For those of us fascinated by the evolution of editing technology, the Final Cut Pro X release is the gift that keeps on giving. Kanen Flowers has reinvigorated his long-dormant podcast, “That Post Show” (on iTunes), and the episode released yesterday covering FCP X a month after the launch, includes Mike J. Nichols, Paul del Vecchio, Peter Wells and Larry Jordan, talking about why the application is not for pros, at least not yet. But go to Apple’s FCP site and you’ll find the word “professional” everywhere, so much so that the whole thing seems defensive — a rarity from Apple. The center of the page showcases four videos that highlight innovation in the program, again explicitly aimed at “professionals” and, shock of shocks, including screen grabs from the competition. Apple is feeling the heat, that’s for sure. They’ve damaged their biggest asset: the loyalty of their user base. Avid’s new management, by comparison, understands how precious that is (and current Media Composer users are a very loyal bunch).
The conventional wisdom right now seems to be that Jobs and Ubillos knew exactly what they were doing. They deliberately accepted the loss of the pro market in order to appeal to a much larger market. We may not like it, but it was a smart business decision — or so that line of reasoning goes. But I’m not so sure. Everybody makes mistakes, even Steve Jobs. Did the people at Apple really expect this much push-back? I’ve seen too many companies get stars in their eyes going after the Hollywood market to be confident that Apple is willing to write it off. I suspect that they want it all, and they still think we’ll come around. The question is whether the FCP X interface, which lacks a source monitor or bins, can ever be patched to work for people like me.
Apple has attempted to purify and clarify the editing model for a file-based era, removing anything that comes from film or linear tape. The source monitor — linear tape. Bins — film. EDLs — tape. Even in and out points are gone — again, they stem from the tape days. Frankly, I applaud that kind of out-of-the-box thinking. And there’s plenty of innovation in FCP X, innovation that I hope Avid and Adobe are busy copying. But Apple wins by taking chances, going where no one has gone before. And sometimes it goes to far. It sure seems like this is one of those times.
Let me end this post with a shameless plug. If you’re thinking about moving from Final Cut to Media Composer, you need my book, “Avid Agility.” MC is not a clone of FCP. Much of what makes it so powerful and responsive is hidden. The fastest way to understand why so many people think it’s the best way to edit is to get my book.