Final Cut Pro X Features Wishlist

FCPX-Timeline

 

When Final Cut Pro X launched it lacked many features editors considered to be essential. Over time the folks at Apple have added many of these features (though some are left to the world of Third Party Plug-ins). So, in the spirit that Apple is out there listening to Final Cut Pro X users, here’s a list of features I’d love to see added one day.

 

Colour Coded Roles

I’m a sucker for organization. Granted, my desk is usually pretty messy but I take great pride in ensuring my timelines are not. Back in the track based days I was very strict about what tracks featured dialogue, which featured music, and which featured sound effects. Avid’s Media Composer made this even easier with the ability to colour code tracks, a feature I had long wished legacy Final Cut Pro would adopt. However, with Final Cut Pro X tracks are now gone and they aren’t coming back. But Final Cut Pro X introduced a new feature for people like me to keep things organized: roles. The problem is that while it’s very easy to give a clip a specific role, there’s no easy way to visualize it in the timeline. Colour coding would help ensure that at a quick glance you could see which tracks are dialogue, which tracks are SFX, and which are music.

 

The folks over at Disproportionate Pictures have done a really great write up on roles and how colour coding would be beneficial that you should definitely read.

 

Connect Audio to Audio

One of the biggest changes to Final Cut Pro X was the removal of tracks, and the switch to the notion of “story lines”. Generally speaking they work great and I’m all for them, however there’s sometimes when I’d love for them to behave a little differently than they currently do. One such way is the ability to connect audio to other audio. This would be extremely helpful for ensuring music edits don’t fall out of sync, or sound effects added to specific timing in your music track stay locked to the music track and not the video track. The reality is that sure, generally speaking you want your sound locked to picture, but there are times when you want it locked to your other sounds (say, an added drum beat) and there currently is no way (that I know of) to do so.

 

Ability to Lock Sections of Your Edit

For a lot of the edits we do we’ll have portions of the video timed to our music track. The problem can be that if the client wants to make a change to a portion of the video, let’s say in the middle section, the portions at the end that are perfectly synced to the music can fall out of sync quite easily and I’ll have to spend time getting things back into place. This was easy to deal with back when we had tracks in legacy Final Cut Pro, but not so easy in Final Cut Pro X. I’ve been using markers to try and give myself visual cues of where things line up, but it’d be great to have the ability to lock certain portions of your timeline so that no matter how things ripple those elements won’t fall out of line.

 

Folder Watch

I’d love the ability to tell Final Cut to watch a folder to instantly import media from (iTunes has a similar feature). I realize this could very quickly get messy especially if the feature were abused, but if implemented correctly I could see it being insanely useful. For example: tell Final Cut to watch this folder labelled “graphics” or this folder labeled “sound effects”. Every time a new file is added to it, it instantly gets added to Final Cut saving you the import step, and thus saving your time. Combined with roles and smart collections this would be a power-user’s (and assistant editor’s) dream!

 

Guides

This one’s pretty specific, but I’d love the ability to add draggable guides, similar to those found in Motion and After Effects. This would help instances where you’re trying to straighten a shot, or ensure text is all perfectly aligned. Apparently there are third-party plug-ins that can do this, but it’d be great to see it natively integrated.

 

A Better Subtitle Plugin

Again, this one can apparently be solved with any number of third party plugins, but it’d be really nice if Final Cut Pro had a built in tool for easily creating hard-coded subtitles. After all, it’s a little more useful than say, the “Ferris Wheel” text (but please keep that Star Wars crawl plugin!)

 

Plug-ins That Travel

Final Cut Pro X has an incredible amount of wonderful third party plug-ins. The problem is that if you install one on your main system and then the project is handed off to another editor, or the colour suite, or even the end client, if that plug-in isn’t installed on their system you will encounter issues. It would be great if there was a way to ensure that your plug-ins traveled with projects from machine to machine. Obviously there are issues with licensing which is why it will probably never happen, but coming up with a solution so that these elements don’t fall “offline” would go a long way.

 

Remove Attributes

We recently got paste attributes en masse. Now I’d like to be able to remove them en masse as well.

 

iMovie Features

The latest version of iMovie has received not only a Yosemite make-over but several wonderful new features I’d like to see ported over to Final Cut Pro X (especially the non-connected audio region). Thomas Grove Carter created a wonderful video highlighting many of these features which you should definitely look at.

 

Summary

No piece of software is perfect, and there’s always going to be room for improvement. These are just a handful of an ever growing list of features I wish Final Cut Pro X had. While I can get by without them, having them would increase my efficiency saving me time, and the client money. So if you’re out there Apple and ever want to chat you know where you can find me.

