What does the guy who led the original Final Cut Pro revolution think of the Final Cut Pro X release?

What does the guy who led the original Final Cut Pro revolution think of the Final Cut Pro X release?

Yes it did!

In case anyone is interested in my take on the release of Final Cut Pro X, here it is.

First, let me say this first article is just about the release, and not about the software itself. I promise that henceforth I will focus on the actual FCPX software and forget all the hullabaloo.

But this article is about Apple’s business strategy (or lack thereof), my industry perceptions, and looking back a bit to see if we can predict the future.

First, some background so you take this article seriously 🙂

I am the guy with a lot of the FCP “firsts”. From what I know, I have been editing with FCP longer than anyone in the world. (Outside the original dev team, of course.) With my wife Michelle (the brains of the operation), I produced the first FCP training course, Final Cut Pro PowerStart. I was the first to demo FCP 1.0 in public, launched the first FCP website (fcp411.net), taught the first FCP workshops, presented first FCP free seminar tours, hosted the first FCP user group meeting (May 1, 1999), co-hosted the first Apple trade show hands-on classroom (with Randy Ubillos), produced the first FCP marketing CDs for Apple, and I’m pretty sure I was the one that got Apple to start putting cool-looking reflections under all their graphics (okay, that’s not really an FCP first.).

Remember, when FCP was released, Apple stock was at $11 and they were largely considered to be on their way out. FCP 1.0 was released only a little more than year after Michael Dell famously answered the question about what he would do were he in charge at Apple with, “What would I do? I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders”. At that time, FCP 1.0 was not in any way a foregone conclusion. It could have come and gone faster than Avid Liquid.

In the first few years of FCP’s existence, through workshops, free seminars, disc-based courses, trade show seminars and our website, DVcreators.net (with huge help from Apple, of course) introduced well over a hundred thousand people to FCP, people from most cable channels, Hollywood movie studios, people from most major magazines and newspapers, most Fortune 500 companies, most major ad agencies, major universities and branches of government.

Many believe that the massive efforts of DVcreators.net, along with people like Michael HortonPhillip Hodgetts, Lawrence Jordan and a few other pioneers, to make the first impression of FCP a hugely positive one to thousands of core media professionals, and support the early adopters with quality training and resources in the first 24 months after release served as a major “tipping point“– creating a viral buzz in the pivotal early years at helping FCP achieve critical mass and become the standard for editing software.

Okay, enough bragging, let’s get to the point!

A brand new editing app has been released, called “Final Cut Pro X“.

Here are some points, keep in mind most of the below is just my speculation and opinion. Bring on the flames and kudos in the comments! (I reserve the right to moderate)

Totally Avoidable Branding/Product Management Catastrophe

What I would have done [were I in charge], is continue to sell Final Cut Studio 3 and brand the new app simply as “Z”. A brand-new editing app. Think of the buzz! Think of the awesome logo!

Of course, people would immediately ask, “What’s the future of FCP7”, and “Will there be an FCP8” and Apple’s position would be, “We might add minor, incremental features to FCP7, but we feel FCP7 is a stable, full-featured app, and is working well for millions of people, so don’t expect major changes or a major new version anytime soon (or maybe ever). FCP is the standard for professional editing. We are focusing on developing Z until it has feature parity with FCP7 and is ready for professional use, and at that time we recommend pros look into switching to it.” Pulling the plug on FCS3 prematurely was a bad move– all downside, and what’s the upside?

This positioning would have been a humble, honest approach to avoid the firestorm they should have known would ensue from releasing something called “Final Cut Pro” without even the ability to import the previous version’s projects. Major gaffe.

Maybe they thought they had to put the words “Final Cut” in the name for it to sell? Huh?!? Like a brand new app called “Z”, with a beautiful grey blue gradient glowing behind it, wouldn’t have attracted attention and buzz (you know, positive buzz)? Come on, Apple, like no one knows who you are? It’s not 1999 anymore, have some confidence! You invented the smartphone and tablet, two things no one knew they needed before, and you are taking over the world. A brand new app would have avoided all this hullabaloo, (and made for a cooler logo as well).

Pros would then look at the new app as a possible addition to their toolbox for certain projects, or not. At any rate, with my positioning strategy, how could anyone bash Z, it never promised anything! It’s brand new, and it is what it is. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. By not EOLing FCS3, the pressure would be off Apple (see below) and they could take their time adding features into Z.

(Of course, I would have to figure out what to do about Motion 5. $49 is way too cheap for this app- should have been $299 as well. Maybe a baby iLife version would be $49. But I digress.)

[bc_group slug=”final-cut-pro-x”]

Here come the “XFCP-ers”

Even beyond the missing workflow features, I understand the editors that feel betrayed. After years of anticipation of what new magical new Final Cut Pro would emerge from the sparkling Apple castle on the hill, being delivered to us by flying white-winged yaks surrounded by rainbows and 3D particle-system-generated pixie dust, an reaction of shock from users at a “Final Cut Pro”-branded app that threw 20 years of non-linear editing conventions out the window was inevitable.

Unfortunately, there is a growing, very vocal and influential group of “XFCP-ers”– this could have been mostly avoided. Articles like “Did Apple screw up with Final Cut Pro X?” and “The Final Cut Pro Backlash” are appearing by the hour. Even Fortune magazine has joined the fray, with “The Final Cut Pro X debacle“. Refunds are being processed as you read this sentence. At this writing, FCPX has a 2.5 star rating on the App Store, and even two days after release, even at $299, it’s not even the top Paid App, being beat by the .99 FaceTime.

At Apple, they may be thinking, this will all blow over, no worries, when we add some features, the natives will calm down. But if that’s what they’re thinking, they should be taking this initial reaction a little more seriously.

As Phillip Hodgetts has pointed out, FCPX has some not-insubstantial revenue potential for Apple, and as I added in the comments of that article, when you factor in the Mac Pros and MacBook Pros that Pro Apps sales drive, and let’s not forget that famous “halo effect” (how many FCP editors have you seen pulling out their iPhones in the middle of an edit session?), this has the potential to snowball into a real problem.

If they lose a few thousand influential, tweeting, blogging ditchers, that could then virally turn into ten thousand, then a few hundred thousand, and so forth, and pretty soon you’re talking real money. It’s no exaggeration to say that billions, not millions of dollars, over time, are at stake. Do the math.

But what does the future hold?

Well, Apple may have a problem they haven’t thought of. Just adding in OMF/XML/multicam etc., at this point, may not put FCPX over the hump. At first glance, the footage organization and editing might look kinda similar to FCP7, but it’s not. When intelligent, experienced editors explore FCPX in depth, giving it a real, bona fide chance, and give up, you have a problem. Working with media, and editing, are as different from FCP7 and other editing apps as flying a helicopter is to driving a car. And FCPX is not as intuitive as FCP 1-7.

Imagine someone used to driving a car upgrading to a helicopter. You can read the helicopter manual. You can watch hours of manufacturer-certified training movies of people flying helicopters. But when you try to fly one yourself, you will most likely crash and burn before you master it. Apple can say helicopters are cooler than cars, but who cares if there’s no good way to learn how to fly the dang thing?

If most the people who download FCPX, whether professional, prosumer and consumer, have a frustrating first, second and third experience, give up and head back to FCP7 to cut that trailer, commercial, movie, industrial or kid’s birthday party, and Apple does not reverse course and put FCS3 back on sale (which I predict they won’t), it could mean trouble for the Pro Apps division. Think this is ridiculous? Maybe. It’s at least as ridiculous as saying Blockbuster’s dominance of video rentals will someday be over, or Tower Records will someday not be the place you go to buy records, or MySpace won’t be the cool place to connect with friends any more. Technology, and the way it’s introduced, has a funny way of radically changing the path of the future, and no one knows this better than Apple. As a company, Apple is fine. With the release of FCPX, the Pro Apps division is at a crucial juncture.

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My Predictions:


  • XML export/import (allowing FCP7 projects to be imported)

It’s obvious to me that QC people inside Apple have been testing XML import into FCPX for a while, so the only reason they wouldn’t have enabled it in the 1.0 version is because there are so many problems importing FCP7 timelines with certain elements, like nested sequences, speed changes (especially reverse motion), embedded Motion projects and other oddities. They feared even more negative fallout from people screaming that their projects wouldn’t import than not including it at all. (With my “Z” strategy, they could have called it “limited” XML support, saying “Yeah, it will import FCP7 edits except for certain elements” and the pros would have said “cooool!”)

FCP7 PROJECT IMPORT UPDATE: A few items have surfaced regarding FCP7 import. One quickly extinguished ray of hope is a Brazilian MacMagazine article in which someone digging around in the code found a function called “importFinalCutXML“.

However, Apple’s answer to:

“Can I import projects from Final Cut Pro 7 into Final Cut Pro X?” is:

Final Cut Pro X includes an all-new project architecture structured around a trackless timeline and connected clips. In addition, Final Cut Pro X features new and redesigned audio effects, video effects, and color grading tools. Because of these changes, there is no way to “translate” or bring in old projects without changing or losing data. But if you’re already working with Final Cut Pro 7, you can continue to do so after installing Final Cut Pro X, and Final Cut Pro 7 will work with Mac OS X Lion. You can also import your media files from previous versions into Final Cut Pro X.

And, Randy Ubillos replied to a user email, saying:
“FCP7 projects do not have enough information in them to properly translate to FCPX (in FCP7 all of the clip connections live in the editor’s head, not in the timeline). We never expected anyone to switch editing software in the middle of a project, so project migration was not a priority.

Final Cut Pro X 1.0 is the beginning of a road, not the end.”

So, it appears Apple tried, but could not get import to work, so my prediction is most likely wrong.

  • AAF/OMF import/export
  • SDK so Blackmagic/AJA/Matrox etc. can update their drivers for real broadcast monitoring support (not sure about tape/timecode)
  • a published plugin SDK
  • multicam editing (with way more streams than FCP7 on the same machine)
  • native support for RED and XDCAM
  • the ability for a network of edit stations to work from shared storage, and share clip metadata (I am kind of going out on a limb on this one)

I have no “inside info” about these things, except that I’ve known Brian Meaney for 12 years and I can guarantee that he would not have stood idly by while a brand new app got built that did not have the ability to fit into the professional workflows he knows high end post houses require.

With FCP, he has always had the product positioning philosophy of “get Hollywood first, everyone else will follow” (A philosophy I do not completely share, I recommended in the early days that Apple forget Hollywood and focus on making it “the editing software for the rest of us” (the millions of emerging education/industrial/training/science/medicine/politics/religion/documentary/independent video producers) and let Avid keep the couple thousand hardcore high end editors). But I understand the Hollywood strategy, and Brian has done a great job making sure FCP added the necessary features and codec support that would ensure it became a mainstay in the big post houses– and help win some Oscars!).

Now, Brian, save me the sushi funds and make sure my predictions come true!

(*By the way, by “any ditcher” I mean “any one ditcher”– not all of them! Sheesh!)

The Truth about the Origins of Final Cut Pro X

People have called FCPX “iMovie Pro”. Not true. (Not exactly true.)

Randy Ubillos, creator of Premiere, KeyGrip (later renamed Final Cut Pro), Aperture and several other amazing programs, is brilliant, a visionary, and a true innovator. With the original Premiere, he added a new dimension to the editing timeline, allowing “vertical” (compositing) as well as horizontal (storytelling) editing. Key Grip took this further, with keyframes, blend modes and keying. Randy is on a short list of my all-time personal heroes, I’ve known him for 12 years, and taught alongside him daily at NAB. Though we’re not close friends, I have been privileged to talk with him on several occasions and I feel like I know how he thinks. (Like Randy, when I design software, I always start from a blank slate and let common sense and user experience drive the process without any influence from “this is the way things have always been done.”)

I remember one time, probably ten years ago, we were riding in the back seat of a car after a trade show and I told Randy that I envisioned Final Cut Pro moving towards more pre-production features, like scriptwriting and timeline storyboarding, where FCP would print out shotlists and a shooting script, and then after shooting, the actual takes would drop in and replace the storyboard placeholders. I remember he didn’t seem to like the idea much, so I’m sure this conversation had little or no influence on any future development, but at any rate, a few years later Randy came back from a diving vacation and going through his footage realized that the standard UI paradigm of Avid/Premiere/Final Cut/Vegas/Liquid/etc. (all somewhat similar in media management) were not an ideal environment for the very first step in post-production: organizing raw footage.

So Randy starting writing an app: “First Cut”, a professional-level “feeder” app for Final Cut Pro. You would launch First Cut, import all your raw footage, then quickly skim through, keywording, organizing, marking as good or rejecting, and finally building a rough edit.

Then you would “Export to Final Cut Pro”, and import the rough cut XML into Final Cut Pro to fine-tune edits, color grade, add titles and effects, composite, key, mix sound and do your final mastering. First Cut was born for one purpose only– to make plowing through and organizing mountains of footage efficient and even enjoyable.

I don’t know whether Randy decided to repurpose First Cut or His Steveness saw it and decided it should be the new iMovie, but somewhere along the line it was decided at One Infinite Loop that First Cut would become iMovie ’08. Other features were added, and iMovie was released– to decidedly mixed reviews.

David Pogue wrote a scathing review for the NY Times: “Apple Takes a Step Back With iMovie ’08”:

Most people are used to a product cycle that goes like this: Release a new version every year or two, each more capable than the last. Ensure that it’s backward-compatible with your existing documents.

IMovie ‘08, on the other hand, has been totally misnamed. It’s not iMovie at all. In fact, it’s nothing like its predecessor and contains none of the same code or design. It’s designed for an utterly different task, and a lot of people are screaming bloody murder… …iMovie ‘08 is an utter bafflement… …What the [bleep]! What was Apple thinking?

Sound familiar?

(Ironically, Dave seems to have done a 180º, and now he loves FCPX, for some of the same reasons he hated iMovie ’08. Ah well, journalists…)

The “Export to Final Cut Pro” option in iMovie ’08 bespoke of its roots, too bad only a few people used it in this way, I tried it and it worked great in this workflow. (Because people didn’t “get” the new paradigm, and there was no one to show them the way, due to public outcry Apple had to put a download link for iMovie 6 back on the iMovie page.)

