Pros Leave FCPX – Where Are They Heading?

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The “X” in Final Cut Pro was supposed to mean “10,” but it seems as if for a lot of professional editors, it’s become the equivalent of “NOT.”

Apple's Final Cut Pro X

Final Cut Pro X

Since it was unveiled after much anticipation, what is being derided as “iMovie Pro” has sent many professional editors shifting to Premiere, Avid and even away from their Macs and to PC-based systems such as Sony Vegas.

This week HDWarrior did a roundup of some of their near-and-dear, describing the “hemorraging” of pro users from FCPX. HDWarrior’s post notes

Apple have made a fundamental mistake bringing FCPX onto a mature professional marketplace by re-writing and changing the game plan way beyond what many of us would accept.

I just finished reading Walter Isaacson’s book Steve Jobs, and it would lead you to believe it’s all in the design. Jobs was unabashed about pushing users where he thought they should go. They were the first to eliminate the floppy drive, to much chagrin. It seems that with Apple, they view the DVD as on the way out. But film customers often don’t.

As I release my recent documentary on DVD, the orders for the $30 DVD have outnumbered the $4.99 digital download five times over. FCPX eliminating DVD authoring may be a push to a world in which one views films from Jobs’ utopian “digital hub,” but it will, at best, take time.

That there are threads titled “FCPX Or Not: The Debate” underlines the debate.

Earlier this month, Avid Media Composer 6 just began shipping, at $2,499, higher than FCP Studio’s price point, much higher than FCPX’s $299.99. Scott Simmons at ProVideoCoalition kicked the tires and said,

We all know what happened from Final Cut Pro 7 to Final Cut Pro X. Apple thinks they know better than the user base as to what editors need so they made FCP into a totally different application. While it’s a modern application that does modern things, like edit with great speed and allow for background processes, it simplifies the traditional editing interface that FCP users have come to know and removes a number of tools we’ve used for years while trying to simplify others and add new ones entirely. It’s an approach that has been controversial to say the least and there’s a lot of differing opinions on whether Apple has succeeded. The fact is that only Apple could have done such a thing as both Avid and Adobe could never afford to alienate that much of an installed user base.

He finds much to like with MC6, also noting Avid changes are a “smart, cautious move.”

There’s a lot of anticipation of Adobe Premiere CS6, which may be announced at next year’s NAB, according to Simmons. Pro users are hoping for added features such as a native codec and better timecode generator. Adobe has already seen sales rise on its video tools as a reaction to FCPX.

Pros and amateurs are going in different directions, and rumors swirl that Apple will phase out the Mac Pro; the Jobs biography gives attention to Jobs’ notion that even laptops will go the way of the dinosaurs. PCs may see some new attention from formerly Apple-only editors; Sony’s Vegas Pro 10 has found a lot of fans.

So FCPX has created a reassessment in the market.

I remember attending a film festival in Boston in the mid-1990s, where a rep from Avid was demonstrating amazing technology, but the software cost $15,000 and you needed a computer with (gasp!) 3 gigabytes of storage. Within a decade, programs like Premiere and then FCP had given an alternative to would-be filmmakers with at least some money. Now, you can download the open-source Lightworks software, and others like it, and edit for free.

Filmmakers like Robert Greene, who began as an editor, see the wisdom of not rushing to the latest version of anything. He saves money to make money by employing perfectly usable second-gen software. For many editors, it seems that FCP7 will become a held-onto tool for at least a while.

“What’s the thinking behind this?” — Legendary editor Walter Murch lists what’s missing in FCPX

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Edward J. Delaney
Edward J. Delaney
Edward J. Delaney is a journalist, author, filmmaker and editor of DocumentaryTech, an online project that explores documentary filmmaking techniques and technology.
  • Jcuervo

    Sure burn a dvd of your “iMovie worthy” home movies.  Maybe a video blog?  REAL PROFESSIONAL STUFF huh?

  • Dave

    Pity about the drunken camera operator.