Has Final Cut Pro finally improved on the M4 iPad Pro?

Final Cut Pro, M4 iPad Pro

In the past two weeks, I’ve been exploring the latest version of Final Cut Pro for the iPad. This app, released last year, was initially criticized for its limited features and usability. However, with the release of the new version, I have been pleasantly surprised to discover the joy of using it, despite its shortcomings.

The new version of Final Cut Pro for iPad, confusingly named “Final Cut Pro for iPad 2” (although it is compatible with all current iPads), was launched this week. One of the most significant additions to this year’s release is not actually a Final Cut Pro feature, but a separate app called Final Cut Camera. This standalone app for the iPhone offers advanced camera controls, similar to Blackmagic and Kino apps. While it doesn’t support custom LUTs like the other two apps, it can be used in conjunction with Final Cut Pro on the iPad to record Live Multicam sessions with footage streaming from up to four iPhones or iPads. This new feature is particularly useful for video podcasts, as it enables users to monitor footage, zoom in, and make on-the-fly adjustments such as changing white balance and focus mode.

During my editing sessions, Final Cut Camera has been helpful in alerting me to overexposed areas in my footage, prompting me to adjust the background settings. Although the previews are compressed, they still look great. Once the recording session is finished, the full-quality files are transferred to the iPad running Final Cut Pro and rendered. Surprisingly, this process is faster than I had anticipated. In just a few minutes, my 10-minute session with three iPhones was available for editing. A new transfer indicator window provides updates on the progress of the transfer.

However, despite the introduction of the Multicam feature, it is disappointing to note that Apple has made few other improvements to enhance the Final Cut Pro for iPad experience. One notable enhancement is the addition of external hard drive support, which was previously absent. However, Apple’s handling of file management in Final Cut Pro for iPad (and iPadOS) remains inadequate. All media files must be stored within the FCP Library files, and the library file must be stored on either the internal or external drive. This limitation means that users cannot split their media across multiple drives or utilize cloud storage effectively. Furthermore, the constant need to duplicate files from one location to another is a cumbersome process.

While Final Cut Pro on the iPad includes unique features such as Live Drawings, which allows users to draw animations directly onto their clips using an Apple Pencil, there are still significant video editing features missing. These include compound clips, folders, adjustment layers, post stabilization, curves for color grading, project sharing between devices, custom LUT support, 360-video support, object tracking, and linear keyframes. These omissions can be frustrating and hinder the editing flow, forcing creative decisions based on software limitations.

Despite the limitations, Final Cut Pro for iPad remains my preferred choice among mobile video editing apps. Although the market for such apps is highly competitive, with popular options like CapCut and DaVinci, I find myself consistently drawn back to Final Cut Pro. This is primarily due to the overall experience it offers. Apple has designed it as a “touch-first” app, and once users become familiar with the controls and limitations, they can enjoy a more immersive editing experience. The use of touch controls and gestures, such as the jog wheel and the sidebar, make editing more intuitive and engaging. While it may not be as efficient as using a mouse and keyboard, there is a certain charm and tactile feel to editing with your hands.

Moving forward, it would be ideal for Apple to address some of the missing features in order to fully realize its vision of a capable and touch-first Final Cut Pro. By adding features such as the ability to import complete folders, organize files into separate folders or bins, and utilize the haptic squeeze function of the Apple Pencil for editing purposes, Apple can enhance the usability and efficiency of Final Cut Pro for iPad. With these improvements, Final Cut Pro could truly thrive as a powerful video editing tool on the iPad platform.

In conclusion, while Final Cut Pro for iPad still has room for improvement, the overall experience it offers is enjoyable and immersive. Apple’s focus on a touch-first approach and its attention to intuitive controls make it a preferred choice among video editors. By addressing the missing features and enhancing the file management system, Final Cut Pro for iPad has the potential to become a dominant force in mobile video editing.

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