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Final Cut Pro X Arrives With 360 VR Video Editing

View your 360° video projects in realtime on a HTC Vive.

During Apple’s June developer conference, we finally got a glimpse of what we’ve all been patiently waiting for—Apple embracing VR.

In a trio of announcements, Apple revealed that Valve would be bringing SteamVR and HTC Vive to the new iMac, Unity and Unreal Engine were coming to Mac, and Final Cut Pro X would finally support VR video editing. It was a strong nod to VR creators. And with the launch of the new iMac Pro today, Apple is positioning it as the ideal machine for VR development.

One of those tools is none other than Final Cut Pro X, Apple’s professional-level video editing software.

A sign of how Apple is supporting VR in parts of its ecosystem, Final Cut Pro X (along with Motion and Compressor), now has a complete toolset that lets you import, edit, and deliver 360° video in both monoscopic and stereoscopic formats.

Final Cut Pro X 10.4 comes with a handful of slick new features that we tested, such as advanced color grading and support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) workflows. All useful features for creators, not just VR editors, especially since Final Cut Pro is used so heavily in industries like video editing and production. But up until today, VR post-production options have been minimal, with no support from major VR headsets. We’ve had options with Adobe Premiere plus plugins, but not everyone wants to be pigeon-holed into a single software option. And Final Cut Pro X runs butter smooth on the new iMac, so there’s that.

Now with the ability to create immersive 360° films right in Final Cut Pro, an entirely new group of creators have the ability to dive into the world of 360 VR video. Its simple and intuitive, something we expect from an Apple product. The 360 VR toolset just works.

For those familiar with Final Cut Pro, importing 360° equirectangular footage right into your timeline or library is a simple drop. Open the 360° viewer and you can see the headset view of your footage. Whether working with footage that’s 4K, 8K, or even more, all the same organization and editing tools can be used to cut your 360° project.

When it comes to motion graphics, i’ve always had the hardest time getting titles and text to look right in 360° video. Now you can easily add 2D and 3D titles to your spherical video. There’s even a variety of blurs, glows, and other 360° effects to add just like you would with normal title additions. You can also create more advanced 360° motions graphic—including realistic particle systems—in Motion and then add them directly to your Final Cut Pro project.

Easily at 360° titles and graphics on the fly.

Other visually enhancing tools available to editors include changing orientation across three axes to adjust perspective, a quick straighten horizon option, and my favorite—a one click remove camera tripod option. Similar to a smart clone tool, you can easily set the width and mask over that pesky tripod below your camera rig.

The 360° patch removes that pesky tripod with one click.

I can’t forget the VR headset playback either. A tool that becomes more and more useful when you integrate it into your workflow, you can view your 360° video work real time in a VR headset like the HTC Vive. It can dramatically help speed up edits and reviews, letting you choose to mirror what the headset sees, or disconnect to allow the headset viewer to experience the 360 VR project while you control your view in Final Cut Pro independently.

Aside from testing internally here on 360° video projects, VR studio Jaunt has also begun using Final Cut Pro X on some post-production VR work. Their latest 360° VR project for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line lets customers explore exotic locations like Tuscany, Venice, Jamaica, and Cozumel, Mexico. The showcase of beautiful landscapes from a first-person view was captured entirely on the Jaunt One and edited into four videos over a month. Kenny Voelker, Jaunt’s Director on the immersive films, told VRScout that working with native spherical video and reviewing edits on the fly through a headset made the entire workflow seamless.

For now, Apple’s embrace of VR is targeted toward creators and developers—and rightfully so. Anecdotally, the amount of readers and creators that have told us they switched to a PC from Mac because they weren’t VR ready or didn’t support certain VR creation tools was starting to get a bit much.

We can only hope soon, that when it comes to wondering if your machine will work for VR, you won’t have to make hard decisions. It should all just work because we need to get back to work.

About the Scout

Jonathan Nafarrete

Jonathan Nafarrete is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of VRScout.

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