Read my Final Cut Pro X review if you’re going to download this video editor for your Mac. View more about its video editing pros & cons, pricing policy, etc. Is Apple Final Cut Pro X the best video editor for beginners?
Final Cut Pro X is a video editor developed by Apple and is one of the best video editing softwares you can find for professional movie editing, being used by filmmakers all around the world.
Platforms: Mac OS
One of the best features of this video editor is that it’s designed in efficient Apple style. This software is a pleasure to look at, especially when compared to the dim UIs offered by the competitors.
If you’re a Mac user and a beginning video editor, you’ll immediately notice that FinalCut Pro was created with your needs in mind and is suitable for nearly any task.
Apple Final Cut Pro X
Similar to any modern Mac app, this program can be purchased only through the Apple App Store. You can install it onto several Mac devices simultaneously and all updates will be downloaded automatically. When you compare this price to the $999 for the old Final Cut, $299 seems like a great deal.
For comparison, you can receive Adobe’s Premiere Pro only by paying $19.99 for Creative Cloud’s monthly subscription. In contrast, if you purchase Final Cut Pro X, you get to own it forever as well as all its future updates, including the current 10.4 version.
Pro Apps Bundle for Education
Apple offers a collection of professional apps for video and music editing for students. All you have to do is verify your student status, but be warned that this offer is currently only available for American students. However, the company plans to spread this offer to UK, Australia, and Canada in the future. Currently, there’s no information about other regions.
The bundle includes the following apps: Final Cut Pro X ($299.99), Logic Pro X ($199.99), Motion 5 ($49.99), Compressor 4 ($49.99), and MainStage 3 ($29.99). Final Cut, Motion and Compressor support advanced video editing, while Logic Pro X and MainStage are aimed at creating and exporting music.
Apple is famous for its simple approach to design as they strive to make all their products user-friendly and Final Cut isn’t an exception. The functions of all the windows present in the app are immediately apparent to anyone who has at least some experience in moviemaking, regardless if they’ve used an amateur or professional video editor before.
While the main tools tied to video editing and standard functions in Premiere Pro and Vegas are more or less identical, the developers of Final Cut Pro editing software decided to shake up the established standards and slightly changed the interface we’ve got used to seeing.
Video editing in the Final Cut Pro app revolves around a magnetic timeline that improves the limitations of the time frames, helping remove black spaces and clip collisions. A notable feature of this timeline is the lack of clearly marked tracks that have specific hard-coded characteristics. You can add any object you like to it – video, photo, or sound clip and their format, codec, size, and the number of audio channels don’t matter at all. Clips can be moved freely through the timeline and either be adjacent to each other or take any of the set positions.
Media files in FinalCut are presented as icons, and not just regular icons, but as animations! These moving icons have added functionality since you can cut the footage not only using the timeline or a separate window (the way it’s usually done in other video editors), but by using the file’s icon as well. If the file isn’t long, you can increase the icon’s size to cut the video more precisely.
User-Friendly Synchronization, Multicamera Video Editing
When it comes to multicamera recording, the app’s multicamera editing support becomes truly helpful. While the video editing itself isn’t very complicated, synchronizing different clips can become an issue. It’s one thing if the recording was done by professional camcorders that have timecode support or have accurate hardware synchronization.
However, the situation is very different if you have to edit video footage recorded by several cameras with different settings or that were shooting in different formats. If that’s the case, you typically synchronize the clips by sound. As a rule, you do it manually, although some video editors can use third-party plugins that simplify this task.
In our case, you don’t need to install any additional programs since the required feature is integrated into Final Cut Pro 10. The app automatically analyzes all audio tracks and synchronizes them along with the video footage from all the cameras.
Fast Background Rendering
Final Cut Pro for Mac has a background rendering feature that allows you to preview edited clips. What advantages does it offer? Its biggest upside is that the app automatically renders all the changes you make without overloading the computer. Whenever you make any additional edits, the renderer pauses and only starts up again once you’re done.
This technology allows you to preview your edited videos without any delays and in full quality. However, the biggest advantage of background rendering has also led to a huge oversight of Apple’s developers. Since all the rendered files have to be saved on the HDD so that you can preview them, you can run out of disc space very fast and there’s no way to change or limit the cache size for this function.
Limited Number of Formats while Exporting
The final stage of any project is exporting your edited video into one of the supported formats. The number of formats in Final Cut is fairly limited and some of the saved files turn out to be enormous. For instance, a clip that is only 7-8 minutes long can take up 2-3GB, which is unacceptable.
Even if you choose to export a video to YouTube or Facebook, the size isn’t reduced much, and I don’t understand why the export settings are so restricted. However, I should note that the quality of the codec built into Final Cut Pro is nearly perfect. It excels at noise reduction and making the video smoother (to reduce the bitrate stream). Moreover, all the important details unrelated to noise remain untouched.
Understandable 360 Video Editing
Final Cut Pro allows you to make 360o video editing with ease (for VR, or panoramic clips for Facebook, YouTube, etc.). The app offers 360 support for nearly all resolutions including 4K and 8K and has several useful tools including a horizontal leveling tool, the possibility to change the initial perspective seen by the viewer, and a useful Patch tool.