Although FCPX was built from scratch, and not from the iMovie codebase, it’s clear that Randy’s vision for a revolutionary new way to manage media (and find the right clip), as well as edit video footage, is at the very foundation of Final Cut Pro X.

So, the people calling Final Cut Pro X “iMovie Pro” are wrong, like people who say humans are descended from monkeys. (We’re not, though we share a common ancestor.)

Finally, Josh’s take on Final Cut Pro X

[This paragraph has been edited.] I will post a full review in an upcoming article.

Thanks for reading! Let the comments/flames begin!


  1. Hero 11 years ago

    Well I’ve read tons of posts in the past weeks about FCPX, and outside of Conan’s video team review and this one, I think these are my favorites. I’m a film editor AND a journalist, so what you said about Pogue made me giggle. He’s completly gone off the deep end, again, on Apple software. Anyway, can’t wait to read your next review on the inner workings of FCPX…me, I’m still trying to install it.

  2. Josh, after knowing you for over 10 years (there are even pictures of us together when I had a full head of hair, to prove it) I’m still amazed by your brilliant insight. You really pounded a lot of nails of truth into this review of the release.

    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      Hi Chip! I like your wizard hat better than hair anytime! 🙂

  3. Frank Leeman 11 years ago

    A lot of blogs, are focussing on what features are missing from FCPX and why that’s a reason to call it a failure or a success.

    It’s not the features.

    A lot of the things missing from this v1 will be solved in the coming months/years and ‘real’ professionals won’t upgrade their FCP just yet. The thing that concerns me is that Apple succeeded to follow it’s current trend; making things consumer-centric.

    It’s that trend that’s been bothering me for a while, and FCP X is the culmination of all that. Outside FCP X, why does OsX every time I mount a disk image have to ask me if I trust the source? I know why, but I would really appreciate the opportunity to dismiss that prompt forever.

    About FCP X. The workflow has changed in a visionary way.

    Apple decided nobody will be using film (16, 35 etc) or tape anymore. With film or tape the workflow has been, import a couple of really long clips in a low resolution, either reel length or tape length. Spot these (yourself or an assistant), make a ‘selects’ timeline, and use your selection edit as your new source for the story –I’m sure this is not the only way of doing it, but a lot of editors I know use this method. When you have a final edit, use an EDL to rescan or rebatch the material in an hi-res online environment, let’s say inside autodesk lustre color grading suite. Use the output from the grading session to reconnect your project and merge it with sound, or some more high-end productions do that in Autodesk Flame or After Effects, also based on that EDL. Will that be solved by a plugin? Yes, but If you import a clip that’s over 15 minutes, the skimming method is not precise enough. With a tiny flick of the wrist you skip over 4 minutes of material. Of course you can re-adjust the viewer so it shows you a bigger skimmable area but even then it’s hard not to skip over material as the time indicator is so easily moved. Of course when you’ve shot on a Canon 5d, an Alexa or something else that creates a new clip every time you record, this function of skimming your clip for in/out works fine.

    I guess the thing I noticed is that while FCP X is a brilliant piece of software, it in fact seems to be LESS flexible than old FCP. FCPX forces you to let it do all the thinking. But it’s not flexible enough to adapt to your preferences and workflow. And that is something I don’t think they’re going to solve with plug ins and upgrades. And that’s also something a lot of professionals, that work with weird formats and requests are going to hate about it. The software is dictating the way they have to think, as opposed to having software adjust to the way they like to work.

    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      Hi Frank,

      You make a lot of great points, thanks for taking the time to post. It’s nice to hear this perspective from someone with your experience.

      I agree with you about skimming in the viewer for longer clips, I am working on a training product with a whole different workflow than the FCPX dev team probably ever imagined. My forté is finding different (hopefully better:)) ways to use software, I edit with FCP7 in a radically different method than anyone else I know of, I believe it is a much better way and I never got around to creating a tutorial about it, so now, I figure, I should focus on FCPX because people feel like they’ve been thrown into the icewater with the revolutionary new paradigm.

      It would be interesting to hear what you think, if you’re interested, I could send you some material before it’s published.

      • Jamie LeJeune 11 years ago

        If you’re starting a list of people who would like details about your workflow (even for FCP7 as well) I’d appreciate being added to it as well. Thanks!

        • James Curry 11 years ago

          I would also like to know your “different” workflow as well Josh.

      • RadRaven 11 years ago

        Thank you for such an insiteful review!
        I have to agree that FCP’s flexibility has been one of the most important ingredients for it’s success. The loss of flexibility is the factor I fear the most, in this new version. I also believe everything else will sort itself out with time, via or 3rd parties.

        I also believe to be using FCP 7 in a unique way that I like to call visual editing. I would love to know more about your workflow and would gladly share mine.

        Here’s a pic of my setup that might spark some curiosity:

        Looking forward to reading your FCPX review!

        • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

          Woah! Is that a touchscreen with the FCP timeline on it?

          • RadRaven 11 years ago

            Yep, it is indeed…

            I also barely use the browser… and I’m editing a feature length film…

            I developed this system because I was faced with 9 hours of footage for 1 scene (that’s right, only 1), with 5 characters dialogue, covered in any angle imaginable (from inside and outside the triangle) and mostly shot in 10 min masters, with inexperienced actors… So I asked myself; how on earth am I going to take advantage of this wealth of footage?!

            To cut this short, no pun intended 😉 , with this system I’m able to find any beat, on any character, and any angle, in under 30 secs, within 9 hours of raw footage… without stopping playback… and without going to the browser…

            Are you attending the LAFCPU FCP X event tomorrow?

            Here’s my Twitter, if you wanna chat: @radraven

          • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

            I won’t be at LAFCPUG, but I believe you DID intend the pun 🙂

      • Steven Washer 11 years ago

        Please sign me up for notifications, Mr. Mellicker. I haven’t got time to work this out for myself!

      • James Curry 11 years ago

        I’d also be interested in your workflow Josh.

  4. Martin Pilkington 11 years ago

    As a developer I’m finding the whole FCPX saga rather amusing and also giving me a sense of DejaVu. Here we have an app that has been around for years, but was getting a bit long in the tooth in terms of the fundamental core upon which it was built. Apple decided to rebuild it, resign the whole UI and sacrifice certain features in order to build a far better and more modern architecture upon which it can build over the coming decades.

    I say this is amusing as this is EXACTLY what Apple did with Xcode 4 earlier this year and developers have reacted largely the same. There have been many who have hated it, and only use it kicking and screaming. They hate how certain features they rely upon have been removed and how some of the UI doesn’t work in a way suitable or sensible for them.

    But there are those of us who love it. Sure some features have been removed and some UI stuff could do with improving, but that’s missing the forest for the trees. The core improvements are amazing and make developing software much easier and more enjoyable. And those missing features will be re-added down the line.

    The important thing is looking beyond that and seeing the new features that wouldn’t have been possible with the old code base. I largely suspect that, like Xcode, FCP couldn’t have gone too far beyond version 7 without doing what they’ve dine with FCPX.

    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      True, after FCP 3 and 3-way color correction, FCP hardly changed except for under-the-hood stuff.

      What kind of apps are you writing?

      • Martin Pilkington 11 years ago

        Yeah. I think iMovie is actually a good way of looking at it. 08 was a large step back in capabilities, but gave them a solid foundation upon which they could build the next version, which is a lot more capable. Those complaining about FCPX were only looking for the next version after FCP 7. Those who are more pragmatic aren’t focusing on FCPX but the version after, and the version after that and so on.

        As for apps. For the Mac, apps for developers and students and for the iPad a (currently a rather basic) storyboarding app.

        • Maarten 11 years ago

          Very true, excited about upcoming versions of CPX, the speed and some of the clever build in features a cool and I love the fact it is a fresh take on editing. Ok can’t really work with it right now and did order a $995 avid media composer crossgrade package the days after I got FCPX but still… pretty sure FCPX will be my main go to edit app within 3 years 😛

        • Alex 11 years ago

          Hi, I’m a professional Editor/Online-Editor/Color Correctionist in the broadcast world and I’d like to rectify few things about the discussion you’re having: Every Pro Editor can see that FCPX is built on a very solid fondation and as the potential to be a far superior editing tool. None of us he’s scared to relearn the software or the trade. We’re geeks and we learn software for fun. But as off now, now network show can be edited, onlined (CC & Sound mixed, etc…), and delivered on a broadcast format using FCPX. And if we don’t deliver, we don’t get paid. We can’t take a chance and wait 2 years for FCPX and its 3rd party plugins to all work in harmony for us to do our job. Especially now that we don’t trust Apple. As powerful as FCPX can be, if we can’t use it to do our job it’s useless. It’s that simple.
          I think Apple has 12 months to rectify their position, and that’s not a lot of time to get all those plugins made by other companies to work together. Nobody (Freelance editors, Young AE’s, post-houses) is going to wait longer than that and take the risk to become professionaly obsolete.

          It has nothing to do with the power of that app. It’s just pure pragmatism.

          But good piece Josh. I’ll come back.

        • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

          Sounds cool! Do you accept freelance iOS work?

  5. Heath 11 years ago

    I think the anti-FCP X, anti-Apple rhetoric got WAY out of control. Somewhere, a psychology/sociology major is doing a study on this (wink). But seriously, I just wanted something that wasn’t fanboy excuses and defense, and also wasn’t “I hate it all!”, but something in the middle. I think much of your article is this, the middle ground, telling-it-like-it-is.

    I also found some stuff online that some editors aren’t just firing it up, “weeping” (as they say) and asking for their money back. Instead, they’re giving it a fair shake and finding good things about it, even saying that original feature they deemed “negative” is actually good, if not great.

    I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, but I’m excited to. But I think I may get nervous and re-fire up FCP 7, much like in 1999 when I was first trying non-linear editing with my copy of Premiere 5.1 (shudder) NLE to cut scenes from my film, but I ran back to tape-to-tape, because I spent around four years editing via linear tape. But I ditched Premiere 5.1, bought FCP 1.0 and I think used your video CD to learn how to cut, while editing my first feature film (circa late 1999/early 2000).

    I’m excited to read your review!!

    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      Hi Heath! Nice to hear from you! Boy, those were the days, eh?

  6. Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

    UPDATE: Red Giant says they have “SDK in hand”:
    http://www.redgiantsoftware.com/blog/2011/06/24/final-cut-pro-x-and-red-giant/ so one of my predictions came true already!

  7. Francois 11 years ago

    Sorry for the first expected add-on but an Apple rep has officially stated in front of me that OMF will not be included in Fcp X. (ever)

    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      Uh oh. Well, an OMF file can be generated from XML as long as the data’s there, so people might still be able to send to Pro Tools and back, but my prediction would still be wrong.

      • Maarten 11 years ago

        Or automated duck is going to find itself another revenue stream by converting FCPX projects 🙂

      • Nate 11 years ago

        Lack of omf would suck for post sound but as an ex dialog editor the lack of EDL is a death toll. Unless all 10 channels of audio will be properly listened to and the best one chossen for us I can’t see this working. I think it would be nice to not have a 68 ch dial session to edit but it’s just more work for the picture editors now. Avid sales might skyrocket unless this gets addressed soon.

  8. D 11 years ago

    The list of folks who are shooting digital gets longer by the day. Peter Jackson is shooting Red, Cameron made the switch for Avatar, Lucas captured to hard drives on the last film. The quality of digital images has grown to the point where it is possible to compete directly with film. Digital delivery and projection are the future, as is digital acquisition. Focusing on dying formats instead of the way we’ll be operating going into the next ten years would be folly. Being in broadcast post, I get why people are in an uproar, but we moved to XDCAM tapeless acquisition 2 years ago, and we now deliver digitally throughout our pipeline. The only real piece missing for us is multicam, which sounds like it’s on the way. I see this product for what it is, an attempt to move into the future and broaden the potential userbase beyond the rarefied clique that still edits on celluloid and tape. I cannot count the number of hours wasted dealing with tape deck issues that I’ve had over the years. Digital is better, and I look forward to seeing where this is headed.

    • PF 11 years ago

      While you are correct, the list of people shooting digital get’s larger by the day, the fact is, many people TODAY must still deal in tape, because the people that pay their salaries demand they work in tape. Editors are rarely the shot-callers. If you need to give deliverables to someone to get paid, you give them what they ask for. I went tapeless nearly 7 years ago, but I have to hand of DVCam to the local affiliate.

      Peter Jackson is shooting RED. Which FCP can’t read. Cameron shot in 3D, which FCPX can’t read. Lucas is shooting to HD… awesome. What format? H.264? AVCHD? If not, FCPX likely can’t read it.

      I agree that digital delivery and projection are the future. So much so that I am now archiving in Jpeg2000. How do I export 2K Jpeg2000 for digital theater from FCPX? If we’re talking about the future here, can we request the the product actually export to those future standards?

      Again, I don’t hear people lamenting the fact that FCPX doesn’t do tape because they WANT to deal in tape. It’s because they MUST deal in tape in order to pay the mortgage and keep food on the table.

      I had the ability and budget to move our entire production tapeless years ago. Most don’t. I also had the ability to move us to Avid last year. And that decision is coming up aces right now…

      • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

        Good points. On your export question, Compressor should allow you to export to any format, or you can export to Pro Res and batch convert later. RED native plugin is coming. Not sure about the rest yet.

        • PF 11 years ago

          Ok, so compressor will let me get it out… how do I get it *IN*? 🙂 If I am finishing in 2K, I am likely originating with a RED or S.I. I can’t do a traditional offline/online relink, and I can’t XML my way out to finish in something else. So even though compressor will let me export any format, I can’t get my format into the editor to start with. Or am I missing something?

          What a mess.

          • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

            The best workaround today would be to batch convert incoming files to Pro Res 4444. I think that might be acceptable in some cases, thought certainly not ideal. RED support on the way, I agree that the ability to edit 4K is not useful without support for cameras that shoot it!

