How Final Cut Pro X Broke My Heart.

Like a Vegas romance, what happens in Vegas, should probably stay there. Such was my brief love affair with Apple’s Final Cut Pro X. I bought Final Cut Pro X, the first day it was released and immediately dove into editing with it. And like a hot love affair, I relished in all the new, different and better qualities and overlooked its shortcomings.  I even wrote a long blog post extolling FCP X’s virtues.

FCPX broken heartIt is now some three months since that initial post and I no longer have FCP X installed on my Mac. Here’s the story of how I fell out of love. After editing a couple of minor projects with FCP X, I decided to edit my short film project titled “Love and Robots” with it. First off I struggled with FCP X’s media management when it dated my event as 2009, probably because I hadn’t set the date and time in one of my cameras. I then created my project, thinking that projects in FCP X where similar to sequences in FCP 7. I discovered much to my surprise that you can’t rename a project once it’s created. And even stranger, if you duplicate a project, it duplicates and renames the media associated with the project. And don’t try to move your event from its initial location on your hard drive, because FCP X loses it and you can’t reconnect the event, unless you move it back to the folder where it was created. What about FCP X’s much touted metadata and keyword organization? Well, I had several hours of footage and hundreds of clips that I carefully logged into scene smart folders. I had shot this project on a DSLR, so I was using double system sound. So when I went to use the highly touted sync clip feature, I found the matching video and audio clips for a take and synced the clips, FCP X then proceeded to sync the clips and created a new clip, which lost all the metadata from the original clips. All the hours I had spent organizing my video clips into smart folders were lost. The lesson here being, that you need to sync your clips before adding smart keywords. So like a date that can’t handle their wine, FCP X’s media management turns really ugly, really quickly.

As far as just editing video, FCP X did an admirable job. There were some little peeves, like not being able to copy and paste clip attributes, not being able to key frame color correction parameters, and not being able to edit a text template without, creating a new template in Motion. All of these were little irritating things, but not relationship breakers.

That brings us to the big break-up. Everybody knows that FCP X’s most glaring flaw is its inability to export XML or even an old fashioned EDL. Having XML support is critical in any film project because several people need to collaborate on the project. So when it came time to want to do some effects work in Adobe After Effects and to edit the soundtrack, FCP X essentially locked me in the hotel room. I was stuck not being able to export my sound as tracks. Practically every editor out there separates their audio into tracks, usually the first two are for dialog and then ambience and then effects and then music. And usually you can send these off to the sound editor for further editing. Well since FCP X doesn’t use tracks per se. You can’t separate the various parts of your soundtrack. And worse yet, you can’t export your sound as separate clips. “Round-tripping” soundtracks is critical to film workflow, and this is something that slammed the brakes on my project and made me abandon FCPX as a viable editor. This is a massive fail, that unless it is resolved, will kill Final Cut Pro as a professional  editor.

I had to export my movie and since there is no EDL support, I had to go through the movie cut by cut and hand-log all of my shots. I then reconstructed my entire edit using Final Cut Pro 7. Essentially Final Cut Pro X cost me four weeks of editing. Needless to say the thrill was gone. And like the end of  a bad romance, in a fit of rage I threw out Final Cut Pro X. Now my Mac is free of it, good riddance.

I finished the film in Final Cut Pro 7 and now I am slowly weaning myself from eight years of loving Final Cut and have started to edit on Premier CS5.5. It is sad.

You can see the trailer for Love and Robots at:



7 thoughts on “How Final Cut Pro X Broke My Heart.

  1. Chip Dizárd

    Good blog post. For long movies and collaboration FCPX is NOT the solution. But for what I do and teach it is the solution. I fought for 3 months not using it and finally I said for the web videos and short projects it is much more intuitive for me.

    The last four videos I shot in FCPX and I loved every minute of it after hating it for 3 months. I guess it kind of grew on me, and now that I get paid for gigs like FCP 7. It’s nice.

  2. Brutus B

    You CAN rename projects in FCPX. The function is oddly hidden though. It just requires clicking on the little “wrench” icon in the info panel.
    Thanks for the blog.

  3. Noah

    I agree with both the author and with “chip,” final cut X is very speedy for editing quickly things like Proof of Performances in advertising, or even cutting together a wedding video for a client. I use it for that and it works well. Of course, I would never use it for any projects that I actually care about, like the short film I’m working on (in FCP 7). It’s just not that easy to work with unless you are doing a few simple things involving FCP and Motion. And while it’s nice that Apple added some half-hearted XML and “roles” features, it’s just not that fun to work with, simply because there are so many things it can’t do. In my humble opinion, FCP X ends up being a time saver, but really does not allow any serious artist the tools to make a film as well cut as he or she wants it to be.

  4. Luis Sequeira

    Most if of the limitations you faced have been surmounted by in version 10.0.1: you can now import and export XML, and you can export audio and video “stems”, so you can, for example, edit the audio in a different application.

  5. Mark

    FCPX can indeed export audio separatley to then be imported into another program like Soundtrack. It just isn’t done with tracks. As you edit, label your audio tracks using metadata. For example, label them as “dialogue”, “sound fx”, or “music”. Then export the audio, but choose only certain parameters. Choose to only export the audio labeled as dialogue and it does exactly that. So again, this is a feature that isn’t gone, it’s just done in a different way.

    Also, XML support is back. I think you threw away this program a bit too quickly. We’re all waiting for it to improve, and improve it will.

  6. Gabe Johnson

    Thanks for the post. And thanks to Brutus I didn’t dwell on the “can’t rename a project” nonsense that brought me here.

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