Anyone who’s familiar with Apple’s upgrades realizes that sometimes big changes appear despite small changes in the OS numbering. The bump to Final Cut Pro X 10.4 from the previous 10.3 version is a great example of this. While Final Cut Pro X is already well regarded for its powerful editing tools and affordability, this upgrade adds some highly in-demand features, including new tools for 360-degree VR video editing.
Positioned for the Future
A little background first. 360-degree videos have quickly become an essential tool in the repertoire of video editors and producers. The experiential impact of 360 videos, with its ability to put the viewer into the middle of the virtual landscape, has proven popular with viewers. Businesses have taken note and increasingly have developed video campaigns based on 360-degree VR videos. Real-estate agents, resorts, and hotel properties have used the medium in a powerful way to showcase their properties and experiences. As familiarity with the medium grows and new uses are found, the demand for video editors who can quickly and fluently create 360-degree and VR video experiences will certainly increase. Demand for video editing software that works seamlessly with 360-degree video will also be in demand.
The 360-degree VR Video Editing Landscape
Several software platforms have loomed large in the adoption of 360-degree and VR editing. Two of the most prominent have been early adopters of 360-degree VR editing tools, and have been proven leaders in the field.
- Adobe Premiere Pro – Premiere Pro is a popular choice among professional video editors. Its list of video editing tools is exhaustive, and there’s a large community of users and tutorials available to get users up to speed with just about any kind of task. 360-degree VR editing tools have been a feature in Premiere Pro for several iterations.
- CyberLink PowerDirector – PowerDirector is best known as a consumer, entry-level editing platform. But CyberLink wasted no time in jumping on the 360-degree bandwagon. It packs a big bang for the buck and includes intuitive tools for stitching footage, creating titles, and exporting 360-degree format video productions. One drawback – PowerDirector only works on Windows operating system based computers.
Apple’s upgrades to Final Cut Pro X are a timely response to the need for an integrated and comprehensive set of 360-degree VR tools in the Final Cut platform. While many of the new features and upgrades have been available, at least to some degree, with the use of third-party plug-ins, the upgrades are a welcome addition – and free to existing Final Cut Pro X owners.
Impressive Features for 360 VR Video Editing
As we noted, Apple has been a bit behind the curve on supporting 360-degree VR editing, but Final Cut Pro X 10.4 corrects that omission in a big way. The feature set for 360-degree video is fully realized enough to satisfy the most demanding professional video editors.
- Import and export – 10.4 will work equally well with consumer level 360 footage as well as with high-resolution video formats all the way up (and beyond 8K) footage. You can share finished videos directly from the program to popular sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Vimeo.
- Effects and titles – A variety of useful effects, like blurs and glows can be layered onto 360-degree VR video. Both 2D and 3D titles are supported as well, and tools are available for removing camera rigs from the rectangular footage.
- Headset support – With 10.4 you can wear a VR headset while you’re editing. This not only saves time in the reviewing process, but it also makes it much easier to edit within the context of the virtual 360-degree landscape.
New Features in Final Cut Pro X
Apple often pairs software upgrades with corresponding hardware updates. Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) 10.4 is a part of this trend, as Apple has added new software features optimized to work hand-in-glove with the new version of the iMac Pro. Even without new hardware, the range of new tools is impressive additions.
- HDR support – Higher and higher levels of resolution are becoming the norm in video shoots and video editing. FCPX 10.4 supports popular HDR formats for impressively realistic images.
- Easier to use color correction tools – Apple has stepped up the game with some new color correction tools and interfaces. Easy-to-use color wheels can adjust brightness, hue, and contrast, while ultra-fine adjustments are possible with color curves that let you hone in on specific color ranges. Need to sample a color? Eyedropper tools make it easy to sample specific colors or adjust white balance levels manually.
- LUT support – Pro editors who need to perform extensive color corrections often utilize lookup tables (LUT) that will apply specific color grading effects to clips in your video timeline. FCPX 10.4 works with many popular third-party color-grading apps – a real improvement for color grading.
- iOS project import – Like most software programs, FCPX supports many different camera formats and resolutions. They’ve taken that a step further in 10.4. Now you can shoot some footage on your iPhone, start editing with iMovie and migrate the project to FCPX to finish it up.
- HEVC and HEIF support – This addition allows import and editing of high-efficiency photo and video formats from Apple devices.
An Integrated Package for High-End Video Production
Apple’s commitment to pro-level tools and 360-degree VR editing is confirmed with this update to Final Cut Pro X. 10.4 is a welcome addition to existing FCPX users, and makes it an attractive package to consider for those looking for an editing software suite that covers the cutting edge of video tech. With this update, Apple has signaled it wants to continue to be a serious choice for the serious video editor.
– Video Caddy