          • Cate 11 years ago

            The thing is, even in a tapeless environment you need EDLs! I’m an assistant editor who works on Hollywood movies and TV shows and I’ve done shows that shot on Red and the Alexa. In order to do the DI (which is no longer a digital intermediate of course!) the DI editor and the color timer work from EDLs.

            Of course every single show I’ve done was on Avid though. We Avid editors are feeling really grateful these days. An unusual but welcome feeling!

          • Alex 11 years ago

            And still Josh, most network demand for their shows to be delivered on tape. I would love to not have to deal with that but I do. And don’t tell me that Aja has a plugin. That thing David Pogues was talking about is not intended to be used that way. And nobody talks about accurate timecode, which is crucial to the broadcast world.

          • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

            I hear ya. Do you have CS 5.5? If so, I guess Premiere could be used to lay back to tape? But what an extra hassle.

      • Nigel Hughes 11 years ago

        Apple are skating to where the puck will be. It’s that simple. They have deep pockets, they can wait for the world to catch up to their vision. While they HAVEN’T been investing in legacy flows (as they will be) they WILL HAVE been investing in leveraging and mastering the new flows tapeless enables.

        This is not to say they aren’t giving current FCP users a tough decision, but simply to say there is a reason. And they are probably right.

  9. Learvis Templeton Jr. 11 years ago

    Good Post Josh it finally nice to see someone take a level headed approach on the review of FCX. I’m sure I was one of the first few to buy and download it because of the time different between Japan and the state. I started to kick the tires on it and understand it’s a different beat. Even as is our new agency uses 5Ds and 7D to film reports and they way you can tag footage will make our lives easier because we reuse footage sometimes. With that said I look forward to seeing what you guys at DV Creators come up with on training material I have purchased from you in the past motion, live type and DV Kitchen and I look forward to see what you’ll have for FCX & Motion 5.

    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      Thanks Learvis! How many FCP/FCPX seats do you have?

      • Learvis 11 years ago

        Just testing it now on my MacBook Pro we have 6 seats of FCP 7. I get to play beta tester on FCX for the next month and need to build a solid work flow for the other 4 Editors we have.

  10. RedHavoc 11 years ago

    See GenArts and Red Giant comments here: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3137142

    FXFactory too, as I’m sure you know.

    Great post Josh!

  11. Moridin 11 years ago

    Great piece, although I disagree with some points, especially the “Z” product. My line of thought is:

    “Hey look! This is the direction we are heading in with FCP X! You can start learning the ropes right now, while still using FCS/FCP7 for your critical work!”

    Pulling FCS/FCP7 was a mistake, but on the other hand — all the people crying “foul!” already own it …

    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      Well, the strategy behind different product branding was purely psychological, I think few people would bash a new app that hasn’t made any promises.

    • Funderbunk 11 years ago

      I suspect that killing FCP7 is the thing that’s going to cause the most harm to Apple in the pro realm.

      We were planning on upgrading our edit bays at work, and adding two more, here in a few months. New Macs, new monitors, the works, and of course we would have been sticking with Final Cut.

      Except now we can’t. FCPX simply won’t work for us. The things missing aren’t features, they’re functions. We can’t go with FCP7 while Apple gets FCPX up to speed, because Apple pulled it – so there is no way for us to actually add those two additional bays.

      Putting off the purchase until Apple fixes FCPX to at least be usable isn’t an option, either. Who knows when exactly that will be? Apple hasn’t actually made any official announcements about adding anything, except a few snippets they gave to David Pogue. Even if we had a set date, trying to delay this project isn’t really a possibility when you get corporate budgets and purchasing involved.

      No, we’re getting new edit suites this summer. It just looks like now they won’t be Final Cut suites.

    • SwissKahuna 11 years ago

      “Pulling FCS/FCP7 was a mistake, but on the other hand — all the people crying “foul!” already own it …”

      Yes, but FCS/FCP7 isn’t fit for the future and FCPX isn’t fit for the present.

      By pulling this stunt Apple has left us in a limbo.

      • Jordan Winkelman 11 years ago

        While many of the people crying foul may have one or many licenses of FCS3, what happens if they have to staff up for a current or future project and purchase additional licenses? As of Tuesday there are no more copies of FCS3 to be had. Who knows how long, if ever, it will be before FCSX is ready to handle many of the industries current workflows? Apple isn’t saying anything officially, which is the largest problem.

        Random question. Does FCPX work well with XSAN/StorNext in a multiuser environment? Can FCPX share video files among different projects on different workstations? I am get ready to build a StorNext SAN and am concerned about making the significant investment if that workflow won’t work with the new product.

    • Brian 11 years ago

      Not necessarily… I am a FCP (and Avid and Premiere) editor who recently found himself underemployed and restarting his own dormant production business. I was debating whether to sink the funds I earmarked for a new editing station into PC or Mac, and when I heard about FCPX I excitedly thought this could be an opportunity to get more Mac for my buck… then after reading the initial flow of feedback, I thought, Well, at least I can get a good Mac workstation and put FCS on it… and now I’m firmly in the “Well, whatever platform I get, I’m going either Adobe or Avid!” camp.

    • Tim Lee 11 years ago

      I didn’t own it, but a day after FCPX came out I bought an upgrade to FCS3. Distributing on DVD is key for me, so without chapter markers, and to a lesser extent multi-cam, FCPX just will not work.

      I so wish Apple had updated DVD Studio Pro to cope with Blu-Ray too. I’ve now bought Adobe Premiere just to get Adobe Encore. Ridiculous! I may end up using Premiere in place of FCP.

  12. Amir Azizi 11 years ago

    Believe it or not we human beings react to anything that is new and we try to fight it like an alien or a virus, I remember the same thing about Microwaves computers and Mobile phones, in the beginning everyone was nagging and just nagging, I bet the very same people right now Have a Microwave, a Mobile and a Computer.

    We over react to anything if it is new, be it a software, an equipment or a technology.

    Having said that I need to mention as someone who used FCP since the very first v1.0.1, I am kinda in shock because nothing is same and nothing is working as it used to, shortcuts have change, workflow has change, but before nagging I should learn the new app ( I believe its a new app ) and somehow get used to it and then be able to judge. I don’t wanna be like David Pogue or any other Journalist or critic who just say something loud and later on would go on and say, well this mobile technology was not as bad I wrote about, or iMovie 08 or FCPX in this case.

  13. Richard 11 years ago

    So .. DON’T BUY IT !!! Keep using FCP7 …

    I happen to like FCP-X. It is easy to use … faster … real time rendering that works even on a Mac Mini !!!! Previous versions were DOGS .. extremely slow … no realtime rendering at all even on the fastest computers.

    FCP-X renders realtime even on a MAC MINI !!! IMAGINE THAT !!

    Here is what is going to happen. Some younger guys will start using FCP-X … creating new and exiting footage WAY FASTER than all these old fart complainers and you will then realize that FCP-X was actually better.

    Yeah … is missing multicam … it will come soon enough.

  14. James Longley 11 years ago

    Thanks for this article. Interesting reading.

    I think Apple has really caused some serious permanent damage to the professional user market with this release of FCP X. I know a lot of people who won’t be able to get over the loss of trust given the way this was handled.

    I’ve edited a few Oscar-nominated films with earlier versions of FCP, and my feeling when using FCP X is that this is software that was never intended to edit feature films or interface with the workflows of post-production houses. From what I can see, FCP X signals an internal decision by Apple to move away from the professional market entirely.

    OMF, EDL, hardware support, network support, etc. – okay. We can imagine these things appearing in the future, possibly. Will editing houses wait to find out? That’s another question.

    There are certain aspects of this software that send a clear signal that it wasn’t intended for big, serious editing projects. For example, you can’t read timecode from your source material. This means you can’t, for instance, edit a foreign language interview that has a timecode transcript accompanying it. A timecode viewer or overlay is very simple functionality that shouldn’t be hard to code. The fact that it’s not there – it’s a small thing, but it sends a message.

    Or take the fact that you can only have one sequence in your project. If you want another sequence, you have to start another project. There isn’t an editor on the planet that would consider editing a feature film with only one sequence. Heck, I use a folder full of sequences just to edit a single scene.

    What this lack of basic pro functionality is telling us is that FCP X was *never intended* for doing things like editing a feature film. If we accept that this is the case, it goes a long way to explaining all the other missing things that professional editors are complaining about with this release.

    That’s okay – the serious professional market is small, and Apple has a right to let it go if they want. But this move will have a very big ripple effect and they will lose a lot in terms of knock-on effects on software and hardware sales, and in terms of their reputation as a serious company that can be relied on by businesses and professionals in any field.

    I know a lot of serious editors who use FCP, and none of them are happy right now. If the serious editors jump ship, so will all the people who aspire to be serious editors. So will all the film students, the aspiring film students, and so on. This is bad news for everyone except Apple’s competitors. It’s extremely mysterious to me how Apple could have come to this decision.

    • Richard Starkey 11 years ago


      James: Good comments. I am also in features but do commercials too and agree entirely with you.

      I just wanna add my 5c worth.
      I live in South Africa where tech support has always been a bit poor. The suppliers of Avid are basically as knowledgeable and supportive as our Post Office!

      I manage a small post house where we do a lot in-house but traditionally have off-line edited commercials so we also do a lot out-of-house. I can’t imagine using FCP X now or even in a year’s time when they have a few plugins sorted out.

      The “media management” is crazy. I would have to move material around every time I switched projects (today I worked on three separate commercials).
      I use hundreds of timelines and I am expected to do so by the directors and agency creatives I work with. There is no way this can change.
      Obviously I need some sort of export/ output to online, whether it be Baselight, Smoke, Flame, Protools, whatever. Completely impossible to work without them. All these people who claim they can do so must be doing glorified home movies.
      I could go on and on, but I won’t.
      I love learning new software and I also try to use it in new ways rather than try to make the software support my own way of working.

      But right now I have some serious issues to face: upgrade four suites to Avid and buy a Resolve for Mac, or wait and see….

      There is a petition out there by the way. It calls for FCP7 to be re-instated as the flagship version of FCP or to be sold off to a third party who would develop it independently

  15. Ken Matson 11 years ago

    Thank you first for this article, but I do disagree that this new program isn’t a iMovie Pro, because this new Final Cut Pro X is more related to iMovie than any other program from Apple. This is what the program looks like and what it looks like, regardless what it’s made of even if it doesn’t contain any iMovie code and most of us pro users never really liked iMovie. So why didn’t Apple listen?

    I am also hearing that Apple didn’t listen to beta testers input on what was missing during the beta testing of FCP X, because of the missing features we now find in X. Do you know if this correct that Apple didn’t listen? I’d like to hear from other beta testers also if you know.

    I started using FCP in my late 20’s and spent the last decade using it. The program hasn’t really been upgraded in 5 years. I just don’t see 5 years of serious work in FCP X, I just don’t! I don’t even seeing Apple listening to the professional community on the decisions that transpired into Final Cut Pro X.

    We now have a program that is inferior out of the box so to say in professional aspects to Premiere, Vegas, and Avid. Apple may call it awesome, but comparing it to other programs on the market it is at best an incomplete prosumer app and it can’t compete in the real editing world and this is where FCP editors live.

    I have never liked the new version of iMovie and I won’t be upgrading my company with Final Cut Pro X. We have been looking at Premiere Pro 5 for months now and it looks like Adobe is where we are heading, because it has the features and the speed which we can use on day one.

    Even if Apple updates this new updated version of Final Cut Pro in a few months. I don’t think that it will be good enough for a number of us who have waited this out only to get a program that looks like iMovie and lacking many pro features. Apple now has a product that doesn’t have a professional studio. No serious color editing solution, no serious sound solution, and no dvd authoring solution and no serious professional editing solution. Regardless of what you mentioned about Final Cut X in your post, you have forgotten what Final Cut Pro used to have…..a studio with other programs!

  16. Dylan Reeve 11 years ago

    This is a great and succinct article, but overall I still find it very hard to believe that Apple is going to add to FCP X what current broadcast and film editors need.

    Pricing it at $300 and selling it exclusively in the App Store seems to send a message – that FCP X is for anyone and everyone. The features and limitation of the application seem to support this – lots of “do it automatically” and one-button type things, and some serious lack of flexability for more complex demands.

    Even with the previous Final Cut Pro, at $1000 and fairly complex, the fraction of users who needed and appreciated things like XML, OMF, XDCAM and Multicam support was small (I think Philip Hodgetts guessed at around 3-5% of users doing broadcast TV or film).

    For this new app, made simpler, more powerful and cheaper it seems that potential market (even if they could gain 100% of the TV and film market) would be only a drop in the bucket compared to the owners of the 10+ million Macs sold every year. Yet this group demands a lot and would tend to complicate the application overall.

    Apple have been working on this app for years, surely they’d have managed to get a least a couple of these things in there by now, if they’d intended to?

    The saddest thing about all this, and why your ‘Z’ idea would be good (although the Shell petrol brand has just been renamed Z in New Zealand, so that would be confusing) is that by almost all accounts FCP X is a great application – if you look at it on it’s own.

  17. Tom F 11 years ago

    This confuses me. I’m guessing You’ve never touched RED Cine? FCPS couldn’t “read” RED raw files either. But that hasn’t stopped people.
    Arri’s Alexa can shoot direct to Prores
    Phantom 65 can shoot to Quicktime formats, as well as DPX / TIFF sequence. All are trivial to convert to a format FCPX can “read”

    No you can’t use XML to round trip currently. I’m sure it’ll be added. No one I know at the high end thought they’d use it the day of the release to cut commercial jobs.

    Give it 6 months

  18. BT 11 years ago

    Your psychology is right on the money but it would appear that the dev team got caught in the whirlwind of Apple as a whole switching away from hard copy deliverables. I doubt his-Jobsness would sanction keeping the CDs and boxes in the system.

    That said, they will still need to keep the disk images available for the professional world by some means. There are bound to be some customers who will need to run clean installs of Studio over the next year in order to finish up a project.

    To have all those resources disappear in a puff of smoke one morning. That must be the most unsettling aspect of the transition. I hope Apple takes better care of the pros in the weeks ahead.

