Kicking the Tires on Final Cut Pro X 10.1
The update is new, big, fast and free. Still missing stuff.
By Scott Simmons | December 20, 2013
Thursday was the big day that Apple Final Cut Pro X users have been waiting for for quite a while as FCPX 10.1 was released into the world … for free. I had been waiting for it to so after a rather painless update process, first to OSX Mavericks then to FCPX 10.1, I was up and rolling the morning of the release for a couple of days of editing. I wouldn’t call this update Earth-shaking, though there are some very welcome changes. But I wouldn’t call it inconsequential either because if you’re working with FCPX you going to want to be on 10.1 … without a doubt.
This article won’t be a bullet-point repost all the new features. There’s plenty of articles doing just that, like this one on PVC by Ripple Training’s Mark Spencer. There’s the usual group of folks who got early access to the release and posted morning-of articles and they are all good reads and views. I’m going to do what I usually do on my Kicking the Tires articles, talk about my experience using the new version and what I noticed along the way.
The update was pretty seamless. The best part about it was I didn’t have to charge-up my iTunes account as this update to FCPX 10.1 was free. Though no one knew how Apple would handle a paid upgrade via the Mac App Store (other than change their own rules) I think most everyone expected the upgrade to cost something. But since Apple is giving away lots of software these days why should the FCPX (and the Motion and Compressor updates) be any different!
There's a lot more bullet points under that More link.
What they aren’t giving away is the new Mac Pro which also came online for ordering but won’t ship until February at the time of this writing. Yes they start at $3,000 but it’s easy to hit $10,000.
That would be a nice machine for sure but a lot less will probably get you something a lot faster than the old Mac Pro you’re currently using. Me too.
I still have my good old faithful Mac Pro running at 2.66 GHz with an Nvidia Quadro 4000 GPU. Not the fastest thing out there but it gets the job done. While it runs FCPX well it certainly isn’t as fast running it as a new iMac or Macbook Pro might be. I had doubts as to whether FCPX 10.1 would really be all that usable on this Mac Pro since the featured headline is “4K Powerhouse.” I cloned everything so I could roll back to my old install if need be. Boy was I pleasantly surprised (I hope I didn’t just jinx it).
Upon Launching FCPX 10.1
FCPX 10.1 jettisons the whole separate Project / timeline idea in that Projects used to live in their own world and all load up at once. This is a good thing so more on that in a second. What is introduced is the FCPX Library. Libraries manage both Events (and therefore media) as well as projects/timelines. This is good for all things media management and Apple has published a white paper on this subject (pdf link). You have to update your old FCPX Events and Projects so I did just one for the edit at hand. The now free Event Manager X helped with that.
That Event update took seconds and all looked good. But then I saw this new red line in the timeline I had never seen before.
That was a new color on top of the timeline. Looking at the clip below reveals why … no media in that clip.
That red line meant that media was missing. That media was all of the B-cam angles in the multicam clips I had cut into the timeline. This was quite strange as there was nothing weird about those clips as they were Canon 5D originated just like the A-cam. For some reason they were all showing up with the B-cam missing. I hate to lead the article with this rather bad news but it’s the first thing that happened and the first thing I had to fix before I could go to work editing.
All through the edit this was what my B-cam was showing.
I thought that might be unique to only the multicam clips but finding the master clips in the Event showed the same thing, all of those clips were missing.
I’m not real sure why that Compound Clip looking icon showed up instead of my media.
Maybe a force Relink would get them back? That presented this error:
So much for the relink idea.
I solved this problem by reimporting all of the B-cam media and manually re-editing them into the Multicam clips via the Open in Angle Editor option. It wasn’t that big of a deal since there were only 10 clips and the re-edit into the multicam clips populated all of the fixes into the edit. But it’s certainly something to be aware of.
Other than that little snafu it was mostly smooth sailing. It did take me a second to find my timelines as those were placed into an Event called Updated Projects.
Upon finding my edits the greatest thing about FCPX 10.1 was revealed.
Boy when I found them was I happy as that brings us to one of the best things about the update.
My Favorite Feature: Proper Project Management
One of the weirdest things about the early FCPX design was the whole Project / timeline implementation. Managing them was clunky, they all had to load up in some form (unless you manually hid them) and making a version of an edit was a much bigger pain than it should have been. This how now been fixed.
Projects / timelines are like edit sequences of old … in an Event where they can be moved from Event to Event and a double-click will open them up. Pretty simple really but this is how it should be.
