Oh my. What a day!

Let nobody be in any doubt that Final Cut Pro X has arrived. And I’m not sure that anything will ever be quite the same again.

Even at this early stage, I think that it’s safe to say that FCP X is a phenomenon (my apologies to those still grieving the loss of Shake, I didn’t mean to stir bad memories). I certainly haven’t experienced anything quite like it before — perhaps the opening weekend of a big event movie, or ticket sales for a large stadium tour, or dare I say it, those lines we join around Apple Stores whenever a new iOS device is released. It might be difficult to gain proper perspective from inside the bubble, because I don’t actually believe FCP has the same mass appeal as the iPhone, but I do think something pretty significant happened today.

Final Cut Pro X
Courtesy of Apple

Alongside the initial rush to the Mac App Store to get the software, there’s been a flurry of “first look” reviews and Tweets galore. The thirst for information seems unprecedented, the Ripple Training servers appear to be groaning heavily under the volume of downloads and poor Larry Jordan had his server fall over completely at one point. Apparently he received 1.2 million requests in the first 3 hours following the release. Given that Apple were talking about an install base of 2 million in April, that’s really something else!

Now I haven’t yet used Final Cut Pro X enough to pass judgement and I promised myself that I would take my time. However as I sit here musing about the events of the day and reading the ongoing discourse around what might be right or wrong with the software, I can’t help wondering if we might be missing something of the larger picture. For example, a lot of the commentary has referred to the paucity of tape options in FCP X and how this confirms every suspicion we ever had about the lack of “pro” features. Well we’ve all read Philip Hodgetts on the death of tape (if you haven’t, you should), but even as we discuss how Final Cut Pro X could be the NLE for the next 10 years, it strikes me that what we’re really witnessing could be the end of broadcast television

Earlier this week I had the good fortune of chatting with an editor who’s just wrapping up a video project to launch a new a high performance car. This advertisement had a budget of £1.5 million, but will never show on television, it’s been made specifically for the web. The thing is, this isn’t unusual, it’s rapidly becoming the norm. That conversation has helped put today’s events in some kind of perspective. Will we look back at this day as the moment a really big company made a clear signal of intent regarding the future of video content?

I may live to regret such grandiose thoughts, but as we move into the Morning After, I half expect to see a counter stamped at the bottom of the screen: Day Two.



  1. Chris Roberts says:

    I guess initial reactions are always going to be polarised. It’s interesting that those with the most time with the software prior to release are the ones evangelising the most. Yes, we need to take time to fully evaluate what we have here, but my reaction to yesterday’s fervour seems to mirror your own.
    Regarding tape I/O though…. We have minimal support for FireWire decks/cameras (which is all FCP7 is capable of out of the box – albeit with log and capture functions – unless you add AJA, Blackmagic Design or Matrox hardware). Will we see these third party developers rise to the meet the demand beyond AJA’s current inelegant solution (but a solution nonetheless)? I hope so.
    Regarding output to tape…. Several years ago it was always a requirement (if not for my client, for me) to produce a master tape. But sitting here, I cannot remember the last time I actually did that. My clients never ask me to deliver a master tape anymore. I deliver commercials as MPEG streams and the majority of my work is either destined for the Internet or other HD screen, but usually as H.264. So, it certainly seems FCP X sits comfortably if you don’t need to output to tape. Besides, I think FCP7 will be around on many systems for a while yet.

  2. Hi guys,

    I have to honest, i can find myself in new editing technieks, but i’ m missing a lot: multicam? autosave vault ?
    Restore, revert project? I’ ve been editing for a day and had very much crashes, maybe the update to 10.6.8 will fix that. The I/Odepends on country, here in belgium they ask Xdcam Hd, Hdcam or digi beta, so at the moment there is no way around that. I see no native support Xdcam Ex. So i hope they update

  3. JET says:

    @Chris It’s difficult to tell about initial reactions. I suspect bad news of making a better story, but there’s no getting away from that fact that someone who understands the tool in the way that Steve Martin does have some strong reservations. I think he does a good job of emphasising the positives and placing each concern in context, but if you make your living in a specific space you might be wondering if the world’s gone mad today.

