Wednesday, June 22, 2011


In the ramp up to the release of FCPX, we've seen no end of speculation, posturing, deification, ranting, ultimatums, and general nuttyness.  At times I have to admit I've found it a bit disheartening.  I'd like to think of Pro users as a bit more pragmatic and thoughtful.  But proportionately, there's been just as much plain rumor-mongering around the release of FCPX as there was over the last iPhone.  I suppose though, I can't really blame people.  Editors are artists, and they take their art seriously.  They also spend a great deal of time in front of that screen, so it becomes a very personal experience.  And how well they know that software determines their livelyhood.  When things change, people get nervous.

So yesterday FCPX was released and a lot of people went a little crazy.

I think the critical mistake that people are making in is that they're seeing this as an either/or scenario, when what we're dealing with is if/then.  Despite the name, this is a transition to a new platform, and like any of the transitions that editors who've been in this business for any amount of time can attest, it didn't happen all at once.  FILM-->TAPE-->NLE was a slow and frustrating process, with a lot of uncertainty and competing technologies that left many high and dry.

The last 5-7 years have been relatively stable, all things considered.  The same big players.  The same UI conventions.  Things have gotten faster, better, but not a lot has changed.

From my perspective, if Apple had simply taken their existing platform and moved it to 64bit, it would be the expected, incremental move forward.  And some people would have loved that.  The fact that they have taken the effort to stretch out and explore new paradigms new ways of working, says more to me about Apple's commitment to the Pro market than the omission of features, as important to a segment of the Pro market as they may be.

Hold on, what did I say?  A segment of the Pro market?

And I think that's the really important fallacy to burn to the ground here.  These ARE NOT critical features for every Pro.  To say that you're either outputting to a Da Vinci for grading or ProTools for audio; or your a kid cutting his skateboard videos in is parents basement is disingenuous and frankly insulting to a majority of the market.  I work with large companies, and for 6 years [having been in the business for 22] have run my own business and made not an inconsequential amount of money.  And there's only one feature that's missing here that I technically care about for my day to day business, and that's external monitoring.  Am I not Pro?  Professionals are anyone who make a majority of their living off of a given trade, and anything else is an artificial barrier set up by those who'd like to set themselves apart for reasons of ego.  Great that you cut film or television.  That's not my business, so to say I'm not Pro is the hight of delusion from those that do work in those fields.  That's how AVID lost it's majority market share in NLEs in the past 10 years.  Keep catering to the top 5%, and keep setting up barriers for entry to the mid-to low end.

I firmly believe based on what Larry Jordan and Philip Hodgetts have said that it was simply a matter of time and resources that led to the exclusion of the features like EDL, XML, OMF and Multi-cam.  So let me propose two ideas and tell me which of the two makes more sense:

1. Apple holds release of FCPX for another 6-12 months until all of these features can be addressed.  Apple does not talk about unreleased software so the not inconsiderable discontent continues to grow.  Apple finally releases the software this time next year, and large post houses would STILL have to take the time to evaluate, test, learn the new UI [while still being productive] and hold out for a couple of bug revisions before slowing moving over to FCPX.

2. Apple releases FCPX yesterday, and a large swath of the middle market and jump right in start working with it.  Finding the issues.  Providing feedback to Apple.  Large post houses can download the software at minimal cost and play with it in non-work scenarios.  Editors can get their heads around the shift in media management and editorial UI.  Then, in 6-8 months, when the bugs get worked out and these features have been implemented, the high end can start transitioning over as their schedules allow.  OR for that matter companies can evaluate that Apple's new platform does not meet their needs and start to plan their transition to AVID or PremierPro [yeah, right...].

To say that FCPX is not for Pros is flat out wrong.  To say that it's not ready for ALL-Pros is absolutely correct.  The first one would suppose that Pros are not the target market, which is clearly not the case.  The other is born of purely technical concerns, which can and will be sorted out in due course.

The surest sign of how Apple views this is that you CAN run both FCP7 and FCPX on the same system.  They aren't putting a gun to your head and telling you this is how it's going to go!  They see this as a transition from one platform to another, as has been mentioned elsewhere, like the transition from OS9 to OSX.

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