Final Cut Pro X: Powerful Movie Editor or Just “iMovie Pro”?

When Final Cut Pro was released a couple of months ago, the software received mixed reviews. Some individuals felt that the software was good for what it did, a viewpoint occupied mostly by former iMovie users. However, other individuals felt that the new software did away with many essential tools found in the previous Final Cut. This viewpoint comes mostly from former Final Cut users. In summary, the power users fretted over the new software while amateur users of iMovie felt it was just right. Whether or not you called Final Cut Pro X the newest Final Cut or just “iMovie Pro”, we have the software all tested out and we’re here to give our final assessment. Should you purchase Final Cut Pro X, or not? Read our review to find out.

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Final Cut Pro X has been coined as a new system of its own rather than an update. For that reason, I’ll try not to use the word update too much in this article, but if I slip up, please forgive me. Contrary to the fact of it being a new system of movie editing, the interface seems like a Final Cut/iMovie combination with iMovie being dominant. With this being the case, Final Cut Pro X’s interface revolves mainly around the timeline, that little area in the lower mid-left region. This is where you will control most of what happens in the upper region, something very different from iMovie. This is very time efficient, but can be quite confusing when performing hard-core editing. One part of timeline that I really love is that if you drag any media into it, it will welcome the media with open arms. For example, when editing a video for YouTube, I dragged an older .mov clip in and the clip was added without any need of loading or processing.

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To create a new project, simply click with two fingers and click “New Project”. From there, you can name your project, set the default event, set video properties, and audio settings. This offers a lot of properties that you couldn’t preset in iMovie when creating a project. After creating the project, you are then forwarded to a blank timeline and an event filled with clips if you created an event already. From there, you can drag your clips in and create your movie. You have the option to adjust audio and video on the right hand side, add titles and effects from the bottom right, and more.

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Final Cut Pro X is a very fast video editing tool. As always, it depends on your hard drive space and speed, but from my tests, I can attest that it worked fine on a Macbook, Macbook Pro, and iMac. Without question, it also works without a hitch on a Mac Pro, but I didn’t have one available to test that for sure. So with good performance across the board, what is the reason behind this? The answer is in background tasks. Final Cut Pro X processes everything in the background, allowing you to get more things done faster. To be more informed of your background tasks, you can pay attention to the green circle with the percentage inside to know when a background task is complete. If it’s not, the percentage will reflect when it will be over. All in all, Final Cut Pro X presents you with true multitasking.

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When editing your movie, you may find a title or an effect to be necessary for your project. Your options are now limitless with Final Cut Pro X. The system offers you with hundreds of effects for your video and audio. From boost of color to camcorder effect, there are a bunch of video and audio effects ready for you to use. You can click the camera to add photos from iPhoto, clicking the music allows you to add music from iTunes, audio effects, and more. Final Cut Pro X allows you to also add transitions, text, and more, just like with iMovie and the older Final Cut Pro, just with more options.

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By now, your movie is finished and you’re ready to export. The best option with any Apple movie editor (iMovie, Final Cut, etc) is to click “Share -> Export Media”. With Final Cut Pro X, this will allow you to choose the best format to export in, you can also choose the last used settings for easier and faster exporting. A rule of thumb, the options may be overwhelming but for videographers who frequently share video online, you should export mainly in H.264. When exporting, you are brought to where you can choose where the movie will go after it’s exported, then the exporting begins.

Exporting took a very short time, usually about as long as the movie was. For example, my five minute video I edited last night took about four and a half to five minutes to export. Final Cut Pro X also has great organizational skills, including the ability to sort based on search keywords, remove shakiness, and to delete silent portions of your video. Don’t worry, all of these organizational adjustments are only implemented if you select them. So your silent film is safe.

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Final Cut Pro X is a great, fast video editing software. The background task feature allows you to truly multitask without a hitch. The familiar iMovie interface makes it appealing to former iMovie users who either were scared off from purchasing video editing software or would have gone to the now discontinued Final Cut Express. For many of those same reasons, we can now understand why the professionals in the video industry aren’t loving it so much. Final Cut Pro 7 for now seems like the best option for individuals in videography, like myself. Final Cut Pro X is too, shall I say it, watered down for the professionals out there.

To conclude, if you are new to Final Cut Pro X but not to Final Cut in general, don’t let the familiar design fool you. There are many navigations that have changed, so be patient and prepared to learn a couple of things.