Final Cut Pro X Can be Part of Your Workflow Today

After our latest round of evaluations related to Final Cut Pro, it’s clear to me that the software does some remarkable things. It manages media in a completely new and interesting way – and once you learn what you can do with it, for a stand-alone editor, it is really powerful. You can search by tags (similar to other NLE apps). As an individual working on various types of projects, managing your media, laying it into the magnetic (which can be demagnitized, if you like) timeline, and building a story quickly is pretty trick.

However, if you collaborate, FCPX is equally remarkable in its snub of TV and Film production.

Why are professionals so annoyed by this latest release? There are many comparisons that can be made, but the bottom line is that TV and film editors have specific functions that are not just traditional, they’re part of the established workflow process. Final Cut Pro changes the workflow and creates a completely new paradigm and for these individuals, its too much, too soon, and misses many of the simple requests that they’ve been showering Apple with for a number of years.

Is this iMovie Pro? Generally speaking, FCPX is a pro version of iMovie. And, if you look at the catalog of Apple software, it’s supposed to be just that. Just as Aperture is a “pro” version of iPhoto, FCPX is a “pro” version of iMovie. Who didn’t see this coming?

Why are TV and Film editors threatening to abandon Final Cut Pro?

The simple answer is they want to continue to receive paychecks. To turn this situation on its head, imagine Apple insisting that its Apps run on Cocoa and on the same day, they discontinue not only support, but acceptance of any legacy code from any developer, including their own staff.

If Apple had called this software something other than “Final Cut Pro,” the noise would be a low lower.

But, they didn’t, so let’s figure out how to move forward.

In our shop, we’re continuing to use Final Cut Pro 7 and its related applications. Amazing as some people might think, FCP 7 still works. We still produce dozens of shows with it every year, and we’ll likely continue to do so. The plug-in community has lots of solutions that aid with OMF, EDL, media ingest, and other functions.

At the same time, we’re finding some new ways to start using FCPX that is already proving to save us time and money. Some of those include:

  • Dailies. Grabbing footage and watching it is fast and furious using FCPX.
  • Trailers. We’re able to build a trailer for a project really quickly, and the editorial structure of FCPX makes this process really enjoyable as well.
  • Web Films. We often have to create a web version of a longer form project. There are changes that need to be made for the short format of the (current) web.
  • Pre-Viz. Grabbing samples of clips, footage, etc. and building a pre-viz sequence (Oops, project!) is extremely productive.

As new tools and API’s from Apple open the door to third party developers to update their code, FCPX will begin to expand and grow into the product we so loved until June 21, 2011.The software is actually really neat. It’s different, but so is Apple. Did we all forget that?

If we take a step back and look at 1995, digital post production was a joke compared to today, but professionals were working on integrating the early bleeding edge tools into their workflow. At that time, I was consulting to Apple, to Radius, and to Adobe on digital video. My team and I canvased the United States and Hawaii, teaching people about the remarkable tools that were coming to a Mac Quadra really soon.

Meanwhile, in the edit suite, I was still using a Sony BVE-910 edit controller, with two BetaSP analog tape NTSC 4:3 decks, and several special effects machines. That crap cost more than $150,000 and was totally “locked in time.” There were some basic software updates, but not to the decks themselves – not to any of the hardware. Want something new? Sell the old for $50K, and then reinvest another $150K + to keep up with that Jones guy next door.

Editing has morphed into a fully digital environment, but the point is that as we move forward, change is coming fast and furious. In some cases, faster than we can comprehend or absorb.

Message to editors: FCPX has potential, and it will change the way we edit. If it’s to become what Randy Ubillos and his team at Apple hope for, we need to tell them what we need (in the new paradigm).

Message to Apple: Show some love and offer some support to anyone who operates a for-fee post production house. It won’t bring down your new ideas about editing. It will demonstrate the most basic foundation for selling products – giving people what they need to earn a living.

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