FCP 7 vs. FCP X

Apple recently introduced Final Cut Pro X onto the professional video-editing scene in June of 2011. Being a video guy, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to own FCP for a mere $300.00. Reviews of the final product were 50/50. Some professionals enjoy the easy layout and functionality of the new Final Cut, however most pointed out that “X” was just a small cut above iMovie. After a couple of months of using “X” on projects for school and work, the best way to describe FCP X is simply—iMovie on steroids.

The ability to fix Motion files that directly update themselves inside FCP 7:

Most of the projects I do involve a mix of video and motion graphics; therefore, FCP 7 is my first go-to choice. While I enjoy the simplicity of importing video files and being able to render while I edit in FCP X, there is one thing that keeps me going back to FCP 7 over and over again: the ability to edit Motion files that in turn load automatically into the Final Cut 7 timeline. Of course you need to create the Motion file first and import it into the timeline, but after that if a mistake is made you simply go back into Motion, fix the mistake, and save the file. Motion will automatically update back into the FCP 7 timeline once you have gone back into that program. The problem with “X” is that your Motion file will have to be created, exported into a .mov file, and then imported into the timeline. Once the file is imported into the timeline there is no changing it directly from Motion unless, of course, you want to go back into Motion, fix your file, and then export again, creating another .mov file.

Video files automatically playback while editing in FCP X:

Another major difference between FCP 7 and X is that you have the ability to watch your project playback while you continue to edit inside the timeline before all of your files have been rendered. Sometimes in FCP 7 you can run into the problem of having large files to render that can sometimes take anywhere from 5-15 minutes to fully render. In Final Cut Pro X you have the ability to immediately watch playback of your video before you have completely rendered all of your files. An orange line will appear above your video in the timeline (just like the red line does in FCP 7), showing you the progress of the render, however you will not have to wait for this orange line to disappear. Instead, you can immediately play the video back and watch your edits. However, if you do use a lot of transitions, video effects, etc. it will slow down the response of your playback.

The addition of transitions and effects:

One reason people can so easily compare Final Cut Pro X to iMovie is that the layouts are very similar. When choosing transitions and effects it simply is a matter of drag and drop, something Apple has made simple to do in almost every facet of their products. Both FCP 7 and X have a very simple method of adding transitions and effects. Neither come out on top in this category.

If both versions were placed in front of me and I was forced to choose, I would have to go with Final Cut Pro 7. The choice is easy for me because I am dealing with Motion files as much as I am editing in FCP. For the beginner who’s looking to just cut up some video to create short movies or documentaries then FCP X is the easy and cheap choice. When just messing around with friends and a cheap video camera, there is no reason to drop a load of cash on Final Cut 7. However, for a professional who is serious about creating professional content for clients my recommendation is FCP 7. I would also suggest buying the program dvMatte Pro for about $200. It takes green screen and chroma keying to a whole new level and Final Cut’s stock chroma keying device doesn’t even come close.

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