 

– Adam.

Final Cut Pro X – Five Favourite Features

Let’s face it; Final Cut Pro X is a divisive piece of software. And it’s tough to deny that its release was, shall we say, fumbled.

 

But the reality is that, in the 4 years since it first debuted, it has steadily improved year after year through a number of considerable updates (all free I might add). Final Cut Pro X is now an incredibly solid, fast, and powerful non linear editing system.

 

While we could spend hours discussing all sorts of features, and various tips and tricks, I’d rather focus on five of my favourite features that make Final Cut Pro X so great, and my NLE of choice.

 

1 – THE MAGNETIC TIMELINE

Magnetic Timeline

Using the magnetic timeline to move a clip, while other clips ripple around it.

 

There’s a lot to be said here, but what I love most about the magnetic timeline is how it simply “gets out of the way.” Re-arranging clips, or groups of clips, is as easy as dropping them exactly where you want. Everything magically pops out of the way to make room. This makes moving portions of your edit easy and painless, and ultimately will save you a lot of time.

 

2 – THE RETIME TOOL

Retime-01

Quickly retime your clips with a few clicks

 

Retiming in legacy FCP was awful. It was inaccurate, the results were a mixed bag at best, and good luck trying to get ramped speed effects. Retiming couldn’t be easier with Final Cut Pro X, especially with the new retiming header. You can easily pick from the preset speeds, enter a custom speed, or use my favourite option and simply grab the handles to adjust to whatever length you require. It’s fast, it’s painless, and when switching the quality to Optical Flow you’ll have truly impressive results.

 

Retime-02

Use optical flow to get impressive results

 

This feature was used extensively for our GANT Rugger F/W 14 campaign film, where we slowed down 30fps footage in a 24fps timeline for a dreamy effect. Sometimes the 20% slow-down wasn’t enough, and being able to simply grab the adjustment handle for more really sped up my edit.

 

3 – BUILT-IN STABILIZATION

Stabilization

Built in stabilization saves an incredible amount of time (and the results are great too)

 

Another great built-in feature of Final Cut Pro X is its new stabilization engine. It’s now easier than ever to enable stabilization of a clip, and the results are very good. While it’s not as powerful as a third-party tool, more often than not with a little trial and error you can get truly excellent results. It’s nice when I can avoid a roundtrip through After Effects, where our more powerful plugins live.

 

Stabilization came in very handy during the GANT Rugger S/S 14 campaign edit. Our shooters were running around a chaotic yacht party, grabbing little moments as they sailed down the Hudson River. The stabilization tool allowed me to use shots that otherwise wouldn’t be campaign-worthy, even though the content was great.

 

4 – BACKGROUND RENDERING

Background-Render

Background render means you can work while FCP X chugs away

 

This is probably one of everyones favourite features. The fact that you can apply an effect, and simply get on with your edit while it renders out in the background is truly remarkable. Finally FCPX is using all of the horsepower from our expensive 16+ thread edit suites!

 

It’s especially handy during colour grade sessions; Ivan can be rolling out colour across an edit while his previous setups are rendering in the background. By the time he gets to the end of a timeline, the whole project is already finished rendering and ready to go. No more “go for lunch and hope the render’s done when you get back”!

 

5 – AUDIO KEYFRAMES & THE RANGE TOOL

Audio-Keyframes-01

Adding audio keyframes has never been easier

 

One of the biggest headaches in legacy Final Cut Pro was working with audio keyframes. They were tedious to add, and even more tedious to manipulate. The new audio keyframe tools in FCPX make this a thing of the past. For starters, dipping audio is as easy as selecting the range where you want to dip and then dragging the volume controller down. FCPX will auto-generate the keyframes you need, saving you 4 clicks.

 

Audio-Keyframes-02

It’s also never been easier to grab multiple keyframes at once and then move them

 

But say your video footage has moved down the timeline and now your dip is in the wrong place. That happens all the time. Instead of having to move each keyframe individually, you can now select them with the range tool and move all four at once. Want to save even more time? You can simply cut those keyframes from the original location, and paste them into their new location. Have a new location that needs a dip? You can just copy and paste the dip you previously made and adjust accordingly. These kind of changes make your life so much easier and so much faster!

 

SUMMARY

These five features may not seem overly exciting, but they really go a long way into speeding up the edit process. They help to set Final Cut Pro X apart from the other NLEs out there, and are just some of the features that make Final Cut my favourite tool to edit with.

 

– Adam.