Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Final Cut Pro X: Only for the latest and greatest

Though I bought Final Cut Pro X on the day of release, I have to admit that I haven't really done much with it since. I spent a little time experimenting with the new features (particularly editing DSLR footage without first transcoding) when I first installed it, and while it was interesting, I found it a bit disorienting. After that initial playing, each time a project came up I ended up editing it in Final Cut Pro 7 or Premiere Pro. Mostly it's an issue of familiarity and comfort; I know I can get it done in FCP 7, and how long it will take. Why risk using something else when you have a deadline?

But yesterday I wanted to edit together a demo reel, and I wasn't in a hurry. And I thought it would be a great experiment to actually edit a real project in Final Cut Pro X because there was a mix of formats, and the editing was very simple.

And after spending the afternoon playing with Final Cut Pro X I've come to the following conclusion: it might be okay on the latest Mac, but on my three year old MacBook Pro running Snow Leopard it's a dog!

I imported the eight clips into the project and tried to start editing right away (not letting it complete it's background rendering) and found that:

  • Performance was slow and jerky. Trying to select clips and drag them into the Project was close to excruciating.
  • It dragged down the performance of everything else. When I interrupted editing to go do something else on the computer, the whole machine ran incredibly slowly. This was a continuing problem during the entire exercise
  • The Share Export option is unbelievably slow: Finally getting the edit done, I tried to use the Share option to export the six minute final movie. Big mistake. Close to three hours later it was still going. I ended up quitting that and just exporting the movie at the resolution of the timeline, then recompressing in another app.

Now yes, I'm running this on an older MacBook Pro running Snow Leopard with 4GB of memory. Not exactly the latest and greatest. But if Final Cut Pro X isn't supposed to be a Pro app (as some claim) then why does it need a Pro machine to get halfway decent performance?! And this was a tiny project with very few clips or edits.

In conclusion, until I upgrade my machine, I'm going to have to leave Final Cut Pro X alone.

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