodox audio roles in place of audio mixer tracks, and a unique library system. It’s a powerful video editing program that now includes advanced color grading and color correction tools, some welcome and long-anticipated inclusions.
Final Cut Pro X is a nonlinear video editing program that many fans would argue is an evolution of the track-based editing model. A non-linear program creates an editing environment where the original content isn’t actually altered or lost (like film used to be literally cut, arranged and combined). It also means you can edit any part of a project at any time, rather than having to work in order.
Final Cut is more powerful than ever and now offers advanced color grading, 8K video support, and 360° video editing.
Upon FCPX's initial release, Apple claimed to revolutionize the timeline system with a new trackless canvas, or trackless timeline editor. The magnetic timeline allows you to move clips around in your sequence and will automatically reorder your clips, as well as delete any empty space. Want to move a clip at the beginning of your movie to the middle in between clips already laid down? Easy, just drag the clip where you want it and FCPX will insert it there and reorder everything around it.
The FCPX interface features four main elements that appear as panels with different functions. There is a panel for importing and locating media, one for previewing your video footage and edit (a central reference window), an 'inspector' window for making detailed adjustments to video parameters, and the timeline at the bottom.
You can drag the edges of these panels to enlarge one window or make another smaller, but FCPX is fairly rigid. You can’t separate these different panels from each other or drag them where you want them to customize your workspace. Also, if you work on a dual monitor setup FCPX can only set one monitor as a full preview window while the other has the remaining workspace panels, which feels pretty limiting.
Another key element of FCPX's design is its use of libraries instead of the traditional 'bins' or folders for storing your media. When you create a new library in FCPX the program will also create what is called an 'Event'. An Event in FCPX is akin to a folder and can contain multiple projects and numerous video files. Some users may find this system a little confusing to navigate at first but it’s simple to use once you’ve gotten a hang of it. It feels very Macintosh. There’s also the handy option to apply keywords to your footage in Events to quickly sort through clips and find them later.
Final Cut Pro X is a Mac-only program and is tailor-built for the Apple ecosystem. It’s easy to integrate with Apple's Motion for motion graphics, titles, and animations. FCPX also integrates with Apple Compressor for encoding and transcoding media you edit in FCPX for a final 'delivery' product or file format best suited for use on a platform like YouTube. What’s also neat about Final Cut Pro X is that you can easily import an iMovie project into FCPX. This means you can start a quick edit on your iPhone with footage you shot on its camera and then complete that edit later as a professional-quality video in FCPX. FCPX also supports ultra high definition footage, so if you’re shooting 4K on an iPhone you can edit that footage in FCPX.
The magnetic timeline is a significant element of FinalCut Pro X that’s all about performance. This one tool may be a deciding factor for you on whether the FCPX workflow is best for you. Although a simple and intuitive feature, the magnetic timeline marks a significant change from the more traditional track-based system where every clip’s placement must be carefully plotted and left up to you to manage. The track-based system affords some flexibility where you can easily drag your clips into the timeline and drop them anywhere on another video track and maybe come back to that section later, or pop it in later in a sequence.
It’s a great option for vloggers or YouTubers where fast turnaround is a priority.
Despite losing a tad of flexibility or autonomy with your timeline canvas/workflow with the automatic timeline snapping, the major upside to the trackless magnetic timeline is the increase in the efficiency and speed of editing. Over the course of a long or ambitious film project, the magnetic timeline can end up saving you a significant amount of time and effort. It makes FCPX a great option for vloggers or YouTubers where fast turnaround is a priority.
The most powerful feature of Final Cut Pro X 10.4.6 is the recent inclusion of color grading capabilities. Prior to 10.4, FCPX users frequently lamented it’s lack of color correction tools like color wheels, video scopes, and color curves (without installing third party applications). FCPX 10.4 now offers all these color tools and Lookup Tables (essentially presets), and they’re very easy to use.
Final Cut packs a host of powerful post-production capabilities that can create feature length film quality for relatively cheap. Final Cut Pro X is available for direct download from the Mac App store for $300, a really great deal for a stand alone program with free upgrades for the foreseeable future. Compared to subscription based models of some other top video editing programs, like Premiere Pro, FCPX is a steal for $300. Considering that FCPX was first released in tandem with Apple discontinuing with their stand alone color correction program, Apple Color—but then being released as version 10.4 with that professional-level color grading built right in at a discounted price—its is hard to argue for a better deal.
“So, which is better, Final Cut Pro X or Premiere Pro?” is a refrain that’s echoed through video editing discourse for years. Both options have their respective camps of die hard fans and avid supporters. The discussion really comes down to your personal preferences and what you’re specifically looking for in a video editing workplace. Adobe Premiere Pro is one of the top competitors to FCPX for good reason, and there are two key differentiators that will likely determine which is best for you: your budget, and your editing style.
Let's discuss price first. Adobe uses the software-as-a-service, subscription model, Adobe Creative Cloud, for all users of its various programs. Single app pricing is based upon a monthly or yearly fee, either $21 a month or $240 for a full year (saving you $12 over the month-by-month option).
By comparison, Final Cut Pro is available for a one-time payment of $300. Of course, Adobe makes a host of other powerful apps they bundle for a $53 monthly subscription, including stuff like Photostop and Illustrator. If you are a professional content creator or producer this deal may well be worth it to have access to the entire suite of Adobe programs on top of Premiere Pro.
In terms of basic functionality, the biggest difference between FCPX and Premiere is something we have already touched upon: FCPX’s magnetic timeline versus Premiere’s track-based system.The track vs. trackless debate boils down to a couple key differences in workflow. In essence, Premier is more focused on the individual who is used to controlling and organizing their content and may already have a background using digital video editing software. In addition to a track-based timeline, Premiere allows you to put your footage and images into folders which you can organize yourself, versus the Library and automatically-generated Events in FCPX.
The traditional file structure in Premiere ultimately requires you to be more in charge of organizing and keeping track of your content, and Premiere also offers greater customization for your workspace. FCPX is faster and more straightforward, and it generally takes less time to get your footage imported and to start laying down your timeline.
A speedy, user-friendly bite of the Apple.
The recent 10.4 update and long anticipated inclusion of color grading and color correction to Final Cut Pro X has cemented FCPX as a powerful and professional-level video editor. Whether you work nine to five as a video producer or you’re an aspiring YouTuber or short film maker, FCPX has all the tools you need to produce high quality content.For those coming from an editing background using other track-based software, Final Cut's easy-to-use—albeit somewhat nontraditional—interface and efficient magnetic timeline will surprise and impress.