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. alex says:

    Hi Larry,
    we are currently on a deadline for a TV project and have run into something very strange, not letting us export our audio correctly. Your help would be highly appreciated.

    The project was shot on a Canon C100, recording externally to the ninja2. Each clip has two channels, dialogue / mic and ambience / camera mic.

    Now, usually we would just go into audio options, hit dual mono. disable the ambience track and on export (quicktime with separate roles) we would have a nice, clean channel 1 – mono – for the dialogue.

    What happens now, since 10.1. is this – once we switch a stereo clip to dual mono, the two mono tracks are automatically ”surround” and not mono. We have not found a way to change that yet. Even if we export the channel as mono, we still get an surround file. (Videospec tells us its ”Front C”. Upon wrapping the file into an MXF (with Episode) for network delivery with 8 channels (1 Dialogue, 2 Ambience, 3 music L, 4 music R, 4 remaining channels empty / Pre-Master setting – we still get a surround file. we didn’t notice this an had our deliverables sent back to us, marked as 7.1 surround – not usable.

    Did you run into this issue yet and can be of help? many thanks again.

    • alex says:

      P.S. in general, it seems its not possible to add a mono track to a project anymore in fcpx since 10.1. – is that even possible? Each mono track we add is automatically labeled as ”surround”.

      • Gretta Wing Miller says:

        Alex, thank you for posting this! I tho’t that the ‘surround’ came from the director recording 4 separate mics/channels. You CAN change the channel config. in the Audio tab of the Inspector, but I would really like a global pref, not one clip at a time. Also, when I export to my sound guy, FCP is sending out 24 bit files which I have to re-export to 16 in QTPro.
        Also would like an option to export what is selected in the TL Index. A real hassle to send out a preview.

        • alex says:

          Hi Gretta, thanks for your response. funny enough, i’m past the audio guy step already. He complained about us being nuts, sending him surround files, but he managed. Sent back mono files – we imported those into the FCPX project and voila… FCPX turns them into surround files again, not accepting mono files anymore it seems. If you import a mono file into your project, the ‘finder’ in fcpx in the upper right corner will tell you it’s a surround file. Thats what we don’t understand.

          We have found a workaround via episode, splitting the channels up there into mono tracks. But the ”old way”, before 10.1 was way more convenient.

          As for your P.S. – thats what we always did. Select roles and export them as mono files. but now, they are being exported as ‘surround’ – or as stereo. not really as a clear mono – as requested by the TV network.

        • alex says:

          The only way i have found to export in 16 bit is via a custom compressor export setting in fcpx. we usually change to 16bit when wrapping into mxf in Episode

  2. Gretta Wing Miller says:

    PS: Alex, if I understand correctly, if you export (Share) the audio as ‘multitrack QT’, you can select which roles and also select the channel config. ‘Surround’ as default there is new, and seems to be only an option with the ‘multitrack’ selection. Bit depth doesn’t seem to be readily changeable…

  3. Rob Kleindienst says:

    Mr Jordan,

    How do you go about importing a Motion project without rendering it?

    (It CRUSHES me that I can’t round trip from FCP X to Motion and back. That really upsets my workflow and it is tops on my wish list of updates from Apple)

  4. Rob Kleindienst says:

    But…in your last point in this article before the summery, you state that you now can.

    Am I reading that wrong?

    • Larry Jordan says:


      Sigh… That last point was part of what Apple promoted with the update. If you save the file as an effect, or, better yet, a generator, you can import without rendering. But a straight Motion project that is not a FCP generator needs to render before importing.


  5. Aaron Brown says:

    KEYWORDS…love em, hate em. What I would really love is if there was an option to rename keyworded selections TO the keyword name, and not just the original clip name. We get a lot of LONG multi-hour interview footage that we cut down into a 5-7 min highlight piece, and the easiest method we’ve found is to tag the portions of the master clip with a keyword that is a number (ie….001, 002, 003), and we track the quote in an excel file. once in the timeline, these clips all have the same name (whatever the original file name is). Sometimes we end up with hundreds of clips, and its not a quick process to manually try to change the name, whether you tagged them as a favorite or keyword…etc. I would love to be able to highlight all the keyworded clips and tell FCP to display the clip name as the “Keyword Index” or something like that! Then, I could see what is what on the timeline. Yes, you can use the timeline inspector to find them, but if you have to move clips around, its not easy to tell which clip is which within the timeline.

    Also, it would be great of FCPX had a generator that you could place ontop of all these clips that would then display various items of your choosing based on checkboxes from the clip inspector (ie…timecode, clip name, clip keywords, camera, date….etc).

    WHEW…done for now!

  6. Crystian Zue says:

    Hello all i have a question about FCPX.

    i am trying to open a project that was create in FCPX and is on an external Hard Drive. when i double click the project icon FCPX star but the project wont open i Google this and looked all over the net but it appears that i am the only person having this issue since i could not find an answer that help me solve this problem hopefully someone here can help me thank you very much.

  7. Manish says:

    Dear Larry,

    I edited a full feature length documentary in FCPX with transitions et al. Exported using XtoPro. Then imported to Audition.
    Oops: some video interviews completely out of sync, others a little out of sync, always
    where the transitions were used.
    Gave up after 15 days of struggling with this, edited audio in FCPX. Recently that docu played to an audience somewhere, I could recognise the bad sound on one of the dialogues although the audience didnt care… Edited prior to this, multiple language documentaries in FCP6, never had a single problem.
    I feel that even though I love FCPX, its really still amateurish in its audio handling for export, Soundtrack Pro has not been replaced adequately and end users have been left picking up the pieces (just cos we love Apple and FCP).
    Can you imagine spending the same time as one spends to edit a feature length video on a basic audio editing job (21 days or so?)
    I have now spent an extra 100£ to buy Logic Pro X and am assured that this will fix the problem. I hope so, but will wait to see if Logic Pro X has the same problems as Audition on that previous project.
    Of course, now the pressure is off since I had to actually release that film without dedicated audio editing as I would hv liked to do last year. At that stage there was no way to get the audio out of FCPX to Pro tools or Audition barring undoing all 1000 video transitions and then exporting, then redoing all transitions on import.
    Hope FCPX have fixed this… seriously!!

  8. Lincoln says:

    Hi Larry,

    You seem like you might be the best person to ask. I am working on a feature project in FCPX 10.0.5 which was shot in 1080 (HD).

    I have just shot a short in 4k and find I can’t import into FCPX 10.0.5 Could you please confirm if 4k is not supported by FCPX 10.0.5 please?

    If not I see I need to upgrade my FCPX but as you suggest in your other posts I shouldn’t do this mid-stream whilst I’m finishing my feature. I don’t think I’m in position to partition my current drive.

    Can I install a new version of FCPX on a new external hard disk and run the two versions in parallel?

    Would you mind please explaining any options I have or do I just need to finish my feature first?

    Many thanks


    • Larry says:


      FCP X has always supported 4K, since its initial release. The problem is more likely that you shot this using an unsupported codec; not the image resolution.

      FCP X 10.0.5 is quite old and quite limited, compared to the current version. However, if you are near the end of your feature, you are best off waiting to upgrade. If you are near the beginning, the upgrade provides access to a broad range of benefits that it might be best to upgrade to take advantage of them.

      You can only run one version of FCP X at a time.


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