In time
No one will remember our work
Our life will pass like the traces of a cloud
And be scattered like
Mist that is chased by the
Rays of the sun
For our time is the passing of a shadow
And our lives will run like
Sparks through the stubble.
Derek Jarman, Blue, 1993.

As Patrick Inhofer laments the passing of Color, my thoughts turn to the other applications we appear to have lost this week. Soundtrack Pro, DVD Studio Pro, Final Cut Server and Final Cut Pro 7. As a trainer and consultant my job involved helping people understand how these tools could enhance their workflow and create new possibilities for their projects. Latterly with Final Cut Server I had spent time helping these same people understand the importance of preserving their creative work. Not just keeping it, but making it accessible.

I do understand that software comes and goes. The best one can hope for is that the files are of a sufficiently open standard and that translation tools exist should an ignominious fate befall your tool of choice. Regarding this week’s news my friends at Meta Media Technologies have immediately declared a commitment to help creative companies transition with Final Cut Pro and Object Matrix have announced support for Final Cut Server migration. I’m sure others have similar intentions and I know I’m already embroiled in all sorts of discussions — it’s been rather a long week!

The thing is, you’ve probably guessed by now, I’m not really writing about software. I’m writing about our work. Our collective legacy. A few weeks ago I posted an entry about the importance of creating sustainable, well organised Libraries. At the time I was feeling encouraged by what we had seen of the Events Library in FCP X and had begun dreaming of what that might mean for Final Cut Server catalogues. It seems we’ll never know. In that piece I also wrote about the importance of preserving our media heritage. From home movies to mainstream, big budget media we should be concerned about preserving our stories. That’s what I really care about. It’s what I think we should all care about.

Metadata in FCP X is a great first step. I’d like a means of cataloguing and sharing that information amongst collaborators. It’s my hope that changes to the FCP project structure, while sealing the fate of Final Cut Server, will lead to a new, more robust media asset management system. One can dream.

This time next year (or perhaps sooner) we may all be merrily editing away with the Magnetic Timeline and watching the video playback on a calibrated reference monitor, quarrels about the feature set forgotten. I hope so. But we also need to make sure that we’re able to preserve our projects. Because they are our work. Our stories. The nomenclature of Final Cut Pro X actually recognise this. The developer team do understand. I know they do because open standards were the cornerstone of Final Cut Pro. I hope they understand that a project is never finished. That the work we create ought to live on. To achieve that sort of longevity, project files must to be both accessible and interpretable. We’re all depending on it.

UPDATE: Apple have published an FCP X FAQ, which explains that vast differences between FCP 7 and FCP X it may never be possible to update your legacy projects:

“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.”

UPDATE 2: In a post titled, Moving Forward, Larry Jordan recommends editors take action to ensure that they have a migration path for legacy FCP projects.

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  1. Hans says:

    “Metadata in FCP X is a great first step. I’d like … a new, more robust media asset management system. One can dream.”

    Here’s to hoping! I share your passion for needing to create sustainable libraries of our assets and work. I have lost track of the time I have invested in FCSvr, along with the learning curve (for a non-database kinda guy) and so this past week was a swift kick to the gut. I sent a note to Steve asking if, with such a rich metadata foundation we would see FCSvr rise from the ashes … didn’t receive a reply though.

    I think FCP X will have a strong future once the drivers are written, the updates added, etc. I just hope that the FCSvr side isn’t squandered as the more I add metadata, the stronger our work (and the worth of our collective assets) become.

  2. JET says:

    It’s always nice to encounter a fellow optimist. I think are a few of us are watching closely and rooting from the sidelines.

    The importance of metadata cannot be overstated. If you’ve read my earlier entries you’ll know I got rather excited the first time Smart Collections were revealed. The hooks are all important I’d like to believe that they continue to be a priority to the development team.

    Let me know if you ever receive that reply!

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