Whither Apple?

Now that NAB has come and gone and Apple made no big announcements, we turn to the ever-fascinating question of what’s coming from Cupertino. Final Cut Studio has gone two years without an upgrade. They are surely working on something, but they’ve also been distracted with the iPhone.

A story I like is that Final Cut Studio 3 will be revealed at the World Wide Developers Conference on June 8. Several sources suggest that the new version will focus on integration. Apple’s business model so far has been to buy promising Mac software, loosely integrate it, keep the price low, and democratize the market. You have to buy a Mac to use the software, so if necessary, it can be a loss leader.

Regardless of the power of the individual aps, smooth integration is what makes such software effective for editors. I’ve never been a fan of a loosely integrated suite. (See this post: Is the Suite Sweet? for more.) In my ideal editing environment you put all the tools to work on what some people have started calling a “common timeline.” Whether your tools are actually separate aps or simply modules within the same ap, the key is that they don’t create separate projects that have to reconciled. I don’t want to be conforming my own picture changes.

Adobe has promoted one way of doing this in its desktop publishing applications, allowing you to embed, say, an Illustrator file inside an InDesign document—you right-click on the embedded image to open it in Illustrator. That works, but you’ve still got separate files for each ap that you have to manage and back up. At some point, you start to wonder why everything isn’t under the same roof.

Apple is well-positioned now to focus on integration because they’ve already got a good collection of components. The question is whether they can roll it all together in a way that works for editors.

We’ll know soon enough whether Apple’s going to upgrade FCS at WWDC. In the meantime, what are you looking for from them?

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8 Comments on “Whither Apple?”


  1. My only guess as to why we aren’t dealing with single files that encompass everything would be due to the size. Already, Final Cut Pro project files and .psds can be pretty hefty. So, perhaps the reason to keep the files separate would be to keep initial load time down.

    Maybe?

    ~Luke

  2. Mark Raudonis Says:

    “Common timeline”? Chances of this occurring are perhaps equal to the widespread adoption of the electric car. It’s possible. It’s doable. It’s forever
    “Just around the corner”.

    Like the electric car, the concept is bold, makes sense, and is technically feasible, but due to technical limitations probably won’t land on my desktop anytime soon.

    Mark

  3. Steve Says:

    Well, I supposed it’s true that file sizes could get really big if certain choices were made, but barring that, I would be very surprised if anybody at Avid or Apple makes feature decisions based primarily on how they would affect project file sizes. Keep in mind that FCP and MC already include lots of VFX and sound capabilities now, so file sizes aren’t going to change all that much.

    As far as common timeline is concerned, I would also be pretty surprised if Apple doesn’t show some kind of increased integration in FCS3. Adobe and Apple are on similar paths — bring the aps together into suites and then integrate them over time.

    My biggest wish for FCP is to see improved trim functionality, but based on past history I’m not holding my breath.

    Steve

  4. Philipp Says:

    “In the meantime, what are you looking for from them?”

    Apple going to use MXF as standard file format, now they can access Unity :P
    Then, Avid will sell its software development to Adobe and watch the other two A’s mangle each other to buy them back again. In the end there will be one, big Avid. Sorry, could not resist!

    But that “common timeline” thought is neither new nor wrong: what Autodesk started with Edit+Combustion led to Adobe’s CS and Apple’s FCS. I think Avid has to develop their own Authoring & Effects/Compositing applications to stay competitive. If you call it “suite” or “all-in-one-app” makes no difference. But for marketing: you can easily sell one part of a “suite” and get people used to your applications for a low price and then sell one piece of the suite after another.
    What I am really looking forward to from Apple? Increasing the pressure on the competitors in terms of HD- & Indie-Film editing (support for DSLR photo-cameras with video-functionality) and I am somehow serious that they will join the media-management system Avid has established. And of course there will be new 10k presets for DVD-menus and transitions!
    Regards, Philipp

    • David K. Says:

      Avid already has DS for FX/Compositing, which is a very powerful tool. In terms of FX/Compositing DS works very much like discreet’s smoke* or Adobe’s AfterFX in terms if features and elegance.

      What Avid SHOULD do is have the FX-portion of DS BE the DVE that you access from a Symphony/MC timeline.


  5. You are very correct that Apple could position certain SKUs as loss leaders to make it more attractive to someone facing a sudden need to edit video to choose the Apple hardware+software solution. But will they ever? History seems to indicate that it’s unlikely Apple will ever do this, although who knows what else is going to come down the pike with the current economy…

  6. Steve Says:

    What I was getting at is that Apple makes money differently than Avid. Every time Apple sells you FCS they also sell you a Mac (or they already sold you a Mac), which is one reason they can keep software prices low. (And that’s why Steve killed clone sales when he came back.) Avid has to make money on the editing stuff alone, which is one reason that they still sell hardware.

    S


  7. I would like to see…faster faster rendering…..NO…… REAL TIME!

    and blu-ray for dvdspro


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