To skip to the punchline: Final Cut Pro X appears to at last do multi-camera editing, and do it right, as seen in the video posted by our friend Nilay at The Verge.

To anyone who read deep conspiracy theories into the release of Final Cut Pro X, perhaps it’s time for a gentle reminder. When building massive, complex tools, sometimes developers get it wrong – even if they happen to be Apple. Final Cut Pro was desperately in need of a rebuild, constructed as it was on deprecated, 32-bit-only libraries. That rebuild, charitably, didn’t go as smoothly as some might have hoped. Final Cut Pro X was missing critical features and adopted a user interface paradigm for editing and file management that at best required adaptation and at worst left users looking for alternatives.

But I’ll go out on a limb here and say anyone who believes Apple wanted to alienate their pro market is simply off their rocker. Now, the effect may have been to do just that, but it was unintentional.

It was also clear from the release of Final Cut Pro X that some of those features were to be added back – made even clearer when Apple representatives publicly said as much explicitly in the days following X’s release.

To put it another way: Final Cut Pro X was bold, entirely new, and just plain unfinished. Some folks out there are using it, but in its initial release, Final Cut faced stiff competition not only from rivals like Premiere, but from Apple’s own, trusted Final Cut Pro 7.

With 10.0.3, we get a first look at what a finished version of Final Cut Pro X might be like. New in this version come both features that users found sorely missing, and some new ideas that we haven’t seen in desktop Mac editors before. In brief:

  • More complete XML import/export
  • Multi-camera editing, with up to 64 cameras and independent resolution, framerate, etc.
  • Enhanced chroma-keying (especially nice, as you really don’t want to have to move over to Motion or another tool to do this)
  • Sync via audio
  • Import layered Photoshop graphics.
  • Monitoring over Thunderbolt (this starts to get really, really cool – especially on those Mac laptops

Apple seems not to be content just to add back those missing features, but to do them better than competitors’ implementations. Let us know if you’re testing 10.0.3, and we hope to do the same.

But wait — there’s more.

Reconnect media and exchange files with third-party applications using a robust relink interface. Select media that has been moved or modified, or locate clips that have been transcoded, trimmed, or color graded by third-party tools. Then easily relink to your Final Cut Pro X project or Event.

Yes, by “robust,” this really means “now actually usable.” Media relink was for me the biggest deal-breaking issue in X, causing maddening file management headaches as Apple tried, apparently, to reinvent how locating files work. I’m eager to try this particular fix more than any other.

Also, crucially, Apple is now pointing to a third-party migration tool for FCP 7 users in the App Store:

7toX for Final Cut Pro brings your Final Cut Pro 7 projects forward to Final Cut Pro X so you can use Apple’s powerful new professional editing tools to update or finish your older projects. The lightweight application is simple to use, with drag-and-drop support and progress information. 7toX translates important metadata from your Final Cut Pro 7 Project — including bins, clips and sequences — to a new Event in Final Cut Pro X with the highest fidelity of any translation application for Final Cut Pro. In addition, the application provides clear, detailed reporting after every transfer.

In a relatively rare move, Apple even has a page explaining what they’ve fixed improved:

And check out the migration tool:
7toX for Final Cut Pro

  • Juno

    These are excellent fixes to the software. But the essential problem is not fixed. For FCPX to provide internal file management it has to lock down the way that files are managed outside of the application. This requires that your computing environment be set up to work with FCPX, and when you run a large managed facility for hundreds of users like a university that's not possible. When I met with Apple about this issue they were not helpful and just said that we would have to adapt to their ideas..

    Adobe instead demonstrated that Premiere could edit video straight off the capture card from a DSLR with no need to pre-convert – a fundamental solution that FCPX cannot and will not ever provide. We also can put our files where we like, load up older FCP projects and don't have to retrain a lot of staff and students how to use magnetic snapping whatever. It's a pragmatic decision not to use FCP and something I'll review … a few years from now.

    • stldrum

      We run FCPX in a college setting for students all day long – what can't you do?

  • arvidtp

    So far in the trial relink has worked beautifully. That what was keeping my from buying until now. I might bite the bullet now and get it when my trial expires.

    FCPX still has problems playing back quicktime re-wrapped .MTS files from my camera (panasonic GH2) that weren't imported with final cut X, but i guess i can live with that.

  • deliriumdog

    If Apple was not trying to make a play for pro users, they would not have bothered adding the capacity for 64-camera multi-cam editing. That and the $10 program to migrate FCP 7 projects has convinced me to finally buy. After completing one small project in the trial software and getting past the initial learning curve, I find the advantages to be huge.

  • sleepytom

    Can we stop being silly about "pro" users? Nobody ever said that apple had lost interest in editing for schools, or for people making wedding videos. I would not call either of these groups pro users though. 

    Pro users are Broadcast production houses. People who are currently running Mac Pro systems with HDSDI monitors which cost more than their mac pros. People who are running XSAN and FCP Server. People who expect (need) their tools to work 24/7. People who've invested tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in their edit suits. 

    Apple has completely pulled out of the pro market. There is no replacement for FCP server. There is no broadcast workflow for FCPX. 

    FCPX has some interesting new ideas about how to edit, these may one day (years possibly decades away) filter up into broadcast production. More than likely they will not though, after all most TV editors i know really like the way that AVID works, and are mostly quite openly happy that FinalCut is finally dead and they can avoid having to use it in the future.