We welcome FCPX stalwart Bill Davis to FCP.co. He tell us about his first week with the new 16 inch MacBook Pro. How did he migrate his data? What did he lose? Did he get any audio clicking?
I ordered a configuration with 32 Gigs of RAM and a 2TB SSD, but maxed out every other option, including all the needed dongles to insert it into my non-USB C existing I/O rig.
Prior to this, I’ve been working on a pretty maxed out 2015 MacBook Pro that had the R9 GPU upgrade. That machine had served me incredibly well and allowed me to effectively work without the larger desktop computers I had used in prior decades.
Migration took one evening and the best part of a morning. I did what I consider a “clean Install.”
After a careful Time Machine backup of my old system, I launched the new 16” and manually installed everything — downloading all my Apple software (including the ProApps Suite) directly onto the machine — and then installing the other software that’s mission critical for my video editing work.
My goal was to jettison ANY previously installed 32-bit apps and enter the Catalina world fresh, on a new machine, that would help me feel confident moving forward. I'll note that not being able to use Migration Assistant to re-install everything more automatically was a PITA, but I felt that doing things this way would set things up properly so that in the future, I would be able to migrate forward without dragging along my last decade or two of deeply embedded, crufty old System junk.
So I bit that bullet.
I had some minor glitches in a couple areas that I should have figured out in advance.
One area that gave me some grief was screwed up permissions. Apparently my freshly installed apps didn’t see the correct ownership links for the old projects on this new volume. I had to locate and switch the correct toggles inside Users and Groups and eventually I was squared away.
Also, I had minor snafus with old fonts. I have a LOT of fonts accumulated after 20 years of working on advertising-related projects. For those, it’s typical for the client to hire me to execute their in-house design standards.
And in pursuit of that, they have often sent me custom font families or odd typefaces that I use on their behalf. The first time I opened FCP X, I saw a ton of font substitution happening in all my old videos! Arrgggh! Honestly, I haven’t even opened Font Book for maybe the past 10 years, instead I tend to just drag new fonts into the folder with my system resources, restarting, and leaving it at that. Sloppy habits, I know. So as a kind of cosmic penance, perhaps — It took me an hour or so to search out and install all the type I needed to get back to work.
There were other similar small set up delays, so my migration wasn’t just “click here and everything’s perfect” — but all in all, I just spent a couple of half-days getting the transition done, which didn’t seem all that bad.
And it’s a good thing, too.
Because I had a big “clients in the house” work sessions scheduled starting on Thursday!
I knew when the production team assembled in my suite at 10am on Thursday for that gig, I’d have to juggle requests from 3 primary project stakeholders: the creative director, the art director, and the project manager.
My afternoon on Wednesday started to make me feel much more confident, since things were starting to feel as I expected. I plumbed in my overhead client monitor via HDMI. I enabled (after a little more fumbling) my usual workflow extensions, and did some “dummy client session” dry runs.
The meeting morning arrived and I have to admit I was more than a bit nervous. New machine. New stuff (like an unfamiliar touch bar!) and even very minor things such as a MUCH larger touchpad than I was accustomed to with my old 15” MBP.
But things started out good, and just kept getting better.
The comparative speed of the new laptop was the most obvious. Things just felt significantly more fluid and “thoughtless.” Which is weird, because thoughtless is usually bad, but when you’re editing, thoughtless is what you’re really after. You want to see the WORK, NOT the machine, the interface, or even the applications doing the work.
The big obvious speed increases for me are first, load times. It seems like the moment I hit TouchID, the desktop springs to life and I can get to work. Scrubbing is super fluid. Apple laptop SSDs have a reputation for being VERY fast, and this machine feels like that’s still the case. I’m currently adapting an 8TB Thunderbolt2 drive as my primary editing storage using an Apple TB2 to TB3 adapter and it’s working fine. I expect when I start replacing my storage with TRUE USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, I/O — I might get even faster throughput.
And on that score, my first MBP session was a pretty major success.
The four of us cranked for about 6 hours with just a brief pause when lunch arrived.
And in the last hour, the Creative Director started cracking jokes about a snafu that had occurred on another gig all of us had worked on about 2 months before.
Those of you who edit in similar situations will understand how big a deal that can be.
If people are teasing and laughing with each other at the end of an edit session, THAT is a sure sign that things have gone VERY well.
I’m NOT saying everything was letter perfect. I had some minor glitches along the way, including one system hang while I was rapidly switching type faces in a complex type build with three people watching. But with my new machine (way to go touch ID!) the re-boot was exceptionally quick and I was back “in the edit flow” rapidly.
One tiny note for those who work with clients over their shoulder like I often do…
I know the Touch Bar as an idea has gotten a LOT of grief on-line.
But I have to say that I’m starting to feel pretty jazzed about having it. The very first thing I noticed is that it seems to know I have an external overhead monitor connected and it defaults on seeing that configuration to “Display Connected, Mirror Displays and Extend Desktop" touch bar options that make one-tap monitor source switching really, really simple.
I think that alone will smooth out going back and forth dozens or even hundreds of times during sessions like this one. One-touch switching between auditioning clips or workflow extension sourced content on the overhead monitor, and taping to turn it instantly back into a program monitor to keep the edit in view is super efficient.
So that was my first project with my new machine in a nutshell.
I’m really looking forward to getting to know this machine better, but I have to say my “first date” experience was pretty excellent.
Full speed ahead now.
Editor: Since Bill submitted the article, he has done tests to see if he could replicate the clicking issue we found here.The good news is that although he tried different methods, the clicking wasn't there. Could there be an early batch of machines with this problem?
Bill Davis is one-half of the entity confusingly known in Final Cut Pro circles as “The Other Bill Davis.” An FCP X editor since 1.0, he currently lives in San Diego California with his wife, Linda and a super cute, small fuzzy dog named Charlie.
He paid commercial office rent for 30 years and finally figured out, “well, that’s enough of that.” He edits content for a variety of corporate clients.