Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor


When I first started looking into a new edit platform for the MAC there were 2 on offer appart from FCP-7, those were Premiere Pro and AVID.


During February 2012  CVP who were demonstrating the latest version of AVID (V6) as impressive as it was it still looked  clunky compared to FCP-7 and the DVD authoring was only available on a Windows platform.

Next I decided to join the Adobe cloud for £27 a month which gives you full access to all the Adobe production suite giving me Photoshop, Premiere Pro and Encore. I had a play with Premiere but once again found it to be rather complicated and unreliable.

My last option was FCPX, when it first came out it was terrible and seemed hard to get my head round but with time and a need to have a working edit platform I stayed with FCP-7 till one fateful day…the day I loaded Lion, after Lion FCP-7 would not load so I was forced to re-try FCPX…again.

This was at version 10.0.06 so things had been updated and  it seemed to respond a bit like my old FCP-7, my work schedule meant editing nothing bigger than 15 minutes so with FCPX loaded onto my Mac-Pro and a Matrox MX02 max, I was editing.

I came to a halt when a client had DV footage to edit as we all know FCPX does not entertain ingesting footage that was not shot on a card but you can import footage so my problem was how to get DV footage into my Mac. After extensive research I opted for a Black Magic Design board that would bring my HD footage via HDMI and supplied with it was Media express, a software package that allows older analogue tape based footage to be ingested then transferred to FCPX as a .mov file.

Note. Somewhere along the line Apple have changed FCPX to allow capture from DV/HDV tape decks, I never knew this so thanks to my readership for updating me on this important feature. After further investigation it seems Apple have have ignored this feature as present iMac’s do not have any firewire ports so this method of capture is redundant unless you get a BM box.

Looming over the horizon was a 2 hour educational DVD for the Scottish Government on Type One Diabetes, my Mac Pro was full of little edits and running off 24 Sata drives via 4 Sonnet eSata drive bays that were becoming very unpredictable so a solution had to be sought.

Apple came out with a new slimline 27″ iMac…

27-inch: 3.2GHz

  • 3.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
  • Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz
  • 32GB  memory
  • 750GB SSD hard drive
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX with 2GB


We also invested in a second Thunderbolt screen, Pegasus Promise 12TB raid and a Black Magic Studio Express box…sorted. Just before starting the edit Apple updated FCPX to 10.0.07 and is now running 10.0.08.

Shortform FCPX runs as sweet as a nut and part of the reason I decided to stick with Final Cut was the vast amount of plugins that were supporting the platform, one of my number one plugins is HyColour Pro (V 1.5) from Jonathan Richards.


Depending where you are filming you inevitably get a green cast especially in factories that are lit with fluorescent lights, HyColour Pro gives you a one box option that gets rid of that cast and has been invaluable over the last month editing many interviews.

Another plugin thats top of my hit list is idustrial revolution’s X Effects 2, fly to reflect, this is a great transition and keeps my project uniform.



As one picture leaves the frame it has a blur and both pictures have a reflection, it’s a cracking effect, as ever I mainly stick with the same effect throughout the program rather than having lots of different effects making your production look amateurish.

Tomorrow I will tell you how FCPX deals with a 60m timeline plus 14 mini features all part of the same DVD-9 and Blu ray as well.



Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

11 thoughts on “Editing long form with FCPX…PART ONE

  1. Good stuff, interested to see the rest of your take Philip. One note, where you write that FCPX doesn’t ingest DV footage on tape. FCP X can actually control and capture from most DV (and HDV) decks/cameras, you can see this being demonstrated here:

    HDW : This method is only available to older macs that have FW800 ports, there are no FW ports on the newer thunderbolt iMacs.

  2. FCPX will capture from DV Decks, it works very well with my DSR-11.

  3. I’ve also done longform projects on FCPX and it’s fantastic… I have no problems backing up projects and moving them to other computers and the plug-in support is huge.

    FCP7 however, still works fine on both Lion and Mountain Lion installed on the same machine as FCPX… i still have to dive back into it to get into old projects.


  4. HDW,
    it’s correct that the newer Thunderbolt iMacs don’t have Firewire ports anymore, but they have, well, Thunderbolt ports. So all you need is a “Thunderbolt-Firewire Adapter” (sold for example by Apple for less than 30 Euro) and you can capture from a Firewire camera or deck the same way as you would do with a Firewire port in the Mac. It’s no problem at all.

  5. You can get a Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter cable so even newer Macs can digitise from firewire decks.

    Also your contention that Avid is clunky is not really valid. Since Media Composer 6.0 was released and Avid went 64 bit. Media Composer has all the same timeline tools as FCP7 and is now just as responsive as FCP when working in the timeline.

    Having said that I have had a similiar experience to you regarding FCPX. My intial enthusiasm quickly turned to frustration and abandonment. Then recently after attending a Larry Jordan event I decided to give it another go and now am using it on a regular basis. I do however find that it quickly bogs down if you start trying to do multilayer graphics heavy montages especially with effects. Premiere Pro seems to be much better at handling multiple layers but there seems to be lots of missing dull but useful plugins (vignette, matte shapes, edge feathering, etc.) for Premiere Pro that are abundant for FCPX.

  6. Have you tried the Thunderbolt to FireWire adapter MD464ZM/A ?

    Perhaps that will enable toy to ingest DV/HDV material?

  7. Very interested to read this, surprised you had problems with Lion, I’m now running ML with 7.0.3 and it’s rock solid, it is on a dedicated edit machine with limited internet connection used only for updates though. Decided to try FCPX – hated it for the way I work, I’ve now decided to stay with FCP7 & ML and use Motion 5 for access to all the new plugs and templates then import that output to FCP7 until my Quad will no longer work with 7.

  8. I like your articles… about the lack of FW800 ports, I use Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire Adaptor for a live capture from my old video switcher to FCPX.

  9. Hi, very interresting post, for my self i had a strange adventure with fcpx and premiere. I was editing for a client in premiere, i finished the project and the next day premiere stop working. White screen at launch, the tech support at adobe where nice but unable to solve the problem, so for the next project i decided to give a new shot to fcp x and to use it. I pretty much like it until it made my life much complicated because of omf export…I had to use Xto7 to get my fcp x project into fcp7 to get an omf to sent to my sound ingenior, so my question is, is there a way to sent omf directly via fcp x? I ve heard about Automatic duck, it does not exist anymore and the X2 thing is kind of expensive……

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