The Beginners Guide to Learning FCPX
If you want to learn Final Cut Pro X, either as an experienced editor giving it a try from another NLE, or as a complete newbie, this round up of resources will walk you through the essentials and gradually give you all the skills you need to get started. As a piece of software it’s a highly affordable way to acquire a professional level product, without a recurring monthly cost. Also to date, every update and upgrade has been free to existing customers.
If you’re new to this site you should definitely wade through the FCPX category, which currently has 80 articles that are tagged with FCPX in it, which will direct you to an excessive amount of FCPX tutorials, tips and training compiled over the years.
2016 UPDATE – Apple have released a brand new version of FCPX – 10.3. Even though it’s a ‘dot’ update it brings with it a brand new look to the interface and a whole load of new features and functionality.
Check out this post on all the best new features in FCPX 10.3 and numerous free resources to help you get up to speed with it.
The rest of the resources in this post are absolutely still worth looking into as well, because they will plug you into the FCPX eco-system of blogs, sites and tutorials!
The first thing to say about FCPX, if you’re coming from any other NLE, is that there are a few important differences in terminology, so here is a quick translation guide:
- Project files are called Libraries. They can also contain media bundled inside the Library file itself.
- Timelines are called Projects.
- Bins are called Events. Folders are just called Folders. There are also keyword collections and smart bins.
For a starting point Vimeo’s free Video School 17 part tutorial series will take you from ingesting to exporting in just a few minutes per episode. Here are a few selected highlights to get you started.
Free Ways to Learn FCPX
FCPX Editor Alex Golner has put together this fantastic playlist of the best of Mac Break Studio when it comes to learning FCPX. There are 136 videos in this playlist, but you might want to skip a few of the other ones, especially with the major changes that came in with 10.1. But still a very valuable resource!
If you don’t have time to work through 136 videos, then this 30 minute introduction from Jeff Bradbury on how to work with FCPX (10.1) for Teachercast.net, should be enough to get you started.
Training guru Larry Jordan gives away a shed load of resources on his Youtube channel and his website, which covers not only Apple applications but now some of the major Adobe applications too. This playlist is of his FCPX 10.1 training but if you look on his ‘Videos’ list you’ll soon see much more recent training on all sorts of helpful topics, which is worth returning to on a regular basis.
Filmmaker Dan Allen has a huge, huge library of tutorials, behind the scenes videos and more on his Youtube Channel, including these 86 tutorials on FCPX. There’s also a specific set of tutorials dedicated the 10.1 changes that happened once upon a time, if that’s of interest to you.
UPDATE: Izzy Video
It was slightly neglectful of me to leave off Izzy Video’s FCPX long-standing training course, which you can watch entirely for free on his site, or pay a small price to download it along with editing material to watch it offline. It’s a popular course and for good reason!
UPDATE – FCPX 10.3
Filmmaker Izzy Hyman has released a new free tutorial course for FCPX 10.3. You can purchase the course to download all of the tutorials and the follow-along media or you can enrol for free here.
It runs at close to three hours, and covers everything from the new user interface to trimming, working with effects, exporting and more, which is pretty great value for free!
More ways to learn how to edit in FCPX
As a jumping off point for further exploration here are some quick links, to by no means an exhaustive list, of free FCPX resources and editors/bloggers who are worth following on Twitter for more of the same!
Ken Stone’s Website – A firm favourite back in my FCP7 days, Ken still has great tutorials and content on FCPX.
Ben Halsall – A big collection of Youtube tutorials on subjects you might not find else where. Well worth a rummage.
T. Payton – Lots of great Youtube tutorials and Twitter Tips.
Books for learning FCPX
The Focal Easy Guide to FCPX 2nd Edition, by Rick Young is designed to be a quick and easy read, and at just under 300 pages it is just that. Fast, informative and packed with lots and lots of large screen-grabs you can blast through this book in a couple of sittings. Sometimes I find it easier to learn by reading, and so if you’re like me, a book like this will get you up to speed with the basics of FCPX in no time at all.
