Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Quit whining about Final Cut Pro X

No happy FCP X
With the release of the completely revamped version of Apple's flagship video editing software, Final Cut Pro, long-time professionals in the industry are acting like old grumps: resistant to change, complaining, and come on Grandpa, let's hear about the good ol' days while we're at it.

This is Apple we're talking about here. You know, the company who's goal it is to reinvent industries ... On a very philosophical level, this company is looking to make it's products more useable, adaptable and affordable by amateurs or professionals alike. When more people can use and understand a product, that makes it more of a success, regardless of how much of it's predecessor it leaves behind.

The new version of Final Cut Pro is not, however, an iterative build upon it's previous self. It is an entirely new piece of software. And regardless of whether or not this release had been an iterative build on FCP 7 (FCP 8?), the entire application still needed a complete under-the-hood rewrite. Among the necessary improvements included making Final Cut completely 64-bit (not easy), adapting it to work with Grand Central Dispatch (OS X's way of managing computing tasks among CPU cores), and switching its user interface API from Carbon to Cocoa. With this type of exhaustive laundry list, why not go ahead and rethink the entire thing?

Using the application, one can see that it borrows heavily from the iMovie way of doing things. From its interface to the managing of projects and media—everything is very iMovie-esqe. This type of editing workflow makes this a very compelling app for "prosumer" users, not the mention the price. At 300 bucks, anybody that can afford a Mac can afford this software. That means that these very capable video tools are available and attainable by the masses, which I believe is Apple's primary goal: make tools available that accomplish what 90-percent of people do 90-percent of the time. The elite 10-percent that need super-duper editing rigs? Stick with what you've got for now. Just because FCP X doesn't fit your needs, it doesn't mean FCP 7 has quit working. You might not be able to buy new licenses, and that's probably an error on Apple's part. But I would still keep an eye on FCP X as Apple adds more features and addresses the complaints that people have of this 1.0 release. And that's just it. This is a 1.0 release (or a 10.0 release to be precise). It's a brand new product.

The biggest complaints for the new release include the lack of multi-camera support, no support for RED footage, and the inability to import older FCP projects. Many have likened this new version of Final Cut to the switch a few years ago from iMovie HD to iMovie '08. During the switch, some features were broken as Apple focused on the ground-up rewrite of the application and entire video-editing experience. Revolutionary or not, that process has taken a little time to get used to, but it has proved well for the app over the past few years. Final Cut Pro X will be the same way. So for those up in arms about this new release, don't use it. Stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to.

It's very simple. You cannot expect this release to fit right in to your mega-studio workflow. If anything, Final Cut Pro users should be excited over the fact that their applications aren't just sitting still and withering—the transition will take time for super users while Apple adds features and quells complaints.

As some customers have already said, FCP X is like Apple's "Windows Vista" of the video editing world. And I have to agree. Sure Vista had its issues. But is anybody complaining now about Windows 7 (other than the usual crap that wrong with Windows)? It's a process, and sometimes the upheaval of the old is essential to making the new. Break it down and rebuild...

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