Jun 26, 2011

Final Cut Pro X: The Beginning of the End.

We've all come to expect new and amazing technology from Apple over the years, what with the revolutionary Mac OS X and game-changing iTunes, iPhone and of course the iPad.

But what myself and other pro-film/video industry professionals have noticed in the past 4 years - really ever since NAB '07, is that Apple has very distinctly been putting all their resources into the consumer world and nearly ignoring the professional.  Yet in spite of that general consumer-first direction Apple continued to produce and support some of the industry's best applications for pro-video and film, The Final Cut Pro suite.  Now that Final Cut Pro "X" has been released Apple's support for full-time professionals has clearly ended.

If you watched the Keynote address about the announcement and feature overview of FCP X on the web you'd think that all the glorious praise and applause was because Apple had finally produced an professional editing app that was a "hit out of the park" and this new iteration of Final Cut would be better than sliced bread.

However my take on that preview of FCP X was distinctly different, as what I saw was something that looked suspiciously like an iMovie interface and lo-and behold, a very iMovie-like approach to features and workflow.

Most disturbing was the "let the application attempt to fix everything on import" mantra, where FCP X will auto white-balance, auto de-shake, auto categorize... auto this, auto that... basically screw up all your "I shot it that way!" footage.

As any creative pro knows, you don't want the camera or your software packages making decisions *for you*, you want full control over the entire process from the first time you press the start-stop button to the final output.  That's not the methodology behind FCP X, Apple thinks professionals are stupid and can't figure out what they really need, so they're going to let FCP X make these all-important decisions for you. How nice.  But that's not the worst of it.

FCP X doesn't like professional editors, not one bit.  That's why you CAN'T import any project built in any other version of FCP.  That's right, that big project you finished for your client that you want to re-make again?  You'll have to keep it in FCP 7 forever.  Period.  End of story.  Oh but it get's worse.

FCP X hates pros so much, that it won't talk to professional audio formats at all; no OMF, AAF or XML.  Not unless you want to spend another $500 from Automatic Duck to fix that issue.

FCP X also has absolutely no method for working with EDL's at all.  None.  Again, if you're a professional editor FCP X hates you.  Passionately.

How many other ways does FCP X hate professional editors?  Let's see:
  • No tape-based workflows
  • No separation of render files from original assets
  • No third-party effects plug-in support (the thousands of dollars you spent on your effects library, throw it all away)
  • No RED support!  Huh?  A brand-new editor that can't talk to RED out of the box? Are you kidding me??!!!  New versions of editing software always ADD support for more cameras/formats - this one is taking them away!!  C'mon, Apple.
  • No support for the current infrastructure of external video cards.  Yep, you'll need new versions of those my friends.
And the list goes on....

Look, if you're a guy with a video camera and like shooting home movies but have outgrown iMovie or Window Movie Maker then FCP X is your ticket to more creativity.

But if you're a full-time professional who MAKES THEIR LIVING from being an editor then stay away from FCP X and stick with FCP 7 for the foreseeable future.  At least until you can figure out a strategy to switch to another editing platform, say Premiere Pro or Avid.

Conclusion: FAIL - Miserably.

Again I say: C'mon Apple... WTF you idiots!!

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