Apple updates Final Cut Pro X with multicam, broadcast monitoring

Apple on Tuesday updated its professional workflow application, Final Cut Pro X, adding a number of significant features. I spoke with Richard Townhill, Senior Director of Applications Marketing at Apple, to get more details on the release.

Perhaps the biggest new feature in Final Cut Pro X is the addition of Multicam editing. Typical of Apple when adding a new feature, the company didn’t just think about how to add the functionality, they thought about how to do it better than before.

Shooting a scene with multiple cameras is common practice these days and Final Cut Pro’s multicam feature supports mixed formats and mixed frame rates, making it easy to bring in footage from a variety of sources. Final Cut also supports up to 64 camera angles in the new version.

What’s really different in Apple’s implementation of multicam is how the company does its automatic syncing. Of course, you can sync camera angles by using the timecode or the less accurate method of using the time of day, but Apple has a new way of syncing camera angles — audio waveforms.

Townhill explained that with Final Cut Pro X, you can now sync scenes using the audio waveform captured with the camera. This doesn’t have to be the final audio used in the scene, but it can be used for syncing purposes. Of course, manually syncing cameras is still available at any time.

The other major new feature added to Final Cut Pro X is broadcast monitoring. For now, this is being released as a beta. Townhill said that you need a PCIe card in a Mac Pro or a Thunderbolt device. Apple said in most cases broadcast monitoring will work just fine, but they are still refining the feature.

The good news is that with Thunderbolt, you will be able to take advantage of broadcast monitoring while on a shoot. In the past this feature was only available when you got back to the studio and your Mac Pro.

In addition to those major features, Final Cut Pro X also includes Advanced chroma keying with controls for color sampling, edge quality, and light wrap. XML 1.1 support has been added, allowing users to export basic primary color grades, as well as importing and exporting effect parameters and audio keyframes.

Media relinking and the ability to import and edit layered Photoshop graphics has also been added.

There is also good news from Final Cut Pro developers. Intelligent Assistance is releasing a new app today called 7toX that will allow users to import Final Cut Pro 7 projects into Final Cut Pro X. The app uses Final Cut’s XML to achieve the import. The app will be on the Mac App Store and costs $9.99.

Other Final Cut developers like GenArts and Red Giant have developed motion graphics plug-ins that take advantage of the realtime preview capabilities of Final Cut Pro X.

Final Cut Pro X 10.0.3 is available from the Mac App Store and is a free download for anyone that owns Final Cut Pro X.

  • Vamsmack

    This is going to be great. I’ve been waiting on the multicam editing feature to make it’s way back in to kick off a personal project. Looks like it’s time. 

    • Anonymous

      Vamsmack–I’ve been sitting on footage I had put off editing. Now this makes me ready!

      • Vamsmack

        That’s right. Your point?

        • LelandHendrix

          Point..that I agreed with you and was bolstering your comment. Is that okay??!!?? :-/

          • LelandHendrix

            Hope so. Seven months of silence leads me to believe it so. 😕

  • Anonymous

    I have no doubt that FCPX will eventually become a great product.  It may even become the best in class.  It’s just unfortunate that Apple chose to roll it out before it was a professional grade product with features like multi-cam editing that professionals need.  It’s also unfortunate that Apple took the position that importing FCP7 projects can’t be done.  Yet, this 7toX app seems to address this very issue.  Apple could have done a much better job with the transition from FCP7 to FCPX.  

    That said, I’m curious as to when we’ll see the first Hollywood project that uses FCPX and what their overall experience will be.

    • The flip side to that by releasing when they did, Apple have had a years worth of open use with users, working out the bugs.

      No pro shop would have moved over to new software like this until a couple rounds of bug fixes anyways.

      • Anonymous

        I would agree with you, except they stopped selling the old version. If they had just continued selling both until FCPX was ready, everything would have been great. Instead we have major editing houses switching back to Avid because they couldn’t buy a useable product from Apple for the last year.

        • Jim Clark

          If Final Cut Pro 7 was the software they were using before why not continue using it until they felt that FCP X was ready. I have read so much moaning going on in the Final Cut community since Apple released it. Moving over to Avid or Premiere requires learning new software from the start and then being faced (if they decide to come back to FCP X) with not being able to work with those projects. I wish people would put as much energy into working with Apple to help improve the software as they do in the negative comments. One more comment. The art of creating good content does not solely rely on the software. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter which platform you use rather the final product. People watching don’t give a flying you-know-what which software application you used.

          • Anonymous

            Don’t get me wrong. My initial reaction to everyone’s complaining was the same as yours. But it’s been most of a year, and not being able to purchase new licenses means you can’t buy new computers or hire any new employees for that entire time. What reasonable business would work that way, especially video production, which is mostly contract and freelance in the first place? The initial reaction was unjustified hysteria, but by taking eight months to address these very real problems, Apple essentially justified all of it.

            And by what method should these customers “work with Apple” on the issues? Send them an email and hope for the best? I love Apple, but they are not a company that’s exactly known for responding to customer feedback.

            And come to think of it, why is it the customer’s job to work with the vendor on anything? If the vendor doesn’t sell a product that meets your needs, and there’s a better product that does meet your needs, you buy the other product. If your favorite sandwich place suddenly replaced all their good sandwiches with horrible tasting ones, you wouldn’t just keep eating there for a year and fill out comment cards, hoping that they’d improve. You’d go eat the tasty sandwiches at the shop next door.