    As for me, I’m one of those newbies who is grateful that I can bring high quality video editing into my business at such a moderate cost in terms of price and initial learning curve. I don’t have an existing workflow to accommodate and I totally look forward to incorporating FCPX into my communications strategy.

  19. Maarten 11 years ago

    Nice sensible article, NLE’s will turn into whatever the user needs I’m sure.

    Back in 1994 I started using a system for the Amiga from Macrovision I think and it was weird and horrible. Got scared and ran away. Then something called AVID showed up, and while editing a commercial the editor explained how it worked. If you get the logic and some explains is well it only takes 5 minutes I learned basic AVID. Could not afford it and ran away with my money. A bit later Premiere 4.2 showed up, this worked on a home made PC but with only a pinnacle card with YC IO, quality was not great so ran away back to tape. The FCP showed up, after premiere and AVID this was deadly simple to use and bought a G4 to use it. After working with crash friendly PC’s this was a relief, plugin a firewire device and it just worked.

    Actually got AVID DV expresss 3.5 as well because it did 3 streams in real time! But turning a AVID edit into something for online use or a DVD was a nightmare at the time so I ran away. Ten came Final Cut Studio and this time I did not run away.

    But with FCPX not being the workflow improvement I am desperate for, even with a failed sidestep to premiere CS5 I feel the urge to run away again to AVID. Still very excited about the new improvements in FCPX but will only use it for home movies. Also found that when importing a big project shot with a Canon it crashes quickly. Or locks up for 9 hours while importing and analyzing clips, no background rendering goodness there.

    Oh well we will see, the thing I learned over the years is that software will have to turn into what the user wants / needs or disappear, survival of the fittest in its most virtual form.

    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      If I experienced crashes like that, I would go to Disk Utility and Verify Disk, and also repair permissions, they might have something to do with crashing.

      More info here:

      • Maarten 11 years ago

        That is what I thought, but no luck. Even got discwarrior on CD to do a total system verify and permission repair from another startup disk. Had the same problems on a clean install as well. Funny enough 10.6.8 seems to have solved most of the issues though. No crashes since the upgrade. I think my main problem is running too many apps.

  20. El Aura 11 years ago

    ““We might add minor, incremental features to FCP7, but we feel FCP7 is a stable, full-featured app, and is working well for millions of people, so don’t expect major changes or a major new version anytime soon (or maybe ever). (…) We are focusing on developing Z until it has feature parity with FCP7 and is ready for professional use …”
    I think this would have changed little, people would still have cried murder for Apple abandoning FCP7. People don’t like when you take something away from them even if it is only the perspective of being able to use FCP7 (or successors with only minor changes) for years to come.

    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      Well, the idea would have been to reassure folks that FCP7 would be around and supported for a long time… there haven’t been many changes to FCP over the last few versions, and people seemed to be fairly content with it. Now we’ll never know!

  21. Ryan Fritzsche 11 years ago

    Wait, did I just read that .omf is never coming to FCPX? They’ve gotta be kidding. The inability to send out to ProTools dramatically undermines the potential for this software to be professional. And everyone may wish tape dead (me included) all they want but for broadcast delivery, there isn’t another reliable and standardized option out there, especially for international use, so it’s here to stay for at least a few years. I really appreciate what Apple wants to do here, and the innovation is welcome, but if the platform only works for prosumer level projects, then they’ve undermined what has given Avid such a run for it’s money over the years: affordable scalability. Once they get the bugs worked out, I’m sure I’ll start using FCPX. But if it’s never going to support pillars of high-end, like film, tape, and omf, then I’ll have to have Avid for the pro jobs, and FCPX for the small ones. And who wants to rely on two different platforms? I can’t, and I don’t think film, tape, and omf are going away anytime soon. I’m sure new workflows will appear to resolve at least omfs (yes, auto duck), but the bottom line is that Apple has made a huge move that sends the message they do not take the pro user as seriously as the semi-pro user, and I agree that the ripple-down effects of that sort of position will be big, long-term, and hard to change. I for one, am seeing some of my deepest concerns about Apple’s direction as a company (for pros) realized and validated.

  22. Ryan Fritzsche 11 years ago

    *what has given Avid a run for it’s money has been FCP’s scalability. A kid in college can use the same software as the big post-house uses for an online with fcp.

  23. Filmtex 11 years ago

    Josh, waaaaay back in 1999 you got me over the hump of FCP 1.0 and well on my way to the place I am today as a “professional editor”. I expect you’ll do the same with this new paradigm and FCPX. Thanks.

  24. Deka 11 years ago

    I agree with “D”.

    This sought of thing always seems to happen when something new comes out that attempts improve the way we do things. A quote from Henry Ford… “If I’d asked what people had wanted, they’d have asked for a faster horse!” Sounds like a lot of people are asking for a faster horse. Seems most people just don’t like change!

  25. Randy Brown 11 years ago

    You have too much invested in the past to have much credibility in predicting the future. And you’re simply incorrect in saying that Apple has “pulled the plug” on FCP7. It still runs on the same machine you’ve got FXPX installed on, right? Yep. I don’t call that “pulling the plug.” And my hunch is, FCP7 will run just fine on Lion as well. Stay tied to the past. Those of us who embrace the future are the ones who will own it.

    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      By “pulling the plug” I meant “EOLing” FCP7, (End Of Line), i.e., removing it from sale.

      • steveH 11 years ago

        Uhhh, EOL (at least at every computing product development group I’ve ever worked in) means a bit more than the product no longer being for sale. End of Life also should include a specific time frame for product support after the last sale, which may be even more important to customers.

        • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

          Okay, to stop quibbling over semantics, let me be crystal clear: I’m putting together an 8-edit bay facility next week. FCP7 is a proven editing solution. Yet I cannot install FCP7 on those new Mac Pros, unless I scrounge around on eBay for installers, and then how do I update to 7.0.3? The plug has been pulled.

          • Joseph Getter 11 years ago

            I’m a musician and use Logic, so I’ve been following this story closely, wondering what will happen to other Apple Pro apps. Having only used Software Update app to take my copy of Logic from 9.0 to 9.1.4, I decided after reading this that I had better have a downloaded updater on hand, in case Logic disappears, too.

            On the Apple site, on a page titled “Download Logic Studio Updates”, one of the updaters that is still online (July 1) is the “Pro Application Update”, which includes,

            “Pro Application Update 2010-02
            Pro Application Update 2010-02 adds compatibility for new camera formats, improves overall stability and addresses a number of other minor issues. This update is recommend for all users of Final Cut Studio, Final Cut Server, and Logic Studio.

            Applications included in the update:
            Final Cut Pro 7.0.3
            Motion 4.0.3
            Color 1.5.3
            Compressor 3.5.3
            Apple Qmaster 3.5.3”

            I had to submit my Logic license code in order to get to the update, so there is no direct link given to the update. Good luck!

          • Joseph Getter 11 years ago

            Try this: search online for:
            “ProApplicationsUpdate2010-02.dmg” — Google has 28,000+ results. But none from apple.com.

          • Joseph Getter 11 years ago

            I found the file on the Apple site:
            So, while it isn’t linked from the FCPX pages that I can see, the FCP 7.0.3 updater is still available from Apple.

          • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

            Good find! So new FCP installs can be updated, that’s a good thing!

  26. Mark Roberts 11 years ago

    Some spot on observations there.

    I was thinking a lot about this yesterday, and got on to considering the link between Apple software and hardware.

    Apple completely re-moulded the video editing idusttry when they released FCP 1. I’m almost certain that at least 50% of the sales of high end Mac Pros are to video editors working on high-end pojects, either individuals or studios. From that, it’s fair to say that FCP and MacPros have gone hand-in-hand over the last ten years.

    But look at the direction Apple is taking in general: more laptops, more iMacs. The last Mac Pro release pissed off many people (I forget why, but it had something to do with swappable hard drives if I recall). I edit on an iMac – I’m not hardcore editing pro, but I absolutely need Final Cut Pro 7 to make multi-screen video installations. (With FCPX this is impossible because of the lack of multiple timelines and nested timelines, the most serious omission for me.)

    It’s obvious that FCPX is aimed more at the prosumer market. You don’t really need a high-end Mac Pro to use it.

    Apple’s sales of the Mac Pro must me far lower than for their consumer oriented gear.

    With FCPX it’s almost as if Apple wants to shoo people away from the Mac Pro. It wouldn’t surprise me. The Mac Pro is only upgraded every two years. It seems like Apple is focusing on the most lucrative market: consumers and prosumers. All the innovation Apple are making today is at the low end of the market. Why waste time and resorces on a product with high overheads and minimal sales.

    It would be a crying shame. Apple pretty much created work for hundreds of smal studios, made the careers of cutting-edge directors, transformed the editing environment.

    To throw it all away would be a mistake, but at the same time I can see a financial logic behind it (especially if you start selling your once lucrative FCS for 299).

    The result of this that I don’t think Apple are seeing, is that very few people now would trust Apple if they were to release another high-end piece of software. Why would you trust anyone that lures you in, then ten years later dumps you for someone who makes more money? Why would you invest time in learning something that you suspect if going to be abandoned down the road?

    • Heroin 11 years ago

      Apple preventing me from editing 10 years of projects had overnight turned me from the biggest Mac evangelist (someone who has pushed thousands of Macs onto fellow creative types over the past 20 years) into someone who is now actively steering people away from Apple products. I agree we can never trust them with our livelihoods again.

      Check out this petition-

      • steveH 11 years ago

        So, they sent a tiny ninja over to disable FCP 7 on all your workstations?

        Harsh, man.

  27. Keith 11 years ago

    I am one of those people that asked for a refund, after working with FCPX for a while I like it, and I really believe that it’s a step in the right direction, however my biggest complaint is a everything seems to simplified. Why is that bad? I feel that while they made many task simple, or automated, when you really want to start doing more complicated work within FCPX it has become considerably more challenging. I feel like I am going to have do a lot more of my compositing and color grading outside of FCPX where before I could within the program. Thats where my biggest disappointment is. I believe in time that Apple with fix a lot of the issues, but until then I don’t want to be apart of the FCPX users. I am also sad to see Color leave, I hope it comes back as I truly believe that Color alone was more valuable than what Apple was asking for the whole suite. Hopefully in the future Color comes back without loosing many of it’s features.

  28. Billrey 11 years ago

    I don’t understand all the hullabaloo. I bought FCPX and it’s fantastic. Editing a 5 minute short film took no time at all, and it integrated perfectly with the Canon 5D, 7D and 60D cameras we were using. Audio was dead easy with the built-in controls.

    It’s the smoothest and easiest editing workflow I’ve ever used. Way, way better and faster than the old Final Cut ever was. Sure, a lot of old editors are going to grumble, but that is inevitable either way.

    It doesn’t have all the old features, but for my use as an independent filmmaker, it’s a massive improvement.

    • Richard Starkey 11 years ago

      Good for you.
      You are not as reliant on professional systems like us.
      You do home movies that are self-contained and can all be done on one system.
      You do jobs with one quality: good. There is no low-res, no 2K, no grading on an external grading platform, no film scan for 2K online, no audio mix apart from your own little blend in FCP.

      No criticism intended, but the scope of your work is somewhat limited compared to a professional offline editor that does films, tv commercials, music videos, documentaries etc… and caters for whatever their clients ask for, whether it be tape, 2K grade in Baselight, online in Smoke, final mix in Protools (though why they would need THAT is a mystery!)

      All the best,

      FXP X is aimed squarely at you and it obviously has found some fans.

      But there are a lot of us out there that simply can’t use it. Full-stop.

  29. Ron I 11 years ago

    Just want to add a name to the list of people responsible for Final Cut Pro’s wide adoption: Ralph Fairweather.

    I remember the first day I set up Final Cut Pro 1.0 on my B&W G3, I was having an audio problem and found Ralph on the QuickTime forums where he not only solved my problem but was taking on hundreds more every day. I feel indebted to Ralph and Ken Stone and was very sad when Ralph passed away in 2003:


    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      Ron, I completely agree, Ralph was a force. Another person who sadly is gone is Charles McConathy, I was working with him when FCP came out and ProMax (his company) quickly because the world’s #1 reseller of FCP, as well as the #1 VAR (Value Added Reseller).

      Ken Stone has done an amazing job providing FCP info over the years and is a pillar of the ecosystem. Ken is also a great guy and I’m proud to say I originally got Ken hooked on FCP with the original FCP PowerStart CD!

  30. Scott 11 years ago

    Hey Josh,
    I agree. Z would have been really smart. I would have bought it. Why EOL FCP though? That’s just corporate arrogance, right?
    I’ve cut 4 movies with FCP. FCP has been great to me. It works. I used Avid for years and every year I hated it more, mostly because Avid as a company was so arrogant and unhelpful. Conversely FCP provided more power and flexibility every year with Soundtrack Pro and Motion and Color and became a trusted ally.
    I’ve always thought of Randy Ubillos as a kind of Albert Einstein but I’m thinking now he’s a bit like Adolf Hitler (okay that’s a bit extreme, I just mean he’s gone batty). No Soundtrack Pro? No Color? That doesn’t make any sense.
    As further proof, look at Final Cut Server. Now that was one truly worthless piece of software. I don’t know if he had a hand in that but it was a bit like a hammer made of foam. It looks like a hammer but it can’t do the job. Just kind of crazy trying to force you to copy all the source media to your local computer. How is that sharing?
    Randy may find he needs to have a way to organize his diving footage or whatever and that’s cool but what I do when I sit down to cut something is different for every job because it’s generally organic to what kind of material I’m presented with and what kind of show it is. It doesn’t matter what Randy would do. I need a tool that can do what I need it to do. With Final Cut Server and now FCPX, it’s like Randy is trying to re-make my process into his process, you know, re-make editing into his own image.
    Years ago, an editor I knew was cutting some spots for Apple on FCP. There were some Apple folks in the room and he mentioned a feature request. He was politely told, no that’s not how our software works. He replied that his purpose was storytelling, not driving software. Dumb stare.
    Anyway, I can’t go back to Avid. I’m using it now on a project and I hate it as much as I ever did. But Proapps seems to be developing the same kind of arrogant attitude Avid once had (before FCP put them in their place).
    I guess I’m going to have to explore Premiere while I hold out hope for the Mac version of Lightworks.

