I’d begun drafting this entry before I saw Walter Biscardi’s “Apple dropped the ball…” post on how dissatisfied he feels about the SuperMeet Sneak Peak of FCP X. I’d started collecting my thoughts because Walter isn’t alone in expressing his frustration, I’ve seen several commentators post similar sentiments and I’m sure you could all point me to a great many more.

To be fair, I suspect Walter might place me alongside those he perceives to be apologists, but I’ll try to explain my thoughts clearly and hopefully they won’t be so easy to dismiss.

Also before I get started, by way of a disclaimer, I ought say that while I’ve presented at previous SuperMeet events and I’m terribly fond of Michael and Dan who work so hard with their team to put the night together, I don’t have any inside knowledge about circumstances surrounding the abrupt change in agenda that was the cause of so much disquiet ahead of NAB.

Since Larry Jordan issued his now infamous “jaw-dropper” post I’ve been inundated by questions from clients and students about what’s going to happen with Final Cut Pro. It’s not so much that there weren’t questions before this moment, but they’ve intensified and this week the volume appears to have been turned up again. Sometimes it’s hard not have the answers, especially when your job positions you to help folks better understand what the tools do. But the truth is I don’t have the answers at the moment. I can make guesses based on my understanding or interpretation of features revealed during the Sneak Peak, but you can watch the same presentation and these guesses are all I have today. Which is to say, I understand that Walter has questions, I believe most of us do. At this point I can accept that’s how things stand, whereas Walter would like answers now.

When Larry heard “1700 jaws drop”, I can accept that not everyone in the room was experiencing the same kind of awe, but it seems churlish to expect more from an event that was billed specifically as a “peek”. It might require some effort to enter into the spirit of the event, but it’s futile to criticise it because it wasn’t the event you wanted it to be. That kind of expectation was always going to be unrealistic. To my mind Apple did just enough to lift the lid on a “secret” project, to tantalise, tease, and excite. Clearly the presentation also frustrated those who are desperate to know more, but it was always going to. I believe it’s our choice how we react now. We can choose to enjoy the thrill of knowing that a new version of FCP is imminent and that it appears to offer new features and ways of working, or we can grumble about not having the software in our hands today. While I wish I had answers to all the questions, I’m prepared to take a step back and wait for Apple to be ready and the product to be finished. Let’s face it, June is not long to wait. Summer will be upon us before we know it.

Another aspect of the argument that jars with me is the accusation that external work on FCP X is limited to “a couple of post houses and maybe 10 beta testers.” Walter may have good reason to believe this to be the case, but I don’t think the evidence exists to make a sound judgement either way. I would be surprised if the 3 responses to FCP X quoted during the presentation were the sum total of the feedback Apple has solicited, but I can’t prove otherwise. Anyone who has access to the software today will be bound under the terms of an NDA not to tell us what they know. It’s one thing to desire such privileged access, it’s another to vent frustration about a process of which you’re not a part.

The last point I’ll make is that we do have a precedent where it could be argued a pre-release announcement hasn’t worked so well when it comes to setting client expectations. I’m sure a lot of you attended the same demonstrations of Final Cut Server that I saw at NAB 2007. There were features demonstrated at the time that didn’t make the final release and we don’t see in the software today. I draw attention, not to imply that FCSvr is lacking (though there is functionality I would like to see added), but because in my role as consultant and trainer, I still field questions about those “missing” features today. I think that it’s quite possible we only saw the aspects of FCP X we did last week because those are the ones we’ll be able to work with in June.

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  1. Marcin Zwolski says:

    Frankly? I barely care if “Apple dropped the ball…” Nor I care if FCPX is “a real jawdropper”. Simply I’m waiting for official release. To see what it’s really capable of. June will be a perfect time to get dissapointed or excited with new FCP.

  2. JET says:

    I think it’s good to have some perspective, but I wouldn’t dismiss all the chatter. I’ve begun to wonder recently if the intensity and fervour is actually about competitive advantage? Not just between the different NLE solutions, that’s a given, but between users, news sites and blogs?

  3. Marcin Zwolski says:

    I guess you’re right. Maybe that’s what Apple wanted to achieve. Or maybe it just hapenned… I assume that almost everyone involved in these discussions will likely buy new FCPX. 2 million current FCP users, many many more of those who use iMovie. Good for ACTs.

    Speaking of blogs – is probably the only one I read regularly. Even if it’s a bit biased ;)

    I wonder what your favourites are.

  4. JET says:

    I read Philip’s posts with interest. I may put together my preferred reading list soon.

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