FCPX 10.4 Preview - Hope Or Hype

FCPX 10.4 Preview - The Good & The Bad

On October 27, 2017 at the Final Cut Pro Creative Summit in Cupertino, CA Apple gave a preview of Final Cut Pro X 10.4. I was not there, but have gathered a lot of information from other online posts, and from a couple of friends who were there. It was a good news/bad news event. I’ll reflect upon it in this blog post, as there seems to be a large portion of FCPX users who are baffled by this update and the direction the FCPX dev team seems to be taking (the opposite of immediate legal, legitimate needs and towards fun-toys).

So Apple showed off new color grading tools and new 360 video tools. Great! This post may get a tad negative for some, but what I’m contemplating here is the truth.

“Let The Whining Begin!”
Charlie” has posted a blog entry labeling everyone who has an opposing (negative) reaction to this update as whinners. I’m sorry, it is childish to attack folks with legitimate concerns as whiners. He cherry picks instances and twists facts in a lame, overly emotional attempt to degrade people for no other reason that that they disagree with his personal opinion. I’ve not read any post anywhere accusing Apple of stealing anything, but I and others do have real-world concerns about the vital needs being ignored by Apple. Any one publishing substantial work is required BY LAW to embed closed captioning and audio compression and limiting, and Apple 100% has ignored these tools in FCPX, which all other NLE’s have. THAT is not an opinion, that is us professionals trying to adhere to the LAW. This after Tim Cook has made big speeches about macOS supporting the handicapped and such. So Charlie, we don’t need you’re childish drool telling us we’re whiners, when we have legitimate concerns. Please understand the world is larger than just you and your obviously paranoid-fanboy, blinders-on, childishly-emotional accusations.

HDR Is Great
The new HDR and related codec in the new High Sierra macOS are great. Love that we have them! Now all applications on a Mac can access these. So that’s not an FCPX specific thing, but glad to have it. Will FCPX and Compressor be able to export this material with a proper codec? I hope so!

Color Grading
Apple always puts on a good show, and there is always something behind it they don’t want to dwell publicly on. This preview of FCPX 10.4 was no different. The new color grading tools look fantastic. But we have already paid good money for those functions with Color Finale Pro and Chromatic. So they’re re-inventing the wheel here. Plus going back to color wheels which they said were out of date and the color board was superior to, when FCPX was first launched. Yes, I saw demos where they said this literally. I always hated the severe limitations and misleading visual of the color board.

When I pull down into negative blue, that means I’m “removing blue”, correct? Well, then my image gets overwhelmed with a different color at the same time. What color is that? It is the complimentary color, as a color wheel shows you clearly. Curves, that takes 6 years to develop? And most of us have already spent money on these features (plus tracking if you purchased Chromatic), plus those gave us control panel support.

So with color grading, FCPX is VERY late to the game, after we spent money obtaining it from 3rd parties. NEW users from this point forward will benefit, but the rest of us are now scratching our heads and asking some questions.

Color wheels, curves, white balance, and an eye dropper that works in amazing ways will be nice to have, but color grading limitations haven’t held me back with my FCPX work nearly as much as a complete lack of mixing/mastering audio tools and real collaboration tools.

360 VR Video
Even “I” purchased a 360 cam to play with (Insta360 ONE). I have a couple of specific, unusual projects it may or may not help out with, if FCPX really will support the H.264 360 video format the camera exports. But if the support isn’t there, those tools inside FCPX won’t help me. And that’s first the issue with native 360, compatibility. How compatible with the majority of 360 cameras be with FCPX? Another issue is that you can ONLY view it online or on a computer or mobile device, not a movie screen, not a TV set. This is a niche video format with a niche application in the real world. Nice to have, but it took time and resources to develop. What about actual VITAL missing functionality we have been needing since day one?

Collaboration, Audio Mixing/Mastering, Flattened Multicams?
These are three functions that are really much more vital than duplicating color grading tools we already purchased, and giving us 360 video that will never be seen in broadcast or in films, but only on your smart phone or YouTube.

The current way to work with serous, professional audio with FCPX is to do an XML round trip to Logic Pro X or ProTools. LPX is clumsy, won’t bring over everything, has bugs, and duplicates media (IMHO needlessly). ProTools requires you purchase X2Pro to achieve that function, can be tricky, and duplicates media. I honestly think DaVinci Resolve got this right and is moving in the best direction.

There is no seriously smooth collaboration solution. Every NLE has this functionality built-in except FCPX. To really collaborate properly you have to rely on FCPXML which won’t carry most 3rd party plug-in information over, and won’t even carry all native FCPX functions over without bugs. The lack in this department is glaring, but I guess 360 video has a higher priority for Apple than audio mixing/mastering or collaboration tools.

Where Credit Is Do?
I did not attend the Creative Summit this year for just these reasons. The exact same group of elitist fanboys preaching to the choir and Apple gets to ignore vital functions as it gets covered by the hype. I see 360 as limited in real world application, and the new built-in color tools as way too late to the game, and the lack of professional audio tools, professional collaboration tools, and being able to collapse a multicam as very sad.

I will give credit that these new color and 360 functions are impressive. Very impressive indeed! But at what cost? If Final Cut is going to really make inroads to the professional market, as I feel it still needs to do much more of, then Apple needs to look at the reality of the big picture. I’ve no clue how 360 takes priority over anything else at all. I’d rather Motion support 3D object files than have 360 video. THAT would help me generate paying work for broadcast, film and corporate clients infinitely more than 360 video ever will.

So hats off to Apple for making some really great new functions in FCPX 10.4, but were they the right functions to focus on at this time? They’re “fun” but not nearly as vital as other functions that are much more desperately needed by way more editors.

High Sierra Compatibility
Apple has a document on their web page stating that the pro apps as are currently, are fully compatible with High Sierra. And yet the reality is that there are serious issues running pro apps on HS, which are being posted on forums all over the place. 10.4 should fix all of those issues first and foremost. We should have had an incremental update already to address those issues, not a lie about compatibility then a major upgrade preview showing what we already paid for and what we don’t really need immediately.

Right Enthusiasm, Wrong Focus, Right Aesthetic, Wrong Direction
I love FCPX, I love Apple products, been using them for ever, but…
Lately there’s been some things that have begun to disturb me and make me question what is blind brand enthusiasm and what is the reality. This preview, IMHO, showed Apple is reinventing third party plugins rather than developing absolutely critical, necessary functions for the higher end pro market such as broadcast and film. YouTubers will flip over this stuff, but not those of us still struggling to meet deadlines with FCPX with workaround solutions we had to create ourselves.

I’m glad the pro app teams are focusing on creating new tools, and making them look and function as wonderfully as they do. But are they prioritizing what’s needed over what’s “cool”? I’m not convinced they are. Just like the pro app training program, it’s all but dead now, shrinking more and more each year. I hope and pray the pro app development team doesn’t run off in the “cool beans” direction for new functions, rather than the “we’ve needed it desperately since day one” direction. The training program got so bad they lost me. I’m hanging on with my last bit of hope the application development side of things doesn’t go the same way. New functions, coming way too slowly, and not the vital ones, gives me pause… but I’m still hoping and waiting…

In the mean time, I have TV shows on deadlines, and FCPX needs to get it together for serious pro users if I’m to continue using it for my broadcast work.

For details on the preview of FCPX 10.4 check out the
FCP.co article.