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Final Cut Pro X



In Final Cut Pro X

By Tony LaTorre

FCPX’s Backward Compatibility Gap"> 7toX Bridges FCPX’s Backward Compatibility Gap

On 29, May 2013 | In Final Cut Pro X, Software | By Tony LaTorre

7toX LogoCom­puter soft­ware is always chang­ing and that’s a good thing. That’s how soft­ware improves but it can cause headaches as well. Who hasn’t upgraded their OS only to find that some of their soft­ware doesn’t work any­more? We want it both ways, to have the ben­e­fits of the new while still being able to work with the old. It’s called back­ward compatibility.

You could argue some com­pa­nies go too far in mak­ing their prod­ucts back­ward com­pat­i­ble. There’s a trade­off, after all. To make your prod­uct work with older ver­sions and ways of doing things invites bloat; the soft­ware is more com­plex, heav­ier, and has a greater chance for bugs. At some point you have to cut the cord and move on with the new, but in the mean­time you’ve given your users time (often years) to move over in a time­frame and sched­ule that suits them best, less­en­ing the chance for hic­cups and problems.

Apple Inc., it’s safe to say, is not one of those com­pa­nies that keeps things back­ward com­pat­i­ble for too long. They’re much more likely to allow some­thing to “break” if it inhibits for­ward progress. And I think some­times they go too far.

For exam­ple, one of the biggest gripes with Final Cut Pro X when it first came out was that you couldn’t open Final Cut Pro 7 projects. Frus­trat­ing, but not totally sur­pris­ing when you con­sider the rad­i­cal depar­ture from tra­di­tional non-linear edit­ing pro­grams that FCPX truly is. Some things you were able to do in FCP7 you sim­ply can’t do in FCPX (there are no tracks in X like there are in 7, for example).

Then I heard about the pro­gram 7toX from Intel­li­gent Assis­tance, which, as it’s name implies, is ded­i­cated to trans­lat­ing Final Cut Pro 7 projects into some­thing X can read. I wasn’t expect­ing much, partly because because of price (can a $9.99 pro­gram really do much?) and partly because I had my doubts that any pro­gram could bridge the gap between the two ver­sions, but I was pleas­antly sur­prised. Any­way, here’s how you do it (I was using 7toX ver­sion 1.0.21 and FCPX ver­sion 10.0.8):

Select Export to XMLIn FCP7 select the time­line you want to export (or select noth­ing if you want to export every­thing). From the File Menu, choose Export > XML….

screenGrab_exportXML_dialogIn the Export XML dia­log box, I left every­thing at their defaults, which means I used the ver­sion 5 for­mat, left “include Mas­ter Clips Out­side Selec­tion” unchecked, and left “Save project with lat­est clip meta­data” checked. Click OK. Choose a loca­tion and click Save and you’re done with the Final Cut 7 part. Oh, and make sure to quit FCP7 when you’re finished.

screenGrab_sendSave-optionOpen up 7toX. Imme­di­ately you’re pre­sented with an Open dia­log box. Nav­i­gate to and choose the xml file you just saved out. You’ll get a progress bar and then the option to send the trans­lated file to Final Cut Pro or to save as an XML file. Choose Send to Final Cut Pro and FCPX will auto­mat­i­cally open and bring in your trans­lated file.

Note: If you didn’t quit FCP7 before get­ting to this part you’ll get a win­dow say­ing a pre­vi­ous ver­sion is open and to quit that ver­sion. It only gives you a but­ton to quit FCPX but if you ignore it and quit FCP7 that box will go away. screenGrab_timeline-in-Event-Library_insetYour FCP7 time­line and source files will now show up in the Event Browser as their own event, ready to go.

It’s really as sim­ple as that and takes longer to describe than it does to do. I was in and out in a minute and a half.

Some notes on the new timeline:

  • Any­thing that was on track V1 in FCP7 shows up in your main time­line. Any­thing on V2 and above shows up as a con­nected clip.
  • Some effects trans­late over but only at their default set­tings. For me my color tran­si­tion defaulted to black instead of using the white I’d chosen.
  • I had vari­able re-timed footage in my 7 project which X just aver­aged out for the whole shot.
  • Any­thing it couldn’t do for a spe­cific shot showed up as an incom­plete to-do item attached to that shot. All my shots had the drop shadow effect dis­abled, anchor point ignored, and motion blur ignored. I used none of these in my Final Cut 7 project (or at least wasn’t aware they were there), but appar­ently these are prop­er­ties the old Final Cut applied to all clips, and these prop­er­ties don’t exist in the new Final Cut.

You can get a list of other poten­tial dif­fer­ences here. All in all, a pretty good job of bring­ing things over.

Even­tu­ally FCP7 will become a thing of the past, at which point we’ll no longer have a need for appli­ca­tions like 7toX. But until then it fills an impor­tant niche, allow­ing us to bring over work we’ve accu­mu­lated over the last decade or so into Final Cut Pro X.




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