Thoughts on Editing with FCP X 10.1

Creating training about editing software is not the same as editing with editing software.

Now that I’ve been using FCP X in an editing capacity for a while, I wanted to share my thoughts on what I like, some traps I’ve run into, and some workarounds to consider. (Oh, and I’ll add to the list of “New Features I’d Like to See.”)


The feature I like the most about Final Cut Pro X 10.1 is that Apple is committed to the program. They did not need to add all the features they did, nor as fast as they did. In fact, they could kill the entire program and not lose one iPhone sale. The fact they keep improving the program, and talking to users about what more they need to do, is a huge reassurance to me. Developing software this sophisticated is really, really hard work. I’m grateful they continue to do so.

In addition, there are many features I like in the new version, some of which include:

Recently, I’ve been using ProRes 4444 for all my video training and I’m very impressed with how good that codec looks. (Yes, I know, this isn’t new, but its worth mentioning.) I use ProRes 422 for files that start with a camera. I use ProRes 4444 for files that start on the computer; for example, Keynote, Motion or After Effects.

If someone asks if they should upgrade to the 10.1 release, my general answer is: Yes, provided you are between projects.

For those of you who always have multiple projects going on, consider setting up a dual-boot system, with one side of your boot drive dedicated to FCP X 10.0.9 and the other side dedicated to 10.1. As each new project comes in, edit them using the new version. That, in fact, is what I did with my training system. It allows me to access both versions of Final Cut and pick the version I need for whatever I need to edit at that time. (Here’s an article that explains how to create a dual-boot system.)

I also really like the new hardware acceleration in Compressor 4.1. Given the kind of training and webinar movies that I create, this will save more than a day a week of compression time.



The event and project updating process to the new version is a necessary evil. I really like the new media management. But the updating process needs to be done manually.

What works the best for me is to update each event and project separately. Here’s an article that explains this in more detail. Yes, this is more time-consuming, but it works reliably and I don’t get everything all mixed into one library.



Trim clips using the Position tool (type “P“). This moves the In or the Out and replaces the old position with a gap. This allows you to trim without changing the timing of downstream clips.

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To merge two connected storylines that are touching each other, select both and type Command+G.

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To cut a connected storyline, select the storyline bar, not the clips in it and type Command+B.

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To hide the Browser, type Control+Command+1.

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To adjust the settings of more than one clip by the same amount, select all the clips you want to adjust, then make the adjustment. This works for setting audio levels for more than one clip, or making Inspector adjustments to a range of clips.



I ran into a problem with a project file. The project was stored on the hard disk, but not displayed inside Final Cut Pro X in the Library that the project was originally created for. At this point, there’s no way to open a project that is stored on the hard disk. You can only open the library, which contains the project. Hopefully.

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There seems to be contention issues between FCP X and Compressor 4.1, when Compressor is running multiple instances of itself. in this situation, both FCP X and Compressor tend to hang. Since multiple instances are an option and are off by default, I recommend against using multiple Compressor instances on a system you also use for video editing.

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Trashing preference files to reset Final Cut is still a necessary maintenance procedure for the new version. Apple should follow Adobe’s lead and trash preference files automatically when a modifier key is pressed while FCP X starts up.

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Compound clips are still problematic. My suggestion is to use them sparingly, and try to avoid nesting one compound clip inside another.

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Library backups seem to be unreliable. They should occur every 15 minutes when you are working in that library; for example, when editing a project stored in that library. I’ve found that not to be the case. Backups are a good thing, but we need to be able to rely on them.

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Collaborating between editors is still way too tricky. I’m not saying both editors need to be in the same project at the same time, but sharing project, event, and library databases between editors should not involve deconstructing Finder packages and copying database files.

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There needs to be a way to select all clips to the right, or left of the current playhead position. (Something similar to the old Tracks tool in FCP 7.)