  31. ajendus 11 years ago

    This is a well written article but I still can’t entirely agree with a lot that is being said. As a person who works in the film/tv industry, I can’t get over how inflexible people are. I’ve used Final Cut since 1.0 and love the new functions in FCP X. This is what I’ve been waiting for. While there are missing things, those I think will come. But to make statements like FCP X isn’t as intuitive is just an opinion but I would still say, while entitled to it, you’d be wrong.

    What it is is different. And I strive on challenges and I love adapting to new things. That is something I’ve learned that editors don’t do. They don’t adapt. It is the reason editors still use Avid. It was a non-linear editor designed for linear editors. Everyone said FCP 1-7 wasn’t what editors wanted. Then it was. FCP X is going to be just that. New editors will adopt it and love it while the ‘old’ editors (not in age necessarily) will call the ‘new’ editors out of their minds.

    As I make decisions for companies worldwide in what technology they should adopt, I sit down in front of a new anything with an open mind and work with it until it I get it. I did that with FCP X so I did more than give it a “real, bona fide chance” I adapted. I will be really disappointed, not in FCP X, but in FCP 7 when I have to go back to work with RED footage or Multiclip. I’m already over the old way of doing things. It is a really antiquated way of working. I new FCP was antiquated when iMovie ’08 was release and I asked, “Why doesn’t Final Cut work like this?” I said to people asking the difference between iMovie and FCP “These are some features I wish I could use in Final Cut.”

    It seems, in my opinion, the trying to force something new to work like something old is the real issue at hand. If you want your Mac to work like Windows, you’re going to be sadly disappointed. For years people have been trying to make the new work like the old and sometimes it does but more often than not, in my experience, you become jaded and frustrated simply because you aren’t in your comfort zone.

    The only time you grow is when you have to leave that comfort zone. I grow all the time because I love the new and the unknown. Forgive the motivational speech, I think most of the industry has it wrong.

    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      I think you make an important point. Rather than “less intuitive” I should have said “harder to reconfigure your mind to work efficiently in” for someone coming from the familiar paradigm of Avid/Premiere/Media 100Vegas/etc.

      For a person new to editing, it’s not really less intuitive.

      But once a neural pathway is traced in the human brain, the brain fights to make future thoughts trace the same pathway. This is to conserve sugar and because it is often conducive to survival. That’s why it’s “hard to teach an old dog new tricks”.

      But it’s illuminating to read your perspective.

    • paul 11 years ago

      “trying to force something new to work like something old is the real issue at hand.” Making things better and being innovative isn’t what a software needs. It needs features and tools and updates. Not a new way…

      The real issue is why reinvent the wheel? FCP worked like magic. I can edit circles around any imovie editor and their stupid filmstrip. Stick to your guns it is less intuitive. It wants to control things. The software is alive and regardless of what you think I had an open mind. I defended apple. I was wrong. They went to far.

      All due respect what is the benefit of changing how it works? I can edit extemely fast without limitation in fcp 7. (if transcoded to hq 🙂 ) The only people that want it to be simplified are those who don’t know what they are doing… I had everything I needed minus 64 bitnessssss….

  32. Mikael Borgström 11 years ago

    Hi Josh,

    Interesting reading Your article.
    Here is my opinion:
    I have been using computers since couple of years before Windows 1.0 and Mac OS Classic.
    Every time a new change has come from windows 386 to 95/98 or XP to Windows 7 (we skip the history of Vista) I have made a lot of protesting.
    I still adapted to the new way.
    After switching religion (from believing in Bill Gates to believing in Steve Jobs) 4 years ago i tried to do a web site with iWeb. Earlier I was using Dreamweaver. Doing it in iWeb was a pain. The first two pages took me a couple of hours, it would have take me 30 minutes or so with dreamweaver. But I realized that Apple releases software that other (read less knowledgable persons) could use i a couple of minutes.
    Then I tried to think like a person that do not know that much about web design/creation. The following two hours I made roughly 50 pages.

    I do not say that FCPX is better than FCP7, rather than it is a different way of working which can be so fundamentally different that it can be hard to adapt to.
    Don’t try to fight the software rather try to fight Your knowledge, specially the part that has to do with how to do it, Your knowledge in the final result is still needed. But maybe Your knowledge is mainly in how to use the software, then I think You have a problem.

    Many of the tools that I use for electronic design demands a different way of working even that the result is very similar. Sometimes what is needed is to understand how the software designer is thinking.

    Best regards,

    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      That’s very insightful, that focusing on understanding how the designer thinks is key to mastering software.

      And I agree that simply knowing how the software works is vastly different than knowing how to achieve great results with it. I would say the greatest FCP editors couldn’t pass a “certification exam” to save their lives, but they work fluidly and creatively in the software and who cares that they don’t know what the doohickey does or is called?

      • Gonzo 11 years ago

        Except for under-the-hood stuff, the original FCP hardly changed from version to version because it was giving editors almost exactly what they wanted/needed to get the job done quickly and efficiently.

        Sure, there were a few irritating bugs and workflow issues that limped from version to version, but once you figured out how to deal with them, they didn’t cause you too many problems. Those were the tiny devils you knew. You could still cut The Social Network and win an Oscar.

        What Apple should’ve done is to rebuild FCP from scratch in Cocoa, with 64 bit, grand central, etc etc, but keep the user experience the same. Change the shade of gray and add a little brushed metal, or whatever the UI flavour of the week is, sure, but make sure an editor can sit down at the new version and be up to speed in seconds. Keep EVERYTHING in place, including the inelegant features like ‘modify timecode,’ ‘join all through edits,’ and ‘reveal affiliated clips in front sequence.’ Add background rendering, and it’s a home run.

        This is what they should have done. If they had, we would all be toasting Apple right now.

        The problem is that they’re always saying ‘how can we fundamentally change the way this is done?’ This arrogance has served them well with consumer tech, which benefits from being as intuitive as possible, because it is used by simple people for simple things. But the technical side of video editing is not intuitive and never will be. It’s a messy world out there, technically speaking, with a million different acquisition formats, breakout boxes, colour correction suites, audio post solutions, VTRs, etc etc etc. Anything that’s going to hang in that environment needs incredible flexibility, and flexibility includes: complexity, inelegance, and conterintuitive possibilities. And I’m sure Apple/Randy realized that, but they find it so loathsome that they’d rather amputate the head than live with an ugly face.

        Rhetorical question: are programming languages simple and intuitive to the layman? No, and that’s why you can create ANYTHING with them. It may be quicker to learn a language with fewer words, but that only means there are fewer things you can say.

        To summarize, Apple’s obsession with unity, simplicity, and intuitiveness is fundamentally problematic for technical postproduction work. Expect them to drop the ‘pro’ from all their pro apps soon, if not in nomenclature then in spirit.

        This is mostly distinct from the creative side of editing. Apple flubbed many things on the creative side with this release, too, but that’s another discussion.

  33. Rob 11 years ago

    Apple has never been afraid to shake things up and many people hate them for it. I personally was tired of FCP 7, its lousy titler, overly complicated FX process, RENDERING, crummy slo-mo, awkward color correction. FCP X is a breath of fresh air and an amazing piece of software for editing.

    The magnetic timeline, the way it lets you preview FX, control of audio, key framing FX, optical flow – it’s brilliant and is going to inspire the next wave of filmmakers. The old guard can keep their Betacams and Avid, hell they’re probably still moaning they can’t cut on Steenbecks any longer.

    • paul 11 years ago

      NO serious titles are done in FCP man… Everything you mentioned is so off base from any pro I know… Not to mention rendering, key framing, and slow mo could all be done better while leaving the act of editing the same… Buy Twixtor or take it into AE if you want smooth slow mo. OR maybe shoot it over cranked… If a magnetic timeline inspires people we have problems.

  34. paul 11 years ago

    Thanks for the article.

    If I see one more 5 star app rating that reads this is so much easier to use then fcp7 it’s simplified and not overbearing I’m going to vomit… Guess what, you clearly aren’t a professional editor cause fcp7 is easy like the day is long. All the pros know it like the back of our hands. X is imovie on the surface… I don’t like imovie and I don’t like fcp x… I would have friends call with imovie questions and I had no clue. I was fine with that position until now.

    I feel alone, lost and betrayed sitting here… Seems dramatic but this has huge implications for our workflows… I don’t know why editing timelines needed to be reinvented from track based. I love my tracks and making them look like art with things stacked and complicated looking. If it’s your project it’s beautiful and makes perfect sense. I love what you said about it looking the same but being as different as a car to helicopter. The Conan bit is exactly how I feel my edits will turn out, not precise… (match color is also a joke)

    I have tried for 4 days to make X work for me and I can’t… Premiere worked in 10 minutes and is probably where I’m headed. (AE and photoshop integration its a no brainer)

    In X I tried to edit the way I have for 10 years. Then I tried to stop fighting X and go with it and it still didn’t work. I am a pro that is giving up for now. I can’t afford to keep messing with this toy.

    The only people who will like this change are new editors with no knowledge of fcps3 and imovie people… Why do we even care what imovie people think?

    If there is no chance magnetic timeline can be turn off for a track timeline then there is no chance I edit with fcp x. What is up with the waveform? It’s barely readable. Not to mention MTimeline is kicking my video around and making it out of sync. Unbelievable!!!

    PLEASE TURN OFF MAGNETIC TIMELINE!!!! position tool is not good enough. This is a nightmare…. It wasn’t broken.

    Sometimes reinventing isn’t the best option. I really wish they would have listened to the community. I really hate the magnetic timeline. I have never had an issue moving things around and moving out of sync. I have never had sync problems of any kind in 10 years. Bottom line I hate fcp x…

    We wanted a 64 bit dark grey interface. Audio sync is nice. Parts are very nice but could have been easily integrated into fcp 7 not changing the way we work completely… The lingo didn’t have to change. Why quit saying sequence? I love sequences. I love bins. This is the worst week I’ve had in a while.

    Thanks apple. You’re welcome for me spending about $40,000 in gear and software from you… Thanks for nothing.

    • Richard Starkey 11 years ago

      Hey Paul,
      Well said!

      I have nothing to add except to console you with the fact that my week has been pretty bad too. But something will change, and Avid are at least able to use new IO boxes like that AJA IO. Will change things a bit for them and us.
      I am more of a trad. editor so not that keen on Premiere right now.


    • Lloyd 11 years ago

      You are not alone Paul!

  35. paul 11 years ago

    NO serious titles are done in FCP man… Everything you mentioned is so off base from any pro I know… Not to mention rendering, key framing, and slow mo could all be done better while leaving the act of editing the same… Buy Twixtor or take it into AE if you want smooth slow mo. OR maybe shoot it over cranked… If a magnetic timeline inspires people we have problems.

  36. Michael De Lazzer 11 years ago

    I’ll put this out there for some flaming fuel:

    As someone who has maintained a workflow for 20 years of: home projects on FCP, work projects on Media Composer– I feel there’s a few things left out of the discussion.

    Many (if not most) people jumped into Final Cut because they were looking for a cheaper solution than Avid Media Composer. At the time, $25,000 was around the entry price for getting a full-featured editing solution. Premiere was decent, but was missing large parts of the abilities of Media Composer. I owned Premiere and was playing with it around the time FCP 1.0 was released.

    Once announced, I bought Final Cut right away. The new Apple software (okay, they purchased and rebranded it, but so what?) was the real deal. Wonky as hell for trained Avid folk like me, but it did the job, and that was enough to work on independent projects at home, or pre-produce or rough cut stuff on my Pismo laptop and bring it into Media Composer and Symphony at work.

    I was giddy that I could preview a show open I’d cut on my laptop to my executive producer. The future, indeed bright.

    At one point during its evolution– Apple boldly produced full page ads talking about how you could now buy an edit bay for $1000 dollars. Those of us in the industry cracked up when noticing their $1000 dollar “complete” edit bay solution was surrounded by about $50,000 dollars in hardware.

    The point is– the major selling point behind Final Cut has been value. Walter Murch cutting “Cold Mountain” on Final Cut was an exercise to see if it could be done and generate publicity for both Murch, a fine editor, and Apple, who could pronounce the software as “Hollywood ready.” Most of us who had been making our living editing can smell a good publicity stunt from a few miles away.

    Fact remains– most movies were either being cut on flatbeds or Media Composer at the time– to the point where most of us cutting on Composer felt like Avid should have turned the tables on Apple and produced an ad similar to the one Apple produced when IBM introduced it’s first PC, “Welcome Apple. Seriously.”

    True though– I’ve integrated Final Cut more into my workflow as the software progressed, because in recent years FCP was adding features at a much faster clip than Avid was updating its software. It became frustrating to the Avid world and its users. Finally Avid had a “come to Jesus” moment and released Composer as software only. The paradigm had shifted.

    So this week– Final Cut got cheaper and now has fewer features editors have come to rely on. Not the end of the world– there are plenty of other options available (including FCP 7– you can still find copies around on eBay and a few resellers) until Apple gets the new software off the ground. They shouldn’t have released it; Final Cut wasn’t ready. But at Apple– real developers ship, so they put it out there.

    FCP X should have been called a beta release. That’s my opinion. When the flaming started, they could have fallen back on the tried and true, “Relax, it’s only a beta.” It worked with OS X, if you’ll recall.

    There are fundamental problems with the software from a current FCP 7 prospective. But from the wider view, the changes aren’t quite as drastic as you might think.

    Internalizing the media database management, I feel, is a step in the wrong direction. I felt that allowing the user to dictate which file/tree to store the media made better sense than the internal ingest method. But know that Avid has been managing its media internally from the beginnings of its existence, and while FCP X differs from version FCP 7, they are actually somewhat adopting the Avid approach.

    The yellow handled browser really isn’t much different than the scrubbing bar under the old preview window, though it looks ridiculous and toy-like.

