Wednesday, June 22, 2011

FCP X - first reactions and some urgent reading

Yes, of course I bought it, won't we all?   I'll be writing up my own experiences of FCP X over the next couple of days (or even longer!) but here's the first impressions of the package and the process.

Process first:  as you know, FCP X is a download from the AppStore.  Now, comparing it to my first experience of purchasing FCP (1.2.5 if you must know) - at £179 it's cheaper than in 1999 but even with a 6Mbps broadband line the download time only just beat the time it took me to cycle to the shop and pick up the discs.   It's a BIG download, especially if you purchase Motion too.   Around 4GB in total when installed (maybe it's a compressed download file - difficult to tell with the App store, you don't get all that much feedback.)   Then there's another whacking big download (1.5GB or thereabouts) of updates through Software Updater - which installs audio filters, Motion templates and codecs.   And I wouldn't be surprised if there's more to come!

Remember that FCP X and the rest are 64bit apps - you will know this means Intel macs only, but early Intel Mac Pros and MacBook Pros won't work either (minimum processor is the Core 2 Duo).

BIG warning here from Apple that, if you've got a previous FCP or FCS installation, you should partition the drive and install FCP X on a different partition (I've simplified - you'd better read the full info from Apple themselves).   My response is 'do as I say not as I do' - the advice came a bit too late for me, humph!   But all seems to be well - the 'old' FCP  suite has been moved into its own folder, and still works.

We're not done with downloading, by the way - the only manual that exists at the moment is the online help - but it is available as a download pdf and is probably worth reading before you go too much further.

Go to http://help.apple.com/helplibrary/#product (or the root, help.apple.com and navigate via 'Video editing').   There are links in each of the manuals to the pdf versions - either top left (Motion - which calls out the pdf explicitly) or top right (FCP which is a confusing 'print' icon - but of course you can print as pdf).   When you've read the 500 + pages, read on :-)

Very very first impressions from me -
 good that FCP 7 is untouched.
 FCP X is fast, very fast.
Panic notes:  where are my tracks, my timecodes.  For that matter, where are my previous projects?  Where's Lisa Brenneis when you need her?

Summary of first look:   it's a different way of working.  As Paul described it in our last meet, there's now a strong feeling that FCP is but one way of manipulating the morass of media that is stored somewhere on the system.   It's similar to the way Aperture is set up:  media exists in a giant bucket somewhere, not necessarily organised into folders - the app does all the hard work of finding stuff and sorting it, based on the metadata it already has (date, time etc) or metadata you give it (keywords).  There's new terminology - 'events' are the organising idea for rushes.  Think 'shoot' rather than 'event' and it makes sense.   'Projects' are a way of organising events - it's the project that has the timeline attached.  Note it's timeline singular, you need to 'think different' about duplicates, safety copies, versions.

Definitely gone missing, presumed drowned:  tape digitisation, transport control, edit to tape, print to tape.   No way of using previous version projects / sequences, not even via XML.   Function key shortcuts (even insert/overlay edits through f9 etc) - though the keyboard seems infinitely customisable.

Still there, but almost invisible:  most of the FCP keys work as you'd expect, the JKL transport, in and out point markers.  But first assembly editing (as opposed to detailed trimming) hides this pretty much from you.

No export to Soundtrack, in fact no Soundtrack at all - the next few days will see how far working on the timeline will match Soundtrack capabilities for mixdowns and FX on audio.

Lots of new toys to explore - new Motion with an even jazzier interface, new improved titling, new alternatives to 'slugs' for placeholders.   Scopes that look pretty good, and keying that is reported to be perfect (yeah, heard that a few times before).  Watch this space.

DISCLOSURE - Phil is not paid by Apple to endorse this product (as you may have noticed) nor is he one of the chosen few given prior experience of the FCP X package - he's bought it with his own money.  The opinions are most definitely his own, and you are reading them as they form in real time.  So contents of this package are very likely to change.