Could Apple Silicon Make Final Cut Pro X Cool Again?

Could Apple Silicon Make Final Cut Pro X Cool Again?

Despite the headline, I’ve always thought that Final Cut Pro X was cool. It still is, and it’s still my favorite non-linear video editor. That said, industry inertia has always pushed me to use Adobe’s bloated Premiere Pro, but Apple’s new Macs using their own silicon in the form of the M1 processor may have just given the industry to come back to an old favorite.

In listening to Apple singing the praises of the new M1 chip, my ears really perked up at a couple of points during the keynote on Tuesday, particularly when Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi talked about a “unified memory architecture” that boosted raw video editing performance as well as helping Final Cut Pro X render video up to six times faster. The MacBook Pro is even shown later in the video playing back 8K ProRes footage in DaVinci Resolve, not to mention the demonstration that seemed to show seamless color grading of 6K video. It’s enough to make one really question their allegiances, however forced.

It’s hard to understand how things translate from one system to another. For instance, what does 8-core mean compared to say, a four-core Intel Core i7 processor? What does integrated graphics even mean anymore when it’s all built into a system-on-chip? I can see that the “Neural Engine” helps with machine learning, which according to Apple, would help a task such as smart conform in Final Cut Pro X, but what’s an equivalent on the Intel side? It’s hard to understand what’s under the hood, but I hope that it’s because this is as radical a rethinking of CPU technology as Final Cut Pro X was to non-linear editing almost a decade ago.

And that’s really the core (pun intended) of why Final Cut Pro fell out of favor with video editors in the first place. Its interface was so radically different from anything that was out there in 2011, with most other platforms building on tape-to-tape editing conventions, as editors such as Adobe Premiere Pro still do today. Final Cut Pro X rebuilt video editing workflows from the ground up, assuming an all-digital capture and editing process. It rankled many editors at the time, who fled to Premiere’s more familiar interface, and that trend has stuck. In higher education, I noticed the same shift, with top schools switching from Final Cut 7 to Adobe Premiere Pro once Final Cut Pro X was launched.

Certainly, a performance boost of several orders of magnitude would be something that could make recalcitrant video editors sit up and take notice. Being able to smoothly edit 8K video on a sub-$2,000 laptop is something to certainly write home about. I’m still waiting on a machine that can smoothly edit 11K 360 video out of the box, and so maybe the M1 chip is the heralding of a new generation of machines that will be able to do just that. It’s not inconceivable that Apple would build in some backdoors to goose its video software to outperform the competition.

Video editors, what’s your take on the M1 chip? Would faster performance persuade you to make the leap back to Apple? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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T Van's picture

If I'm going to spend the money on a dedicated edit system I think I'd go with a Puget Systems box. Biggest problem with Mac is lack of options for graphics cards, and expandability.
Yea for whatever reason more people are moving to DaVinci instead of either PP, or FCP

Spy Black's picture

As long as you're forced into one platform for production you're gonna have a hard time getting people on board. Jobs had a golden opportunity with FCP7, and then he made iMovie Pro, and that was the end of that. Unless the hardware can perform better and cost less then the present PC platform (fat chance of that happening with Apple), the ball and chain approach is not going to attract established markets.

Two words: DaVinci Resolve.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

I think that FCPX was misunderstood at the time. I had tape-to-tape editing experience and it's clear that this is where most NLEs draw their interfaces from. But FCPX dared to throw away those conventions for a smoother, all digital workflow that reimagined the timeline and shortcuts that everyone was used to. I don't think calling it iMovie Pro is a fair assessment, though at launch it was lacking some key features that video editors needed (such as multicam editing) that were added later. But by then, the damage was done.

Spy Black's picture

Dude, FCP was completely fucked up. Shit like EDLs were ripped out of iMovie pro. Editors were like WTF and Jobs was telling them they don't need stuff like that anymore. Editors didn't want to hear his shit, they had work to do. Editors simply laugh and went back to Avid, and the new rising star of the time, Premiere, and that was the end of that. It took years for FCP to become a functional editor again, simply because Jobs never wanted to admit he made a mistake. By that time it was too late.

However it doesn't matter how great FCP is today. The world is different today, and you can't be an island. As long as FCP only runs on one platform it will always be an also ran.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

It's true that EDLs and other industry-specific tools were missing, but that misses the point - FCPX made video editing much more accessible in most other industries. Journalists, for instance don't need to worry about EDLs but, do need something fast and simple, but powerful to edit with, and FCPX was perfect for that (way better than Premiere or FCP7 in that regard). I also found that teaching students, FCPX has always been the one that gets them the furthest in the fastest way, even in the state it was in when it was launched.

I think the problem was two-fold - Apple poo-pooing the needs of serious video editors, but also serious video editors not willing to give a new workflow a chance. Premiere just caught the wave of disgruntled editors who wanted something familiar to their much-loved FCP7.

Spy Black's picture

...except that the professional industry didn't give a shit about how Jobs thought they should go about their business, they had work to do, and they knew how to do it.They didn't need a snake oil salesman to show them how to reinvent the wheel, they couldn't care less about that just because Jobs thought his reality distortion field also affected real professionals. That's why FCP died on the vine, and why you have your typical rabid defenders of the FCP crown like Shorty here getting bent out of shape when someone calls it iMovie Pro and someone points out that FCP is an also ran because of what went down back then..

Shorty Robinson's picture

You know you're talking to some 12-year-old, pretentious, and utter clueless douche-knuckle who's stuck in 2011 the moment you hear "iMovie Pro" and then actually talks about 1980s *EDLs*(!!) as if they were some sort of RELEVANT tech. 🤣 What a moron!

Never mind that, thanks to XML, archaic BULLSHIT such as EDLs or even AAFs were ALL possible only *6 months* after the release of 10.0! So actually lamenting about that crap TODAY only exposes you as the ignorant, infantile blatherer that you are. Bravo. You win the internet.

Steve Coppola's picture

Some people have a vision, they are clever. they are the real pros. they see where a profession is going.

some other like this Spy Black are just stupid arrogants with nothing but narcissicism and pathetic certainties... They are the real amateurs because they are blind. A problem in our line our work :)

Wasim Ahmad's picture

Spy Black's good people we just disagree on our video editors. No need for the names here.

I still think FCPX is awesome. Can't wait to try it on an M1 Mac.

Happy New Year, friend.