This week I completed my first three projects using Final Cut Pro X.  I had used earlier versions of Final Cut Pro several years ago, but didn’t have a need for editing video again until last year when I made some Playmaker for Unity3D tutorials.  I used iMovie 11, because it’s what I had available at the time, and it did a stand up job, but I missed the more professional editing features of Final Cut Pro.  It looks like I’ll be editing a lot more video from now on, so I stepped up to Final Cut Pro.

I know there has been a large amount of upset from the big changes brought about with Final Cut Pro X, but this was my first opportunity to form my own first hand opinion of the application.  After putting together three short projects I am thoroughly impressed, and have become a big fan of the magnetic timeline.  I was also impressed at how fast it was to learn.  Having used Motion 5 and iMovie 11, Final Cut Pro X felt very familiar.  Most things I needed to learn revealed themselves through a bit of exploration in the app, and the rest I looked up on  I was also thrilled to find all the Logic Audio plug ins available right inside FCPX!  This not only saves me a round trip into Logic, but speeds up the audio portion of my workflow by keeping the edits relevant to the video.

I think Final Cut Pro X is a really well positioned product.  If you are a long-time video editor, you probably have a bunch of legitimate gripes with it, and may even feel it isn’t “professional” enough.  But I think this is really a great example of the shift from “old professional” to “new professional”.  Video has become a huge part of our lives now, and cleaning it up isn’t just for highly skilled people with expensive equipment anymore.  We all generate some form of video content, much of which is distributed through YouTube.  Promotions, instructional material, knowledge sharing, entertainment… basically everything we do today can have a video component to it.  Programs like iMovie aren’t quite enough for most of those needs, but learning advanced video editing techniques and then investing in expensive gear simply isn’t going to happen for the majority of users.  But don’t make the mistake of thinking all those indie developers, secretaries, musicians, etc don’t need “pro level” editing tools.  They just need them to be easy to use and affordable.  And that is exactly what Apple has delivered in Final Cut Pro X.  It’s a tool that’s beefy enough for most professional use (after you let go of the need to do things the same way you always have!), but easy enough for casual users as well.

Letting go of the need to emulate tape decks opens the door to tools that are much easier to use without sacrificing power or speed.  I’m hoping that Apple rolls a lot of these same innovations into the upcoming Logic X.