Make more of your movies with Final Cut Pro X

Mark Spencer
2 January, 2013
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iMovie ’11 is a great application for getting started with video editing. It’s intuitive, it includes high-quality templates and simple effects, and it can handle most basic editing tasks. And since it’s part of Apple’s iLife ’11 suite on every new Mac, the price can’t be beaten.


But iMovie does have limitations you may bump up against before long. For example, you can add only one non-adjustable video effect per clip. The tools for manipulating audio are limited, and editing is pretty much a drag-and-drop affair, which can be slow and inaccurate. To expand your editing horizons, you may want to consider upgrading to Final Cut Pro X.

Just as an amateur photographer can move up from iPhoto to Aperture, or a budding musician can move from GarageBand to Logic, anyone who edits video can move from iMovie to Final Cut Pro X.

On the surface, the new Final Cut Pro looks and acts much like iMovie. Underneath, however, is a powerful, professional editing application with a deep feature set – which is why it costs $319.99.

It can import iMovie projects, so you can take a project you started in iMovie and open it in Final Cut Pro. There, you can take advantage of a greater variety of adjustable titles, transitions and effects; faster, easier editing with keyboard shortcuts; more powerful colour-correction and audio tools; advanced green-screen keying; multilayer compositing; multicamera editing; and third-party plug-ins.

Looks familiar. An iMovie project, imported into Final Cut Pro X, comes complete with titles, transitions, cutaway shot and music track. Final Cut Pro X’s interface looks quite like iMovie’s.


We created a short iMovie project from a shoot at a Californian winery. We used one of iMovie’s project themes, which includes title animations and transitions, and then we adjusted audio levels, colour-corrected a few shots, time-reversed the closing sunrise shot to make it look like a sunset, and added a music track.

We also used iMovie’s Advanced Tools to add a cutaway shot over the interview clip.

To import an iMovie project into Final Cut Pro X, choose Import > iMovie Project from Final Cut Pro’s File menu, and select the project. To get access to the Event, select File > Import > iMovie Event Library. The iMovie project, imported into Final Cut Pro X, comes with titles, transitions, the cutaway shot and the music track.

Final Cut Pro X’s interface looks quite like iMovie’s. It uses the same concepts of events and projects; and many iMovie functions work in Final Cut Pro X as well.

The project appears in Final Cut Pro X exactly as it did in iMovie, but you can’t import iMovie’s trailers or animated maps.


The Balance feature doesn’t let you make adjustments beyond simply turning it on and off. That’s where Final Cut Pro X’s Color Board comes in.

It gives you complete control over a shot’s colour, saturation and exposure – and you can limit adjustments to specific tonal ranges.

Using the Color Board, you can quickly give a shot a warmer or cooler feel, create a black-and-white effect and more. You make these changes by dragging around ‘pucks’ on each ‘board’.


One way you could use Final Cut Pro X to enhance your iMovie project is by using the program’s Color controls to manipulate the look of your video far beyond what is possible in iMovie.

Also, a feature called Balance, when enabled, analyses the brightness and colour values of a shot, and then automatically adjusts those values as needed to create dark shadows and bright highlights, and to remove any colour cast that the shot may contain due to an improper white-balance setting. To enable it, simply click the Balance checkbox.


With a familiar user interface and editing methodology, and the ability to import your iMovie projects complete with titles, transitions and effects, Final Cut Pro X gives iMovie users a compelling way to achieve more-professional- looking videos – and have fun in the process.

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