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It might not be the Minority Report 'air GUI' but you can control a lot of the features within Final Cut Pro X with just your voice. Could you do a complete edit without having to touch the keyboard?

If you've used FCP for a while, the chances are you've turned on the VoiceOver tool in Universal Access by mistake and had Fred or Victoria read out an instruction to you. The speech integration in OSX goers further than that, it's a two way trip.

control_fcpx_speech4A few years ago we looked at controlling FCP with the built in speech recognition features found in the OS. If you want to activate it, go to the Speech panel in System Preferences and toggle speakable items on. You should see that round icon with a microphone float on top of your windows as above.

With the FCP7/Snow Leopard combination, control seemed to be a bit limited, access being restricted to the menu items only. The dropdown menu that contains the custom commands for applications would empty once FCP became the front window.

So with a fresh install of Lion, we decided to have another look, this time with FCPX.




Imagine our delight when a long list of available commands appeared in the front window section. You can actually navigate through FCPX quite easily using the instructions. You might have noticed that it is probably easier to use a keyboard shortcut than to speak out "Append the selected clip to the primary or selected storyline."

What this does show is that an external app or OS is in control using direct commands within FCPX, not just surfing the menu structure. This brings a whole new level of operability to FCPX as automation will be possible from third party applications.

A simple example would be that dedicated control surfaces could be programmed for commands. More complicated uses could be the automated editing of material such as versioning promos or idents. With the close integration of Motion5, automatic text insertion or replacement could be possible. 

There will be many, many uses.

"Could you do a complete edit without having to touch the keyboard?"  The answer is probably yes, but are you sure you would want to? Also to get the commands accepted, you have to hold the ESC key down to activate the recognition. This stops the machine completely re-editing your masterpiece when the wife phones you mid edit to remind you to pickup some milk on the way home.


An alternative is to use a user definable keyword to preface instructions, so yes you've guessed: "Hal, Play full screen" is possible right now!

I think the conclusion of the story is that this is another indicator of a lot more being hidden under the hood of FCPX that we haven't seen yet. 

© Peter Wiggins 2011

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