Is Final Cut Pro X for Hollywood?

JJ Powell • Oct 27, 2020


Josh Beal is a Hollywood editor who has work on such shows as Counterpart, Bloodline, and House of Cards. As a TV editor, Josh thinks it is time for Hollywood to reconsider Final Cut Pro X as a viable editing platform. In this presentation, Josh explains why Avid Media Composer is the King of the NLE in Hollywood and what needs to happen to convince current Media Composer editors to switch over to Final Cut Pro X. Josh did a whole Faster Together presentation on this topic which you can find on this page.

Reconsidering Final Cut Pro X in Hollywood

Since Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) came out in April 2011, many have criticized the application saying things like, “it’s iMovie pro” or “Apple has given up on the pros,” etc. In the nine years since the application came out many updates have been rolled out and Hollywood’s view has been stuck in 2011. Josh Beal, an editor in Hollywood with credits ranging from Bloodline to House of Cards to Counterpart, speaks his mind on why Hollywood should reconsider its view on using FCPX.

“A good editor can demonstrate their value regardless of what they are cutting on, but the tools they use do matter,” Beal says.

Through testing, Beal has shown how FCPX can be used to aid and replace Avid. An example Beal gave was dialogue cheats where he was able to do some time stretching in audio when he was still waiting on updates from the audio editor. He also suggested using Needle Drop Auditions when transitioning between diegetic and non-diegetic equalizers. He used FCPX compound clips to save hours of time during his first season on Counterpart. With the compound clip Beal was able to put in all the music that could be offered in the scene and be able to turn each song on or off to listen through the scene with each of the music queues all without having to add a song or re-work the clip every time.

“I believe it’s the most forward-looking NLE on the market,” Beal says of FCPX.

Ben Mercer editor of Unknown Solider, says in an article “Art of the Cut with Ben Mercer on editing ‘Unknown Solider’ in FCPX” that changing the tool will affect the way you approach the edit not just on the mechanical side but also with the psychological approach. Though Avid is king in Hollywood, some go rogue when choosing the editing software they want to work in.

Glenn Ficarra and John Requa writer/director duo, chose to work with FCPX for their features, Focus and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. They wanted to work with FCPX because it was changing the game in digital filmmaking. Ficarra says that when he started considering FCPX he had been working with Avid editors. He felt as though the program had stopped evolving and that he was cutting a digital movie on flatbed. An editor’s job is to be a storyteller helping the writer, director, show-runner etc. story come to fruition. With tools that make the process faster and more collaborative the job changes. FCPX has rethought the problem and given editors the power to collaborate differently and with speed.

FCPX isn’t about being a fantasy editing system according to Beal, “it’s about democratizing and simplifying the process for filmmakers.”

“If as an industry we continue to thoughtlessly dismiss bold moves like this by products like FCPX, I fear we are always going to be the last to have the tools that significantly move us forward. And make our jobs easier, more fun and remove old barriers,” says Beal.

With tools like FCPX rethinking the problems editors and their collaborators have run into in the past, they can create a new future. Letting go of what we have done in the past creates space for a new future with more possibilities.

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