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August 17, 2011

By Scott Simmons, Studio Daily


 

We’ve all been following the Final Cut Pro X saga since its release back in June. And we’ve all read about those many big things that FCPX seems to be missing … like XML in and out, third-party hardware support and the inability to import old FCP7 projects. But one thing that I’ve found after using FCPX for around two months now is there are a lot of little things that I’ve come to enjoy as an FCP7 user that didn’t make their way into FCPX.

Oliver Peters recently posted a list of just such things (over at his excellent editing and post-production blog) called FCPX road blocks. That list has a lot of little things that have been on my list, including no copy-and-paste of attributes, no audio mixer and no timecode overlays, just to name a few. I think his list will hit home for many seasoned editors who have taken the FCPX plunge. I’ll add a few more to his list of FCPX road blocks.

Only nine keyword shortcut slots. One of FCPX’s strongest new features is keywording to organize and manage media. There are also keyword shortcuts where you can assign a keyword to a clip or clip range with a keystroke. You can see this in the Keyword Editor:

Unfortunately, there are only nine slots to fill since the keyword manager doesn’t refresh with each new project opened. This decision was probably made since media is no longer associated with individual projects, but since most work will still be done like it always has been, via project (or timeline in FCPX), it would be nice to have more than nine assignable keyword shortcuts.

No way to skim clips in the iTunes browser. It’s probably debatable if a “professional” application really needs built-in iTunes and iPhoto browsers but there they are. I could find myself using the iTunes browser on occasion, because depending on the project I’ll use iTunes to organize audio files.

What’s frustrating about its FCPX implementation is there’s no way to scrub and skim the tracks you’re auditioning through the iTunes browser. This is really needed when searching out sound effects and stock music as you often don’t know how the track goes. Who wants to listen to the whole clip just to get an idea of what the end is like? And it’s a waste of time to have to import the clip just to preview it. FCPX is built around skimming, so if you’re going to build an iTunes browser right into the FCPX interface at least make it more usable.

Clips don’t retain IN/OUT, START/END markers. If you’ve marked the IN and OUT point of a source clip and you then click away from that clip, when you return your marks will be gone. This is most certainly a bug as there’s no real reason I can think of that a clip wouldn’t retain the marks. The generally stated “workaround” is to save those selected marks as a clip in a collection, say as a Favorite. That’s fine once or twice but to have to do this repeatedly EVERY TIME you make an IN to OUT selection, just to be sure FCPX doesn’t lose it, is a real waste of time. Plus you’ve then got the extra step of always labeling that new favorite each time you save one, plus you’ll have to sort through them all as the project grows. FCPX should retain source IN to OUT marks until you clear them yourself.

Video scopes don’t remember the last selection. Speaking of a waste of time, video scopes default to an RGB Overlay histogram. I almost always start out with an RGB Parade waveform. I always have to take time to choose this setting in the very nice FCPX video scopes after opening the scopes window. Plus it’s two steps, as you have to choose both the display and channels. But I often close the window to get more screen real estate back since FCPX doesn’t allow for custom window layouts.

What happens when I hit command + 7 to open the scopes again? They’ve reverted back to RGB Overlay histogram. But then again, the last time I quit FCPX with the RGB Parade open I booted it up later and the Luma Waveform was up by default, so who knows what the video scopes behavior really is? At least in FCP7 it seems to default to the four-up scope view. And it really would be nice to be able to see more than one scope at a time, like in FCP7.

Overwriting seems to be discouraged. Performing an overwrite edit seems to be discouraged. It’s not listed in the interface as a button, though overwrite does have a default keyboard command (d) and is under the Edit menu.

But making an overwrite isn’t the easiest thing. For anything other than the Primary Storyline (such as a Secondary Storyline) you have to make a deliberate Range selection to mark an IN to OUT to overwrite to. That’s not so bad, I guess — but what you can’t do is overwrite a connected clip. I’ve found that often I don’t want an entire connected clip as I refine an edit. In fact, I want to replace part of a connected clip, but you can’t just overwrite part of a connected clip and make a new one. It’s a multi-step process to make a new connected clip and then trim out or delete what you don’t want of the old connected clip. That could be accomplished in fewer steps if you could just overwrite parts of a connected clip. In fact you can select an IN to OUT range on a connected clip but performing an overwrite will place the new clip in the Primary Storyline but use the connected clip’s IN to OUT as its range.

Skimmer/playhead doesn’t return to the undo point. This might just be me, but when I perform on UNDO I like it for the playhead to adjust back to that edit point that is being undone. More than likely I’m wanting to work on the edit that I just “un-did.” In both Final Cut Pro 7 and Avid Media Composer the playhead usually jumps back to the point of undo (depending on what you were undoing) which makes it very easy to get back to work on that edit point. It seems like I’m searching out the “un-done” edit point in FCPX all the time where I don’t in Media Composer and FCP7.

No live timeline scrolling. As modern as FCPX seems, what with its ability to continue playback while actually working in the timeline, you would think FCPX would be able to do what Media Composer and Adobe Premiere Pro can do: either scroll the timeline behind the playhead or jump down the timeline page by page during playback so as not to lose the playhead. I would have thought for sure that feature would have made it in to FCPX. I’m also quite surprised that when you stop playback the timeline doesn’t adjust to the playhead. Without a mini-timeline under the Viewer, it’s often hard to judge just where in the timeline the playhead is.

And don’t forget to read Oliver Peter’s FCPX roadblocks if you haven’t already. These were just a few of the little things I’m missing in FCPX. What are some of yours?

 

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