Apple attempts to quell Final Cut Pro X anger

Apple has responded to vociferous complaints voiced by professional film makers over the release of Final Cut Pro X, the latest version of the company's industry-standard video-editing package.

As we reported yesterday, a large number of Final Cut users have protested at the company's decision to release a version of the popular media manipulation package which seems to pander to casual users at the expense of some seemingly essential features.

The £180 package, which will eventually replace Final Cut Pro 7, for many the de factor standard for broadcast video editors, has been derided by many as a 'prosumer' product rather than a truly professional release.

Following the storm, Apple provided some answers intended to dispel at least some of the disquiet, although we suspect many will still be disappointed by the app's shortcomings even after promised updates have been put in place.

One of the biggest bugbears is FCPX's inability to import existing projects created in the previous incarnation of the app, the £800-plus Final Cut Pro 7.

Apple says that, because Final Cut Pro X includes new project architecture structured around a trackless timeline and connected clips as well as redesigned audio effects, video effects, and colour grading tools, there is no way to 'translate' existing projects without losing data.

Amazingly, the company's best solution to anyone wishing to continue working on their FCP7 projects is to continue using FCP7. This will be cold comfort to anyone who has just splashed out £180 on the new version.

Many users complained that the new software isn't able to support direct import from their cameras and Apple has now provided a full list of hardware, including many AVCHD and DSLR cameras, which is currently supported. The list will continue to grow as manufacturers update their import plug-ins to cope with the software's 64-bit architecture and Apple says users should use their camera's own software to convert video in the meantime.

Those using tape-based workflows may remain aggrieved as Apple says FCPX was designed specifically to work with file-based systems and will not support all of the tape capture and output features built into FCP7. It does, however, support FireWire import for DV, DVCPRO, DVCPRO 50, DVCPRO HD, and HDV hardware.

Apple also points out that companies like AJA and Black Magic offer free deck control software to allow capture and output to tape and others are sure to follow.

Those hoping for multicam editing might have a bit of a wait on their hands. Apple says that the popular feature included in FCP7 will be included in a future release but that it's not likely to happen until next year.

Until then, Apple says: "Final Cut Pro X offers some basic support with automatic clip synchronisation, which allows you to sync multiple video and audio clips using audio waveforms, creating a Compound Clip that can be used for simple multicam workflows."

Editors have also complained about the software's inability to support additional monitors but Apple is putting that down to manufacturers who have yet to supply drivers for their own kit. AJA is one of the first to post beta drivers for its Kona card and others are set to follow shortly.

The FAQ also answers queries about keyboard short-cuts: some of them have been changed from FCP7 but you can customise the keyboard any way you like - Media management: scratch disks and media files can be stored anywhere you like, not just on the System drive - and project sharing: options for duplicating, moving, and consolidating projects and associated media to streamline sharing between editors are included according to the latest out of Cupertino.

Although XML export is currently not supported, Apple says it expects to add it at some undefined future date and will release the relevant APIs to third aprty developers in the next few weeks so that they can create tools to support OMF, AAF, EDL, and other exchange formats.

In the meantime, Automatic Duck Pro Export FCP 5.0 allows OMF and AAF export and is available here.

For those with questions about volume licensing, Apple says Final Cut Pro X, Motion 5, and Compressor 4 will be available in quantities of 20 or more for commercial and educational users though pricing and timing were not specified. The software will be downloaded from the Mac App Store via a redemption code.

It remains to be seen whether any of this will placate the increasingly passionate outpourings of those who think they have been hobbled by the release of Final Cut Pro X, or the death of Final Cut Pro 7, but we suspect that time - and some judicious updates - will heal many wounds eventually.

For those thinking of taking the plunge, but put off by all of the media kerfuffle, here's a video of three people who had access to an early release of FCPX having a sane discussion about its benefits and shortcomings. It's all very Apple friendly, and at two hours a bit long [cough! Ed.], but worth a gander all the same.