"Think for yourself"

FCPX-icon.png

6 months later, and the "discussion" of FCPX has still not quieted down. A recent ep of "That Post Show", as well as a post by Philip Hodgetts, has thrown some fuel into the fire. I was going to post on Philips post, but that has already turned into a god awful mess. 

You can find that post here: 
http://www.philiphodgetts.com/2011/12/why-do-production-pressures-favor-final-cut-pro-x/

Heres my take, heading into the new year: 

It was stated in the "That Post Show" podcast, and it is so true. "The relationship with an editor and his software has to be based on trust." You need to trust Apple and their ideals and philosophies moving forward. No matter what your feelings on FCPX, even Philip admits it is not there, "yet". That is insinuating that the software will eventually get there, meaning he trusts Apple. Thats a big level of trust. 

If you are just learning the craft, just getting out of college/filmschool, you have a decision to make. Are you going the "apple" way, or the "traditional" way. (By traditional, I am now referring to any NLE not written by Apple). It is in my opinion, if you lay your cards on the table and learn the new FCPX way of editing, you will be limited. In making that point, I am not even just referring to the fact that technically you cannot get your work in/out of FCPX to go to other software packages. While that is currently the truth, that can ultimately be fixed. XML, OMF, EDL, etc can easily be taken care of in a software update, and I fully expect Apple to add that to FCPX in the future. The bigger issue is the design philosophy of the program itself. Having FCPX on your resume is not getting you into any post house, network TV, or feature film set anytime soon. By choosing that route, you have already capped what you are capable of doing, and for what reason? 

I keep hearing "FCPX" is fast. What exactly does that mean? Can you drop an H.26 in the timeline and edit it? Yes. Does that make it fast? I guess to some people. Can I search my iTunes library and bring in a song ? Yes. Does that make it fast ? I guess. I can also hit one button, go eat lunch, come back, and my video is on YouTube or Vimeo. That is fast also. So yes, in many ways, FCPX is fast. If you know how to edit, and you put some effort into actual learning, Avid, FCP 7.0, Premiere Pro, Media 100, Edius, and Lightworks are also fast. You can type paragraphs into Microsoft Word very fast, but how many novels did you write last year? 

That brings us to the flip side to all that "Speed"…..Besides the technical workarounds you need to take, the editing workarounds needed are killer. I actually do not even consider FCPX a "Non-linear" editor. It is a HUGE step back in the actual editing process. Those of you familiar with editing will get where I am going……The Magnetic Timeline. Because of the way that the program works, you are now limited to editing decisions that are based on a relationship to the first frame of your project. The whole idea of being non linear is things can go where you want them go, and stay there. I can easily work on the end, go back to the beginning, then the middle, etc. That is virtually impossible with FCPX. 

Easy example……lets say you are working on a music video, and the footage has been shot for the "Chorus" parts of the song. There is no way to edit those sections efficiently, leaving black holes for the verses, and going back later. Due to the magnetic timeline, everything wants to insert and ripple. Your workaround is you need to establish a relationship with frame 1. That is stupid and antiquated, and why should I need to have to "think" about what I am doing. Its been said thousands of times, the editing program should be an extension of your mind.   

Something as simple as removing a couple minutes from the middle of an edit can't even be done neatly. If you want to remove minutes 4-5, you need to do the compound clip rain dance, make an edit, and prey to the Gods you can get your stuff to un-compound back into some sort of sanity. These are not bugs, these are MAJOR issues due to the way that the program works, that cannot be changed now, without some way to override Magnetic timeline. 

No one in their right mind would ask a "professional" photographer to do a job with a point and shoot camera. Why ? Its not because they cannot take great pictures with it, they most certainly can. Its because they cannot have the control they need to deal with any situations they run into, or creative ideals they may have. FCPX is, right now, like the point and shoot camera. I do not want a $299 piece of plastic deciding what Aperture to shoot my picture at, any more than I want a $299 piece of software deciding where in time my footage goes. I do not need that help, and neither should you. You become a better photographer by learning the craft. You become a better editor by learning the craft. Is it easy ? God no. No matter, it should feel easy, because if you truly love doing it, learning the harder parts of an NLE should be fun. 

FCPX has some very cool features. I love the Append edit to the end of the timeline. The built in stabilizer is good. I like some of the ability to normalize the audio. I do not like the scrubber, but I do understand that some may like that. Apple knew enough to give the ability to turn it off. There are things here to like. Unfortunately none are even remotely close to enough for me to give up the 100's of things it cannot do. 

When "non Professional" tools are chosen for "Professional" projects, it is in service to the end result. For the last three years, people flocked to the Canon 5DmkII for very professional jobs, essentially ignoring the major downfalls that came with that decision, but for a good reason. The camera produced beautiful pictures that were technically impossible to produce almost any other way. Now that more professional alternatives are available, the trend is to find every which way to NOT use a DSLR. A piece of editing software does not give you that luxury. I should be able to watch a piece of media, and have no idea what it was edited on. Its not about that….its about cuts and dissolves, and pacing decisions made by the producer/director/editor. Nothing else. You should never have to "Think" about what you are doing. You need to be able to just do it. 

I wanted Apple to get this right, I still want them to make this right. At this point, I have still not seen a good argument why we should have the trust that the FCPX way is the future. Its not about the "No XML"…."No Broadcast Out"……"No paste Attributes"…….those are features. Those can be added. Its about philosophy. 

I'm not willing to go back to a linear world. If I put a piece of video at 2 minutes, 10 seconds, 5 frames, it damn well better be there when I come back. 

Thank you for the lifeline Apple, but I am a good enough editor, I can think for myself.