MacMost Now 589: Final Cut Pro X Basics

Learn about the basic functions of Final Cut Pro X. This video will help those familiar with iMovie to learn about the general Final Cut Pro X interface, events and projects. See how to import video, add it to the timeline, apply a transition and titles. Then learn how to export your project.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now.
In today's episode, let's look at the basics of Final Cut Pro.
So, since Apple came out with a new version of Final Cut Pro and a new lower price point, a lot of people have been considering switching from iMovie to Final Cut Pro and it is a good choice as it's much more powerful, so if you use video editing in your work or you wanna just advance beyond what iMovie has to offer you may wanna take a look.
So when you first run Final Cut Pro, this is what it looks like. The basics are pretty similar to iMovie. You've got three major areas: the left and the right on the top and here at the bottom, but things are reversed a bit. You see Events and Clips up here in the upper left, and you see Project here at the bottom. The upper right is a preview area just like in iMovie.
Now let's start by importing some video. I'm gonna go to File, Import and get some files. I've got some sample videos here and I'm gonna bring these in. I get to use an existing event and create one with the date name of when I first ran Final Cut or I create a new one and I can also elect to copy the video to the Final Cut folder or just leave it as is and use it where it is, so I'm going to use the default settings and hit import and it will bring in the video. Any time Final Cut is doing something in the background, processing something, you'll see the circle here actually moving around and sometimes you actually see a percentage in it telling you how much left it has on the background process.
So now that I've got some clips here, I can click on them to view them in the Project area here using the controls below to see what I've got. I can also select the entire thing or only a portion of it if I want and then of course I can drag it into the project.
So let's create a new project down here. I have the Create Project below, I can also use the plus button down here and I'll just name this New Project.
Now I have a timeline. So, unlike iMovie, where you can view the timeline in one linear line or you can view it in some sort of stack, this is always going to be a line and I can drag clips into this line very easily... and here it appears. I can expand the timeline using the controls here at the bottom right. I can drag, say, another clip here and put it after this one. Now I can scroll along the bottom here and see in the Preview area what I'm looking at. I can do all sorts of things here. For instance, I can grab this area here and grab the right side of it and shorten it. I can do the same thing here on the right, grab it and shorten that, and adjust the timeline as needed. I can even grab the beginning and shorten that as well. I can scroll or use gestures to go back and forth along the timeline, like that.
Now I can do a lot of things, just like I can do in iMovie, I can for instance just click on the Transitions here, I can drag and drop the transition between these two videos like that and I can preview by grabbing* along. I can select some music and drag it to any music track if I wanted to down there and have multiple audio tracks, also select anything and just press Delete key to delete it. I can also layer a video, so for instance, if I wanted to put another piece of video on top I can just put it in there like that, you can see I've got a second layer of video there on top, so I have that go on top of that video and, as you'll learn later on, you can do things like reduce the size of it, create picture in picture, multiple pictures side by side, all sorts of things by layering one video on top of the other and then you have a lot more possibilities than you did in iMovie.
You can also add a title in here, there's a lot more choices than there were before and with anything like this you can someplace select it and then go Edit and it will bring up an editor at the upper right and you can see all sorts of things about, say the text, change the type of text, the video effects for that thing that you've got selected, and if I select something else, say this piece of video here, you can see changes here on the properties, you can do all sorts of things, changes, croppings, distortions, all sorts of different effects I can apply to the individual pieces here. Even transitions themselves have adjustments that you can make, and when you're done with your video of course you've got the Share menu. There are a lot of presets here for sharing something, or you can just the plain Export Movie and export using a variety of settings there.
So this was a very brief look at the Final Cut Pro, just the basics, and in the future I'll have some more videos which will delve deeper into specific subjects like say, using transitions or layering video.
I hope you've found this useful, till next time, this is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 21 Responses to “MacMost Now 589: Final Cut Pro X Basics”

    8/8/11 @ 7:57 pm


    8/13/11 @ 7:52 am

    Thanks for the overview. Has helped me decide NOT to go from FCP 7 to X. It looks like iMovie on Steroids. The interface is too different and I’m too old to learn something new. Took me long enough to get comfortable with FCP 7. Unless X works with MP4 files don’t see any reason to switch.

      8/13/11 @ 8:08 am

      FCPX does work with mp4 files, yes. Imports them, etc. But there are many different types of mp4 files, so I’m not sure what you mean.

      9/21/11 @ 6:40 pm

      Final Cut Pro X has handled MP4 files for me with no issues. On the rare occasion I a file that didn’t work, clipwrap fixed the problem with out transcoding.

