FCP X’s first update – a closer look

Apple recently released the first update to Final Cut Pro X – FCP 10.0.1 – and already there’s a host of opinions all over the web from users who feel strongly one way or the other, making it one of the most contentious software updates in recent times.

I’ve taken a look at some of the new features in FCP 10.0.1, what they mean for the professional editor, and how FCP X relates to the multi-person post-production environment…

XML support

First of the new features, and possibly the most exciting, is rich XML support. It’s worth pointing out here that XML, as a way of handling data, has many different varieties, and this brand new flavour – FCPXML – doesn’t yet make it possible to directly import older projects from FCP 7’s XML (XMEML), into FCP X. However, this does mean FCP X can now export to third party applications. Currently, there are as many as 20 developers already building FCPXML into their software updates and we’re sure to see more professional finishing and mastering tools taking up this format, allowing import and export of FCPXML.

Two developers who have are DaVinci and Square Box. DaVinci Resolve 8.1, as well as accepting FCP 7’s XMEML, now accepts import through FCPXML. And for media houses who used Square Box’s CatDV for their asset management and as the entry point of their post workflow, this is great news. CatDV can now be used as a translation tool to transfer clips and sequences from old Final Cut Pro 7 projects over to FCP X. It’s also a great replacement for the now defunct Final Cut server, if you need that ongoing functionality and management.

Xsan shared storage

Secondly, having projects and events on Xsan is a great step forward, allowing storage over servers. Currently, however, this is only shared storage of the files, not actual shared project functionality. Full access to the project is still limited to one user at a time, so two people won’t be able to work on the same project simultaneously. But if you’re desperate for access to a project someone else on the Xsan is working on, they can send you an XML of the file and you could import elements of that into your project.

GPU-accelerated export

Thirdly, the GPU-accelerated export feature is something that is very exciting. As an FCP user for many years, I can remember my amazement at witnessing the speed of Adobe’s Mercury Playback engine as it used the power of the NVIDIA CUDA card. Having that kind of power and speed in FCP X, both in the edit and now in the export, is a wonderful thing.

For me H.264-based exports have always been a mixed blessing. The quality and size of the outputted movie is great but the speed and processor-intensive nature of the export was always a bitter pill, especially when outputting a large project. Previously, the only options for minimising some of FCP 7’s exporting headache were external devices like the Matrox MXO2 (because of their faster-than-realtime H.264 exports), or to leave your file exporting overnight. Now, with GPU-accelerated exports, the speed of the export increases with the speed of your GPU. So either way, the GPU you bought isn’t twiddling its thumbs while the CPU slowly does its job. If you’re thinking of getting a GPU to take advantage of this new found speed, Apple has released this list of compatible GPUs.

In other news…

The new camera import SDK means there will be support coming for cameras not yet supported natively, such as Sony’s XDCAM EX. The missing custom start timecode feature has been brought in, enabling the broadcast industry to meet certain delivery specifications, or add bars and tone. More broadcast features, such as multi-cam editing and Broadcast-Quality Video Monitoring have been promised in early 2012.

For more information on Apple Final Cut Pro X, call us on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. You can also keep up with the latest news and offers by following @JigsawVideo on Twitter, checking our Facebook page or browsing our full video and post-production range.

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