            And training is a non-issue. Anyone who made the switch is RETURNING to Avid, not switching to it for the first time.

  • Anonymous

    Good sign, and good news. Maybe they’re holding off on a new Logic Pro until it’s ready…

  • Thomas

    I thought FCP was dead ? 😉

    • If you cut film, it still is.

      • Foljs

        If you cut film, you are in a dead industry.

        • Are no movies or TV commercials shot on film anymore?  I’m honestly asking…

          • There will certainly be some noticeable holdouts (like Spielberg) who will stick with film.  But with the production of film cameras already ceased, and film stock companies going out of business, there is certainly a filmless world on the horizon.

            Practically, I don’t know what would still hold back FCPX from use on cutting a feature.  Since the film would be conformed in another program altogether, the actual process of cutting is the only thing really required, and a way to send the data out to another program via XML (which FCPX already does).

  • Watcher_skys

     if Apple had bothered to ask or listen to a number of working professional editors before releasing FCPX the NLE landscape and Apples future market share would look different right now. Its great that they are fulfilling promises but these functions, especially the ability to use a reference monitor should have been there to begin with. That alone made FCPX a NON- professional piece of software and alienated a large segment of the post production world. At this point, only time will tell if Apple can make a come back as most working editors have already moved on and with the eminent release of Adobe Premiere CS6 and Avids continued improvements and updates, Apple may not get that segment back. Don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking FCPX. There are many great things about it but Apple screwed up its initial release and its time may well have passed.

    • I don’t think it was a question of listening.  takes time to write good code, and like it or not this is a ground up rebuild of an app with 10 years of development.  And they weren’t just parroting FCP7 either, they were trying to come up with new faster ways to do things as well.

      Apple’s problem is they don’t openly communicate their intentions.  If they’d said that 10.0 was an open Beta, and their target date for feature completion was 18 months away, then I think people would have been a lot more agreeable- knowing there was a goal in mind to satisfy the users.  But Apple doesn’t do that.

      That said, they’ve been clear from the beginning that FCPX is meant for pro users, and foundation for the next 10 years.  After the last 8 months and 3 updates- anyone who thinks that all the important features won’t be reintegrated is deluding themselves.  Some specific features might be left to 3rd party plugins (like AVID and PP), but I think a lot sooner than some thing we’ll have a FCPX that’s going toe to toe for the “Pro” jobs.  

      • Anonymous

        They don’t do that, except with Siri. Oh, and the hardware controls in FCP were just released as Beta.

        Those were recent decisions though so, perhaps they learned this from the FCPX problems.

      • When they bring back the option for individual, independent, assignable tracks, those of us who need them and left will be interested. Until then, it’s a powerful but limited tool for many professional workflows.

        • Hey David.  I’m curious as to what you think tracks do for you that Roles don’t.  Roles in video allows you to manage elements for Graphics, or subtitles, or language versioning.

          Roles in audio allow you to isolate audio elements (SFX, MUS, DIA, etc.) for export to multitrack audio and (shortly) OMF for ProTools.  Though I’d personally be in favour of having Roles be colour coded and grouped in the timeline.

          Tracks are a means to an end, but not an end unto themselves.  And I think that the “connected” nature of the timeline in FCPX prohibits static tracks by nature.

          • Hi Marcus, fair question. It’s true roles help identify and isolate specific elements (I agree color coding would be visually helpful). However, they can’t change the fact that FCPX is a single track editor. All clips must either be in or connected to the Primary storyline. What if you need multiple synchronized channels that are completely independent from one another? This is a common need for many editorial workflows. Here’s another way to think about it — do you think a DAW like ProTools would work with the magnetic timeline? Would it make sense to record a multi-track album using a timeline like FCPX’s? If not, why not? That’s the crux of the problem with FCPX. For all of its under-the-hood innovation, the timeline model is reductive and only well suited to very specific editorial tasks. While it may be easier for beginners to learn, for advanced editors, it can be very limiting. I’ve written extensively about this over at the Creative Cow. If you’re curious, check out this article – as well as the conversations in the comments.

      • jimbo

        I agree. There are so many developers producing third party stuff. I’ve read so much online about developers putting a lot of effort behind their support to FCP X. Having used the product to cut a short project i was able to finish a lot quicker than I did in FCP 7. I am really getting to like the workflow. 


      Those “working professional editors” still wouldn’t have switched to FCPX until sometime this year, even if it was exactly what they expected. Those people have stayed working in FCP 7 for the most part.

      The most important thing mentioned here I believe is the 7toX application mentioned at the end. A lot of people want the ability to import their existing project and give this program a try.

      There will be pro people people disappointed that FCP has switched gears, but far more people trying it out as they begin the journey into editing.

      My guess is Apple is betting on tomorrow’s professionals, rather than trying to shoe-horn backend improvements into FCP 7.

      • “Those “working professional editors” still wouldn’t have switched to FCPX until sometime this year, even if it was exactly what they expected. Those people have stayed working in FCP 7 for the most part.”

        Possibly, but many of them have already transitioned to Adobe, which did offer an upgrade path from FCP7, which Apple initially discontinued. Apple fumbled this one badly.

  • damalishion

    RIP FCP, i’ve jumped ship to Avid who understand and listen to the pro market

  • Rbhm

    Those fickle enough to jump to Adobe or Avid are pretty likely to jump back once FCP starts doing that feature they couldn’t live without. 

  • Too late.  I’m already using Premiere.