Beyond the specs: Reactions to Final Cut X

| Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

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I hate moving.

Though, to be fair, most of that revolves around packing up all the old stuff and moving it to the new house. If it weren’t for that, I could really concentrate on the excitement of moving into a new place.

Moving kits snwkThe place I’m living in now is pretty great and definitely better than the previous one. But it’s too far away from town. And the lightswitches are in the worst possible place in nearly every room, the aftermath of a three-bedroom house growing up around a one-room shack.

The leasing agent talked up the horse farm, which is basically my front yard (awesome), but obviously didn’t make much mention of the lightswitch situation, poor energy efficiency, or my houseguests — wasps, ants, mice… the price of the tranquility of the country.


 

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Last night, Apple unveiled a complete rewriting of their extremely popular editing program, now dubbed Final Cut X.

First, a few disclaimers: I’m not in Vegas, so I’ve only seen the live blogs and twitpics that everyone else has. Also, I’m not going to run down the specs; spit, and you’ll hit a post about that. This is purely my reaction to the newsfeed and my speculation about what the *near* future will look like for Final Cut editors.

“a jaw-dropper”

I’m so grateful to the thoughtfulness of Randy Ubillos, Peter Steinauer, and the rest of the Apple video team for this product. For every “Finally!” there was a “Whoa!” That’s what makes Apple such a fantastic software company. With a $299 price point, Apple is clearly taking its iDevice and App Store strategies into the Pro App sector of its business. 1

There are some new tools and techniques to this Final Cut that are indeed “jaw dropping.” And I am not exaggerating when I say that “automatic dual system audio via waveform analysis” almost made me tear up and cry.

Whether you’re a wedding videographer or a Hollywood pro, there’s plenty in FCX worth rejoicing over. Clearly, Apple has worked hard to make Final Cut less about using software and more about crafting your story.

“unanswered questions”

64-bit editing? Done with transcoding? Done with rendering? Honestly, Final Cut X (spoken as “ten,” not “ecks”) *had* to have those things. Premiere was starting to eat Final Cut’s lunch in the RED and Canon 5D filmmaking communities. Some of the big bullet points tonight were expected and necessary.

So while the six-year-old in me is gearlusting like crazy over the new app, the thirty-two-year-old filmmaker/editor in me is trying to see through the RDF to what we’re really going to have on our hands come June.

From Final Cut Suite guru Walter Biscardi:

“Lots of unanswered questions. Tape capture? Filters? Titling? Color? Motion? DVD studio pro? Scopes?”

I could add to the list: hardware? legacy support? filters? FXplug? XML? Media Management? UI customization? iPad remote? And I love all of my fellow video/editor guys, but as usual, they’ve forgotten about audio. Can’t “fix it in post” without Soundtrack Pro. Apple made no mention about other programs in the suite, though much of their functionality seems to be replicated within FCX.

“iMovie Pro”

Cinematographer Philip Bloom asks,

“imovie pro or is it final cut x…?”

The new UI is definitely WAY more iMovie looking than I would prefer. I echo these two guys:

@megahy: “FinalCutProX, the performance impresses me. The timeline looks horrid. I really hope its not ‘iMovie Pro.’ “

@sean1meehan: “Final Cut Pro X hopefully only LOOKS like iMovie. Oversimplification and automation is exactly the opposite of what we’re looking for.”

And I hope the whole suite has not been rolled up into this UI. 2

There’s still a lot left to learn about Final Cut X. Clearly, there’s no way the Apple team could cover all of FCX in a one-hour demo. More news will trickle out over the coming weeks.

Still, one thing I’d like to know as the dust settles is, “What am I going to miss?”

Innovation

Closed moving boxI touched on this in my previous article, but Apple has an interesting way of bringing you a version one.

The world-changing iPhone didn’t come with copy/paste. The magical and revolutionary iPad didn’t have cameras. Soundtrack Pro brought amazing new audio tools into the prosumer world, but you couldn’t box select across tracks.

Eventually, all of these things were ‘fixed’ as the products developed, but they show Apple’s recreation and development methodology: Don’t create outside the box. Instead, innovate as if a box never existed. Then, make it look more like a box.

My guess is FCX is awesome, but the “X” may soon stand for critical feature X you’ve relied on that is now missing.

Quicktime

Cohabitation

QuickTime X, for instance, has been around for a while now and is a standard component of OSX. And yet every editor I know still has QuickTime 7 Pro on his system. QuickTime X is pretty and a great player, but there’s a heck of a lot it won’t do.

My point: I have both QT7Pro and QTX on my system, and will until QTX gives me what I use a lot in QT7Pro.

Final Cut X is a stand alone app in the App Store. And with the new name, it will coexist nicely in my Applications folder with Final Cut Pro. 3 Honestly, this could very well be an intentional part of Apple’s legacy strategy for Final Cut. 4 It’s possible Apple has made room for the current suite to coexist with FCX until it can start adding in the seemingly obvious stuff that just didn’t make it into what is essentially version 1 software.

Open moving box

Moving

FCX is going to be great program that’s undoubtedly the best thing for most FCX buyers right out of the box. For the proshops and powerusers that need more from it, they’ll hang on to Final Cut Pro 7 for the near future. My guess is many users will be slow to fully transition, but all eventually will. And at $299, even the skeptics will be buying it in June.

I’m looking forward to the excitement of moving into the new Final Cut X. Not so much looking forward to “packing up the old house” — relearning where everything is, redoing all of my workflows I’ve developed over the last ten years, converting old projects, etc. Despite some things I may miss about “the old place,” it’s clearly a move for the better, and you can’t beat the price.

Thanks to @fcpsupermeet and Photographybay for the live reporting.

Notes:

  1. We saw this already on App Store launch day with Aperture, but Final Cut is obviously a much bigger deal.
  2. Signs point to no: http://www.loopinsight.com/2011/04/12/apple-says-stay-tuned-for-other-final-cut-studio-apps/
  3. Although, the screenshot used as the header of this article shows the app as being named “Final Cut Pro” in both the title bar and the OSX menu bar.
  4. Every editing house I’ve worked in kept a machine that was two versions behind on everything (but worked) in case a QuickTime or OSX update mangled something.

Photo Credits: Jim Dalrymple (via MacRumors), The Watercooler, Photographybay.com, and Marrins Moving.

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