A lot of bile and vitriol has been spilt over the last few days over the launch of FCPx, the sudden freeze on FCP7 and has left many editors who work on FCP in broadcast and film for a living at a crossroads.
What’s the big deal? FCP 7 still works, just use that.
Not that simple I’m afraid. FCS3 and by extension FCP7 are being pulled off store shelves and from Value Added Resellers. If you don’t already have FCP7, you’re too late, unless you are buying it off the black market or eBay.
You ‘pros’ are just afraid of change
That may be the case for some. But anyone who was already editing in 1999 and is using FCP now can’t be afraid of change. Because back in ‘99, FCP was the change that people were afraid of. It was simple, had no realtime capabilities and was very buggy.
But it was also significantly cheaper and easier to use than anything else in the market. Combined with DV, FCP played a big part in democratizing the tools of motion picture editing, without which many companies and professionals in the industry today would have never gotten their start due to the competitive price point.
Anyone who thinks this is a bunch of grumpy old geriatrics complaining about scary new interfaces that they don’t get, has never worked in a collaborative broadcast television and film environment, where time, collaboration and professionalism are paramount in getting the job done, and the tools need to be up to the job.
It’s not about snobbery about wanting to feel like FCPx is for ‘true pros’. I like range keywords. I’d like the option to toggle magnetic timeline on and off. I’ve always thought face detection was long overdue for an NLE. Autofixing rolling shutter and proxy edit until ingest is done are great features.
So why do ‘pro’ users have such a big problem with FCPx?
A lot of talk has phrased FCPx as having ‘left features out’ and considering this is branded as FCP ten, users can hardly be based for seeing FCPx as an upgrade to FCP7.
The truth is FCPx is a rewrite from scratch, and many features are ‘not written yet’
While there still is the chance that FCPx may come good (I was using FCP since v1.2 and its improvement to 4.5 was exponential),one of the main issues isn’t the software itself, but apple’s attitude to the ProApps market.
Quote from Ron Brinkman former developer of Apple’s Shake:So if you’re really a professional you shouldn’t want to be reliant on software from a company like Apple. Because your heart will be broken. Because they’re not reliant on you. …. find yourself a software provider whose life-blood flows only as long as they keep their professional customers happy. It only makes sense.
Former FCP team developer (2002-2008) : The pro market is too small for Apple to care about it. Instead of trying to get hundreds or even thousands of video professionals to buy new Macs, they can nail the pro-sumer market and sell to hundreds of thousands of hobbyists like me.
For smaller facilities and boutique production houses who have the flexibility to write off 4-5 edit suites and push on, apple pulling the rug out under them represents an inconvenience, but one they can recover from fairly comfortably.
For larger sized companies, the stakes and significantly higher infrastructure costs mean placing themselves at the whims of a single company (which is in turn beholden to the whims of a larger than life megalomaniac) that has a track record of ‘taking their ball home and refusing to play’ are downright frightening, considering the significantly larger cost outlay.
With a 32bit FCP7 reaching the limits of it’s capability in a few years, editors who have recently made the recommendation to use FCP as the main editor in their facilities have been thrown under the bus in 2 ways.
First, that FCPx will not in the near future be a viable upgrade path for large facilities requiring collaborative workflows. Any conjecture about features that will be added is just that, conjecture. Without any firm release dates, all the assurances in the world aren’t going to satisfy a CFO, MD or CTO out for blood.
Second, FCP7 will not be supported further, as recent actions regarding licensing and availability of upgrade packages show. (I know they are now back on the website)
This means being tied to a platform that will be obsolete in 1-2 years, with no concrete knowledge of whether the next incarnation (FCPx) will be ready for use within/before that time.
You’re talking about companies who might have spent tens or hundreds of millions of dollars on hardware, software, plugins and integration to Media Asset Managers, News systems, Transmission systems, Playout servers.
Companies which will now hold the person/people who recommended FCP as an editing platform to them responsible for the additional cost of switching, re-training, re-integrating, writing off obsolete/incompatible hardware & software.
This affects all editors regardless of company size, smaller boutique production houses still need the ability to share projects and files to audio mixing houses, post-production facilities, voiceover studios, etc, because they don’t have the resources in house. The large facilities have these resources in-house, but the tools and project transport conduits and formats remain the same and need to remain supported.
So what’s missing?
Lack of support for FCP7 projects and no intention of adding that means as far as Apple is concerned, all the business you did before FCPx is not important.
If your client comes back to ask you for a change in their project or to refresh their video with their new logo, it’s their fault that they started doing business with you before you switched to FCPx. I’m surprised Macs around the world haven’t started at the year 0 after June 21st 2011.
There is no physical install copy. You must purchase it on the App Store and download it online. No local copy is kept and the files are cleared once the installation is completed.
How modern and forward thinking. Except if you are on location editing your rushes on safari in Africa and your installation gets corrupted. Where are you going to get internet from to re-download the application and re-install it?
No broadcast quality video out.
I can’t even muster up the sarcasm for this one. How does an application with Pro in its name leave out such a basic feature, one that is an absolute necessity for confidence in the fidelity of the finished product?
Extremely basic tape workflow.
I don’t like tape. But archive footage will come on tape. TV stations still prefer tape. If you have the tape deck, baseband ingest of the tape is codec agnostic and the tape is a handy backup copy of the ingested file.
No multicam support
Reality shows and multicam studio shows don’t matter? Apple have promised it will be fixed, but to ship without it and claim making v cuts and disabling tracks as a solution is plain ignorance.
Inability to manually assign video and audio layers to tracks
New editing paradigm, I get it. But if I’m handing over a complex multi layer sequence to another person, it helps if I can tell them all full frame graphic transitions are on track 5, all lower 3rds on track 4, all bugs on track 3, etc. If all these layers are automatically assigned, only the person who originally edited and composed the multiple layers will understand what’s going on.
There are numerous other issues I have not mentioned, because I think they’ll be fixed at some point.
The point is that Apple is not going to fix everything. It’s only going to bother fixing the things that their new target market wants.
Apple’s new target market
Do you not see what the fuss is about? Does FCPx rock your world? Congrats. You are Apple’s new blue eyed boy.
There are a few hundred thousand FCP7 users complaining that it doesn’t work for them, yet. There are millions of people who will find FCPx makes the daunting task of editing video much easier for them. And they’d be right.
They won’t care that magnetic timeline takes away manual track assignment from them. Why would they want manual track assignment over not having to worry about audio sync?
Why would they care that xml/aaf/omf/edl are not supported? Autofix on ingest for rolling shutter and audio are much more useful to them.
I’m not saying FCPx isn’t a good tool for someone to edit video with. I’m just pointing out that this ’someone’ isn’t a professional broadcast or film editor anymore.
If FCPx works for you, more power to you, enjoy the ride and welcome to the world of motion picture editing. Just a word of warning, if you one day rely a piece of professional Apple software for a living, remember this week and how Apple treats its professional product users.