Apple Final Cut Pro X review

Price when reviewed

Keyframe animation envelopes now appear on the timeline rather than next to the effects editors, which makes some sense. However, full Bézier curve control is another casualty of progress. It’s possible to choose a linear path or to ease in and out between keyframes, but there are no Bézier handles to define the precise trajectory. There are Bézier controls for animating the position of clips for picture-in-picture effects, but only for position, not for speed.

Apple Final Cut Pro X

The titles templates look extremely smart. Anything more than changing the text requires a trip to Motion, but at least editing titles in isolation isn’t as confusing as it is for effects. However, it’s annoying that titles can’t be sent to Motion directly from the timeline. Instead, we had to find the template again in the Titles browser, edit it and reimport it to the timeline. The Replace command meant we didn’t have to type in the text again, but it didn’t preserve the effects we’d applied to the original clip.

Apple makes grand claims about this version’s improved performance. We tested on an iMac with a Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz and 2GB RAM, which only just meets the software’s minimum requirements. It’s little surprise, then, that the interface was lethargic and previews stumbled badly when playing back anything more than a single 1080p AVC clip. We installed Premiere Pro 5.5 on the same computer and its preview performance was no better, but it was much more responsive to user input. We can’t say for sure how that will change of a cutting-edge Mac. Background rendering worked well, though, automatically using idle processor cycles to cache complex sections of the timeline.

The buying decision

If we ignore Final Cut Pro 7 and take Final Cut Pro X on its own terms, there’s a lot to like. Colour grading is excellent, some of the timeline innovations are genuinely useful and designing animations in Motion is a joyful experience. However, it very much feels like version one, with lots of kinks still to be ironed out, and Apple’s my-way-or-the-highway attitude is deeply patronising. It’s a strong product for Mac owners who have grown out of iMovie, but it isn’t as sophisticated as Premiere Pro or as elegant as Vegas Pro.

Ultimately, though, Final Cut Pro X’s strengths – now or in the future – won’t matter much to those who have had their confidence knocked by this dramatic upheaval for existing users. Change can be unsettling, but when that change involves the disappearance of features on which your livelihood depends, it’s a different matter.

Perhaps the missing features are only a temporary blip in the transition to 64-bit code; on the evidence, however, we doubt it. Final Cut Pro X can import iMovie projects but not Final Cut Pro 7 projects. It can upload directly to Facebook but not export an Edit Decision List (EDL) or even a properly authored DVD.

Apple’s vague, tardy reassurances to professional users suggest that it really has lost interest in them, and wants to concentrate on consumers. Picking editing software from a company that’s on this trajectory seems risky.


Software subcategoryVideo editing software

Operating system support

Operating system Mac OS X supported?yes

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