Well, it was definitely quite an eventful week with the release of Final Cut Pro X.
As a full disclosure, I’ve owned Avid, Premiere and Final Cut Pro for many years, and although I don’t use the software as much as I would like, I can say that I know enough of editing to be able to comment on these pieces of software.
Over the past years, Apple has made very important moves into becoming a commodity company with premium products that are the envy of any tech company. From the change of it’s name to being simply Apple Inc, to focusing on more consumer oriented products, they’ve made it clear that they know exactly what their market is, and just by looking at the results, Mr. Jobs and his company are right on target.
And although we, in the media production industry would like to think that Apple requires to give us what we need to produce our shows, movies and documentaries, the reality is that Apple has to deliver products that satisfy the needs of the largest number of users.
Although I don’t always agree with him, Alex Lindsay from Pixelcorps has said many times, Apple has to deliver what 90% of the clients use 90% of the time, and the new version of Final Cut Pro, is precisely that.
It seems to be a great video editing software designed for the prosumer marker. For those who want to experiment with video editing. For those who produce one-off pieces, independent producers that work mostly on their own, corporate and industrial videos, weddings and so on, which is in itself, a vast market many times the size of the Television and Film production market which require software that is tremendously more complicated and has a number of feature clearly missing from FCPX.
In the past, I’ve been critical of Final Cut, mainly because it has a very deficient media management system which is, incidentally, one of Avid strongest features. Even my FCP operators constantly complain about some of the bugs on the software, but overall, the lack of support that Apple provides on their professional apps. With this new version, all my complaints are gone. The software is exactly positioned to sell higher volume for a more diverse market.
I want very powerful software that has solid support behind it, when I require it. That’s why over the years, I’ve spent hundreds of thousand of dollars on Avid and Autodesk. My business depends on their software and to make be successful, I need a successful company creating outstanding software. At no point in time did I think that I can run a high end post production company while investing 300 dollars on the piece of software that’s the most critical cog on the machine. That is the reason there is software like Media Composer, or Smoke for Mac or the newly revived Lightworks. They have most of the features I require and are constantly developing under a production roadmap. With Apple, it was always a wait and see what will come next, if at all.
Editing software success, at least in my books, depends on a couple of very important features. First, as I mentioned, it has to manage thousands of assets with no problem, it must have easy ways of importing and exporting media and timelines as well as communicating with other tools, and it has to be simple to accomplish editing tasks. Sounds logical, no? But an editor must be focused on the editorial process more than on the preferences page of the application.
Ultimately, for the post production facility, the editing software is only one of the many pieces that make up the editorial process. In over fifteen years working in the industry, I can assure you that most of the expenses to build a suite don’t go to the editing software, but to the multitude of accessories, cables, racks, decks, scopes, and yes, even the chairs, sofas and water dispensers that adorn the dimly lit suites.
Now the answer is clear. The Pro app is what it is now, and that reassures me that my investment in great software that runs mostly on Macs will keep sustaining my business, as it has for many years.
Apple determined they want volume sales on everything and to that extent, FCPX is the answer to the market they want. It is an amazing piece of software aimed at a precise and vast group of users. They are smart at leaving the high end to others who develop great applications for their machines. So in the end, I’ll continue buying their machines and running other software. I’m sure, I will have a copy of FCPX in my arsenal as well. Everyone wins.