      9/21/11 @ 6:54 pm

      So Far I have never had an MP4 file not function with Final Cut Pro X. When I do have an occasional file compatability issue, Clipwrap solves the problem without transcoding.

    8/16/11 @ 11:24 pm

    How about MPEGs? I have hundreds of clips in MPEG format.

      8/17/11 @ 7:21 am

      What about MPEGs? Are you referring to the previous question? MP4 files are MPEG files, so the same answer applies: There are many different types of MPEG files, so it depends on which type it is as to whether FCPX will handle it. But most likely it will. If not, you just have to convert them.

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    9/13/11 @ 10:38 am

    This has got me baffled too. I have never even used iMovie, but i am started to get interested, because i want to learn just how to join tutorials together. Have you got a video, or somewhere i can do this. Gary

      9/13/11 @ 10:40 am

      If you want to join two finished videos together, you can just import them both into iMovie and put them one after each other in the project, then export the new video.

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    9/13/11 @ 10:57 am

    That was a quick answer,because i just nipped off to see the basic editing in iMovie. I know you have wrote two lines, but i am not technical at all. I remember in one of your videos, that if you were next to me now i would get it straight away.
    Open iMovie put the videos next to each other,then do you click on export the new video,and they are joined together. ( I have never opened iMovie before) Is that more or less what you do. Gary

      9/13/11 @ 11:02 am

      Take the time to learn the tool first. It can be frustrating trying to accomplish a task with a tool you have no experience with. Check out all of the MacMost iMovie tutorials ( or take a class or buy a book. Don’t expect to learn it all instantly — it takes time.

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    9/13/11 @ 11:19 am

    I nipped off again and there was a QuickTime tutorial about exactly what i wanted to do. I understood most of it,and i think its more user friendly offhand than iMovie. Yes i can understand what you are saying about learning. Example – When it came to learn how to use the Mouse. I tried for about 3 months and gave up. I am not a quitter, so i went back to this place where i was learning just about computers, and i conquered it. Gary

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    9/13/11 @ 11:50 am

    Just the little things that you think of.
    I have just found out how you view the other videos. Underneath it says the number of videos on this topic. I just clicked it and hey presto it shows you what the other videos are. I must emphasise that it is these little things that are important. Thats why i have chosen QuickTime for joining videos. I am not a Stephen Spielberg. Thanks again Gary

    9/21/11 @ 6:30 pm

    When I got to the point that iMovie wasn’t quite flexible enough, I started trying to learn Final cut Express. Now that I have switched to Final Cut Pro X, its like being set free. So far Final Cut Pro X has been Barney simple to learn compared to Final Cut Expres. Everything that was kludgy difficult in Final Cut Pro express is simple and fast in Final Cut Pro X. It just gets out of your way and lest your work. This app rocks!!

      9/21/11 @ 6:35 pm

      When I said Final Cut Pro Express I meant Final Cut Express


    2/12/12 @ 5:56 pm


    I currently have a project in iMovie I have been working on for quite some time. I am interested in Final Cut Pro X and would like to know if I can transfer my iMovie project into FCP X and resume editing where I left off.

    Thanks in advance.

      2/12/12 @ 7:53 pm

      Yes. Final Cut Pro has the ability to import iMovie projects and events.

    4/11/12 @ 6:00 pm

    I recently purchased final cut pro x and it will let me import my mp4 videos but will only play the audio any help?

      4/11/12 @ 6:06 pm

      MP4 is a file type that contain lots of different things. Perhaps try converting the file to something else with QuickTime Player or MPEG Streamclip.

    Dustin Collins
    4/16/12 @ 8:37 am

    Ok, so my FCPX project is ready for export and I want to make H.264 MP4 so I can play it back on my PS3 easily. I also have compressor and I can’t seem to figure out how to get it give me a custom setting for MP4. I wanted the bit rate to be over 10,000 kbps but for some reason the MP4 template in Compressor will not exceed that. Any ideas? Should I just export it as a .mov file than convert it to MP4 in Quicktime or streamclip, would this downgrade the quality any?

      4/16/12 @ 9:00 am

      If you can’t seem to get the result you want with FCPX or Compressor, then MPEG Streamclip is a good option. If you export at high quality (standard export from FCPX should work) and then are using something as high as 10,000 kbps, then quality shouldn’t be an issue. It will downgrade the quality (you said “in any way”) but I can’t imagine it would be noticeable.

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