Please Apple....


I haven’t had any time to properly work with the new 10.0.3 version of FCPX, although I did apply the upgrade the day it came out. The first thing it did when I tried to open a recent project, it crashed, but we will not let that influence anything here today. As a matter of fact, what I am writing here is really not about the new version, its more about my ideas on how to fix FCPX so it will be much more universally useful to all aspects of media creation. Nothing in the recent update really changed my overall views of the program, as I have always expected Apple to add features, and I fully expect this to continue. I have been rather outspokenly crabby about the editing paradigm that Apple has adopted, but I do not think it cannot be saved. 

It would be very easy for me to just say things like “Give me tracks”, or “Fix Broadcast output”, but that would be a cop out, as well as stupid. The idea behind this is to give some specific gripes, and my ideas on how to fix it, but within the parameters of the ideals of FCPX. I will try to explain why my issues are troublesome to me when applicable, but I will assume some level of editing background. 

Without a doubt, if all Apple did was give me an on/off switch for Magnetic timeline, about 95% of my main issues would disappear. It is my understanding that an option to turn off Magnetic timeline would be a rather tall technical task, and also would most likely cause usability problems due to some decisions already made. So lets pretend we cannot ever get this, and come up with some ways to work within the confines of the Magnetic timeline, without actually turning it off. 

Feature Wish #1 - Lock clips 
Give us a way to lock a clip in place. Simply a right click, and select “LOCK”. The clip could then change color, and remain at that point in the timeline no matter what. The magnetic timeline could continue to work, with everything not locked sliding around it. Think of it as a rock in a river, sitting still, with water flowing on either side. 

Feature Wish #2 - “Connected clip” to time ruler, instead of another clip 
In keeping with the “Connected clip” style, give us the option to connect a clip to the time ruler, and not just another clip. NLE editing is not always about relationships between video/audio clips, it is often based on a relationship between time and the clip. This is just another way to accomplish what LOCK clips would give, so I guess either one would do. 

Feature Wish #3 - Allow to connect a clip to a connected clip 
Numerous issues could be solved by this. Its sort of a workaround to my Magnetic timeline issue, but if Apple will give it to us, I’ll take it. 

Feature Wish #4 - Give us more storylines, and allow them to gain “focus” 
There is a reason that all NLEs have worked with tracks forever. A single storyline is extremely limiting, even with connected clips. Apple made it even more limited than it has to be. The secondary storyline of connected clips is not a equal partner, in that you cannot edit into it using shortcuts the way you do on the primary track, so it becomes a mouse dragging, multiple step nightmare. We need a way to give storylines other than the primary as the main focus of our editing. This would be similar to the patch area of the legacy NLEs we have been using. Once your primary edit is done, you could then switch focus to your secondary storyline, and edit into that with all the same shortcuts and editing options in the program. At the same time, give us a few more storylines in a project. 

Feature Wish #5 - Audio “Music” Bed 
Often when stating one of the biggest issues with FCPX, editing things such as music videos, the feedback is often “Just make your music the primary storyline”. That's great, good thinking, but the reality is that doesn’t really work. As stated in #4, the primary storyline is total king. Once you give that up, you have caused issues of epic proportions. Much like iMovie before it, give us a separate “Audio Bed”, that is essentially separate from everything going on in the edit. It could be an audio track that is immune from the magnetic timeline. Its a bit of an amateur idea, but it could work. 

Feature Wish #6 - Separate the Source / Record Skimmer 
Overall I am not a real fan of the skimmer, but I do get why some people like it. I REALLY do not like it in the record area, but I tend to like it more when skimming the source area. Its a bit of a pain in the neck turning it on and off as I move the mouse around. Simply give us a way to enable/disable the skimmer in the source area/timeline independent of each other. 

Feature Wish #7 - Ability for the range selector to cross all clips in the timeline 
Right now the only way to take entire chunks out of your timeline is to group them all into a compound clip, set a range, delete, then open the compound clip again. Problem here…that is multiple extras steps involved to accomplish a simple, and common editing task. The even bigger issue is there currently are numerous bugs surrounding compound clips, so there is no guarantee you can “ungroup” everything back into a proper timeline. 

Feature Wish #8 - Ignore the skimmer when zooming the timeline 
(Skimmer on + touching mouse + Zooming timeline) = disaster. By far one of the coolest parts of becoming an experienced editor is the precision in which you learn to navigate to different spots in the sequence. This is an impossibility with FCPX. Observe the playhead or selected clip, and ignore the skimmer. Simple. 

Feature wish #9 - Group Audio “roles” together 
I’ll admit, roles went a long way to solving a ton of issues with ver 1.0 (or 10.0) of FCPX. Problem is, as video editors, we think visually. I often have anywhere from 12-24 “tracks” of audio in an edit. In FCPX, that can look like the equivalent of a hoarders living room. There needs to be a button that automatically brings all common Audio Roles visually together. If not for nothing else than our sanity. 

Feature Wish #10 - Save the in/out points of your source clip 
I know Apple keeps saying “Save it as a favorite”. Stop it, just stop it. Save the damn in/out points. There is no reason not to. As an editor, you know this to be true. Thank You. 

Feature Wish #11 - Allow Re-linking of Audio/Video 
Its real simple to separate the audio from the video, why is it so hard to put it back? Let us select a clip of video, shift-select a clip of audio, and join them. 

Feature Wish #12 - A true key-framing system 
The current way you go about keyframing in FCPX is a total disaster. I can edit on a 30” monitor, yet I have to keyframe in a little 50px area above the clip, that requires about 6 clicks to even get to. Give the ability to switch one of the interface areas to a keyframe timeline. 

Feature Wish #13 - Customized layouts 
The main layout in FCPX is not the way to go. I want to change it, and I want to ability to do so. 

Feature Wish #14 - Still Grab 
Should be a one step process, click a “Grab Still” button and it appears in the source area, available for editing 

Feature Wish #15 - Ability to change start/center/end point of a transition 
A right click in FCP7 at least gave the “Start/Center/End” options. Avid is even better, you can actually drag the location right in the interface for easily customizable transitions. For example, you can take 2 frames from the outgoing clip, and 22 frames for the incoming clip on a transition. That is awesome. At least get us back to where FCP7 was. 

Feature Wish #16 - Sync connections to separated audio 
Even though we may want to separate the audio and video, it should still have the ability to maintain some type of relationship to each other, and give us an indication of sync. 

Feature Wish #17 - Cross Fades on Audio Clips 
For the love of God, why does something so remedial require so many damn mouse clicks ? 

Nothing stated above is unreasonable, nor should there be any technical hurdles either. While many of the things here may actually be on Apples roadmap already, I get the sense some of them are not. Anything that disrupts Magnetic Timeline is probably a philosophical issue to Apple, so they may avoid taking any action in that regard. 

More than anything, give us options. That is the mark of a professional piece of software. Right now Apple is trying to toe the line of what they believe “Professional” editors need, and the lowest common denominator of the general consumer. They are afraid of making the program to difficult to use, but have alienated the core base of its users. Its been discussed time and time again on the net already, so we will not open that box again. They seem to be making some strides…whether its through public pressure, or because they have a true plan, has yet to be seen. 

Probably the biggest gain I saw with the 10.0.3 update was not multicam, nor the “quasi-broadcast out” system they have now. Believe it or not, its the decision they made to not have the default behavior of adding transitions change the length of your sequence. That is the way any professional editor would have it, and its great they figured that out. Lets hope that was just the first step, with many more to come.