Saturday, March 10, 2012


It seems like FCPX 10.0.3 just came out, bringing with it a host of new or renewed features including multicam, media relinking, layered photoshop file support, batch file renaming, and broadcast monitoring [Beta].  As well, it brought improvements to XML, colour correction, choma keying, and overall performance and stability.

But the biggest change, I think, might be the attitude towards the software.  I’ve seen lots of articles from people openly hostile towards the original release who’ve been converted, or at the very least their stance has softened.  Scott Simmons, who I’ve had several back and forths with on Twitter, wrote a great piece for Studio Daily about the current state of FCPX

The key point here in Scott’s article,

"...part of the argument against FCPX was its lack of certain core functions that editors have always relied on. Now that many of them are back the questions to ask about moving to FCPX is less about editing features and more about editing philosophy."

Quoth the internet, "THIS".  The reason I've been so frustrated to understand much of the reaction to FCPX, is that it seems most people's attitude was that ANY change to the way things are currently done means that it was no longer "Pro".

Well, to quote the ever-readable Philip Hodgetts of Intelligent Assistance,
"The first problem with making major improvements is that it will involve change and we know that no one likes change: they want things to get better but never change!"

I'm not going to go down this path too far, but to conclude this point, I've hear many people complain since the launch of FCPX that Apple is trying to "tell them now to edit".  Well, sure... they're proposing ideas that differ from the way things are currently done.  But as someone who's been editing since the first NLEs surfaced, I have to say, I don't remember being asked how I wanted to edit back then either!

In the end, there are two ways to look at Apple as a company investing into FCPX:

The first is that Apple is a company where editing software contributes basically nothing to their bottom line; their livelihood doesn’t depend on it’s success, so why should we expect them to take it seriously.
The second, is that Apple is a company where editing software contributes basically nothing to their bottom line; their livelihood doesn’t depend on it’s success, so they have the freedom to take chances that other companies that live or die on their software’s success cannot.
AVID isn’t going to do anything to rock the boat with their core user base.  Those users have their rut and dammit don’t screw with my interface or command keys!  This gives AVID very little room to maneuver in terms of innovating.  All they can do is make “the faster horse”.
Apple is willing to throw away core ideas and start over- and that’s where real innovation begins.

Wait... wasn’t this article about 10.0.4?
Ok.  Thanks for letting me vent...
Let’s take a look at Apple’s FCPX release schedule since the product first launched, with days between each update listed after-
10.0.0 - Jun 21, 2011
10.0.1 - Sep 20, 2011  [91 DAYS]
10.0.2 - Nov 16, 2011  [57 DAYS]
10.0.3 - Jan 31, 2012  [76 DAYS]
The smartest way to predict what Apple is going to do is look for patterns in their process.  We don’t have a lot of data to work with yet, but so far the update release cycle has been 10.0.1 [Feature Update], 10.0.2 [Bug Fix], 10.0.3 [Feature Update].  If we take that as gospel, we should expect to see FCPX 10.0.4 approximately 2 months after the release of 10.0.3.  The other thing to keep in mind is that with all but 1 of these updates, Apple releases on a Tuesday.
With that in mind, the earliest prospective date for 10.0.4 will be Tuesday, March 27th.
Now, this takes for granted that 10.0.4 will follow pattern and be all about bug fixes.  Should that be the case, expect to see no new “feature” functionality.  That said, I think we could still see further enhancements to FCPX’s XML [further expanding the hooks 3rd parties can use for cross-software compatibility] and added work on the CoreMediaIO Broadcast monitoring support.

However, we’re still in early days here, and it’s clear the FCPX development team has set itself aggressive goals for the software’s development.  So we might see another large scale release with 10.0.4.  Should that be the case, we could expect it no later than 3 months after the release of 10.0.3, or by Tuesday, May 1st.
Should 10.0.4 be a bigger update, I think the areas we might see some big changes are :
  • Audio mixing and improvement of the implementation of Roles
  • Improved multi-user and SAN support
Richard Taylor has posted an extensive list of improvements he’d like to see on his site FCPX.TV.  He’s already had to ace 9 items with the release of 10.0.3.  I imagine a lot more will be gone before the end of the year.
As with anything theorizing about Apple's plans, it's always a crap shoot.  They act like this, until they do that!  Though I didn't publish my predictions anywhere, I was within 2 week of my outside prediction of the 10.0.3 release date.  Let's see how I fare this time...
NEXT: my own take on ROLES.  The core idea is great, but I think they need to work on presentation.


Ron Sussman said...

You forget that Apple is still dictating the direction, not talking to professionals. THAT will continue to be an issue

Hoverboy said...

@ Ron. Ultimately, every NLE is dictating direction. If AVID or Adobe asks 100 different editor how to make a certain feature better they're going to get 100 different responses. The designers ultimately have to make a choice. Even AVIDs more cautious changes to the software are met with a certain amount of flack.

Apple might not be listening to everyone, but I guarantee you there's a Beta group of editor who they are working with on the development of the software.

My fundamental point is that if they listened to pros, we'd see refinement, but not real change.

Ron Sussman said...

yes but Adobe and Avid ARE at least making an effort to see what Pros need and use. The other day I tweeted about an issue with Arri's Alexa Avid AMA plugin and Arri called ME! That is a level of customer service, in a dedicated professional arena,that Apple will never have or want to implement. I personally have high hopes for FCPX. There ARE great things in that software that are brilliant but its Apples attitude toward the entire FCPX implementation that has editors riled up more than anything else. FCPX, Logic and Aperture will all be ported over to the iPad or completely disappear within the next few years because, like the posts states, there is no financial interest or gain to be made by Apple with their software offerings.

Hoverboy said...

Apple certainly lives on a certain level of secrecy surrounding any of it's future product announcements. And I'll be the first one to criticize Apple for how they handled this transition. If they'd said, "We have a 1 or 2 year roadmap..." and continued to support FCP7 in the interim, then instead of feeling threatened by FCPX- it probably would have been keenly interesting and exciting. But unfortunately Apple doesn't have an alternate corporate strategy between it's consumer and professional products. Bu I would say that Apple has been far more open in talking about FCPX than ANY product in recent memory.

Regarding your comments around moving all the pro apps to iPad. I think what you forget is that the Pro applications are all testing beds for bringing better and better functionality to the "i" versions of their products, which DO add value to Apple's overall offering.

But I personally do not see any of these programs going wholesale to the iPad. The MacPro isn't gone until it's gone. OSX won't be replaced by iOS as long as Apple wants developers writing software for either platform. That's a pessimistic view I just don't share.

iMovie [originally conceived by Randy Ubillos as First Cut] could conceivably have a very important part to play in post production workflows. But FCPX on the iPad is a non starter at the moment.

If anything, I see the iPad and it's descendants as wonderful adjacent control surfaces for programs like FCPX, for purposes like audio mixing and colour correction.