Apple Final Cut Pro X video-editing software

Apple Final Cut Pro X

FCPX is a significant change from previous versions of the Final Cut software

Previously, Apple made three video-editing programs for its Mac computers: iMovie, which is free, Final Cut Express, which cost around £130, and the £800 professional version of Final Cut 10.5.

So it surprised us that this newer version of Final Cut (FCPX) replaces both paid-for editions and costs just £180 – far less than professionals expected to pay, but more than most home users had spent. So is it a good program, or good value?

It’s important to note first of all that FCPX is a significant change from previous versions. It has a new look, a new timeline system for editing video and now supports 64-bit Mac computers.

This is a big advantage: where old versions were limited to 4GB of memory, FXPX will use everything in your Mac – and when editing video, lots of memory is important.

The new, dark interface manages to look flashy – it’s certainly smarter than Adobe Premiere and Sony’s Windows-only Vegas software – while remaining very usable.

Controls are kept to a minimum, there are keyboard shortcuts for all the important editing tools, and it retains a sensible and fairly standard editing layout.

The key difference when working is the new ‘magnetic timeline’.

This is, at its heart, a standard multi-track video editor of the type found in Premiere or Vegas but not iMovie, so you can layer video and audio clips on top of one another to create the result you want,

but it has a few clever tricks designed to help avoid common problems.

To put it simply, the magnetic timeline helps clips ‘stick’ together, so if you add or delete footage from earlier in the track, cutaway footage, for example, doesn’t get knocked out of sync.

It even shuffles linked clips onto different tracks if required, and the result is a system that’s easy to use.

Double-clicking the line where two tracks meet opens the ‘precision editor’, which pops them onto two adjacent tracks, allowing you to see exactly where one will be cut off and the other appear.

You can then push and pull them until the edit point is correct and collapse the view back onto one track when finished.