    In the end, as I’m working with it– there are a lot of, “Wait, where did this go? — Oh it’s over there now,” moments. And I still haven’t found a graphic keyframe editor, though it’s gotta be there somewhere.

    The team within Apple’s pro-app division have been assembled from some of the best NLE teams in the business, and have been designing this software from its earliest days. They must know the system’s current shortcomings, and will likely address them in the coming weeks.

    Meanwhile, note to Avid: You have an opportunity here to get a bunch of users with a smart promotion. Don’t let this pitch sail by.

  37. Michael Sacci 11 years ago

    Great article. I have been saying a lot of the same things to all my up-in-arms friends. Some of us are more willing to give it time then others.

    My biggest complaint is not only Apple’s pulling FCS(2009) off the market but they have pulled all the updates off there site. (I don’t know if software update software still works but you cannot download the updates anymore. What happens if I need to reinstall or if I get a new MBP, how do I get FCP7 to 7.0.3? For me Apple is saying that FCP X is ready for prime time. People that were using iMovie could wait for a couple of years for it to improve.

    You are totally correct with the naming paradigm, call it anything but Final Cut Pro and you buy yourself a couple of years to bring it up to speed.

  38. Wheat Williams 11 years ago

    What about Soundtrack Pro? It’s still included with the existing, shipping version of Logic Studio. It’s the one product that was included in both Final Cut Studio (now cancelled) and Logic Studio. It looks like Final Cut Pro X incorporates a lot of the features of Soundtrack Pro, and improves on their implementation, but it’s not the same thing. Final Cut Pro X can’t do sample-level editing, and it can’t easily and directly round-trip output anything to Soundtrack Pro or Pro Tools or any other audio recording and editing environment for audio post sweetening or any other functions. So please write something about audio post production workflow in Final Cut Pro X and what it’s going to take to enable round-trip work with the rest of the audio post production world.

  39. Chris 11 years ago

    Um, actually, you’re wrong Josh. FCP X is iMovie with some added features. They didn’t build it from scratch. I don’t know why you think they did. Why do you think you can natively import iMovie projects, but not FCP 7 projects? Because, this is iMovie’s code base and UI, with added features. Period. We should all just admit that.

    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      iMovie is still 32 bit, FCPX is 64 bit… that’s why I think the code branched. But, perhaps you are right, but in that case, I don’t understand why iMovie is still compiled to 32 bit… maybe so it would run on Tiger?

  40. John Monahan 11 years ago

    I’ll admit that FCP X is a nifty package, started some new projects and muddled through well enough. Although FCP7 will be my go to for now. I really hope it all makes sense to me soon, I was very hopeful when the rumors started about this release…

  41. Julian gibbs 11 years ago

    I just bought final cut X. Edited corporateorporate piece in about 20 minutes and made $2000. That’s a far better investment than even buying Apple stock!

    FCPX may not be ready for every conceivable project but it seems to be ready to help me make money faster and that’s ok with me 🙂

  42. Ryan Fritzsche 11 years ago

    I must point out that a lot of the dialogue here misses what I think the real issue is. It’s wonderful that Apple is innovating and thinking outside the proverbial box. It does seem more intuitive and changing how we work is always uncomfortable. The features list on the apple website for FCP X is fantastic, and I got genuinely excited when I read it. But when I began to hear about what was missing, I couldn’t believe it.

    The problem is that the release is half-baked, incomplete at best. Seems more like a beta release that pros and developers could work with and provide feedback to Apple on. But that isn’t how it was billed – it was billed as the next great thing and FCP 7 was EOL’d like it was just a routine upgrade.

    Look, Apple has been selling multi-core Mac Pros for years and years. They’ve had a bonafied 64-bit OS for what, two years now? And FCP has been drifting behind on both fronts for a long time. A 64-bit version that could actually use the processing power Apple has been selling us for years was overdue when FCS 3 was released. But after years, Apple still couldn’t even get its top-shelf pro software up to snuff enough to mesh with the hardware they’re selling. So now, the upgrade that should have come in 2008 or 2009 arrives. And it’s incomplete. It doesn’t do basic functions that are simply never going to be unnecessary (xml, omf, multicam, multiple timelines, easy viewing of tracks), etc. I love the ideas of FCP X – it’s an exciting approach and looks like what we’ve been waiting for and more (improved media management sounds awesome) but it’s not finished, not ready, and just another delay in the upgrade we so desperately need. And they’ve had years and years to provide that upgrade; they’re clearly not investing in the Pro Apps division like we want, but they are acting like they have. I asked for a Car, they offered a limo, and delivered something without wheels, but with a vague promise that they’ll get around to those later.

    So, the issue is not whether the problems with FCP X will get fixed – I’m sure they will, and we all know tape will die eventually. The problem is that Apple has strung us along with out-of-date software, undermining the reason to use them, for too long already and now they’re acting like this incomplete beta pro-sumer product is ready to save the day. Ugh. If they don’t want to be in the professional video business, fine. The margins are probably pretty low compared to iphones and ipads, so I can’t blame them. But maybe they could sell off the Pro Apps division to someone who’s willing to develop products for the Pro market, before people like me lose all confidence in Apple’s commitment to being there for long-term investments.

    I don’t want to switch to Avid or Premiere. But if I was making a corporate decision about which platform to invest a lot of money in right now, I’d really think twice about staking my future on a company that seems so preoccupied with consumer products unrelated to my needs.

    I’m sure the software will get back up to where FCP 7 left-off eventually, with all its new features too boot, but how many versions will it take? How long do I have to wait? And I really wouldn’t mind quite as much if Apple wasn’t acting like the wait is over. Damaged trust is the problem.

    • Michael De Lazzer 11 years ago

      Realistically? Tape will NEVER die. As long as the History Channel and other avenues that rely heavily on archival footage continue to thrive, tape will be around forever. Some will get converted, but you can’t possibly convert every tape ever shot to hard drive.

  43. Rick Dupea 11 years ago

    For me the biggest mistake of fcpx is that Apple has invested huge resources and time in developing a piece of pro software virtually no pros really wanted, and is now deeply invested in making us adopt it.
    “You vill use it unt you vill LIKE it!”

    In the mean time, the great innovation they should have introduced (a unified media timeline with the ability to switch from FCP to Motion to Soundtrack to Color functionality in one timeline) is an opportunity lost, perhaps for a decade. Now instead of adding that kind of ease and power to my workflow fcpx expects me to completely trash 15 years of customizable pro workflow and relearn a new, strange and restricted workflow. This is the most anti-professional move I have ever seen from Apple. It’s like Microsoft in the 90s when they owned the world and forced users to buy one crap upgrade after another to get features Mac users already had. A whole slew of plugins won’t fix it. I am SERIOUSLY looking at leaving FCP after 15 happy years. That angers me, and makes me mistrust Apple for the future of my business.

    Rick Dupea
    Cre8tv Media Group

  44. Tyuro 11 years ago

    So, why no SDK to 3rd parties weeks of not months in advance? And where are the beta testers? What did they have to say? And why the rush to pull the prior product? BTW, I’m hearing that high-end camera makers are rethinking their commitment to ProRes. A well-run company would’ve had plenty of warning of the outcry, from beta testers and industry previews.

    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      Agreed, being secretive can be good for marketing purposes, but letting your partners know what’s in the road ahead probably outweighs the marketing benefits in many cases.

  45. Scott Waugh 11 years ago

    Great view on things. I love your idea of Z, could see the ads for it. Something most people aren’t noticing in this debate is that Apple End of Life’d another product on the same day as FCS and its price point was $300 (except for its last release which was $200) and that was the prosumer Final Cut Express which FCP X replaces as well. Its actually a great upgrade to FCE.

    Maybe instead of Z, Apple should have called this Final Cut Express 5 and said that they will be filling it out feature wise until its time to bring Final Cut Pro over to it…I think that would have solved most issues as well (as long as they kept FCS for sale). Maybe it was going this way and someone just forgot to tell Apple Marketing. 😉

    Looking forward to your review.

  46. Peter Wiley 11 years ago

    You are so right that the release — apart from the product — was a marketing cock-up of the first order. I just don’t think was thought through very well. Apple does so well so much of the time with such issues it’s hard to imagine they can screw up at this level, but all no company gets it right all the time. The whole business smacks of a certain hubris to me. As I read through the marketing material on the FCP X web pages, I have a hard time understanding who it is supposed to speak to. I don’t think it speaks very well to ANY of the potential users of the product.

    That said, I think one has to keep in mind that the place of video as an expressive medium has changed completely in the last 5-10 years — partly because of FCP and iMovie. YouTube, one must remember, which gives anyone a distribution channel capable of reaching a global audience, was founded just 5- years ago. Hollywood has made more from DVD sales that first releases for years now, not to mention the impact of Tivo and new services like streaming from Netflix. To say the motion picture business is in a state of flux would be an understatement.

    Indeed, the Chaos Scenario seems to be coming to the motion picture industry as it has come to the Ad Industry (see the Bob Garfield video at http://www.vimeo.com/6873200) mass media of a certain kind is dead or dying. Apple knows this and is trying, it seems to me, in FCP X, to produce a tool for that situation, however imperfect it may be for some users, and however much Apple’s marketing dept. may not get some of the implications of the Chaos Scenario for their own work.

  47. Manuel Mondragon 11 years ago

    Hey… do you hear this laugh on louds?


  48. Elliott 11 years ago

    Apple had to shove out a 1.0 release of FCPx BEFORE Lion hit the streets.

    By issuing a 1.0 product while Snow Leopard was still the most current version of OSX, Apple was able to avoid the “FCPx only runs on Lion” problem. If FCPx was released AFTER the release of Lion, it would conflict with the usual Apple stance of “New applications only run on the new OS.” If FCPx ran only on Lion, there would be limited uptake of FCPx until Lion was accepted by the “professional” community, i.e., those who use a computer to make their living. This would be two or three quarters after the release of Lion, based on the previous response of the tool-building ecosystem.

    Apple also had to kill off FCP7 immediately because it will probably NOT run on Lion. And the new Pro machines (due out any day now) will probably NOT ship with Snow Leopard.

    So a timing window based on tentative product release dates resulted in a feature-limited 1.0 release.

    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      Very interesting thought, that FCP7 will not run on Lion, so they had to kill it to move forward. I bet you are right about that, there’s a lot of legacy code in FCP7.

      • djb 11 years ago

        Apple has released in their FAQ that FCP7 WILL run on Lion.

  49. Marvin Botts 11 years ago

    Has Apple lost their mind? Remember when CocaCola tried to reinvent Coke? They backpedaled so fast it made our heads spin! Then Coke spun the situation as some kind of marketing genius to recapture interest in their product! (GAG)

    We are either looking at the coffin nail to Final Cut, or the biggest whirlwind of Apple spin ever!

  50. Marvin Botts 11 years ago

    Conan’s editors give their thoughts on Final Cut X 😉


  51. Snow R. Shai 11 years ago

    Thanks for a great post.
    In my opinion, Apple should keep support for FCP7 in updates and sell unsold software suites.
    I believe that is the only wrong thing about this.
    Post Houses should take serious time with upgrading any software anyway, and until they take a breath, most of their problems will be solved. I agree that most of the missing functions will come back soon.

    I recently had to explain to a student what an EDL is.
    I have been using XMLs for quite a while, and hardly any EDLs anymore.
    I opened an EDL in a text file, to explain how is works.
    I was amazed that this crude way of communication is still so spread today.
    There has always been a price for progress. The panic is overwhelming, sometimes, unfortunately, entertaining.
    I’ll keep using FCP7 for a while, of course. No problem.
    Once the new Apple XML code is out, Audio zones and we get ext. monitoring, all very soon, some people might understand, how hasty their reactions were.

  52. Jeff Walters 11 years ago

    Hey Josh – I was in your first FCP 1.0 class at AFI May 1999. In partnership with FCP my life changed in ways I could not have imagined at the time. Great to see your blog here, and I will use it as a guide in deciding whether to give FCPX a try in say… a year from now.


    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      Hi Jeff! Great to hear from you! Those were the days, I have some video of that class I think!

  53. Bradley Howard 11 years ago

    I read a lot of people saying “Apple will fix this in coming months” or “the software will get all its features back in future releases”….. but nowhere have I read or seen with my own 2 eyes that this is Apples official line. If all those features were dropped in the first place, rather than try to release a version with out the features implemented, then why do people think that these features are forthcoming? It’s not like they are NEW features…. if you can still mark and in and an out point…. sorry…. a START and an END point…. why can’t you import or export XML?? surely if starting from scratch, those features are no harder to write than the ones that did make it.

    Altho, in saying that…. with out the ability to mark an in and out… whoops, my bad… a START and END point in the timeline and only do it in your source viewer…. then maybe i am wrong and it is hard…. as hard as it must be to keep the START and END points on your source clip rather than having it disappear when you select another clip.

    And I agree with Paul….. I had no issue in cutting speed in FCP7 or any other version of FCP for that matter…. so all the people who are saying they can cut faster now… what was your problem before? And after DRAGGING ins and outs and DRAGGING to do trims rather than just typing a number… I worry about how accurate your edits are as well….. If you refer to ingest and rendering…. that is a different story…. but thats not cutting….

    And managing your files?? What’s wrong with you people….?? I have cut numerous long form programmes, and I can find every frame of footage ever ingested (or captured… yes… I still use tape from time to time)…. An editor HAS to look at the footage to know what to cut…. you don’t just “ingest” and walk away and hope for some software to tell you where everything is…. A good editor will watch all the footage come into the system, make notes, log it and then when it comes to cutting, know which bin it is in…. and if you can’t find it…. USE THE FIND FUNCTION…. it’s not that hard.

    The way of editing wasn’t broken…. still isn’t…. just had our choices taken away from us that’s all.

    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      Though there’s nothing official, there are signs that point to future changes, like Red Giant having a plugin API from Apple in hand, or Apple (supposedly) saying “multicam is a top priority”. Also, that fact that Automatic Duck already has a tool that exports AAF or OMF is a good sign, even if it costs almost double what FCPX costs!

