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Review: Final Cut Pro X 10.1 Update

Check out our Final Cut Pro: Get Started Now! course!

** NEW Final Cut Pro X 10.1 video courses can be found here.**

A very exciting and important update to Final Cut Pro X has finally hit the App Store as version 10.1. In this article I’ll review some of the new features, but there isn’t enough space to cover them all in detail. We will be publishing completely NEW courses covering all the features in the new FCP X on Friday 20th December, 2014, and in the near future you'll see my new Media Management course too. Additionally, in FCP 10.1 articles I’ll cover more of the new features in detail.

Please see our upcoming articles “FCP X 10.1 Guide To Libraries” parts 1 and 2 for very important upgrading information you should know beforehand!

Visit the macProVideo.com Final Cut Pro X Video courses page here.

Libraries and Events and Projects, Oh My!

Libraries (icon is 4 tiny Events grouped together) are a new container for Events, which now contain not just media, but also Projects, similar to the new iMovie. There are no longer separate Event and Project library panes. We now only have one pane which is the Libraries pane, which shows Libraries, Events, and Projects inside of Events. And the Browser can now be hidden for more screen real estate with Control-Command-1. Unfortunately, there is no tool bar button to bring the Browser back once it is hidden. You’ll need to access the Window menu or remember the keyboard shortcut Control-Command-1.

Figure 1

Libraries exist as a Bundle in the Finder, meaning you can’t see inside of them normally. Inside of those Library bundles are traditional collections of Events. A Library can exist anywhere on any drive, not just the root or Movie folder as before. You can also create multiple Libraries on the same drive, all in different locations if desired. Best of all, Libraries can be opened or closed to control their being seen or not in the Libraries pane. It makes media management much more flexible now. Plus you can select any location via the Preferences to store the automatic Library database backups. When activated, Libraries backup automatically every 15 minutes, and only while they are being worked in. This is a database backup of the Library, all of its Events and Projects, but no media at all. Just a database backup.

Figure 2

New Media Import Option

When you import media into an Event, you now have three choices: leave it in its original location, copy it into the Event folder (hidden inside the Library bundle on the drive), or move it to a new location anywhere you wish. Yeah, that third option is surprising, right? Anything inside the Event folder, or rather inside the Library bundle, is considered “Managed Media”. FCP physically manages that media itself. Anything outside of the Library bundle is considered “External Media”. When you ingest media assets, they can be copied to ANY location you wish, and FCP 10.1 will read them from that location, and treat it as External Media. The “Managing Media In FCP X 10.1” video course guides users through creating, organizing and using Libraries in more detail.


Copy, Cut, Paste Multiple Keyframes

Let us pretend I apply multiple keyframes to multiple locations in a clip, keying Position, Rotation, and Scale in the Transform section of the Inspector, as an example. I can then open the Video Animation editor for that clip in the Timeline to have direct access to all of those keyframes at once. Shift-click on each lets me highlight them altogether. Then in the Edit menu, I go to the new Keyframes sub-menu, where I can choose Cut, Copy, Paste, or Delete. If I select copy, then go to another clip, open the Video Animation Editor for it, highlight the Transform section, I can now paste these multiple keyframes, with the same timing, into the new clip. You do have to open the Animation editor in the Timeline, and you do have to select the section of the keyframes you copied, but it is better than not having this at all. An interesting twist is that I have copied keyframes for Scale in one clip, and successfully pasted them to Rotate in another. Just to see if I could, and I did. That’s wild.

Figure 3


Retiming Enhancements

New tools in the Retiming (speed) menu include custom speed retiming with or without rippling, and being able to blade clips to create speed zones (Shift-B) without creating “edit points”. We can turn on or off, and customize speed ramps, between retiming segments of a single clip, called a speed “Transition”, by adjusting each side of the shaded area between speed zones. We can create jump cut effects with markers, and more.

There is another new retiming command when you perform a Replace Edit. Drag and drop a clip from the Browser onto a Timeline clip, performing a typical Replace edit. When the Replace Edit Menu appears, a new option is offered, “Replace with Retime to Fit”. This command takes the Browser clip, replaces the Timeline clip by matching the first frame of each, AND matching the last frame of each. This causes the Browser clip to retime, either speed up or slow down, to match the exact duration of the original Timeline clip.


Used And Unused

In the Browser, using Control-U, we can now list only what clips and clip ranges are unused in the currently open Project timeline. When you add a clip, or range of a clip to a timeline, it gets a new orange Used tag, just like the green Favorite or red Rejected range tags. I am finding it easier to track what has not been used in a timeline, rather than reading off of a list of what has been used (which is called the Timeline Index). Think about this, it is so much easier for FCP X to simply show me in my Browser what I’ve NOT used so far, thus I can simply move forward knowing my Browser choices are all unused media.

The picture below shows the Browser filter menu set to All Clips, showing my Used tags for the clip labeled Brent. Then the Browser filter menu set to Unused showing the three unused sub-clip segments of that same Brent clip. The trick here to remember is that the TWO USED ranges leave THREE UNUSED ranges of the original clip. Again, showing that Apple is moving in a direction to utilize technology in order to do things better than the old traditional methods.

