By Randi Altman
As you might have heard, Apple has updated its Final Cut Pro to version 10.1.4, with what they call “key stability improvements.”
That includes the Pro Video Formats 2.0 software update, which provides native support for importing, editing and exporting MXF files with Final Cut Pro X. While the system already supported import of MXF files from video cameras, this update extends the format support to a broader range of files and workflows.
In addition the native MXF support, there is also an option to export AVC-Intra MXF files. There are fixes for past issues with automatic library backups. It also fixes a problem where clips with certain frame rates from Canon and Sanyo cameras would not import properly. It resolves issues that could interrupt long imports when App Nap is enabled, and stabilization and rolling shutter reduction now works correctly with 240fps video.
To get a user’s view of the updates, I reached out to Evan Schechtman CTO of Radical Media (@radicalmedia) and president of Outpost Digital, an early adopter of FCP X, who also happens to call on Media Composer and Premiere — it’s all about “the right tool for the job,” he says.
So what does Schechtman think of the latest update, which he agrees is targeted at the professional? “I like the steady cadence of updates from them. They keep supporting all these emerging camera and interchange formats, and it’s a pleasure. I can’t believe how fast camera systems still change, and we are always playing with the newest stuff. This is bleeding-edge support for every modern codec out there.”
Opening up MFX support is a big deal. “So now users can work with the latest Sony and Panasonic cameras and even codecs that are really more Avid related. We love that because more than ever before you can’t standardize on any one format.”
Schechtman reports that one of the results of Final Cut 7 going away is that more pros are calling on multiple systems to get the job done. “I am using all three editing systems — Apple, Avid and Adobe — more than I ever have, whether I have a personal preference or not. We are using everything now.”
How does he pick the right tool for the job? “If it’s a multi-camera job with large frame sizes that have to play back natively, Final Cut Pro X is the winner every time,” he explains. “It offers the most horsepower to bring in the frame size, color correct, slow it down, export; it’s just the fastest. Their implementation of multi-camera — thanks to the way it runs on a black Mac — is unparalleled.”
Schechtman also likes the system’s speed in terms of turnaround. “If we are shooting on all these weird formats and codecs, I’ll jump into Final Cut X because it is super fast and works with everything natively and is really stable when doing that.”
The last three or four jobs his studio has worked on have been non-typical frame rates or and frame sizes. “I am dying to do a job in 1080p 23.98, but it’s just not my luck right now.”
Radical just finished a Nina Simone 4K feature What Happened, Miss Simone? — which will be on Netflix and going to Sundance — that was edited with Final Cut X running on the new Mac Pros using SAN and local storage. “That’s one editor working with one assistant, but we had so much media, and we really believe in the way FCP X organizes media.The key wording and the way the organizer window works, it was definitely the choice.”
If it’s a collaborative job, he says they call on Final Cut 7, Premiere or Media Composer. The biggest job Radical/Outpost has done in Premiere was a 3D Robert Redford film, part of the Cathedrals of Culture series, on the Salk Institute.
Schechtman says sometimes choice is based on what city he’s physically in. “Los Angeles is an Avid town because LA typecasts edit systems and editors. If you are in LA and doing a reality or doc-style show and not using an Avid system producers will look at you cross-eyed. New York is totally different.” And the middle of the country? A mix, he says depending on the structure of the company creating the content.
Getting back to LA being an Avid town, I brought up the fact that Kirk Baxter cut David Fincher’s Gone Girl using Premiere Pro (see our story here) . Schechtman believes that’s how change begins. “That’s the way it’s going to work — the talent in Los Angeles will be able to dictate it at a certain point. If that person is sought after and says I really want to do this project on Premiere, for example, they will. I went through that with Final Cut 7. You need a couple of people with the ‘Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval,’ and you need one David Fincher on the platform, and everyone will follow suit.”
His hope for Final Cut X? “That it doesn’t end up as the foreign exchange student system of the editing world. “I think they are just taking a slow look and a slow steady tact. It does appear that way. But in the end, it may just come down to taste for certain people.”