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Audio editing is very solid, but audio transitions and audio mixing remain, ah, suboptimal. A default keyboard shortcut to add a default audio fade to a selected audio edit point would help a lot. And there’s got to be some middle ground in audio between where FCP X is now and ProTools that can give us track-based audio filters, sub-mixes, and level control over the master audio output.

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I have become a fan of keywords and the new version makes applying them faster than ever. But it would really help find things, if the keyword search box had scroll bars so that we could display more than 20 or so keywords associated with the clips in our library.

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Searches need to span all open libraries.

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Color bars in Generators and saturation percentages in the Vectorscope. And I’m still trying really, really hard to love the square color “wheels” in the color board. Really hard.

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We need to be able to round-trip files with Motion, though the latest release does allow us to import a Motion project in Final Cut without first rendering it.



There is a lot to like in the new version. After working with 10.1, I really don’t like editing on 10.0.9 for those projects that require it. 10.1 is just more fun and faster for editing. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t ask for a bit more.

Let me know what you think.

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37 Responses to Thoughts on Editing with FCP X 10.1

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  1. Jeff says:

    Hi Larry. Thanks for the review. I too have found some problems. If there are bugs in anything, I will inadvertently find them!

    I removed a file holding photos in the library for a family project. It was a quickly video of the grand children at Christmas. I also had a video of my African trip in the library I have been working on with 10.1.

    After removing the Christmas info and going back to the African video, I clicked in the time line and everything disappeared!
    I called up 10.1 and all I could get was the splash screen. I had to drag the 10.1 from the apps to the desktop and download the program again. It works ok now. However there are issues in the library side. Also, it would be nice to quit the program without it saying it can’t because it is processing. However, this maybe my slow machine. A new iMac is in the works but will read your advice first. Jeff

  2. Don Smith says:

    The bug I found, and another user confirmed it, was Position keyframe problems in a Project XML export. When that XML is opened, all Position keyframes that I had set to ‘Linear’ were now back to their default ‘Smooth’ setting. I found this out on a long timeline with many Position keyframes set to ‘Linear’. It took a couple of hours to fix them all.

    Also, and I classify this as ‘hearsay’ at the moment, after I began work on the XML import of a project I had finished elsewhere, random text objects started losing their custom text and settings. I checked and found one that seemed to have disappeared but it was there and was now the color of the background with default text and default colors and no keyframes at all. I fixed that one instance and exported only to see that two others had now ‘disappeared’. Fixed those. Now, three others had disappeared! Finally got all to stay in place and got a good render out. This only happened to me and only after working on an XML import of the project I had finished at home. Many hours of working at home and, prior to that, hours of working on that project at work had no trouble with those text objects changing on me.

  3. David Battistella says:

    Hi Larry,

    Thanks for the continued good work.

    I am just wondering if you have done any audio round tripping to Logic Pro X. I’m finding that going from FCP X and Logic Pro X is not as robust and simple as we might have imagined. Still difficult to get the audio roles out to a traditional mix environment, even with X2pro.

    Your thoughts on whether this integrations might improve?


    • Larry Jordan says:


      My audio tool of choice is Adobe Audition. I have not done any work with Logic Pro X, nor do I even own it.

      It is my hope that Apple will improve round-tripping between FCP X and Motion and Logic. However, Apple has not told me their plans. And, if they did, I would not be permitted to tell you.


  4. Tim says:

    Exporting XML from 10.1, (as of 12/29/13) is not compatible with Resolve.

  5. John French says:

    Thanks Larry for your thoughts as an editor rather than a trainer – very useful.

    KEYWORDS – absolutely agree. I am creating a complicated documentary and already have about 60 keywords and it would be nice to see them all in the keywords window. However, if you open up the event in the left hand side of the browser, you can see all your keywords, can scroll up and down them, and just need to drag a clip onto a keyword. It is more work though if you want to add multiple keywords to a clip, so it would be nice to be able to click them in the keyword window.

    BACKUPS – again, agree. When I add a new library or an event to library or clip to an event, I have no idea if it has backed up or not. Constant reference to Finder has shown that it seems to have a mind of its own. I can’t close FCPX and be sure it is backed up. We need a Backup Now menu item so we can exit FCPX knowing for sure it has backed up.