It’s similar to Adobe Content-Aware Fill, with the exception of 360 videos, that allows magically removing such objects as drills or street signs depending on the surroundings. The Patch tool works well even on complex textures such as grass and ornate floors. However, all of that video editing nearly caused my MacBook to crash due to the heavy load of such processes.
The importance of color grading isn’t limited to photography since even the most beautiful moments recorded without color correction won’t look as captivating as you’d imagine. That’s why you should always dedicate some time to improving the colors of your video footage and I’ve dedicated a solid portion of my Final Cut review to this subject.
Adjustable Color Wheels
This is probably the most powerful color correction tool in Final Cut Pro. It contains four wheels that allow you to set the overall tint, saturation, and brightness or apply changes only to glares, midtones, and shadows. The tool also has sliders that affect the general temperature, tint, and hue of the footage.
Each wheel has a curved slider on the left for adjusting the saturation while the right one is responsible for brightness. The wheel in the middle allows you to pick the desired tone.
Precise Color Curves
Color Curves is a simpler tool that works the same way similar features do in Photoshop or Lightroom. It allows you to make the necessary color adjustments quickly and without messing around with several sliders.
Using User-Created LUTs
Another useful tool for color correction I’d like to mention in this Final Cut Pro X review is the possibility to use free LUTs to evaluate your footage. You can apply them to separate clips and compare how footage recorded with different cameras looks like. For instance, I’ve applied the Blackmagic Design Film 4K LUT to my video, and the dimmer colors became more vibrant and pleasant to look at. Other than the built-in LUTs for Arri, Blackmagic, Canon, Panasonic, and Sony, you can also install third-party ones.
While transition effects aren’t as common in professional movies as they are in amateur videos, scrolling credits are needed everywhere, and Final Cut makes working with them very easy.
Final Cut has over 120 video effects that are included in the base version of the app. The most popular effects are blur, distortion, stylization, and colorization. You can also search for an effect by name, which is very useful considering their quantity.
Applying the most commonly used transition, namely, cross dissolve, can be done with a simple key combination. Adding transitions is generally very easy since instead of creating a secondary line on the timeline, you simply add the effect between the needed clips in a single step.
Customizable Scrolling Credits
The included 183 animated templates give you a lot of control over how your text overlays will look like. You get to edit the text, its placement and size directly in the preview screen without having to work in a separate text editor.
Even though FinalCutPro doesn’t have an instant movie function that can be found in most video editors, it offers you Themes that represent sets of transitions and text styles that complement each other.
3D Scrolling Credits
The app has 8 basic 3D templates and 4 cinematic ones, including the awesome 3D Earth option. You can choose from 20 preset fonts and change their style and size to your liking. You can apply such textures as concrete, fabric, plastic, etc. to give the text the look and feel you need.
The sound editing capabilities offered by Final Cut Pro X are another strong side of this app. It can automatically deal with distracting noises, humming, and beeps or you can determine those settings manually.
The app includes over 1300 free sound effects and several plugins. One cool trick you can use is unifying separate audio tracks, as I’ve mentioned in the multicamera editing section of this Final Cut Pro X review. For instance, if you’re shooting an HD video with a DSLR camera and are simultaneously recording the sound on another device, the Match Audio feature will align both audio sources.
Operating system: OS X 10.6.8, OS X 10.7.5, or OS X 10.8.3
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo or better
RAM: 2 GB of RAM (4-8 GB or more recommended)
Hard drive space: 4.15 GB of disk space
Sound card: Compatibility with ASIO protocol or Microsoft Windows Driver Model / Apple Core Audio
Optional: 256MB of VRAM (1GB recommended for 4K and 3D titles)
Since Final Cut Pro is compatible only with Apple computers and they don’t allow you to build the machine from the ground up, we’ll only look at the general system requirements that are needed for running this program.
You may download and use plugins that add new tools for advanced video editing or make the lives of newbie editors easier.
This plug-in allows you to access LUTs, RGB curves, and color wheels directly on the timeline.
This plug-in contains an entire set of tools including transitions, effects, and color settings. You can purchase all of those items separately for a cheaper price, but the Pro version is offered with a big discount.
Red Giant offers a large set of plug-ins for FCPX, but Primatte Keyer is definitely the best one among them. Despite the fact that Keylight for After Effects is more powerful, Primatte is capable of performing the same functions.
If you feel like you need more 3D effects than what the base version of FCPX has to offer, you can purchase this plugin.
The RE:Vision Effects company released Twixtor a few years ago and has greatly improved it since that time. This plug-in allows slowing down scenes to the minimum or speeding them up, depending on your needs. Even though it’s rather expensive, this plugin is also one of the best tools in its class.
In Final Cut Pro, like in any video editor, there is support for LUTs to make fast video color grading. I have collected several ready-made kits that you can download for free.
Wedding videos are just as popular as wedding photos, and they also need careful post production. This Wedding LUTs kit contains plugins for working with color, volume, light, and adding interesting effects that you can apply after editing your clips.
This is the set of LUTs I recommend for travel videos, especially if the recording took place in sunny weather - a slightly lukewarm effect combined with the addition of contrast will make your video brighter and pop.
A set of classic LUTs for basic video color correction - working with color and light, popular effects such as Old Style, Matte, Cinematic and B&W. Universal set suitable for almost any genre of video footage.