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Final Cut Pro X draws mixed reactions from consumers, professionals

Apple's latest Final Cut Pro release has drawn sharply polarized reactions, with some users lauding the upgrade, while others have condemned it as unfit for professional use.

The Cupertino, Calif., company released Final Cut Pro X, Motion 5 and Compressor 4 on Tuesday, touting it as a "revolutionary new version" that "completely reinvents video editing." However, that complete reinvention may have backfired, as numerous early adopters of the program have complained that missing features, lack of compatibility with Final Cut Pro 7 and bugs have crippled the software.

Currently, 278 of the 578 ratings for the $299 software on the Mac App Store are 1 star ratings, while 143 of the ratings are 5 star ratings. The application current has an average rating of 2 1/2 stars. Motion 5 has fared better with an average rating of 4 stars from 67 ratings, while Compressor has a 3 star rating with just 30 responses.

Customer Reviews of Final Cut Pro X temporarily disappeared from the Mac App Store on Wednesday, prompting speculation that Apple was censoring negative comments, but the reviews were back up within hours.

The current "Most Helpful" reviews are skewed toward negative feedback. "I love the idea of 64bit editing and all of the other features, but the basics for pros are gone," Kevin Lewis wrote in a 2 star review. "The interface is big and chunky like iMove," wrote user Fraize, adding that the program is buggy and "blew up" within 20 minutes of working on a project.

Other reviews compared Final Cut Pro X to Windows Vista, calling it "no longer a professional application," while others took issue with the lack of backward compatibility with Final Cut Pro 7. "I run my business on FCP and my first impression of the new app is that it is horrible," wrote user dangerousdan, though the reviewer admitted that they "will learn to love it."

Reviews outside of the Mac App Store have take notice of the improvements to and streamlining of the software, while still criticizing Final Cut Pro X's missing or limited features. John Gruber of Daring Fireball compared the release to the transition from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X: "a true ground-up rewrite with the intention of laying a solid foundation for the long-term future, but, in the short term, lots of missing features and frustrating changes compared to what current users were accustomed to."

Gruber adds that the Final Cut Pro transition has been more jarring, since the Mac OS transition was a "years-long transition." According to a person familiar with the matter, Apple designated Final Cut Express, Server and Studio as "end of life" as of June 21.

"Great design, like great music, is almost always foreign at first, if not disturbingly strange," David Leitner wrote for Filmmaker Magazine. "You have to spend time with it. But if it is great, and if you invest your attention, it will change the way you look at the world. After using FCP X for a week, Premiere Pro looks to me like the past."

Final Cut 3

"At version 1 Final Cut Pro X won’t support some professional workflows, but for other professional workflows it will be more than capable," post production professional Philip Hodgetts wrote on his site. Using Final Cut Pro X to cut together a story, I’m struck by how fast it is to achieve a result, as if everything was designed to get a result a quickly as possible."

Hodgetts wrote that, based on his talks with company representatives, Apple is hard at work at adding features missing in the initial release. "During my direct briefing, the Apple folk made it abundantly clear that the ecosystem was very important to them," he said.

According to Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, many of the world's best Pro editors had their jaws drop when shown Final Cut Pro X. "I’m blown away by what Apple has done with Final Cut Pro,” Apple quoted Academy Award-winning film editor Angus Wall as saying. Apple privately demoed the software to a small group of industry professionals, who reportedly pronounced the upgrade "spectacular."

AppleInsider reported last year that Apple planned to widen Final Cut Pro's appeal to include more prosumer and advanced home users. Apple reportedly responded with a comment, reassuring users that the next version of Final Cut is would be "awesome" and pro customers would "love it."