In April 2011 Apple surprised the world of post production when they showed a sneak peek of Final Cut Pro X at the NAB Supermeet. It was obvious that the next version of Final Cut Pro after version 7 was going to be a completely rewritten application – thowing out all previous code and many of the concepts that had worked well for Apple over the previous 12 years.
When Final Cut Pro X was launched in June 2011, there were many shocks in store which included an inability to open previous projects, no tracks, many missing features, strange colour correction tools, no ‘source monitor’ and hardly any connectivity with other post apps. After looking at screenshots – which seemed to show much less complexity in the UI, much less congurability and clips that looked like friendly rounded corner tiles – many people dubbed Final Cut Pro X as iMovie Pro.
Although Final Cut was launched with updates for Motion and Compressor, many pros were left in limbo when it came to how to interpret what this change in direction meant.
Was Apple still interested in people using their software to produce broadcast TV and feature films? Had they conceded that market to Avid and Adobe? Did it show that Apple was going to be happy with prosumers. The huge market of talented people with small businesses who sometime might need a very easy to use but capable video editing software, but not for those that support themselves primarily by editing videos, TV shows and feature films.
As 2011 went on, there were few clues from Apple. However much Apple used the word ‘professional’ when promoting Final Cut Pro X, there were many that were unconvinced. How could ‘professionals’ consider an application that doesn’t fit into established workflows? Apple never properly explained the problem they seemed to have with track-based editing.
Eventually Apple broke with convention and previewed some of the features that they were planning in the next major update. The implementation of Multicam turned out to be more powerful and simpler to use than any other editing app. The source viewer wasn’t as full featured as many would like, and the updated XML import and export was a disappointment to many third-party developers.
The rate at which Final Cut has been updated has reduced in 2013, but the fact that they previewed a new Mac Pro in May gave some people hope that Apple were still interested in making hardware for ‘professionals.’
The launch of Final Cut Pro X also worried the users of Apple’s professional music app: Logic Pro. Many thought that if Apple followed the ‘Final Cut’ strategy with Logic, they would end up with Garageband Pro X: an dumbed down app for prosumers – which would make life easier for people who only need to work on music very once in a while.
An alternative possibility was that Apple would let Logic Pro wither and die – the last major version of the app appeared in July 2009. Was Apple happy with people buying old MacPros, putting them in studio racks and using four year old software?
Logic Pro X and what it might mean for Final Cut Pro X
Last weeks’ Logic Pro update provides us with some clues about the future of Final Cut Pro. Remember that although features appearing in Logic Pro X may show that Apple aren’t against them in principle, the same features may never appear in Final Cut Pro X.
1. The Final Cut Pro UI is for professionals
Given that the early reviews of Logic Pro X say that the user interface may have been redesigned, but it still gives users access to all the power that was available in version 9.1.X and more – while being easier to use. Video editors and motion graphics designers will find Logic easier to use.
This clue tells us that as well as supporting prosumers, the ‘Pro X’ apps are designed to be easier to use by post professionals who don’t spend all their time editing video (Final Cut) or making music (Logic). Perhaps Apple doesn’t believe in making apps hard to use so that only established pros in a discipline will want to use them.
However Apple still needs to show how not having track-based video editing provides so many advantages that it makes sense for editors who have trained how to edit over the last 25 years to learn a new editing metaphor (I wrote a post on this last year: Final Cut Pro X: Apple’s bet against track-based editing)