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First-Person Final Cut Pro X, Day One: Completely at Sea

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Professional film & video editor Matthew Levie is based in San Francisco, produced and edited the documentary Honest Man and writes Blog and Capture. First-Person Final Cut Pro X is the unvarnished story of his week-long introduction to the new Final Cut.

[Note that all opinions and assessments of FCP X expressed here are Matt's own, not TUAW's, and that any misconceptions or misunderstandings of FCP X features represent Matt's hands-on first reactions. –Ed.]

So I really, really did not believe that FCP X would be "iMovie Pro." But I have to say, my friends, I was far too optimistic. Apple has thrown us squarely under the bus. Somebody at Apple decided that making professional editors happy was just too damn much trouble, and that a much simpler program would allow them to fire 80% of the engineers and lose only 10% of the customers.

If you thought no multicam was the problem, you're thinking way too far ahead for this program. How about no split edits? No roll? No subclip?

There is, in fact, a way to mark a perfectly good in and out point, contrary to rumor. But what if I told you that you could change the speed of a clip to 50% or 25%, but not anything in between?

Heck, I can't even find a way to do an overwrite edit.

[As noted by commenters and by ScreenCastsOnline producer Don McAllister, both overwrite edits and intermediate speed adjustments are in fact included in FCP X -- as Matt acknowledges below, citing the challenge of working through FCP X's documentation. Keep in mind that this series is documenting Matt's opinions and reactions over the course of several days, and that first impressions can be incorrect and revised over time. –Ed.]

I should confess at this point that I've never used iMovie. I've been editing for twenty years, on linear systems, and then Avid, and then Final Cut. But I'm guessing that if I were a regular iMovie user, I wouldn't feel so awfully lost in this program.

It turns out, of course, that all of these basic features are in the program, but the documentation isn't very well written. You'd think that if they were going to radically change the way we edit, they'd throw us a lifeline and walk us through it. In fact, when I looked up split edit, it proposed a really Byzantine five-step process involving a ripple trim. It only takes three with a rolling trim. Of course, in FCP 7 it only took one step. That's not promising.

My intention was to take this project I have coming up that has very little deadline pressure, it's only two minutes long, it's not that complicated. I thought I'd do that in FCP X and that way I'd learn where the gotchas were and where this program's limitations were.

Now I doubt we're going to get that far. I don't think that I could cut the simplest project I've done in the last ten years on this program. Not because it would take too long, as bad as that would be, but because it is simply not possible.

There's definitely going to be a revolution in post-production, dudes. It's the one where the masses pull Apple off the throne and cut its throat.

I'll keep reading the docs and playing around. Maybe I'll wake up tomorrow and realize this was all a really bad dream, and actually it's as brilliant as an iPod. But don't hold your breath!

Part II coming up... Learning the Ropes.

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