last updated 7 Jul 2002

FCP version 3.0

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FCP Version 3.0 was released on 5 Dec. 2001.

visitors since 6 Jul 2002
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FCP 3.0 is now available in Mumbai India as it is in other parts of the world. Is it revolutionary, not quite ?
Does it work with the various hardware out there? Old bugs fixed? New bugs introduced ?

In the months that it has been available, I've used FCP 3 under MacOS 9.2.2 in a dual G4-800 with 512 MB RAM. And a Targa Cinewave card that can capture uncompressed video from Betacam. Earlier I had used FCP 3.0 on a Dual G4-450 with 1 GB RAM. Also use it in a G4 Dual 800 with 15. GB RAM under MacOSX.

If you're looking for how to make settings in FCP then I haven't got such a page for FCP 3. But the FCP 2 settings page might be of interest to you.
What's new

To run FCP 3.0 you have to have MacOS 9.2.2 So if you are running MacOS 9.1 or 9.2.1, you'll need to upgrade the OS first. Fortunately, both MacOS 9.2.1 and 9.2.2 are included on the FCP 3 upgrade CD. And in both US and International English versions.

On OSX you need 10.1.1 at least. And that's not in the upgrade CD.

If you are running FCP under MacOS 9.2.2, it looks exactly the same as FCP 2. Same buttons, same background colours same windows. Same looks. The only difference is that the tiny buttons for linked selection and snapping are now yellow instead of green.
In fact, I have FCP 2.0.2 and FCP 3 loaded on one system, and I use these colours to tell which one I'm running.

FCP under MacOS X is similar to the OS 9 version except for those shiny round buttons for closin windows. And some "File" menu items go to the "Final Cut Pro menu". Like "Easy setup", "Audio/Video settings" and "Preferences". And Quit.

You also have to enter a serial number that's contained in a two-page flyer that's very easy to lose. There's also QuickTime 5.0 on the CD and a Pro serial number that's on the same paper. I don't know if one is supposed to load the QuickTime again from the CD even if one already has QT 5.0. I didn't. And FCP 3.0 didn't seem to mind. Anyway, eventually I did load QT from the FCP 3 CD.

Another strange thing is that the QuickTime installer that's included in the CD says version 5.0.4 whilst upgrading, but after upgrading, QuickTime Player still says it's 5.0.2.

And if you are using FCP 2 under MacOS 9.1 and want to upgrade to FCP 3 under MacOS X, it's a long road.
First upgrade to FCP 3 under Mac OS 9.2. Run it once so it registers. Then upgrade to MacOSX. And get all the updates till you have Mac OS X 10.1.1 no less. Then boot under MacOSX. And go to "Classic Mode" at least once so Mac OSX can see where everything is placed.
Then install the FCP 3 upgrade for Mac OSX.

Project compatibility

If you open a project that was created in FCP 2, from FCP 3, the project opens but you are warned about it, so you can save a copy. Because if you don't save it as a copy, that project won't open anymore in FCP 2.

Major improvements and features.

There are features and there are features. And as you use it you find out more and more. But here are some striking improvements.


This is the really big one. FCP is real time! No more rendering. Or so everyone thought. Here is the caveat. If the shots you're editing are from DV captured via Firewire then some effects are real-time. Meaning you don't have to render them to see. These effects show up as bold in the Effects tab. Cross Dissolve, many cheesy wipes and some others are real-time. Place any of these effects onto a clip in the timeline and you see a green line at the top of the timeline at the place you normally would have seen a red line. Green means will play in real-time.

But you can see them real-time only on your Mac screen. If you've connected an analog monitor to your deck/camcorder and that to the Mac Firewire, to see what you're editing on a TV screen, then you still have to render to see it on the TV screen. And if you have selected Apple Firewire as the playback engine in "View during playback using" (in Edit>Audio Video settings> Ext. video) then even real-time effects appear with a red line and nee to be rendered. Switch the setting to "None" and the red line turns green.

But this is still a great improvement because you can try various effects and fix what works best before rendering the final one instead of rendering each time you make a small change.

Not everything is real time. In Basic Motion crops and moves are real time but resize and rotate isn't. In transitions, only cross dissolve and some wipes are real-time. Color corrector is real-time but not too many filters are real-time

This real-time gets better if your computer is faster and has more RAM. I've checked out a Dual 450 G4 with 1 G RAM and a Dual G4-800 with 512 MB RAM. So if you have a faster Mac you'll see more real-time Sadly, if you have a slow Mac like a G4-400 or a G3 don't expect too much real-time.

Overall the real-time appears almost exactly as if you had a Matrox RT-Mac card installed. So does that mean that RT-Mac owners should chuck their card ? And prospective RT-Mac buyers should defer their purchase decision ?

NO. For three reasons. The RT-Mac lets you see Real-time effects on an external monitor and even dump it to Betacam/VHS without having to render first. Second, the RT-Mac gives you an analog input that the bare Mac lacks. And third the RT Mac lets you connect a second monitor to double your working space.


To those who were using Photo-JPEG to capture at lo res. and save space this is not new. But capturing off-line is now easier. And saves space too. I haven't one a quantitative test but according to Apple you can do 40 mins per GB.

And if you capture at Off-line, you won't be able to see your edit on the ext. monitor connected via Firewire. So with off-line you're stuck to editing looking at the Mac monitor.

Batch recompress

A great innovation has been incorporated into the Media Manager. You can now take a project captured at DV resolution and then "downgrade" selected rushes to a low resolution. And take that with you on a CD to work on a home system or a laptop.