      So there’s pretty solid evidence that some of these things

      • Bradley Howard 11 years ago

        Apple “supposedly” saying multi cam is a top priority…. again….. all hear say…. of course the guys with the plug ins are gonna wanna get in on this…. not to make the product better… but to keep their businesses relevant.

        You want to buy and use 3rd party products to get back all the features we had?? Then why not just use different software that has all those features.

        IF Apple are addressing these things and they will implement the features lost in future updates, where are they putting this information that people keep suggesting it’s coming??

  54. Marcus Pun 11 years ago

    I look at FCP X like this

    I thought my Mercedes was supposed to come complete and with 4 wheels. What do you mean that I have to wait 3 months for the ABS brakes and airbags, another 3 months for the 2nd wheel that may or may not fit and another 3 months after that for the exhaust system?

    Apple did a lot of people a disservice with this release. Appalling is their outright dishonesty in the prelease hype. I think ultimately a lot of people will stick with FCP but it really hasn’t been the only game in town. Most high end productions still edit on Avid and from below, it is a lot cheaper to buy or make a high powered PC and get the latest Creative suite with the incredible interoperability between AE, Premiere, etc. than it is to buy a 12 core MacPro. If you are daring, download the latest Lightworks which is open source now. I wonder if they still have the shark?

    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      I have heard more about Lightworks in the last few days than in the last year, maybe I’m just reading more?

  55. Martin Baker 11 years ago

    “I recommended in the early days that Apple forget Hollywood and focus on making it “the editing software for the rest of us” (the millions of emerging education/industrial/training/science/medicine/politics/religion/documentary/independent video producers) and let Avid keep the couple thousand hardcore high end editors).”

    Isn’t that just massively ironic, considering what is going on with FCPX?!

  56. Ben 11 years ago

    I hear many “independent filmmakers” (their own words) in this debate, saying how much more they like FCPX.

    I hope you like the Quicktime you can output from FCPX. As it is. because you’re never going to be able to have a pro improve your sound mix or do a color pass. Sorry, you just blew your chance to get your movie into a festival. Ooops!

  57. Matt 11 years ago

    Apple has clearly decided to sell off its industry cred at firesale rates, and is targeting FCPX to Youtube content creators and kids who only do one box editing. They will still make a fortune on X, and sell far more copies than they would have a of a truly pro product, because the consumer market is much bigger. But all of those new editors will be in for a rude awakening if they think that they’ll be able to get a sound mix or serious color correction or VFX. And they will begin salivating for Avid. As many have said above, the mainstay of the market for these products aren’t pros but aspiring pros. The aspirants will want what the pros use, and since no professional editor can use FCPX, any short term gains in sales that Apple makes with be made up for the by the erosion of brand identity as a serious professional tool. BTW the same erosion is already happening in Aperture and Logic. Logic is dying on the vine, and the photographic community is steadily moving towards Lightroom (because the stuff that Aperture does best is more consumer oriented, i.e. making photo books).

    • Morty 11 years ago

      I agree. Apple has clearly shown its true colors in that it wants to generate more sales at the expense of professionals needing good products. Im not against the sales but I feel they lied and misrepresented their product, and didnt provide any kind of advance warning or “phased in” approach for professionals.

    • Henrique 11 years ago

      I don’t think that Logic is ‘dying on the vine’. Is there any statistic to back that up? As far as I can see it is doing well, despite the lack of a Windows version, losing only to Pro Tools in the top-tier professional market, except in places like Europe (to Cubase)… At least that’s what I gather from studios and producers.

      And since I brought that up, Pro Tools, the #1 DAW, by Avid, just went trough the same revamp that FCPX got. It became more consumer oriented, got a much better/useable interface, with some incompatibilities here and there, the MIDI workflow changed completely, we don’t even need an AVID sound card for it to work anymore…

      But in the end everyone liked it because it closed the gap that existed between professionals and semi-professionals. Now bands can do pre-production in Pro Tools without wanting to punch the computer, music producers and engineers are operating it by themselves a lot more, without needing an assistant to do every small thing, ProTools operators I know are loving it, so I don’t think that it’s really a loss to have a complete turn of direction like FCPX…

      Just my two cents

  58. Craig Slattery 11 years ago

    Hey Josh I hope your predictions are right. Im a senior freelance editor at the BBC in London. I cut items for a weekly magazine programme and online the London shows fortnightly. We do all the postproduction in FCP 7 and Color, while the audio is dealt with externally. As an editor Im not much of a geek, apart from all the issues mentioned in the blog re EML, OMF etc its a given without these FCP X for broadcast is a non starter. However as a creative editor I also have a few major problems with FCPX. The audio wave forms are pants. I cut lots of interviews, mostly 3 camera interviews and good accurate representative waveforms are essential, as are multi-clips and the ability to save versions of the time line. Ive only had a quick play on FCP X so time will tell

  59. Morty 11 years ago

    What about Color and Soundtrack Pro extensive capabilities? Are these left out of FCPX? Multi-track editing also? Ive invested money and time and now Im worried.

  60. Deka 11 years ago

    Wow! I can’t believe the amount of high emotion, regarding Final Cut, going around. This has all been so interesting to me, while at the same time, saddening. There’s a factual saying that says “as emotions go up, IQ goes down”. I think most people forget that the computers and software that we all use, are just tools and that we are all responsible for the evolution of these tools and evolution is a never ending process. Remember, our tools are solely designed to help us to get to our destination in the easiest, (and often the fastest) most enjoyable way. It seems the destination, in many cases, has been forgotten with all the attention being placed on the tools.

    A friend of mine is a world renowned Photographer, recently he gave a talk at an imaging expo about photography. He said that the client doesn’t care about how it (the photograph) was done, but rather the end result, and mentioned that he had seen a photograph that had sold for $50,000, taken with a cheap pin-hole camera. He also said to keep things simple, as it allows for you to concentrate on grabbing a great shot. Simple is always better, we’re wired that way.

    It appears that many people are blaming their tools, and the creators of these tools, for their own situations and outcomes. A true master doesn’t blame their tools. Many people bought this new tool without checking if it would work in their work flow or do what they would like it to do, they just assumed it would. This new tool may very well do what they want and more, but they continue to hold it the wrong way (because that’s they way they held their old tool), they may not have read the manual and just jumped straight in. When it comes down to it, for most people, it’s an extra tool in their belt (that they bought at a fantastic price), they can use it or not.

    A little understanding can go along way. People have been complaining for years about high prices and various difficulties in using analogue systems (ie tape, etc), etc, etc. So company-A (who is very solutions orientated) decided to try and develop a new tool to help solve these problems and more. It takes a lot of time and resources to develop new tools, and lets not forget courage in todays world. Company-A knows that it’s impossible to please everyone so it tries to design the tool to meet 80% of users requirements. So we have this tool now and it is continually evolving. It’s wonderful. Like any tool, it’s not for everyone.

    Remember, there’s a whole bunch of tools to choose from. We are all responsible for our own journeys and which tools we use along the way. Keep your minds on the destination and try to enjoy the ride.

    Oh, by the way, company-A could be Adobe, Avid, Apple or any one.

    • Alan G 11 years ago

      “A true master doesn’t blame their tools.” That is true. It is also true that a true master doesn’t use homeowner-type tools. I don’t think any professional bought FCPX expecting to start using it right away, but the expectation (put there by Apple) was that this would be a new professional toolset that would greatly improve *professional* editing workflows. If a company builds up expectation then dramatically under-delivers, on tools that people’s livelihoods depend on, you would expect an uproar, and you would also expect, people being people, some that uproar to be quite emotional. It’s hard not to take it personally when the tool you were told would take your business to the next level, that you waited for even though the competition was passing you by, turns out to be unusable for the foreseeable future.

      Apple silence (apart from the not-at-all-reassuring FAQ) on the matter is very foolish. Their PR folks should be fired.

  61. Hamranhansenhansen 11 years ago

    “Final Cut Pro X” is already equivalent to “Z.” We have seen Mac OS and Mac OS X and QuickTime and QuickTime X and both iMovies. The fact that so many have concluded that the next 2 years are a transitional time in which you run both 7 and X means the message of the “X” was communicated.

  62. Robert Moore 11 years ago

    You weren’t the first to use FCP, I was!:^)

    Maybe not, but I was provided with a pre-release copy in early 1999, before it was a rumore…. and wrote a series of review articles for the Motion Picture Editors Guild Magazine (Local 700), for FCP 1.0 (before it was a rumor), FCP 2.0 and 3.0 for HD.

    I partially dumped my Avid’s and Adobe Premiere with FCP 1.25 and fully with FCP 3.0 and CineWave!

    I am a Professional Editor and Consultant, have been for years (clients include all major Film and TV Studios). My first big project build was to replace 17 Avid’s with FCP 1.25 and 5TB Rorke fibre SAN, in 2001, for the Cimaron Group, most recently as Technical Manager for TMZ (23 MacPro’s all with FCP, 4 Graphics systems, a few Web, currently working for a very large international company and just spent a very large sum of money to upgrade 27 FCP 6 systems (FCS2) to FCP 7 (FCS3), but Apple says I have to use FCPX, but I absolutely can not, due to cross compat, VTR capture/layback for HDCAM, D5, DigiBeta and every other video/audio format on the planet, Pro Tools suite and etc….. FCPX can not possibly replace FCP7 and previous.

    I would have released both, even with Lion.

    As you know, most professionals will not likely put Lion on their production system, until they are confident it will not cause problems and it works. As in Snow Leopard, I am just now upgrading to Snow Leopard, due to the new Mac Pro 12 cores we are buying forcing that. This company has been on Leopard since shortly after intro and it was stable, like over 4 years? (I’ve just been at this company for 1.5 years).

    Anyway, we plan to stick with FCP7 for years…..

    Thanks dude…. and look for my other APP’s under my new company name;
    iTunes App Store search for “John Avatar”.

  63. Ludvik Herrera 11 years ago

    Josh! Great article. I knew I would find some good reads from you. I remember the class I took from you and Michelle back in 1999 in Irvine (I still have the photos). It is because of both of you that I learned how FCP was a great tool and made purchases for Canon XL1 back then, now I just shoot with Flip Cameras 😉 It was also great to see you at NAB back in 2006 or 2007, can’t remember.

    It definitely has been a roller coaster from the articles by Dave Pogue to the Rich Harrington response article, to many people upset over the App Store reviews and tweets. I would say that Apple has plenty of great people on planning, and they should have foreseen what was going to happen, and even prepare for it. What I think they didn’t accounted for was the amount of people that were going to react. For that, I think Apple took a misstep and an arrogant stand so far.

    Anyway, My wife has been editing with iMovie for over two years so far, and she really likes it. I have edited with it and I like it. I know I will like FCPX, but I see it more as a not-for-professional-work-yet type of application, than FCP7 currently is.

    I agree with your statement that Apple should have branded this as a total different App. They didn’t release improvements on FCP7, or changed the App. Apple fully created a whole different App, and that’s what they should have mentioned.

    The one thing that I find irritating is the inability to import or open FCP7 projects, and the multicam feature. Yes, I know the tricks on how I may be able to make it work, many of us did manage to have multi-cam with FCP1 and FCP2. Also, FCP Server gone? so is Apple killing Xgrid and Qmaster as well?

    That’s what your article touches. That domino or halo effect that will continue, as now, I am not sure I trust Apple with the future of my profession or business. I know that I really don’t rely on how to use an iphone, basically is a phone, and I know how to make a call. I do not rely on the iPad or iPod, great products, but my life does not depend on ’em. I do not rely on my family’s computer, we like the Mac OS and have liked it since my first computer back in 1984.

    But talking about livelihood, the reason to learn tools and processes for a living. For a business that my life and family depend upon, and to have the company suddenly making decisions that affect one or many people, that’s different. And that is why all the emotional responses.

    I’ll take you up on that bet. Even if I loose the bet, it would be great to treat you and Michelle for a nice sushi dinner and get to visit with you again.

    Have a fantastic day!


    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      Hi Ludvik! Great to hear from you! Thanks for your comments, and sushi is on me anyway! 🙂

    • Morty 11 years ago

      “…Apple has plenty of great people on planning, and they should have foreseen what was going to happen, and even prepare for it…”

      I have to disagree somewhat with you…. I think Apple designed their marketing such that they could sell more units to a broader customer base (with more revenue even at less price), not worrying as much about support on advanced issues (for professionals), to compete with Vegas who might steal their lunch, to not compete with Adobe who has much more integrated software features, to break apart s/w modules that were dragging the studio down (because 3rd party modules were better sometime, eg Episode, Encore), and to broaden 3rd party module development to add diversity to the product line. As Josh said though, they could have handled it more respectively to professionals by keeping studio3 selling/supported and telling the world in advance what they were doing but they didnt want to reveal their plans because it would have given competitors a heads-up thus affecting their bottom line.

  64. Marvin Botts 11 years ago
  65. Marvin Botts 11 years ago

    I started on Premier Pro and then fell in love with Mac’s and Final Cut Pro… I spent many years and attended many DV Creators multi-day courses on Final Cut and others around the country. No other training place has held more value to me.

    One of the Big selling points to me is that the Mac’s generally render video MUCH faster than Windows boxes, and with fewer problems. This coming from a Certified Microsoft Engineer (me)… And the Running of Adobe Premier on Mac’s still has a few issues… Having a difficult time running After Effects on Snow Leopard too.

    Apple really blew it on this, and like Josh indicates, eventually 3rd party software will fill in many of FCPZ’s shortcomings, but unless a fundamental design change is made, FCPX won’t meet my needs.

    As others suggested, and I’d like to believe, Apple will return to it’s FCP roots of those who helped make it what it is today. I think the ratings on the Apple web site are quite telling for the new FCPX. Over 50% of FCPX Customers, not just tongue wagging easy chair FCP want to be’s, giving FCPX a solid 1-2 star rating! That’s about as bad as a Macbook Pro laptop battery rating!

