Final Cut Pro X Vindicated?

fcpFinal Cut Pro X has taken quite a beating since launched back in April 2011 at NAB.

The video editing industry recoiled in horror at the alleged “dumbing down” of this stalwart application. Many editors stated publicly their disgust at Apple for letting them down, many vowed to continue with Final Cut Pro 7 until they could find a suitable opportunity to jump ship with Premiere or Avid. A few took a peek and decided that it wasn’t quite ready for prime time.

The reason for this tidal wave of negativity was that Apple had taken the decision to re-write Final Cut Pro X from scratch, with a whole new take on editing.

As a consequence, many of the “Pro” features were left out of the first release, either for technical reasons or more likely because they just couldn’t manage to incorporate them for the first release. I thought I did a blog post on Final Cut Pro X when it first came out but on checking, I did a 10 minute rambling video which I’ve linked to below.

No need to view the video, but it took me back!

The ScreenCastsOnline Final Cut Pro X show I was referring to in the video was eventually published as SCOM0305, followed up by show SCOM0306 – both overdue for an update.

There was no open letter of response to the complaints from Steve Jobs. The closest we got was responses from Apple Product Managers conveyed through David Pogue.

What Apple did do though, was to continue working systematically on Final Cut Pro X and add back in the features that were missing as well as streamline and improve the application.

Check out this impressive list of updates since the original release.

Update: Since publishing this blog post, Jesús Pérez-Miranda @jesus_edits was kind enough to send me the graphic below showing the Final Cut Pro X development timeline. Click on the graphic to see the full version. Thanks Jesús

FCPX Development Timeline

Now, in February 2015, we’re at 10.1.4 and Apple have added back in the majority (all?) of the features that were left out of the initial release. They’ve also done some course corrections on some major topics such as how Final Cut Pro X handles storage, projects and media.

Suffice to say, Final Cut Pro X is now (and probably has been for the last couple of years) worthy of the title of a “Pro” application. If you need anymore convincing, check out the Final Cut Grill Podcast by Chris Fenwick – over 100 episodes of professional editors and developers giving their stories on how they’ve adopted Final Cut Pro X as their editor of choice. Overwhelmingly, most are blown away by the latest version of Final Cut Pro X and how it has been re-engineered from the ground up.

However, one group that has remained silent on Final Cut Pro X is the major Hollywood studios.

Until now.

Cursor_and_Apple_-_Final Cut Pro X_-_In_Action_-_Focus

Apple has just released a new section on the Apple web site with contributions from the directors of “Focus”  –  a traditional Hollywood big budget movie staring Will Smith, produced with Final Cut Pro X.

Well worth a read.

I find it interesting that this is now being pushed with this year’s NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) show only 7 weeks away – the start of a major push from Apple to coax back those editors that left?

Now would be a good time to stimulate some interest and seed the idea of at least revisiting Final Cut Pro X during the show.

For the first time, I’ll be able to attend the NAB show as it’s now co-located with the New Media Expo (NMX) conference so I’ll be checking out the latest video gear and will be interested to see what sort of presence Final Cut Pro X has within the show.

I’ll also be attending my first Supermeet at NAB this year too.

Whilst there will be plenty of new gear on display, I wonder if the timing will be right for Apple to announce any major new features in Final Cut Pro X?

Final Cut Pro X 10.2 anyone?

Fallen off the Blogging Wagon – Again

Back at my desk following the Christmas break and I’ve been shamed into making a blog post – Thanks Gorm!

The period leading up to Christmas is always quiet on the news front plus I tend to be working feverishly to produce the shows required to publish whilst I take some time off over.

But now Christmas is over, hopefully the news will start to flow (actually the rumours have started but no real news as yet) and I’ll be able to get back in to blogging again.

I won’t mention the fact that I want to take some time off in March so I’m already working hard again to produce a buffer of shows to publish whilst I’m offline.

It’s tough but someone has to do it!

Black Friday Weekend – ScreenCastsOnline Memberships

It’s that time of the year again and although I haven’t participated for a while, I’ve decided to offer a discounted ScreenCastsOnline Membership for the Black Friday Weekend – Link.

The offer is a 40% discount on the first period of a Quarterly or Annual ScreenCastsOnline membership for new members.

The thing that always pains me is that I have to restrict it to new members only, and can’t offer it to existing current members for renewals.

The problem I have is that most members are on auto recurring renewals and these are spread throughout the year. It would be impossible to set up a time based discount for existing members and be fair across the board. Believe me, I’ve thought long and hard on how I could accomplish this fairly.

So the only option available is that I offer a discount to new members, but just for the first membership period.

I appreciate that this might upset some existing members, but I usually try to go out of my way to keep my existing members happy. Some examples are:

  • Other than a price increase when I switched from just one Mac show per week to two shows per week (Mac and iOS), I’ve managed to not increase prices for existing members since then.
  • I also included the ScreenCastsOnline Monthly magazine subscription as a free add on for existing members when introduced.
  • I’ll also be providing regular high resolution versions of the shows in the new year, all at no cost for existing members.

So I sincerely apologise to any existing members that may be disgruntled that I can’t extend the Black Friday discount to renewals, but I think this is common practice across all membership systems and subscription services.

