The next Final Cut Pro X Update
It's been 8 months since the last FCPX major feature update.
The longer FCPX editors wait, the more cool new features we expect.
It's been very quiet on the Final Cut Pro news scene recently. That makes me a bit suspicious that the elves at Apple are working hard on something special. Surely the Final Cut Pro team has a major feature update scheduled for this Holiday season. After all, it's been eight months since we got the 3D Text update in April. There have been two small bug fix/maintenence updates since then but some FCPX bugs made it through those updates and still exist.
I'm a proponent of Final Cut Pro. It is my favorite non-linear video editor available. But none of the current crop of NLEs are perfect and that includes FCPX. The Final Cut Pro Team has done a good job updating FCPX since it came out in June 2011. Final Cut Pro has some very unique and cool features, but there are still many missing features that professionals have been asking for and need. Going on five years is a long time to keep being told "We are listening to your requests" and yet many top requests from professionals remain unfulfilled.
This is not a Final Cut Pro X feature request list or a wish list (that's here), but rather a list of features I expect to see included in the next FCPX update. We could also see updates for Motion and Compressor. Maybe even an update for the two year old Mac Pro.
Here are some improvements I'm expecting in the next FCPX update.
01) Audio, audio, audio.
Audio is at least 50% of good video but FCPX hasn't paid 50% attention to it in the first 4 years. For example, where is a master volume control, busses, audio peak detection, the ability to apply a limiter outside of a clip, storyline or compound clip, effective audio mixing and keyframe recording? Whether it's a roles-based mixer or some new way of working with audio, I expect audio improvements that include features like a master and sub master volume control, effects plugin inserts, audio only fades and crossfades to multiple clips via keyboard shortcut, etc.
02) Customizable window layouts with a full window Timeline option.
Right now there is a single default window layout that you can reset with "Revert to Original Layout" under the Window menu. There should be customizable window layouts that you can save and recall like there are Keyboard Command Sets. There already is a Layouts folder so we should have multiple window layouts available. I use completely different layouts for editing in the timeline, tagging clips in the browser, multicam, color correction, etc. I'm constantly manually resizing the timeline, viewer, inspector and browser windows for different jobs. Resizing windows by dragging manually is a huge, huge timewaster. Being able to save and recall window layouts is something that everyone else has and is long overdue.
03) Remove attributes.
We can copy and paste effects and other attributes in FCPX, but they forgot the remove attributes panel.
A top request from professionals that has so far gone unfulfilled.
04) Timeline and timeline toolbar improvements.
The timeline should be optimized to be more efficient and responsive. Options for timeline markers, tools, shortcut icons, a scrolling option, source clip and project timecode and a lock clip or storyline in place command to prevent any accidental movement. Thin visual lane dividers (or a special lane for organizing clips not connected to the primary storyline like iMovie has), clip selection for copy & paste includes attached clips, batch export of individual clips or range selections, keyframable opacity bar with fade handles directly visible on a timeline video clip, etc.
There is lots of empty timeline toolbar space that could be put to good use. Logic Pro X's sophisticated timeline toolbar and ruler makes FCPX's look pretty spartan. Logic Pro X has an Advanced preference pane with multiple checkbox options. If you prefer FCPX to be simpler, you could uncheck its Advanced preferences. But professionals would have access to advanced features that they want and need.
Logic Pro X timeline toolbar and ruler area.
05) Color coding for libraries, events, clips, projects, roles, etc.
There presently is no custom color coding in FCPX while the Mac OS has color "Tags". When you have dozens of audio clips on random lanes and many projects in the browser, the ability to color code them would help immensely with visual organization and identification. Logic Pro X has customizable colors available.
06) Improved proxy workflow that includes proxy re-linking and proxy media consolidation.
Using a pure proxy workflow for offline editing, especially with 4K or higher resolution media, would be very beneficial. I've copied libraries to an external hard drive and the proxies are offline even though they were brought along and are in the exact same folder structure as the original. There is presently no re-link proxies command like there is for original media. There should also be an option to re-link cache files. And bring audio files and graphic files along with proxy files when using a proxy specific workflow.
Right now, it's an all or nothing approach when working with proxies in a project. The option to work with UHD 4K proxies, which are 1920x1080, along with 1920x1080 original or optimized media in the same timeline is due. A pop-up warning would let you know if you are using any proxy files in the timeline when you are exporting. Also a few quality and frame size options when making proxy files would be welcome.
07) Master database that keeps track of every Library that has ever been opened in FCPX.
A searchable database that would keep track of Keywords, Favorites, Notes, location, and other metadata, even when a Library was offline.
08) Compound clips expand for editing directly in the Timeline
instead of going back and forth, back and forth to yet another timeline.
09) Improved Import window media options.
Allow us to create a new Library and set media storage locations in the consolidated Import Media dialog window.
10) Allow the choice between an internal and external managed Library when creating a Library with a single checkbox like Logic Pro X has for Package or Folder. External media folder structure will be created automatically if you choose the folder option.
11) Save a Library as a Template and be able to select a Library Template from a Master Template Chooser.
You would be prompted for a location and a name, which would telegraph through to the template Events. The template would recreate Smart collections, Events, managed or external preference, media folder structure, etc. You could save multiple templates for different Library needs. This would save time from creating a Library from scratch, especially complex Libraries that you reuse on a regular basis. You can make a template Library and duplicate it in FCPX, but you still have to set Library preferences, make an external folder if using external media, and point your media and cache files to it. This would make the process automatic and easy.
12) Slip audio and video out of and back in sync without detaching audio.
Currently you can slip sync if you open the clip in its own timeline but I expect to see this ability in a project timeline clip.
Select a clip, right click and choose the sync option. Type a + or - followed by the number of frames to slip or use the < > keys to slip left or right one frame at a time. There should also be out of sync indicators for instant visual feedback and the ability to easily reattach and re-sync detached audio. A sophisticated database like FCPX's should be able to keep track of audio and video that was once synced.
13) Checkboxes to allow custom settings, such as Spatial Conform and dual mono/stereo, to be saved .
14) Project playback/scrubbing in the browser.
You can scrub a compound clip timeline and multicam clip in the browser, but not a project.
15) More attaching options like the ability to attach a clip or storyline to any other clip or storyline
or to completely disconnect and reconnect, rather than only attaching to the main storyline as FCPX does now.
16) Save, rename, make favorite and drag and drop organize customized Transitions, Effects, Generators.
There is some customized naming and saving for titles, color corrections and now effects but I'd like to organize favorite effects, titles, generators, transitions via drag and drop in the effects browser and from the timeline into customizable folders in the browser.
17) iPad Final Cut Pro X Remote app like the extensive Logic Pro X iPad Remote app.
This could include tabs for windows like a customizable palette of keyboard shortcuts, 3rd pary plugin HUDs, a large inspector window, audio & audio plugin controls, effect controls, audio roles mixer, etc.
I'm sure there will be some other surprises or "Wow" features the team will throw in the mix for the next major FCPX feature update. Hopefully we'll see it for this holiday season.
Copyright © 2015 Richard Taylor. All rights reserved.
Apple and Final Cut Pro X are registered trademarks of Apple Inc.