We’ve been releasing more video content lately, and with the Hey Gents team often having to work remotely, we’ve found the need for a more professional and portable video editing set up that we can take on the road or in the air. Most of the team works on Macs, so the Macbook Pro was an easy choice in terms of hardware. As far as software goes, many look toward either Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere. After a little research, and comparing the pros and cons of both, we decided to pair the latest MacBook Pro—complete with the new touch bar—with Final Cut Pro X.
The release of Apple’s latest MacBook Pro and its intuitive touch bar sees an impressive overhaul of Final Cut Pro emerge. Titled Final Cut Pro X, or FCPX, the revamped video editing software is fully integrated with the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar. This additional piece of Mac tech provides a new access point to the software’s most used functions, streamlining your workflow regardless of where you’re setting up shop.
The new pairing aims to fill the space between bedroom producers and professionals alike. The beauty of this lies in its capabilities; the new, stripped back interface is easy enough to get a handle on for those stepping up from the likes of iMovie, while those more advanced will find enough horsepower to produce industry standard content from what should be considered a portable studio.
Looking at the interface initially recalls memories of iMovie, smoothing the transition for anyone coming from Apple’s preloaded editing software. Moving away from previous complex layouts, the new FCPX capitalises on a more subtle design with darker grey hues and a simplified window structure. This provides a strong focus on the work you’re actually doing and avoids getting lost in the software – especially handy if you’re attempting to block out distractions while working and travelling.
Dig a little deeper, however, and you’ll find so much more. While there are a few limitations on where each window can be placed, customising your source clip, preview and timeline panel is made easy. More attention has also been given to roles, which has been a way of identifying clips and tracks in Final Cut Pro X and its predecessors. Categorising them how you like, this includes, but is by no means limited to your title sequences, b-role, audio and dialogue. The overhaul really highlights how roles can be used through simple colour-coding. You can activate and disable desired clips in playback, while editing, and exporting, too. These colour-codes are also accessible via the touch bar – a welcome focal point to FCPX.
The timeline is really user-friendly, seeming to pick up on the task that you’re trying to achieve. For example, dropping clips in before or after others automatically magnetizes them together, avoiding those finicky .004 seconds of black between shots. If you’re placing a clip between two others, this will push the last further out of the way rather than overriding it.
The Touch Bar
While editing from a laptop isn’t without its limitations when compared to a dual screen studio set up, the touch bar aids this by streamlining workflow. When you’re working in the timeline, the touch bar gives access to all the essential editing tools. Sure, there are keyboard shortcuts for these, but who can remember each and every one? Having these at hand makes for an efficient editing process once you’ve spent a day using FCPX on the new MacBook Pro.
Trimming clips is made particularly accurate on the touch bar. A reduced visual of your project spanning the entire bar can be displayed when needed, allowing you to zoom in and out of the selected section that’s then reflected on your MacBook Pro’s screen.
Working with audio is the star of the show in terms of the touch bar, which gives access to your audio editing tools. Being able to add and adjust fade ins/outs to your audio clips on the fly avoids any unnecessary on-screen navigation. As you would hope, you can also adjust the levels of your clips to pinpoint precision with the touch bar.
The functionality of the touch bar again cuts out any unneeded labour over to the left of the screen in the media browser. You’ll find access to each clip’s info inspector as well as the ability to toggle through clip displays as written or visual items.
When in library mode, your standard functions such as ‘import’, ‘new event’ and ‘new project’ are available to you across the touch bar. While handy, the integration with the library doesn’t seem as progressive when compared to the immersive functions found elsewhere in the software+hardware combo.
Especially in library mode, some of the features of the touch bar felt gimmicky, and the fact that there’s no physical escape key can be frustrating at times. Others truly improved workflow speed. As always, future updates will surely improve on this and allow for higher functionality –although it still won’t bring back the escape key.
Sometimes it’s the small nuances in the way software works that make a big difference. In playback mode, there’s a new feature that rewinds your project by two seconds via the click of a button. This may not seem like much until you realise how infuriating it can be trying to locate a specific frame in your timeline, especially if you’re completely zoomed out looking over the whole project.
FCPX has a bundle of tricks and shortcuts for anything that the touch bar is currently incapable of doing. The ability to copy and paste time codes makes the admin side of editing very simple, while advanced audio editing such as the specifications of your fades and mixing can be made with the ease through just a few keyboard combinations.
FCPX can get your videos looking up to standard even if your technical knowledge is lacking. If you’ve recorded a few clips of a similar shot, or have numerous re-takes you want to meld together, the flow-transition feature will eliminate any awkward shot jumps by fusing each separate clip seamlessly into one.
Running 4K footage through the MacBook Pro can be time consuming, but it’s definitely possible. If you’re planning on doing so regularly, the specced up 8GB model may be worth the extra dollars. Either model you choose, the FCPX software now surpasses the basic RGB colour gamut and supports REC 2020, or wide-colour video. In Layman’s terms, this will produce a more accurate colour to the finished product. You’ll find this becoming more prevalent in higher-tier recording modes over the next year or two. Not so much an issue for the beginner or travelling film-maker, but a great option that will become more important as we progress.
The Wrap Up – Macbook Pro And Final Cut Pro Review
Editing video with FCPX is a great option for an on-the-run studio when paired with the new MacBook Pro, and the addition of the touch bar is really a step forward in workflow and ingenuity. We were equally comfortable producing travel flicks and commercial videography alike once we got the hang of how the two products work together. But don’t let that stop you from aiming higher, for the ambitious filmmakers out there, it’s worth noting that the movie, Focus, starring Will Smith, was fully edited on Final Cut Pro.