There’s 5 versions of an edit, all created with a keystroke. I'm not sure what I did with Cut01.
Removing the “Project” from being its standalone, isolated world means versions can be created quickly and with ease, something that wasn’t possible in older versions of FCPX as you had to back out of the timeline, right click to duplicate and basically wait.
Duplicating now has dedicated keyboard shortcuts.
Duplicate will do just that, duplicate the timeline while you are working in it. This will give you a new Project / timeline with a new number at the end. Duplicate as Snapshot will create a time-stamped version of an edit. I’ll often have 10, 20, 50 versions of a cut so this “snapshot” feature is very nice. A “snapshot” is just a version of an edit. Why Apple still feels the need to change these terms we’ve used forever is anyone’s guess. I’ve never called an alternate cut or backup of an edit sequence a snapshot and I’ve never heard anyone else call it that either. You want to load a snapshot? Double click it. All those timeline names can be changed as well.
While we're talking about Snapshots ... this message via Twitter adds some additional info about them. I haven't tested that but it makes more sense why it could be called a "snapshot" and it's good info to know. That's probably somewhere in the updated help!
I can see myself beginning an edit and always using the Duplicate as Snapshot when I want to create a new version or make a big change. That way I always have that last version before the change and I don’t have to open up a new timeline or change an edit name to add a “cut 02” to the end. Adobe please take note of this for Premiere Pro. Avid has always made it easy to make a version in Media Composer.
And Back to Those New Libraries
While the whole change in Project / timeline management is my favorite change it’s the addition of Libraries that is probably most significant. This follows what has happened in Aperture and iMovie. All media Events, timelines and keyword collections now live in a Library. New Libraries can be created from the File menu with media imported directly to a Library. All old FCPX Events and Projects have to be updated to an FCPX 10.1 Library. When creating a Library you’ll then have a corresponding package that exists on your hard drive. This is a new thing.
You can see that each new Library is a thing that actually exists on disk. It’s not a folder but rather a package. A double+click will launch FCPX so you have to show package contents to get into the thing. But you shouldn’t ever really need to go into a Library I wouldn’t think. The other folders above are all left over from the old FCPX Events and Projects. There are many I haven't updated yet.
It’s going to take me some time to really explore how best to use Libraries. An Apple FAQ on them will help. Being able to open and close a Library at will negates the need for a tool like the must-have utility of old Event Manager X as Events and Projects no longer have to be managed at the Mac Finder level. This is another example of Apple taking a step back from their original design and this is a good thing. There was some fundamental things wrong with that early approach to Event and Project management. While it might have worked on a small level or editing personal projects the early FCPX didn’t scale up well to lots of large projects. This new design will.
Libraries will make it easy to manage and move media if you so choose. If you elect to Copy Files into to a Library then you can grab that library off a hard drive and easily move it to another.
The Media Import options are mostly the same as before but they have been tweaked a bit with the addition of Libraries.
You have to be aware of what’s going into a Library as they can really balloon in size since they can contain media, all your current Project version data, backups, transcodes and renders (among other things). If you opt to create Proxy or Optimized media that will go into the Library as well no matter where your original media lives. Some good holiday reading is going to be that Managing Media with Final Cut Pro X Libraries pdf.
You can see there’s lot of stuff in a Library. Overall the file size might not be too huge if you don’t have a lot of media and renders. This Library is large as I created both High Quality Media and Proxy Media so it’s over 300 GB. Depending on your source media you don’t have to do that. As you change things in the edit (lke changing a Project name or creating a Snapshot) those things often happen right there in the Library.
I’ll probably still elect to leave my media in its original destination as I have a media drive management scheme that works well for me thanks to Post Haste. But this new Library should, in theory, make backup and archiving easy. Archive my Post Haste-created project folder and the FCPX Library folder and done. Someone, right now somewhere in the world, is creating (or updating) a utility to backup those Libraries for you. But FCPX 10.1 can do some backing up on its own.
Backups are a good thing. and you can choose to backup libraries in the General Preferences. I have chosen a custom location.
I don't know what all the internal backup option is backing up as the file are small so it doesn’t seem to be backing up renders and transcoded media. That white paper probably talks about this.
And what happens if you try to edit media from one Library into a Project in another?
It’s worth nothing that when you update old Event or Project to FCPX 10.1 there is an option save those old ones. They go into a folder called Drive-Name Old Final Cut Projects and Events. This is nice for safekeeping as you migrate to this new FCPX.
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