It goes without saying that I really appreciate the support from all of my members, and I’ll continue to try and think of other ways to make your ScreenCastsOnline membership even more valuable in the future.





Back at my Desk

Just had a wonderful few days over in Iceland where I tried to polish my photography skills. I was also fortunate to see the Northern Lights and was able to work out how to set long exposures on the Panasonic GH4.

Here’s just a single image from a set of about 20 I took.

This is untouched, straight from the camera. Here’s a link to a larger version of the image on Google+

I was blown away at how the images turned out, although I have to say, the images are more spectacular than can be seen by the naked eye. The long exposure gathers more accumulated light, so the camera images are more colourful and vibrant. When viewing with the naked eye, the lights are more muted but still very impressive.

Once I get this weeks shows sorted, I’ll spend some time tweaking the rest and publish to Flickr.

I’ll also be able to experiment with some decent 4K video footage using Final Cut Pro (not the Northern Lights, but some other spectacular Icelandic scenery).

One of the things I wanted to test out was sorting out my workflow when using the  iPhone, my iPad, my Panasonic GH4 and the new iCloud Photo Library. I wanted to use the iPad to view the photos and videos I took with the Panasonic GH4, but didn’t want everything to be sent into iCloud Photo Library. I think I came up with a sensible solution, but will leave that for another blog post!




Alternative Retina Display for Mac Pro?

As I previously mentioned, the iMac with 5K Retina Display is going back to Apple. Not because there is anything wrong with it, it’s a beautiful machine, but mainly because I wanted to keep my Mac Pro and I couldn’t justify (to myself anyway), the extra expense of a second powerful machine, just for the display.

However, once you’ve experienced a Retina display, it’s really hard to forget about it!

So in looking for possible alternatives, my eye was taken by the LG Flatron 31MU97 31″ True 4K 60Hz Professional WideScreen LED Monitor.

This is a true Cinema 4K display, with a native resolution of 4096 x 2160. The iMac 5K Retina Display is 5120 x 2880. These figures are significant.

Firstly, some words first about using these humongous resolutions in real life.

Yes, you can run these monitors at these incredible resolutions. It’s quite a buzz to play a 4K Ultra HD resolution at full size – and it looks awesome too.

However, in real life, you’re really not going to stick to these maximum resolutions, the on screen elements – menus, dialogue boxes, etc, are just too small.

The true power of these monitors is that it allows you to run in HiDPi mode, or in Apple’s parlance in Retina Mode.

In HiDPi, all the pixels available are used, but they “scale” the resolution to something more reasonable.

With a normal iMac or Apple Cinema Display, the optimum resolution for the 27” screen is 2560 x 1440. At this resolution, all the on screen elements are perfectly readable and correctly sized for the display.

With the iMac with Retina Display having exactly 4 times as many pixels as the 2560 x 1440 display, when in HiDPi mode, each point at a resolution of 2560 x 1440 is made up of exactly 4 pixels. As such, the crispness of the display needs to be seen to be believed. You can scale up the resolution and it still looks great, but the sweet spot is 2560 x 1440 HiDPi. The added benefit is that if you play 4K media it will be displayed in its true resolution.

So as the iMac was going back, I decided to throw caution to the wind and ordered the new LG Flatron 31MU97.

It arrived a couple of days ago and as the iMac isn’t going back until tomorrow, I was able to do some comparisons.

I discovered that at a certain optimal resolution, the LG Flatron 31MU97 is as eye popping as the iMac Retina.

The only problem is that the optimal resolution is 2048 x 1080 not 2560 x 1440

At 2048 x 1080, the LG also is able to use exactly 4 pixels per point making the display super crisp and gorgeous, just like the iMac display.

So what’s the problem?

2048 x 1080 HiDPi on a 31” monitor makes everything pretty damn large!

It’s usable, but realistically, you’d want a bit more screen real estate on such a large monitor.

But all is not lost, if you scale the display up to 2560 x 1350 HiDPi (same as the iMac but just slightly wider as it’s a 21:7 ratio display), it still looks pretty good.

Very good in fact.

If you’d never seen an iMac with 5K Retina Display, you’d be blown away by the quality of the LG 31MU97 at 2560 x 1350 HiDPi.

But it’s not as good as the iMac, very close, but not quite. Presumably due to the fact the scaling is not using an exact number of pixels for each point at this resolution.

Even so, I’d recommend it to anyone with a Mac Pro who wants to go with a Retina Display.  It’s still a Retina display in my eyes as you still can’t discern any visible pixels.

The LG 31MU97 is able to be driven at the full 4096 x 2160 resolution using DisplayPort rather than Thunderbolt, and it is VESA mountable. Not forgetting the fact that it’s half the price of an entry level iMac with Retina Display.

There is one issue in that the monitor is so new, the Mac Pro doesn’t appear to support the full resolution out of the box. However, due to some fantastic work by Stéphane Madru, the developer of the awesome SwitchResX, the full resolution is available by the addition of a small config file on the Mac Pro. You don’t need to purchase SwitchResX, it’s a simple text file that Stéphane has created.  This is documented over on the MacRumours forum.

So I’m a happy bunny again.

I can get my refund on the iMac and have a full blown 4K Retina display on my Mac Pro.

At least, until the next new thing comes along.