Automatic Duck now free — FCP X tossed a bone, but not saved

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Automatic Duck used to be a pro-level, pro-priced utility software that gave filmmakers and videographers the ability to export timelines from one editing platform to another. It is still all the things it once was… except expensive.

Automatic Duck is now free.

Automatic Duck nixes price (and support)

The following is excerpted from a thank you by co-founder Wes Plate on the Automatic Duck, Inc. webpage:

[quote]Because we are so busy with these new projects we cannot provide the same level of support for our plug-ins that we used to, therefore we can’t in good conscience charge money for them. But we don’t want our popular tools to go unused if they are still useful to people. Therefore we have decided to make them available at no charge. Enjoy![/quote]

Father and Son developers Harry and Wes Plate have made available for free what once used to be in the neighborhood of $600 or more.

Click here to go straight to the goodies.

Adobe steps it up

The other news here is the reason for the “busy”ness. Wes was recently hired by Adobe’s team “to help improve compatibility between Premiere Pro and other apps that use the AAF and OMF project interchange formats,” according to Studio Daily.

Since Wes used to be a professional Avid user, Adobe clearly now sees Avid as their biggest competition — not Apple. It’s clear Adobe has ramped up its efforts to snag disenchanted Final Cut Pro users after a release earlier this year that left many long-time professionals feeling that Apple dropped the ball.

Final Cut Pro X still hobbling

While a recent update for Final Cut Pro X restored a lot of the functionality users were looking for, it didn’t meet everyone’s needs. Having Automatic Duck for free is certainly a bonus and may be the solution many pros needed, but Final Cut Pro X is still crippled by lost functionality such as multi-cam editing.

Some users bristled at Apple’s response that some concerns could be met via third-party programs, such as Automatic Duck; for many freelancers (who still consider themselves “pro” users), spending $600-800 for functionality that used to be part of what is now a $300 program didn’t make a lot of sense and was, in many cases, not feasible.

Opinion

Personally, as a freelance editor, I believe that Final Cut Pro X is one of the best editing programs I’ve ever used. It’s amazingly thought-through in terms of design and modern technology, like any Apple product. Unfortunately, many of the complaints about it are well-founded, and I’ve yet to use it on an editing project.

I do fear for its survival, though. Not as a product, but as the industry standard for film editing. Earlier iterations of FCP had not yet secured their reign, and the leery response to FCP X has dealt a huge blow.

Many editors and long-time Final Cut Pro evangelists are going back to Avid Media Composer, and a lot of budding filmmakers are opting for the native editing power of Adobe when it comes to things like RED or DSLR.

For me, FCP X is perfect for most of the projects I’m contracted to do, yet I find myself going back to FCP 7 most of the time. I know the shortcuts so well I couldn’t even name them; they are just part of my muscle memory. The new FCP X interface may be well-designed for the new functionalities, but it grinds my process to a halt until I can get acclimated.

Another update could sate another batch of users, but it’s starting to appear as if the damage to Final Cut’s hold on the professional editing world has been done. I think it comes down to something I speculated about, reacted to, and reflected upon: more than anything, I think the complete UI redesign — while I suppose necessary — may be the biggest hurdle of all.

Photo Credits: Automatic Duck, jamieflinchbaugh.com, jogirl.com, and OSX Daily

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