Easily & Safely Update Final Cut Pro X with New Features for Editors

Final Cut Pro 01/02/2022 5 min read

Final Cut Pro updates can cause big headaches for editors, especially if they are not adequately prepared. While you may want to get straight on using the new FCP features, you should take a few steps to ensure your projects are still accessible after the update is installed. We’ve put together a quick read guide to help you through the process and get you back to editing.

Part 1: Learn to Update Final Cut Pro

There are several steps to making sure your Final Cut Update will work, and it can take a little time to complete. However, unpicking the issues that can arise by not taking these steps can take far longer, so it is well worth the time to get it right. The first thing to note is that to update FCP; you will need to have access to the App Store and your System Admin password.

Update Your iOS

It isn’t often that an iOS and Final Cut Pro update happen simultaneously, but even still, many people are guilty of not updating their operating system when one is available. There may be several reasons for this, including that regularly using apps will no longer work with the new iOS.

Before performing FCP updates, your operating system must have the most recent version installed; any apps that update may not work on the older iOS. With the latest Catalina 

Before you back up your Mac iOS, you should perform a Time Machine backup on your hard drive. Use an external drive to create a backup of your entire system before updating; if anything goes wrong, you have a full version of your device to revert to. Once backed up, check for Mac updates in System Preferences under the Apple Menu.

Preserve the Old FCPX Version

The next step is to make a backup copy of your old version of FCP. If you run into problems with your projects after you have performed the update, you’ll be able to delete it and reinstall an older version of FCP. It’s important to remember this will not back up your projects, just the software and any custom settings you’ve created.

  1. In the Applications folder, find the Final Cut Pro application.
  2. Right-click on the application icon and choose Compress Final Cut Pro.
  1. Wait for the folder to compress, and rename the folder to include the FCP version it contains.
  2. You can move the compressed folder to an external hard drive if preferred. You don’t need to delete the FCP application as this will be replaced during the update.
  3. If you’ve updated, you want to revert to the previous version, delete the FCP application, and unzip the last version.

Back-Up FCPX Projects Externally

When you’ve performed a Final Cut Pro Update, you will immediately be able to open your old project. When you do so, you’ll be allowed to update the project to match the software. However, once you update the project, you can’t undo it; the project won’t open in older versions of FCP.

Duplicating your Projects is a fantastic way of ensuring you have the older software versions of your projects. However, if your projects are big and contain a lot of media assets, you can quickly run out of space. 

  1. Find the project in your Finder.
  2. Right-click the project and choose Duplicate.
  3. Once the copy is created, right-click the copy and choose Compress.
  4. Rename and move the compressed project to your spare drive.
  5. If you want to access the project in the older software, ensure you’ve unpacked and reinstalled the older version of Final Cut Pro first; if you’re asked to update the project on opening, close FCP immediately.

Back-Up FCPX Projects Internally

You can also perform backups of your projects from within Final Cut Pro. These steps need to be completed before you update your software, but a huge advantage is that you can consolidate your footage, removing any unused assets. Backing up your projects using consolidation creates smaller bundles, ideal for archiving old projects.

  1. Open Final Cut Pro and your chosen project.
  2. Select the Library in the Project Browser and go to the Information Inspector.
  3. Select the Modify Settings button alongside Storage Locations.
  4. Select a new Library in your preferred location and hit OK.

  1. Next, hit the Consolidate button, then make sure the Optimized and Proxy checkboxes are ticked and hit OK.
  2. Final Cut will consolidate the project to the new location. Depending on your project’s size, it can take a while to complete, especially if copying to an external drive. To check the progress, hit Command+9 on your keyboard.
  3. Once completed, close Final Cut Pro and open the duplicated project.
  4. If everything is correct, close Final Cut Pro and compress the consolidated project.
  5. Ideally, sort your copies on an external drive. Remember to disconnect all drives that have your backup libraries on them before updating the software or projects.

Export XML

The final thing you can do before updating the FCP software is to create XML files of your project timelines. These handy text files should allow FCP to rebuild your original media into the composition you’ve edited.

Exporting an XML can be tricky, as you can’t guarantee the XML will work with your FCP update. Whatsmore, you’ll need to do an XML export for each Timeline in a project.

  1. Open Final Cut Pro and your chosen project.
  2. Select the timeline in the Project Browser that you wish to export as an XML.
  3. Go to File > Export XML.
  4. Choose your XML name and location and hit Export.

It is important to remember the XML files are not complete versions of your project; they are text files used to rebuild your sequences. You will still need a copy of the original media used in the project for an XML to work.

Note: If Final Cut Pro crashes, Force Quit the application by hitting Command+Alt+Escape on your keyboard.

Part 2: Top 3 New Features with the Final Cut Pro Update

1. 8K ProRes

The latest version of FCPX offers high-speed 8K ProRes editing in full resolution. With up to 5x faster-exporting speeds for higher-quality footage, FCPX makes cutting and grading 8K footage a dream.

2. Object Tracker

The Object Tracker is a fantastic addition to Final Cut Pro, adding a feature that is usually reserved for After Effects. FCPX will now track faces and objects using machine learning to detect edges and match movements automatically. The function offers editors simplicity and creativity when compositing or animating titles into a pre-shot scene.

3. Cinematic Mode

You may have seen Cinematic Mode on newer camera devices such as the iPhone 13, allowing you to choose and change the focal points in a shot. The latest FCPX update allows for Cinematic Mode editing – delete, add, and adjust your shot’s focal points in the edit. When combined with the Object Tracker tool, Cinematic Mode gives you complete control of your shot focus in the edit.

No matter how long you’ve been an editor, your work can fall apart if you don’t know how to update your software. Fortunately, there is plenty of help for editors looking to understand a bit more about what’s going on behind the scenes of FCPX. While learning the technical theory of your software might not be the most exciting part of the editing, it can help to ensure all your projects are safe while using the most up-to-date editing tools.

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