    • Lydia Robertson says:

      My latest work around is to back -up and mirror my media drive at breaks and when I am done for the day to another editing quality RAID. At night I ALSO back everything up to removable cheaper, slower drive(s) for off site storage, swapping them, out daily.

  6. Santiago Pérez Rocha León says:

    One thing still drives me crazy, why can’t I have my incoming frame and my outgoing frame viewer when trimming whith shortcuts, the “prediction editor” it’s not a substitut for the old trim mode in fcp7…

    • Larry says:


      You absolutely can. Go to FCP X Preferences > Editing and check “Show detailed trimming feedback.” This feature showed up with the 10.0.3 update.


      • Santiago Pérez Rocha León says:

        Yes, but only when using the mouse, when using keyboard shortcuts you don’t get the feedback, and lest not mention dynamic trimming 🙁

  7. stephan says:

    “though the latest release does allow us to import a Motion project in Final Cut without first rendering it.”

    What do you mean? Integrating Motion projects bypassing the library and importing them directly to the event / timeline…!?

  8. Thanks for these heads-up.
    Will a new iMac i7 with 16gb RAM be robust enough for 720p on FCPX.1?

  9. I found FCPX behaving strangely with regard to showing clips on the timeline. I should not have upgraded while working on a project, but FCPX 10.0.9 kept freezing with Lion and I had to do something. Now on my timeline the storyline is showing, not the clips above it. No matter how I try, opacity of upper clips at 99,99 instead of 100% did work, but later on no more. Strangely enough, further down the timeline everything seems normal. I still have my MacBook Pro with still Lion+FCPX 10.0.9 and will have to finish editing in the old configuration. But it remains queer. I sent a feedback to Apple, but don’t expect an individual reaction.
    Found no workaround, so be aware!

    • Gretta Wing Miller says:

      I have been plagued with bizarre behaviors lately in 10.0.9 + Lion. On a project I have been editing for a year. I believe that the problems came from things like compound clips and duplicating projects and never deleting render files. It seems as if as I continued on after each new update, certain things were obeying old rules (like management of CCs, for one). Now, I have a new machine on order, and have been trying to clean things up for the upgrade to both Mavericks and v10.1. I am on my 3rd new user; so far all is well, but only after uninstalling all 3rd party plugins (I suspect one in particular), deleting all event and project render files, deleting all old CCs (I had been told that some were ‘in use’: I think that was render files being accessed), and relinking all files that had gotten copied to event folders by my newbie status at v.10.0.1 (the media I am using are all on external drive). for a week now, no actual editing: just house cleaning (every clip that had an effect applied had to be found and efx deleted. FCP doesn’t just remove them for you if they are no longer on the drive). I hope by doing all this and getting back to square one, the move to v10.1 will be smoother.

  10. Cindy Hill says:

    Hi all,

    Just wondering what the workflow is for hiding events in 10.1. and if that is even still an option? I cannot seem to find a way to do this. Thanks!

    • Larry Jordan says:


      You can’t hide an event. But you CAN close libraries, which hides everything.

      So move the event you need to hide to its own library, then close or open the library as necessary.


      • Cindy Hill says:

        Thanks for the remarkably quick reply. I take it that the new workflow encourages the use of libraries with symlinks connecting the shared media files? I am just starting a new doc film project and want to make certain I set up the proper workflow. I also have another question. We are shooting this doc with the Canon C500 and thus need a plugin to ingest the media into FCP 10.1. Alas Canon has not created a plugin that is compatible with Mavericks and 10.1. I have contacted Canon but not gotten a response. Have you heard of any workarounds or any rumors on when the new plugin might be available? We are still not sure whether we are going to edit with FCP or Premiere but want to make that decision based on facts and not rumors. I have seen too many of my colleagues blindly dump one program or embrace another based on everything but facts. 😉

        Thanks as always for your input.

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