  66. James Thomas 11 years ago

    To begin with, Let me say that Apple has make a big mistake by putting FCPX on the market incomplete and marketing it as the new wave of editing. Yes, FCPX is very much incomplete and lack some primary features and functions of FCP7. Any editor in their right mind can’t deny this. Apple may have become intoxicated with the success of their iPhone, and iPad projects that they became arrogant to the needs of faithful FCP7 users.

    I’m a filmmaker in Taiwan and almost every editor I know in Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and Japan are at a lost… and sadly rightfully so. Apple has forced editors all over the world to put the brakes on their future planning, system setup and workflow design. Editors of the world are all being held for hostage without a ransom. Editors all over the world now need to be liberated from this strangle hold.

    OK, enough with the drama. Face it, how could the people responsible for creating and marketing release this version that lack the tools professional editors need? I’m using the word “professional” with care. Spending thousands of dollars on editing gear doesn’t, by no means, make someone a “professional” at anything. Those who think so should wake up and stop crying out that because almost anyone can buy FCPX it’s not professional grade. Smell the coffee; people are making professional projects using editing tools a lot less powerful than the tools in FCP7 or Avid. That’s a fact!

    FCPX is a fine code based concept in video editing and it should get better. Because it’s 64 bit, it’s very fast. Many FCP7 old hands complain that FCPX isn’t intuitive. This is not true. New editors can quickly adjust to the format and functions of FCPX because they will not prejudge the program. I see some FCP7 old hands are prejudiced towards FCPX because it is introducing change. As we all can see throughout history, not everyone is ready for change and not all change is good. Change is needed when we discover a better way to do what we need to do and sometimes change is radical and abrupt for some people. Technological innovation requires adaptation even if you hate some feature in the technology. Nothing is perfect for everyone every time.

    The hard truth is many of the editing tools we use today are based on the old limitations of the hardware used at the time of program creation over five to ten years ago. Also, just because an editing tool is complicated to use doesn’t make it professional. Granted the complexity of a project, many editors will be able to make a living with, the present low featured, FCPX.

    What Apple may be doing is trying to create an editing tool everyone at any level can use and expand as his or her needs expand. Why do I say and see that? Apple has already announced that some of the missing features will be added to FCPX. I’m talking about things like; multicam timeline, XML. I can’t say more beyond this for EDL and OMF support, but what this shows me is that Apple is not completely blind. Apple may just make tools, plug-ins or apps for FCPX available from the Apple Store for purchase. This maybe the reason the FCPX base / entry price is low. Editors who need more functions or tools would just add-on the functions they needed at additional cost. The more add-ons you add the more “professional” you become.

    FCPX isn’t ready for the workflows in most production houses, but the code concept in FCPX is long overdue. Once the missing links to the program are added, FCPX will no doubt be the forerunner in media solutions. Now, lets put out the flames and put on the new cheese.


  67. Neil 11 years ago

    Let’s look at the warning signs from Cupertino from my perspective as a pro photographer.
    In the last couple of years:

    For all practical purposes pro grade hardware and software ceases to exist to the majority of Apple customers.
    The Mac Pro is no longer mentioned in any marketing.
    Xserve is unceremoniously axed leaving countless Apple-headed IT guys with egg on their faces.
    Apple’s pro monitors are all cancelled and replaced with just one highly reflective glossy screened 27″ model. The once coveted 30″ monster is gone.

    Pro apps are treated as consumer products. No upgrade path is ever discussed.
    For pro photographers, the theoretically brilliant but monumentally disappointing Aperture is soundly thrashed by Adobe’s Lightroom to less than a 10% market share. Will Apple cancel Aperture this year? Who knows. (Who cares?)

    Apple is absent from trade shows of any kind.
    At ImagingUSA or WPPI Adobe and even Micros**t are present while Apple is a no show. Heck, they even stopped bothering to come to Macworld.
    Want to know about CS5? Adobe has countless ‘evangelists’ such as Terry White and Julieanne Kost to help, and throngs of involved users in dozens of forums and user groups. Aperture users are few and far between and get precious little love from Apple, unless you count the ‘experts’ at the Apple Store.

    So what does this all add up to? Frankly, not a pretty picture.
    Apple is abandoning pros, that much is clear.
    I expect it to get worse, not better.

    • Lloyd 11 years ago

      I think you are right that no company is immune to a fall. Sometimes the wind changes, and it takes time but years later people wonder where all their customers went.

    • Sasparilla 11 years ago

      I think you said it perfectly and I think you’re right, Apple will only gut further away from the Pro avenue of things as time goes on.

      Excellent point about the displays, their move’s had me scratching my head with those and pushed me to grab one of the 30’s after they announced they were going away.

      They made such good Pro stuff, that’s the really sad part in all this….but they have tied their future to iThings and are moving that way rapidly.

  68. Scott Waugh 11 years ago

    A very good perspective from one of the guys in charge of Shake (both before and after bought it). Great read guys:


    The short version is that Apple is basically a consumer focused (and getting more so) disruptive innovative technology creation company – they make things for the single user. They try new things and drop old things over the side without regret .

    Is that the kind of company that needs the small $1k+ professional level multi-user workflow NLE application market?

    Or is that the kind of company that would want a $300 prosumer NLE application (i.e. Final Cut Express market) that is much much larger. Apple made much more money from FCE than FCS.

    Does Final Cut Studio even fit into what Apple is as a company?

    If you have a business that requires more than one seat of NLE workflow – should you be getting your NLE software from a company that doesn’t focus on professional level software?

    I’ve used Final Cut Pro since V1as my NLE solution of my hobby and I’m looking forward to FCP X (gonna wait till they iron things out on it more) – its gonna rock for the pro-sumer area. But, as the Shake guy says, if I had a business that required more than one seat of NLE in the workflow I’d make sure that my NLE software vendor needed my market and Apple does not. This is a wake up call guys.

  69. diana j. brodie 11 years ago

    I don’t see my main concern mentioned anywhere and it’s a deal breaker for me – more than just exporting individual tracks [using automatic duck or even if it’s functionality that’s put back in natively] is the loss of the ability to assign clips to individual tracks. Especially in Audio – to have only the VO all on the same or the Nat Sound ONLY on the same track etc. etc. is mandatory for anyone editing broadcast TV and feature docs/films. To be able to adjust the sound globally per track and copy and paste filters/levels/pan to clips based on track – this is a deal breaker for me. Has anyone heard if this functionality will return? If not… I can’t see FCPX being the future of anything but consumer hobbyists.

    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      Good point, and not just broadcast or docs/films. Pretty much every project beyond just a straight single clip (like a lecture) needs audio tracks. Anything with music, SFX, etc.

  70. Carl Hartman 11 years ago

    I’m a little unclear, based on your supposed “god of editing media” status, you’ve invented a better way to edit? – I started editing on 35mm at Universal years ago, I jumped on learning Edit Droid, LIghtworks, platter based systems, and just about every system that tried to reinvent film editing – so many, I can’t even remember them all. So many people tried new and amazing interfaces and systems connect to the use of the script and all sorts of other systems. Some were cool. Some sucked. But, nobody had the arrogance to insist that they were going to change the way film editors cut film.

    Editing was not invented by computer hacks. It came from a long standing tradition of film editing. No matter how much you want to throw us under the bus, many of us were doing this long before FCP. FCP wasn’t a grand revolution, many people did it long before Apple threw their hat in the ring.

    Apple can change the interface all it wants, it isn’t going to change the way film editors think. We don’t need to change it. Its worked really well for more than a century. – Its a thought process, not a technology process.

    Don’t give me a pile of garbage about being old, I’m much younger than you think. – My peeve is that technology people imagine they have the answers. That somehow, the storytelling process that’s been around 2000 years is theirs to change. Such arrogance.

    For me, I just downloaded the new trials for Avid and Premiere. Screw Apple if the approach is to be so arrogant as to think they can reinvent film editing. – This is NOT the iPhone or an OS. – The film biz has some very entrenched practices that not even Steve Jobs is going to change. — We are not technology people. We tell stories. I want a simple system that cuts film/video. In points and out points. That’s all it is, an electronic Moviola or Steenbeck. I don’t need propeller heads trying to re-invent something that works just fine.

    Apple should have just stayed on the track it had with the real FCP and not screwed with success. As of now, my next upgrade will be to a competitor like Avid or Adobe.

    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      Interesting perspective, and a valid one… the idea that, say, establishing shots should now be extreme closeups may be revolutionary, but not necessarily a good idea!

      What did you think of Lightworks? Have you cut with it lately?

  71. Mauritzio Nevens 11 years ago

    I found a website selling T-shirts that sum up the whole FCPX situation.
    It is black with a white skull where the hollow eyes have the number 7 inside. A large “X” is formed by its crossbones. Two slogans- one reads
    “MUTATE OR DIE”, the other “CINEMA VERITE”. That’s all I want– the truth!

  72. Mike McCaleb 11 years ago

    As a professional event videographer and commercial producer, I can tell you that the new FCPX is NOT what I was waiting for. It is obvious that APPLE is no longer interested in producing software for professionals. Witness:

    – Dropped Shake, and promised a new product. Never made it.
    – Haven’t updated DVD Studio Pro in YEARS
    – LONG update cycle for Logic Pro
    – FCS 3 and FCP7 updates were largely unsubstantial
    – and this is the kicker…www.apple.com/pro page has not been updated since 2009!

    It is obvious that APPLE is going the consumer/prosumer route. They will make more money on the bottom 90% than they EVER made off of professional editors.

    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      While you’re right that the consumer market is vast, Apple has always had a certain panache due to its tiny core of fanatic creative professionals, starting with desktop publishers in the late 80’s. If it loses their core, their brand will end up being a Dell or HP-like, a commodity that will have to compete solely on price and features, once the glossy halo of worth twice-as-much-as-the-competition image has faded, and margins will decrease dramatically.

  73. George 11 years ago

    WOW – this discussion is longer than some I’ve seen on raising the debt ceiling in the US. Bottom line: It’s a complete waste of time. Apple made a major blunder and betrayed our trust ( I’m a certified editor and have been using since FCP 1.5 – thank you Josh for Power Start!).

    The good news is nature abhors a vacuum – will be interesting to see who fills it.

    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      Insightful words… a “vacuum”… that’s kind of how I see it at the moment.

  74. Mark Kiss 11 years ago

    I think FCPX is Apple’s “New Coke” – certainly in the Pro Community.

    I tend to agree with many of the comments that Apple is clearly focusing on the “Prosumer” market. Capture with your iphone, cut on FCPX, then upload to YouTube. Nice, but there is an entire industry with thousands of dedicated, hardworking professionals who need a little more than that. I think the worst blunder was certainly timing the introduction of FCPX with the “EOL” of FCP7 and FCS3.

    Josh, I still recall fondly our times together at “Video Boot Camp” 🙂

    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      Hey Mark! Me too! There we were at the beginning of this whole desktop video revolution thing!

      I still tell the story about when I tried to have the whole class jump up and say “What the…” as a practical joke on you– that backfired! 😀

  75. Morty 11 years ago

    Just got very solid word that Apple is making one more run of Final Cut Studio 3 through some dealers only! (not just enterprise editions)

  76. Clayton Moore 11 years ago

    The bigger picture

    Apple marketing makes very few mistakes. Im not convinced that they did not anticipate much of whats gone down here. So they lose thousands of high end editors (which they certainly will) but they wont be missed by Apple and will in the process, likely at least double the install base over what FCP7 had but in the more consumer space. This is about support for the consumer Apple ecosystem its that simple.

    iMovie users who tried to migrate to FCP7 were in great pain to do so. iMovie users who migrate now to FCPX will find a more familiar place. And with a price tag of $299. thats just what this is meant to do. Legions of corp, edu and and web video / smaller operators wont use or ever miss what pro users have been crying about. Apple knows exactly what they are doing here. Some features will be added in on request and to save face maybe, but other wise ………..

    Also make no mistake, providing tech support for that stuff cost in the millions even before the price drop, now funding that group with even more non pro experienced users buying in @ $299, will cost a great deal. I have no idea how they will budget and or fund support for this model. Trust me though for a group thats handles thousands of calls even before this, support is a whole other conversation.

    Steve J. Has never had an affinity for the enterprise space he is all about consumer. This move is very much ln line with this sensibilities and when you look at the Apple road map it makes perfect sense.

    • Josh Mellicker 11 years ago

      Hi Clayton, I agree about providing the next step for iMovie users, but I don’t think they anticipated this reaction, I think they expected a smooth, 5 star, iPhone/iPad positive buzz reception. They did not forecast this massive backlash, right now it’s so “uncool” to like FCPX that many people apologize before they say something good about it. Millions of people who don’t edit know (from Fortune/CNN/Conan wherever) that Apple screwed up royally, even if they don’t understand how. Not good publicity.

  77. rob ver maas 11 years ago

    Apple must have some good mathematicians, they’ve created a marketing moebius strip or a raison-d’etre klein bottle. The ‘cool’ that has underpinned Apple marketing for the last 3-5 years has been the punter wanna-be aspiring to be film students aspiring to be among an exclusive echelon of pros using tools exclusive to their batcaves..

    Are they now going to wake up to find the end of all their travels are to be right weher they are already? well at least the pathway isnt marked with thousands of dollars but mere hundreds. And cheapo editing finally gets chroma-key to wow their facebook buddies.

    But then again, putting production tools into the hands of the masses may actually create more work at the top. I’m not sure actually how, because if i did i’d already be at work picking up on how to cash in.

    a case of watch this space. ( from a distance of anywhere non-apple ) Just have the readies to move back in at the right time

  78. Andrew 11 years ago

    …and what about our editor-egos when we cannot impress seasoned directors and students alike by letting the magic happen, typing cryptic values into strange boxes in hidden menues, lobouring over layers and layers of video in a mammoth-like timeline when you just need one or two clicks that could be done by your assistant editor? Oh, and what’ll happen to your assistant editor? They could finally make the long-awaited leap in becoming a full-time editor!

    I believe a good camera-man can use a mobile phone to shoot great footage, a good editor can use two VHS recorders to tell a great story. And at the end of the day it’s the story that counts. Tools are tools and not a fashion gadget and everyone will use the tools that suit their workflow best.

    Enjoyed your article, b.t.w.

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