    Logging and timecode are crucial for tape-based workflows. Despite Philip’s assurances this has caught me off-guard somewhat. I think that’s what got me thinking into the small hours.

    Television continues to be big business, but for how long? I believe we’ve all heard stories about trouble in the commercial sector and I believe the moment has passed. You and I see that everyday, but beyond our experience we can look at where the money is going…

    @Bart did you spot the support document about the best practices for installing FCP X? I know that’s not going to return the features you’re missing to today, but it may help with stability…

  4. ldtowers says:

    “It’s interesting that those with the most time with the software prior to release are the ones evangelising the most.”
    Not interesting, SUSPICIOUS. Only those with tight ties to Apple had a chance to play with it.
    We have had it here since official release. Great technology terrible implementation for any professional.
    Collaboration is next to impossible. Media management is a step backwards (Metadata management is not media management.)
    FCP X is a philosophical shift in what Apple (not editors) believe an editing application should be.
    In a conference some time ago Steve Jobs compared traditional computers and tablets to cars and trucks by saying most people will eventually only need tablets while some would still need the added utility of a PC (Trucks).

    I think this is his/their philosophy with professional applications. Although Final Cut Pro Users wanted a better truck, with FCP, X Apple delivered a two-seater electric sports car.
    They think this will be good enough for MOST users. Yes assume they are right. It will be! But that is not the argument being made, which keeps being skirted.. Most users are NOT professional. This is NOT a professional application. It might be great for what it is, but it does not meet PROFESSIONAL needs!
    …And the sorry excuse that this is a 1.0 release that apple fanboys and apologists keep repeating make me sick. A professional application, regardless of release number, would prioritize professional requirements at the expense of bells and whistles. The smug people saying things about adapting to change are quite frankly fools. Only an idiot would think that changes that make collaboration difficult to impossible are good. It is insulting to assume we are not ready or unwilling to adopt.

  5. JET says:

    @ldtowers I understand that you feel wronged and upset by the news. I think your argument would be better served if you refrained from insults and name calling. Please be mindful of that if you choose to post again.

    I can’t comment on anything that lead up to the release of FCP X and don’t want to play the game of second guessing which decisions may have brought us to this point (Michael Wohl on the other hand offers some interesting thoughts on the matter).

    We may have to agree to disagree, but I believe your definition of “professional” is quite narrow. I attempted to address this topic in an earlier entry back in April. If you had written “most users do not work in broadcast or feature post-production” I would have agreed with you. As it is I think we’ve entered an arena which extends beyond those traditional models. If we choose to dismiss that trend we do so at our own peril.

    My sense is that most organisations will continue to work with Final Cut Pro until it stops working for them — a lot of facilities are in no rush to upgrade. Unfortunately anyone about to make a purchase or looking for different technologies to be available is in a difficult position this minute. For them we need to revisit discussions about the most appropriate way forward and that’s hard, especially if we had a compelling reason to deploy FCP 7. Fortunately there are alternative solutions (and folks to tell you about them).

    The dust hasn’t settled, which means it’s hard to know the lay of the land just now. I’m encouraged by some of the emerging reports that this isn’t anything like the end of the line for Final Cut Pro. In fact we may just be just be at the beginning of the story…

  6. We have FCPX and have loaded it onto a machine all to itself. I havent yet had the time to take it for a spin yet, although my first glimpse is rather dissappointing. It seems rather, well erm, dumbed down. I tried to take a simple multi-clip project into it in order to take it out of first gear, but couldn’t even get my keys in the ignition. There’s no multi-clip facility. I won’t yet join the bandwagon of FCP comdemnation but it doesnt seem like this is the sort of software you can just get along with.

    I am hoping that I will be surprised and my initial judgement is wrong.

  7. JET says:

    @Scot Having spent a fair amount of time with FCP X, I think that there are some incredibly sophisticated ideas at play. At this stage there are specific workflows it supports. Yours isn’t one of them, but according to the FCP X FAQ that will be addressed in future updates.

Leave a Reply