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astropad duet FCPX ipad pro

It's been a bit quiet here on FCP.co for a few reasons. One of them is a bit of a reorganisation, more on that in another article. The other reason is that we have been spending a lot of time on our iPad Pro and we rather like it.

We have had an iPad Pro for a few weeks now and the moment anybody sees it for the first time, they remark on how large it is, then they want to have a go on it.

This is normally followed by a couple of remarks like "I love the screen" or "It's quite robust for having such a large screen." 

Yes the screen is gorgeous and it is a delight browsing through webpages in portrait mode. Something that I never felt 100% comfortable with on a regular sized iPad.

But for me, the killer app is iMovie. Working amongst broadcast television people for the last few weeks has given me the opportunity to show hardened TV folk just how smooth iMovie on the iPad Pro can be. They have all been impressed, even more so when I tell them afterwards that the footage they were scrubbing through was 4K!

I'm not suggesting that people make broadcast tv on iMovie and the iPad Pro, (no doubt some people will!) but as a portable edit suite working in 4k that can upload to YouTube or share to a social media platform, it makes a pretty good combination.

I had a visit from FCPX trainer Chris Roberts who came to see 4K on the iPad in action. After the normal first few minutes of skimming, scrubbing and editing, we went on to shoot 4K on his iPhone 6S, airdrop it to the iPad Pro and then airdrop the exported movie back to his iPhone. I won't embed the footage of him wrestling an inflatable crocodile on holiday, but we were both impressed by how easy it was to shoot, edit and publish 4K wirelessly with handheld devices. 

One note here. To get an iMovie project from iOS to OS X, you do not need to go via iCloud. Just airdrop the project. To get the timeline into Final Cut Pro X, you will have to send it to FCPX from the desktop version of iMovie. 

At the other end of the age scale and editing experience, my 20 month old daughter can zip up and down the timeline and even (if slightly accidentally) add and rearrange clips in iMovie with ease. For her it as simple as working a Peppa Pig game, she is growing up used to video being editing on hand held devices.

I've been working with two of the associated Apple iPad peripherals. The dedicated Smart Keyboard is great, although slightly noisy. I've got so used to using the combination that when going back to my MacBook Pro, I often touch the screen by mistake!

By holding down the Command key on the keyboard for a couple of seconds, a shortcut menu of the current app appears. FCPX editors will be very familiar with most of the editing combinations. This makes editing in iMovie very slick, well recommended.

 imovie shortcuts


I like the Pencil, using it for tasks that need greater accuracy than the trusty old digit. Photoshop Fix is a good example, where it works well with the paint tools.

I did get asked about Astropad, an iOS application that installs on the iPad Pro with a companion application for the Mac. Priced at £14.99, the software emulates a graphic tablet with the display running behind, rather like a Wacon Cintiq.

It does work with Final Cut Pro X, but it doesn't seem natural, I don't think you can drive FCPX quickly by touch alone. Skimming on the filmstrips and on the timeline is responsive, but suffers from pixelation when scrubbed fast or a lot of the screen changes at once. A different story in Photoshop where the app responds to different pressures from Apple's Pencil. The iPad Pro has also got 'palm rejection' which means the Pencil will work if you rest your hand on the screen.

The video below shows Astropad running on an iPad Pro with FCPX and Photoshop.


Finally to Duet. I didn't have much luck when I first tried it, but a wipe and reinstall of both the iOS and the OS X apps fixed the jitter issue.

The extra real estate that Duet gives you makes it a no-brainer if you use FCPX and own an iPad Pro. If you travel a lot, then the iPad Pro can be easily slipped in a bag behind a MacBook Pro. Unfortunately, the keyboard doesn't work with Duet -it would have been great to use the arrow keys to go through the clips.

FCPX iPad Pro Duet

Duet running on an iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard.

As with any extra monitor and FCPX, you can either put the Library or the Viewer on the second screen. I tried both and prefered the Library in list view as it allowed me to scrub up and down the filmstrips with a good feel. Out of all the third party add-ons and apps I have tried, this combination has given me the best 'feel' of touch skimming in FCPX.

FCPX iPad Pro Duet 2


So would I recommend buying one? The answer is yes. It makes a great addition to a MacBook Pro should you be doing an edit away from base. Not only can you run Duet for the extra real estate, it is also very handy for checking emails etc when you are mid render. This is on top of the iPad's web browsing, Pages & Numbers editing, FaceTime calls home, iPlayer, Games and whatever other apps you might have installed.

This is the way editing is going to go. Smaller, faster, cheaper.  Will FCPX ever make it to the iPad Pro? Well in a way it already has, but slimmed down as iMovie. The iPad Pro is limted by storage, sure you can airdrop clips, sequences and projects between iOS and OS X devices in an instant, but you cannot connect up a 1TB hard drive.

 Well, not yet anyway...


p.s. If you haven't tried 4K editing on an iPad Pro, make sure you visit an Apple Store to try it out. You might want to leave the credit card at home!


peter wigginsPeter Wiggins is a broadcast freelance editor based in the UK although his work takes him around the world. An early adopter of FCP setting up pioneering broadcasts workflows, his weapon of choice is now Final Cut Pro X. You can find him on Twitter as @peterwiggins or as he runs the majority of this site, you can contact him here.




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