Superman Returns

FCPX when it was launched was an absolute pig of a programme. Even the legend that is Walter Murch was going “what the fuck?” when it was launched a few years ago.
I have been cutting on non-linear systems since 1994. I was the very first editor in South Africa to edit a TV drama series on an NLE. It was the EMC(2) and was sold with Optical drives which handled twenty minutes of footage per disc. Editing the 48 minute episodes meant forever mounting and unmounting discs but it was heaven.
Then came all sorts of wonderful options, from Lightworks with it’s Steenbeck controller (loved) and eventually Avid (hated), Media 100, (hated) Discreet edit (loved) , and then a slew of software and hardware combinations from Adobe Premiere (loved) Canopus (hardware was fantastic but software prior to Edius was horrifyingly awful) then Edius (loved) and off course millions of others. Oh the one system that stood out as being in my opinion the worst system ever made was the DVision off line machine. I could go on forever about how much I hated that poxy piece of kit. It’s didn’t help that whenever we wanted to do something the machine wasn’t capable of doing the tech support guys were like “yeah but why would you want to do that”. Grrrrr!

I spent many years backwards and forwards between Avid and Edius and Premiere Pro. I relied heavily on the Canopus software and when eventually Adobe stopped supporting the 3rd party cards and decided to produce the Pro Version of Premier (the move from 6.5.2 to prem pro 1 was a difficult transition period for our business). But eventually not long after that Edius grew up and became a viable alternative to Premiere. But then Grass Valley came along and moved Canopus into the age of HD and I got left behind as I was still editing DVCam and did not have the financial where with all to make the change myself.
As luck would have it I was offered a very lucrative position at a very well respected TV Production company and I took the job. The only difficulty being that they were Mac based and worked in FCP. Now I must be honest and say I hated Apple products, in the mid to late 1990’s I spent a lot of time on Macs and I was not impressed but the job required I learn and I did. I found that the software was vastly different, the hardware was astonishing and FCP was stunning. Within a week I bought my 1st iMac and never looked back. I have cut almost exclusively in FCP 7 for the last 5 years.

It wasn’t until the launch of FCPX that I even looked at something else. Regular readers may know that I subscribe to Creative Cloud and use Premiere on a semi regular basis now and you may also know that I did legitimize my copy of FCPX a few months ago. FCPX was taking a bit of a back seat as the company I work for are stuck on FCP 7.3 and the work I was doing on the side was either FCP 7 or Premiere based. It wasn’t until I recently agreed to work on the 2nd season of a show that my life was about to be turned upside down again. I had worked on the 1st season and we cut in FCP 7.

This time round I was intrigued to find out that the production company had made the decision to go with FCPX as their system of choice.. A brave one given that I was still struggling with FCPX as a concept. Questions like , how does it handle multiple scenes, multiple users, media management, portable media etc etc etc. But then came 10.1 and all that changed. Currently 10.1.4 is the latest version and I must say that FCP is finally back. But I have some issues, still.

The biggest one I have is the fact that from an audio point of view the trackless timeline is a nightmare. I am anal about what I deliver to my sound mixing guys. We spend so much time in the edit and have so little money for mixing that I like to help out and organize my tracks in a particular way. All my dialogue tracks, then fx, then spot fx, then music, then stings, bumpers etc etc. everything laid out in a nice neat package. But FCPX fucks that up royally. Leave an open space on your sequence and there goes the structure.
The fact that omf is still a fuckaround, sorry work around, bugs me.

Having said that, the power of XML is astonishing. Who’d a thunk that would ever be the case. Well lots of people I guess but I’m sure you get my meaning.
So apart from these small bugs which I’m sure will be addressed, all in all I am very impressed with FCPX. In fact I’m digging it a lot. I am in a position where I work now to be making a decision on the way forward for our workflow and I am seriously pushing for FCPX. For a number of reasons.

The shared workflow is amazing, the speed of editing, using the metadata etc all make it extremely powerful. The biggest drawback I have is the learning curve for everyone else in the building. They work in a bubble where the only time they learn something new is if the company introduces it. There is no tinkering, no what does that button do type of learning, no let’s see what’s out there in the real world and figure it out. And that leads me to my final reason for recommending FCPX to them. Their heads will explode.

FCP 7 May not be dead and buried yet but plans are afoot.