The Final Cut Pro X Export Guide (Part One): Sharing

This guide explores the export capabilities of Final Cut Pro X.

It is written for the beginner, so you can understand what is possible with Final Cut Pro X and what isn’t. Hopefully by the end, you should be able to decide whether FCP-X is the right tool for your workflow, or not. I highly recommend you read the Final Cut Pro Manual for a more detailed overview once you’re done with this guide. It really does a great job of explaining the concepts lucidly.

In this part we’ll look at the basics of exporting, and what Apple calls ‘Sharing’.

Exclusive Bonus: Download my free guide (with examples) on how to find the best camera angles for dialogue scenes when your mind goes blank.

The concept of ‘Sharing’

Final Cut Pro X (FCP-X from here on) calls rendering ‘Sharing’. If you want to export your finished timeline you will need to use the ‘Share’ options. There are two ways to get there. The first way is File > Share:

FCP Share1

The second way is by clicking the ‘Share‘ icon on your timeline:

FCP Share2

This small list doesn’t give you the whole picture, which is a bit frustrating. To get more options, select ‘Add Destination…‘, and you’ll get this:

FCP Add Destination

Now it makes more sense! In general, you could break down your share/export options as follows:

  • Discs – DVD or Blu-ray
  • Email
  • Internet Video – Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook, etc.
  • Image Sequence
  • Master Video File
  • Apple HLS Streaming
  • Apple iDevices video

For greater control and flexibility, there are three more important options, without which it would have been difficult to call FCP-X a professional NLE:

  • Transcoding
  • Apple Compressor (additional $49)
  • XML support

We’ll look at these three in Part Two.

Codecs supported by FCP-X for export

FCP-X supports the following video codecs (all only in MOV wrappers):

  • Prores (all versions)
  • H.264
  • Uncompressed 8-bit 4:2:2
  • Uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2

FCP-X supports the following image sequences:

  • DPX
  • TIFF
  • Photoshop PSD
  • IFF
  • JPEG
  • PNG
  • OpenEXR

FCP-X supports the following audio options with video:

  • LPCM – lossless
  • AAC – lossy, used mostly for delivery files

FCP-X supports the following audio-only options for export:

  • AAC
  • AIFF
  • MP3
  • WAV
  • AC3
  • CAF

Sharing your projects

Depending on how you use FCP-X, you might want to do several things, as explained above. Let’s look at them one by one:

Creating a Master

There are two ways you can do this. You can use the:

  • Master File, or
  • Export File.

Both these options are kept separate, though they do the same thing. The Master File option is unchangeable, while the Export File option can be customized. When you click either, you get this:

FCPX Share Master Options

There are two tabs: Info and Settings. Info tells you about the timeline or sequence or clip that you have selected to export.

Once you click Settings, you can choose the following:

  • Format – Video and Audio, Video only or Audio only
  • Video codec
  • Resolution – locked based on what your timeline or sequence settings are.
  • Audio file format – locked based on what you select for video, otherwise you have the audio only options.
  • Check box to include Chapter markers.
  • Open with – You can select Quicktime to playback your file immediately after export, or ‘Do Nothing’, etc.
  • Roles as – Export as either of the default roles, or you can create your own. A role is a stem. Read more about them here.

The resolution, frame rate and audio options of the exported clip is displayed at the bottom. You also get an estimate of the final file size at the bottom right.

Next to that is a small TV icon, which will show something like this upon hovering:

FCPX Which Devices Play

If you are creating a master file or exporting, you will only get the Mac option selected. MOV files that don’t get the green check mark against ‘PC’ might not play on PCs, so beware!
Creating a web video on Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook etc.

The settings for this are fairly simple. If you Sign in… you can directly start uploading to your desired video channel:

FCPX Youtube Options

When possible you get the choice of resolution, but no control over the bit rate or audio.

For Compression you have two options:

  • Faster encode
  • Better quality

It should be obvious that Apple expects you to take their word on the matter. The other option is to test each setting one by one, systematically, until you can compare the output to other options, like Compressor, etc.

Sometimes you have the option to upload a ‘Private’ movie, if the video channel supports it. For Youtube you have the option to upload into a Category directly.

As with the Master File, you can see the resolution, frame rate, file size and audio options. You will get a yellow warning message if some of your settings are not supported by your video channel.

Creating a DVD or Blu-ray

The DVD settings are as follows:

FCPX DVD Settings


You can select to create a Single-layer or Double-layer disc, or let FCP-X decide for you based on your media type and file size.

As far as authoring options go, you only have the following choices:

  • White or Black template
  • Show Menu or Play Movie once disc loads
  • Use Chapter Markers
  • Add a Background image
  • NTSC or PAL decided by timeline settings – E.g., if you have a 30p timeline and want to create a PAL DVD, you’ll need to use Compressor, or redo your project to a 25p timeline.

Blu-ray options are pretty much the same, except you also get:

  • Option to add a logo image
  • Option to add a title image

The authoring options are very limited, and not suitable for professional use at all. This is probably keeping with Apple’s policy of eliminating optical discs from all its hardware. I only recommend using FCP-X for authoring for home movie projects or whatever.

Creating a video for iDevices

You get two choices here – 720p and 1080p, though both of them have settings for the other – they are the same thing, essentially.

FCPX H264 Quality Options

You can choose resolutions based on what Apple things is right for all iDevices, since you cannot choose which iDevice you’re focused on. As far as bit rate is concerned, you have Better Quality or Faster Encode. Files are stored as H.264 MOV files (called an Apple MPEG-4 movie) with AAC audio.

You can add them to iTunes and that’s about it.
Exporting Audio only

To export audio only, you can choose ‘Audio Only’ in Format:

FCPX Export Audio

You can choose what kind of audio format you want to export to, but not the bit rates, channels, bit depths or sampling frequencies. These are carried forward from your timeline.

You can export Chapter markers if you’re planning to import them into another software for further work. You can also assign roles to them to divide the audio into audio stems for sub-mixing.

Exporting to Email and HLS options are limited like everything else and needs to be tested for ‘project-worthiness’.

These are the basic exporting or sharing features of Final Cut Pro X.

In Part Two we’ll go to the more professional set of workflows, which includes transcoding, Compressor and XML.

Exclusive Bonus: Download my free guide (with examples) on how to find the best camera angles for dialogue scenes when your mind goes blank.

8 replies on “The Final Cut Pro X Export Guide (Part One): Sharing”

  1. Hi – does anyone know how to render/share a fcpx file as an mp4 with a higher bitrate than 10 which is the maximum I seem to be able to get as my master file? thanks

  2. Can u tell me how to set a special image to show on the video without playing the video i mean see an image and people know whos the video about

  3. I have a 4:30 hr video that I’ve reduced to 10.66 GB, which is the smallest format I could get it to. I am trying to share the video with a PC computer and it will not open and to large to download. Any suggestions, I’m on a deadline and at a loss? Thank you!

  4. Hi Sareesh Sudhakaran. Thank you taking the time to post this.
    Do you know where the bit rate (or data rate) setting might be? The Vimeo guidelines suggest it to be anywhere from 2,000 – 20,000 kbit/s.

    Also, if you know, what is the bit rate if you choose Vimeo as the “Share” destination?

    I am using FCPX 10.1.3 and Compressor 4.1.3, which I believe are the latest versions. Compressor 4 allowed you to change it, but Apple, as they to do sometimes, removed it (or hid it real good) and I’m curious as to why.


  5. hi,am new into fcpx and am trying to export and create a dvd for 3 music video to be in one video.How do I export these videos so that they can all be burned to one dvd disc?

Comments are closed.