A lot has changed with Apple’s Final Cut Pro since our review of FCP 10.4.8 — not least dropping the controversial ‘X’ from its name. But are the new features in the? video editing software a strong enough evolution?
Somewhat ironically, we pointed out at the time that FCP hadn’t received a major update for 31 months. In the past 21, Apple has given us two. Maybe we should complain more often.
Those updates didn’t introduce a major interface upgrade. FCP remains pretty much the same piece of software it has been since the beginning – on the surface.
Look under the hood and you’ll see that more and more powerful features are slowly being added to the mix. What we have here in FCP 10.6 is no exception.
As you would expect after two years, a whole host of issues have been identified and fixed. You may not have experienced them yourself – depending on your workflow.
After working with this video editing software for a while, we can confidently say that glitches that frustrated us in 2020 no longer raised their annoying heads. For example, we remember random rendering glitches on export, which were really a deal breaker. These have disappeared.
Overall, the editing feels more robust. The app crashes very rarely. If so, you’ll be happy with the software’s auto-save feature, which means you can usually restart FCP and get back to work without losing a single cut.
While this is certainly a nice move forward, it must be said that FCP will be 11 years old in June. It’s time for everything to feel stable enough so that you don’t have to worry about it.
Apple Silicon Support
The most notable improvement brought about by 10.5 was support for Apple Silicon. It’s not something anyone would notice, but it was crucial to Apple’s move away from Intel chips.
From then on, FCP runs natively on both CPUs, and no video editors would really notice any difference, and that’s as it should be. Working with Apple’s Silicon speeds up processes, so of course there is.
But other than this under-the-hood tech marvel and a slew of bug fixes as mentioned above, there wasn’t really much to write home about. Today, even Adobe supports M1 chips.
Things got a lot more interesting with 10.6, when we were introduced to two very cool new features.
The first is called Cinematic Mode, designed to take advantage of footage shot with a iPhone 13† This gives you the ability to record video and effortlessly pull the focus, or even follow the focus. This is all done in software on-the-fly on your phone.
Impressive as this may be, with FCP you can now take care of this yourself and manually handle the f-stop directly on your Mac, just like you could with a regular camera – except here you have the luxury of doing everything in the editing. suite. The lower the number, the more blurred the background will be; the larger the number, the sharper the focus.
Changing over time is just a matter of keyframing the effect. Of course it’s not perfect. That’s because of the algorithms used to separate the subject from its background. But under the right circumstances, playing with your footage like this can lead to very impressive results.
Perhaps the coolest new feature – at least from our point of view – is the new Object Tracker.
Object tracking is nothing new. It’s been around for a while, other non-linear video editors included it before FCP, and there were even plugins that provided this capability before it was bundled.
It’s a sad fact that once it’s included in the software itself by default, it will grab the attention of many more users. And in this case, this interpretation of Object Tracker does not disappoint. Not because of how comprehensive it is – it lacks certain functionalities, to be sure – but it’s so easy to use, it’s almost effortless.
You can find the new tool in the Inspector sidebar. Add a new tracker, resize it, place it in the right place, click the ‘Analysis’ button at the top left of the preview window and FCP will do the rest.
Linking an object or text box to the tracker is just as easy. Once you know where the tools and menus are, you’ve pretty much learned how to use them.
Many of the higher-end tracking filters already on the market work better with smoother movements, and some even have the ability to resize the linked object as the shot gets closer or further away from the tracked item. An FCP cannot do that (unless you do it manually yourself).
There will always be a market for more professional tools. But as a bundled version, it’s easy and a lot of fun to use. What more can you ask for?
Well, what about AI-based effects associated with this new tracking capability? Instead of dragging an effect onto a clip in the timeline, drag it over the preview area and move the cursor. This allows you to apply the effect only to a specific area.
The artificial intelligence behind this feature can recognize certain objects on the screen, such as a building. It is especially good at isolating faces. Use the follow button to follow it, and the effect will move along over time. Remarkably easy to do.
Final Cut Pro is an incredibly powerful piece of video editing software. It’s been around for a while and may not evolve as fast as some would likebut it’s very stable, and the more recent features help it remain a worthy contender.
Perhaps the best advantage compared to behemoths in the field like Adobe Premiere Prois the price: there are no endless subscription fees or endless upgrade costs: it’s a one-time fee and all future upgrades, big or small, are free.