Depending on the production requirements, we end up using a variety of tools during post-production. Some productions call for us to use our high-end 3D software package, Maya, while others may just need a 2.5D motion graphics package like After Effects. Of course, we also use a host of plug-ins that enhance the capabilities of those and other programs. However, one piece of software has been used on nearly (remember, I said nearly) every production for 12 years… Apple’s Final Cut Pro (FCP). FCP had been, until recently, the de facto standard in non-linear editing (NLE) software.
As an editor, I loved (remember, I said loved) Final Cut Pro for its sexy interface, its ease of use, and its uncanny ability to make my job easier, or at least it seemed. As a business owner, I loved FCP because it was affordable and scalable. I committed to integrating FCP into the dvi group’s production and post-production pipeline early on, and I kept my commitment for 12 years.
For years, Apple diligently updated FCP and at the same time innovated an industry. FCP and the dvi group grew up together; and then, the unthinkable happened. Apple started to lose interest. I could see it happening slowly, but surely. Updates were few and far between and didn’t pack the same feature rich punch as they once did. The folks in Cupertino were busy changing the world; introducing the iPod, iPhone, and yes… the iPad. These consumer products became Apple’s new focus. Don’t get me wrong, I love those products and own three or four of each… I’m a great Apple consumer.
Meanwhile, other non-linear editors were making great strides. At the first hint of change (or rather, no change), we invested in Premier Pro, Adobe’s NLE. It almost felt like we were cheating on our long-term lover. But, over the years, Adobe continued to focus its energy on making Premiere Pro a true professional post-production tool. We weren’t getting that from Apple. It was becoming painfully clear that we had to prepare ourselves for the worst.
Two years ago, rumors of a new and improved FCP started to come out. Finally! We knew it would be huge, something revolutionary. With all the feedback that Apple received from its professional users, this new release was going to be epic. Even Steve Jobs, when asked about the new FCP version in an email, called it “Amazing!”.
FCPX was released back in June 2011. I was at work early, as usual, and got a message about the early morning release. We were so excited to see how the programming gods at Apple were going to blow us away, after two years of little to no updates of any significance.
I don’t want to go on and on about how shocked, dismayed, and baffled I am at the new FCPX. There are lots of blog posts out there that cover that in detail. Let me just say, in my opinion, that it wasn’t the “Amazing!” upgrade we had been promised. It was the downgrading of a professional level tool to a consumer level play toy… an epic failure. That early morning in June 2011, an old friend passed away. We had been through thick and thin together. Although we will continue to use FCP for as long as we can (it’s hard to say goodbye), we immediately began the post-production pipeline transition to other non-linear editors.
The Final Cut Pro icon, that once stood so proudly in our editor’s applications folders, has been joined by the Premiere Pro icon, the Avid Media Composer icon and soon, maybe the Smoke icon. Although, it’s easy to get comfortable with a particular tool, it’s much more important to insure that no matter what our clients production needs are, our editors have every tool at their disposal to MAKE IT BETTER.