Rick covers everything from the mechanics of FCPX and it’s media management, through to editing, effects, audio and delivery. This makes for a pretty decent one-stop shop of a book. I found the sections that explained how FCPX does things a little differently to other NLE’s most helpful, for example understanding things like connected clips, storylines, auditions, FCPX style media management and other similar topics. A nice, easy read.
If you want to give yourself a quick overview of FCPX, without investing too much time or effort, to give you a springboard for diving right into editing with FCPX then this is would be a valuable starting point.
The Grammar of The Edit by Christopher J. Bowen and Roy Thompson (Third Edition) – OK, so this book is absolutely nothing to do with FCPX, but as this is a post for beginners, I thought it was as good an opportunity as any to include this book. The Grammar of The Edit is a absolute beginners guide to film editing, starting with basics like types of shots, kinds of transitions and simple concepts like not crossing the line, cross cutting, working with dialogue etc.
For anyone who has been to film school or taken any kind of editing theory class, this will be familiar ground. But if you’re totally new to editing and want to learn the foundations that are essential for getting your edit right from the start then it delivers very clear, comprehensive and practical information, succinctly.
The last chapter alone, is worth the purchase of the book and provides a series of ‘working practices’ on how editors handle various situations and what the commonly accepted process would be when cutting continuous motion, having characters enter or leave frame and 47 other topics.
Final Cut Pro X Beyond The Basics – Advanced Techniques for Editors by Tom Wolsky
If you’re after a much more comprehensive read then Tom Wolsky’s FCPX training book will deliver that and more. At nearly 400 pages it’s no quick read if you want to digest it from cover to cover, but its detailed contents page will let you jump to the precise information you’re after in a jiffy.
It covers much of the same ground as The Focal Easy Guide to FCPX, but where you might only have a couple of pages in Rick’s book on a topic such as colour grading or animating still images, there are whole chapters devoted to the issues at hand in this volume. It’s also a physically much larger book which gives more space for the large screen grabs (sometimes covering almost a whole page!), side bars and extra tips to be laid out in a very clear manner. Something that occasionally was less than ideal in the smaller confines of Rick’s paperback – although that lent it the benefit of portability!
If you’re already an experienced FCPX editor, you might want to check out something like Mike Matzdorff’s FCPX Workflow ebook, which will give you an inside look at the techniques used to edit a Hollywood feature film, Focus, in FCPX. That feels like an advanced level of book, that requires plenty of working knowledge of FCPX to really get the most from it.
That said if you need a bridge from where you are now in your understanding of FCPX and that level of familiarity then Tom’s book will provide that in spades. You should also check out the book’s companion site, where you can download free media and tutorial resources, as well as check out more FCPX articles and tips from Tom.
If you are eager to learn FCPX systematically and want a one-stop-shop reference guide to do everything in FCPX, then this is probably it.
Paid Resources for Learning FCPX
If you’re looking to invest in your FCPX editing abilities then the paid for training from both Ripple Training and Larry Jordan is always excellent. I’ve previously reviewed training titles from Ripple here (on DaVinci Resolve) and have personally used a lot of Larry’s training in the past (way back when when I was learning the depths of Final Cut Pro Studio).
Therefore I can heartily and highly recommend both options. I’m hoping to get time in the future, to do some in-depth reviews on the FCPX training resources from both Ripple and Larry if/as/when I can. In the mean time here are some quick links each.
Ripple Training – FCPX Courses – They frequently have sales on – like right now! – and if you buy a bundle you can usually save a decent amount. Currently the FCPX Essentials Training Bundle has 30% off. Their most recent courses are Warp Speed Editing in FCPX and Commercial Editing Techniques (also currently on sale). All training from Ripple can be instantly streamed/downloaded in 1080p HD or you can pay a little extra to get it shipped to you on a USB stick – which, if you’re buying a lot of training in one go can be combined onto one drive and might be faster if you’ve got slow download speeds where you live.
Larry has a long history of providing excellent training, delivered in a very accessible style. He also gives a way a lot of great free resources (377 articles and counting on FCPX alone) as well as regularly creating new training which can be accessed through his store – 66 courses on FCPX! You can either buy several specific courses, such as his Final Cut Pro X 10.2 Complete, or pay a monthly subscription to have access to over 1200 videos, weekly webinars, support email to Larry and more. Seems like a great deal for only $60!