Video has become an increasingly crucial component for businesses. Whether it’s a tool for marketing products you sell, helping instruct users on how to work with your products, in-house training or maybe your business is focused on more artistic creations, video has become just as important as the written word. And given that the hardware for creating professional videos is now available even on a prosumer level, you don’t have to spend too much of your budget to get a small video creation team up and running.
Lights, camera … and action.
But the process of creating videos doesn’t end with a camera (or phone). That’s only the beginning of the journey. You’ll also need a quality editing tool, one that doesn’t cause your team much in the way of a challenge. And getting the right combination of user-friendliness and professional-quality features can be a big ask.
Fortunately, the ask is answered with Final Cut Pro X (FCPX). This video editing platform is available only on macOS and is one of the few tools in the video editing space that offers the perfect ratio of user-friendliness and pro-level features to make creating amazing videos a task that just about anyone can do.
SEE: How to build a budget-friendly home video setup with expensive-looking results (TechRepublic Premium)
But why exactly is Final Cut Pro X the right tool to help your business evolve into the modern age of video-first? Let’s dig in and find out.
Shallow learning curve
I’ve used a number of video editing tools and found Final Cut Pro X allows users to hit the ground running with ease. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be taking advantage of every feature the tool offers immediately. Even though FCPX does make it easy for you to immediately dive in and start creating videos, there are plenty of more advanced features that require a bit more understanding of the workflow.
However, for those who are anxious to open the tool and start dragging and dropping clips into timelines, FCPX knocks it out of the park. Open the application, create a new project and start adding clips. And with the help of simple transition and effects browsers, it’s easy to add exciting and professional looks to your clips with a quick drag and drop.
Upon first use of Final Cut Pro X, the most challenging aspect to grasp is what each pane represents. Starting from the top left to right (Figure A), you have the Library/Project Gallery, the Clip Gallery, the Preview Window, and the Inspector (which allows you to customize clips/effects/transitions/sound). At the bottom (from left to right) you have the timeline and the Transitions/Effects browser.
With FCPX you can even add titles (either from the preconfigured defaults or from an expansion pack) and modify them on the fly. And the magnetic timeline makes it incredibly easy to move clips around, without having to manually connect them to one another.
Once you get beyond the first steps stages of Final Cut Pro X, you’ll probably find yourself longing for more transitions, effects, and LUTs (lookup tables, which are used to color grade your videos). It doesn’t take long to realize just how expandable FCPX is. You’ll find people who have built entire companies around creating really amazing additions for this video editing platform. Some of them are free, while others have an associated cost. And those transitions, effects, and LUTs can have a major impact on how professional your videos appear.
Companies like MotionVFX and Pixel Film Studios offer some of the best transitions and effects, most of which are inexpensive and easy to use. With the help of these additions, you can take every video you create to the next level of professionalism. And because you’re working with macOS, the installation of these extensions and feature packs is incredibly easy.
Use all your clips
One feature I’ve found to be incredibly helpful is that you can add just about any type of video or audio clip into an FCPX project. Once upon a time, I used a video editor that was rather particular about what video and audio formats it would accept. That caused me to spend a good amount of time converting files into a usable format.
With FCPX, I rarely have to worry about converting video or audio. The list of supported formats is fairly extensive:
- Video: Apple Animation codec, Apple Intermediate codec, Apple ProRes (all versions), AVC-intra, AVCHD (including AVCCAM, AVCHD Lite and NXCAM), DV (including DVCAM, DVCPRO and DVCPRO50), DVCPRO HD, H.264, HDV, iFrame, Motion JPEG (OpenDML only), MPEG IMX (D-10), REDCODE RAW (R3D), Uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2, Uncompressed 8-bit 4:2:2, XAVC, XDCAM HD/EX/HD422, QuickTime formats.
- Audio: AAC, AIFF, BWF, CAF, MP3, MP4, WAV
- Container: 3GP, AVI, MP4, MXF, QuickTime
- Still Image: BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, PSD, RAW, TGA, TIFF
That being said, your best bets are MP3 and MOV for video and MP3 (for lossy) and WAV (for lossless) for audio.
You can also drag and drop still images onto video clips to create exciting callouts to products or services.
Export to viable formats
When it comes time to render your videos, you’ll find you can export them such that they can be saved for:
- Default file
- YouTube & Facebook
Obviously, if you’re rendering in 4K (or the default file), the file size will be considerably larger than if you’re rendering 1080p. A 15-minute video rendered in either 4K or the default file format (which is taken from the original clip added) can run over 52GB. You’ll want to keep this in mind as you decide which format to export to. Also, remember that rendering in 4K will result in a video that’s considerably higher quality, so the tradeoff is an important one to consider.
However, considering how easy FCPX makes it to select the end results is yet another reason why this tool should be considered your go-to for video production.
Autosave is a lifesaver
One nice feature found in Final Cut Pro X is the autosave. While working on a project, you don’t ever have to worry about saving as you go, because the software saves everything for you. On many an occasion, this has saved me considerable effort when another video editing tool might have lost every bit of my work. As soon as you make a change to a clip or timeline, FCPX saves it.
If you want to avoid your team having to deal with the need to constantly back up and save projects as they go, FCPX is a great tool to have.
Software that’s worth the cost
Final Cut Pro X isn’t cheap. It’ll cost you $299, but for anyone looking to up their video-editing game, it’s worth every penny. Is it the absolute best video editor on the market? No. Is it the best bang-for-your-buck video editing software available? Yes. If you’re already deep in the Apple hardware ecosystem, and you’re looking for an editor that can create pro-level videos, look no further than Final Cut Pro X in the Apple App Store.