Final Cut Pro- The Underated Underdog

turned on flat screen compute monitor on gray desk


Everything I’m about to say is my own opinion and experience. I’m not being paid to say this, and at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter what you NLE you decide to use. Because it’s only a tool. It always will be. The power to make a great edit is accomplished only by oneself.


I’ve been making videos for about 6 years now. I started in high school like most filmmakers. I took a multimedia class in high school and learned to edit using Adobe Premiere Pro. I quickly fell in love! I was all about that adobe life. The only downfall was I couldn’t bring myself to buy the software and I wasn’t ballsy enough to download the software.

So when the class ended my real progress in editing ended. What was worse, my progress in filmmaking greatly diminished. At the time, I started nerding out and got involved in the linux community. Which was great at the time. I learned about open source and how great it was to get free software. I eventually found kdenlive. The software is pretty solid and it’s a great free alternative.

The issues I ran into wasn’t the software but the drivers required to get my camera at the time to connect. So I had a lot footage but never the ability to edit it.

Flash forward, I get back from a LDS mission and I knew I wanted to make videos. So I declared myself as a digital media major and started taking the required class. The professor is a FCPX user and so he had us learn that. I had just bought a MacBook pro and didn’t want to be tied to the school to edit my videos. So I decided to do the free trial, once that free trial was about to end it asked me if I’d like to buy it.

I stopped what I was doing and looked at my bank account and I had enough to do it. I sat there wondering if it was worth it. I realized it was 300 bucks and I had nothing to loose and much to gain.

I’ve never looked back.

My Favorite Features

In order to keep this from being a giant and very lengthy post. I’m going to be breaking it up into a series of posts. Ranging from top features, tips and tricks, and workflows. All of which will be in the coming weeks/months.

But for today, I’ll just talk about the three tops features that I love about FCPx. Shall we get started?

The Magnetic Timeline

This is probably the most popular feature of almost all FCPx users. Why? Because once you use it and it clicks. You don’t EVER want to go back to tracks. You see the magnetic timeline creates this workflow of editing clips as clips. Into making it an actually mold-able story line. Before the magnetic timeline, you would have to select everything to the right and then move it all over and insert your clip. Or when you decide that a section isn’t working and you need to change it. Moving everything becomes a whole process in and of itself.

With the magnetic timeline, you can drag things around insert things and delete things and just move on. I don’t have to worry about moving anything over. If I want to move a segment that has b-roll or sound connected to it. If I want to change its location in the story I can just pick up the edit and everything that is connected to it is attached to it. Timing isn’t changed. Need to do a J or L cut? No worries if you have a clip that you’ve recorded audio with its automatically connected and instead of disconnecting it you can just expand the audio from the video and you are good to go! Clean and simple. (granted if for whatever reason you wanted to disconnect the audio you can do that too.)

What’s even better is that you’re not tied down to one magnetic timeline. Let’s say you have a set of b-roll that you are cutting to an action in the scene, or you have a few cutaway shots that might be a flashback or something. You bring in all the b-roll and then highlight it. Hit command+G and get a secondary story line. Which places all those clips in a container that acts as a magnetic timeline. You can add b-roll or remove b-roll even trim it and it’ll all stick together. It’s really quite beautiful.

The Interface

I can’t tell you  the times I’ve heard people call Final Cut, iMovie pro

So original! You see people hate on it because they don’t understand how to use it. You see they made everything modular. Everything can be hidden or pulled up with just a quick press of its key command. 

You see from the ingest of footage to the export of the product. Final Cut lets you just get into what we, as video editors, want to do. EDIT. From sifting through your dailies, keywording them and organizing them into smart collections. To favoriting the best of each clip. To dropping it down into your magnetic timeline and really get into the storytelling of the video by quickly closing out the library and browser panel and just having the playback window and the magnetic timeline. 

Do I want that montage in the middle, close to the end or the beginning?  No need to hesitate just go for it, find what works best for the story. 

I just want to add all the graphics and titles quickly, and get to bed!  Never fear with the quick access to the title menu you can find something that fits and then customize it. If that doesn’t work there are plenty of third party packages that are elegant, robust, and cheap. If you’re on the creative side. Create whole themes with intros, lower thirds, and so much more in motion and have it published in FCPx.  

Plus having the ability to make sweet looking 3D titles write in Final Cut without having to go to after effects or even motion. Brings a whole slew of goodies. 

You are ready to do your final touches to your movie so you open up the inspector. Get down into the nitty-gritty with that bad boy. Managing all of your color grading and audio effects in that powerful panel. 

Once you’re finished export it out to any format needed with Final Cuts great exporter. The Best part is that there is no rendering. Why? Well, it’s because Final Cut does it while you are watching things over. Thinking about what you want to do. Pausing for that snack break, or better yet while you’re searching premium beat or epidemic sound for that perfect track.  

Then you repeat. 

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