I took the edit of a 16 min film at DV resolution did a batch recompress to Off-line resolution. It took about 10 mins on a dual 450 G4. And media that occupied about 4 GB of space now took up about 500 MB. I wrote this to CD in about 10 mins And in about 20 mins total, I could carry out an entire 16 mins film on a CD .. to edit where I like.

Timecode overlays

In both the viewer and canvas you can turn on "Timecode overlays". This is in the same drop-down above the window where you select Image and Image+Wireframe. What Timecode Overlays does is to show in a small transparent window the Timecode of each of your tracks. Meaning if you have 2 video tracks and 4 audio tracks all from different sources, you can see the time code of all these tracks at a glance. At the point where the playhead is parked. And this overlay is visible only when the clip is not playing. Very neat.

Through edits

Till FCP 3, you had no way of knowing if you had joined two parts of a shot with consecutive frames. Called matchframe edits or unintentional cuts. Now if you select  "Through edits" in Timeline options you see two small red arrows that indicate that the frames you've spliced are consecutive. Useful for trimming.

Audio playback quality

There is an audio playback quality setting. This is presumably to to conserve processor power (maybe ???) and make it more available to effects. (I guess)

Colour Correction

FCP 3 has a new colour corrector and a 3-way colour corrector, the latter being real-time. The plain-Jane colour corrector lets you correct casts that are so common to DV because some rather flaky white balance at the shoot.

The 3-way colour corrector is more precise and you can select the range of correction and how much is of which colour is corrected. Play with all the dials and sliders and you'll go wild.

Audio punch-in

You can now record directly to the timeline. Means you can play your edit and simultaneously record. It appears as a clip in the timeline exactly where it should be. If you record in sync, you don't need to sync it further.
In India we call this "dubbing". Elsewhere it's also called "Voice-over dubbing"
Avid Media Composer calls it "Audio punch-in".
And if you can record with a mic to the timeline, I guess you can also record from any other source. Meaning you can now score music directly to your edit.

New Auto-Save Vault

What is called "attic" in an Avid. What this means is that when FCP auto-saves, it time stamps the auto saved files. So when FCP crashes, you can open any of these and "back-track" to a previous good copy. I guess this also means that if you open a project, really ruin it and then save it, you can still go back to a previous good version.


This mode allows you to see and play multi- track compositions while you were tweaking them. Sort of like the "RAM Preview" mode of software like AE, or like working in the Effects mode in an Avid. Meaning you play the multi-track composition and FCP does its best to play it back at the max. fps possible. In large compositions this crawls to nearly one-frame-at-a-time speed, but it serves to give and idea of how it's all going to look. You can also set the resolution of this quick view so it plays faster at lower res.












What if you already had Real-time ?

Those who have a Matrox RT-Mac, already have some limited real-time albeit through the analog outputs.

FCP 3.0 does not add more real-time to what RT Mac already gives you. Meaning there aren't any more real time effects. Nor are more tracks real-time.

So it it worth to go out and get an RT Mac ? I think it is. Being able to see effects real-time on an external monitor is definitely a plus.

Those that have Igniter with RT enabled have a rather small number of real-time effects. FCP 3.0 will not add more effects to this repertoire.

Cinewave owners had no real time unless they purchased real time for small sum of Rs. 125,000.00. For those that didn't purchase this, Cinewave will still not output effects real-time through it's outputs.

System requirements      

FCP 3.0 will now work on MacOSX. It will also work on OS 9.2.2. So if you have a compelling reason to stay with 9.2.2, you can. But FCP 3.0 won't work on MacOS 9.1 or 9.2.1. Fortunately the upgrade CD contains these MacOS updates.

Those that have any third party hardware like RT-Mac, Igniter, Cinewave,Kona, Voodoo, etc. will have download some kind of an update to their driver from the manufacturer's web site.
Matrox have posted an update at their web site. Cinewave too has an update for users with Cinewave real-time.

Also to run FCP on MacOS X you'll have to make sure your card works under MacOS X. As far as I know on date, RT-Mac Cinewave don't work under OS X.

Projects done under FCP 2 or FCP 2.0.2 will open in FCP 3 without any problems. But if you save these in FCP 3.0 they won't open in FCP 2.0 or 2.0.2 . So better to complete any ongoing project, dump to tape, make a backup copy of the project and then upgrade.

Anyway, FCP installs itself in a new folder an keeps FCP 2 or 2.0.2 intact. So you can always go back to FCP 2.

What about the competition

At this time, FCP has two main competitors. Adobe Premiere and Avid XPress DV.
Both have Mac and PC versions. And both are great in their own ways.

For Avid owners XPress DV is a great alternative. Same basic interface as Avid Media Composer. Added drag-and drop editing features. Output to various media, web, VCD, VCD etc.
XPress DV is sold as software only, and works on certified PC configurations. It costs $1700 or 2700 depending on the package you choose. In India however these packages cost Rs. 90,000. There's even a turnkey solution for Rs 3.5 lakhs.

Premiere is the age-old workhorse. It gets better all the time. Also quite simple to use and offers tighter integration with After Effects an PhotoShop Premiere is according to some simpler to use and more forgiving than FCP. It certainly works better than FCP in less capable computers. And even works on G3s and slower G4s.

What haven't they fixed?

For one thing, the match frame and markers problem seems to still be there.

Meaning, take a clip, put markers in it. Edit part of this clip into a sequence. If the marked part has a marker, that appears in the sequence too.

Now park the blue line anywhere in the sequence and press the matchframe button. The frame appears in the viewer and the clip is loaded up automatically, but the markers are gone.

I'm still working on this page and will have more and more stuff on FCP 3.0 as and when I hear or discover something new.
If there's something that you didn't quite understand, or if you'd like to see something on this page, or if you want to be informed when this page changes, or even if you want to just say thanks to me, do mail me.
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