Figure 5


Multicam Audio

With a Multicam clip in a timeline, you could “Expand Audio/Video” and “Expand Audio Components”. We now have a new command to “Detach Audio” for any individual multiclip angle, and those newly independent audio clips keep all of their Multiclip audio channel properties. Plus you can edit audio and video only from a Multiclip source in the Browser, into the timeline with the connect, insert, append, etc., edit tools. This gives the best Multicam system in the business even more power and flexibility.

Figure 6


Custom Resolutions

Select a Project in the Browser, open the Inspector, go to the Info tab, click the “Modify Settings” button. In this familiar widow, for Video Properties, set Format to “Custom” and you can customize frame size to your heart’s content. When creating a new Project, you also have access to the full range of standard frame rates.

Figure 7


Project Snapshots

This is really nice to have, and the advantage the FCP X development team has given us is pretty obvious. This is in addition to, not a replacement for normal Project duplication. Right-click or Shift-Command-D to create a Project Snapshot. This creates a snapshot of that project, a specialized type of duplicate. Let me back up. When you duplicate a Project, all Compound and Multicam clips are duplicated with it. But if you make changes to that Compound or some Multicam clip properties in the duplicated Project, they also change in your original. A Project Snapshot disconnects from all other versions. Now those Compound and Multicam clips are left untouched in the Snapshot no matter what you do in the original Project or Browser. Plus a Project Snapshot appends the word “Snapshot”, followed by the time and date it was created, to its original name.

Figure 8


Through Edit And Audio J/L Rolling

Another great timesaver is enhanced Through Edits. This is where a single clip is cut in the middle, thus nothing changes in the action from one side of the edit point to the other. In 10.1 these appear as a dotted line on the clip, indicating a Through Edit. To easily remove this Through Edit, simply click that edit point to highlight it as either a ripple or roll edit. Then hit your Delete key, poof, gone!

Figure 9


Also, when working with J and L cuts containing audio, I normally double-click the audio portion of two clips to expand them in order to create J or L cuts. I can now use the Trim (T) tool to to roll that audio J or L edit point. I can also use the Blade tool to cut inside of the J or L edit’s overlapping range to cut that segment out.

Figure 10


Other Enhancements

Due to limited space, I can only cover so much, so I’ll list the other enhancements here. Look for future articles to cover some of these individually in more detail.

  •  Optimized playback and rendering using dual GPUs in the new Mac Pro.
  •  Video monitoring up to 4K via Thunderbolt 2 and HDMI on select Mac computers. 
  •  4K content including titles, transitions, and generators. 
  •  The timeline playhead shows a dot indicating the uppermost clip in a timeline.
  •  Audio fade handles on individual audio channels in the timeline. 
  •  Native support for .MTS and .MT2S files from AVCHD cameras. 
  •  Improved image stabilization with InertiaCam and Tripod mode. 
  •  Import photos from iOS devices.
  •  Proxy and playback quality controls accessible in Viewer menu. 
  •  Improved support for growing media and edit while ingest.
  •  Share directly to YouTube at 4K resolution and to Chinese video sites Youku and Tudou.
  •  Support for portrait/landscape metadata in still images. 
  •  Effects parameters, fonts, and text size included in XML metadata. 
  •  FxPlug 3 with custom plug-in interfaces.


Audio I/O Find

I have found an undocumented improvement in FCP X concerning audio I/O interfaces. If FCP X is already opened, and I switch on my audio I/O, it will recognize it without a re-launch. I only have to close and reopen the Audio Recording window. Before when I powered up my MA-200 mic and Firestudio Project I/O box, I had to quit and re-launch FCP X before it would recognize it. No longer! I just power it up, open the Audio Record window, and I’m ready to record. It also remembers the last setting, too. In my case, Channel 2, mono, my voice over setup.


Conclusion

This is a pretty nice feature upgrade to Final Cut Pro X, and really starts to show how and why this is “possibly the most powerful editing tool ever built” (Michael Cioni, CEO Light Iron). The new Library paradigm is a game changer, to be sure, further advancing FCP X as having the most powerful built-in asset management around. The new Used Clip tagging system is really slick. Project Snapshots are fantastic for fast, easy versioning. The additional speed tools are faster, more flexible, and easier. FCP X 10.1 will now give even more speed, ease of use, flexibility, and creative options to editors. Users can now spend much more time being creative, and less time being an engineer. Apple’s FCP X development team have definitely knocked this one out of the ball park. This update is available via the App Store for free.

Learn more with macProVideo.com Final Cut Pro X 10.1 video courses here.

Check out our Final Cut Pro: Get Started Now! course!

Ben Balser

Ben Balser | Articles by this author

Ben Balser studied educational psychology at Loyola University, and after retiring from a 20+ year IT career, now produces, consults, teaches, and rents equipment for media production as a full time job. As an Apple Certified Master Trainer, he ran the Louisiana Cajun Cutters FCP user group for 8 years, taught post-production at Louisiana State University and has lead their annual teen filmmaking bootcamp. He teaches currently for AATC facilities across the USA and for The Orchard Solutions. He has consulted for higher education, government, broadcast and private production facilities.

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