At the NAB Final Cut Pro Supermeet, the video editing world got an exciting peek into Apple’s new professional video editor Final Cut Pro X (FCPX). Dozens of people (myself included) took the small scraps of information we could, and attempted to glean additional insight into what the application would do, and what it would mean to the professional video production industry as we knew it. We saw innovative new ideas, like the magnetic timeline, compound clips, and keyword-based asset management. The promise of a magical, modern, fast non-linear editor (NLE) generated a tsunami of excitement. Ultimately, we were left with more questions than answers until last week when Apple finally unveiled its new creation.
Like any tsunami, the arrival of FCPX left devastation in its wake. Dozens of video editors on Twitter immediately dismissed the product simply as iMovie with a darker UI, and otherwise totally unfit for professional work. They cited important features of their existing workflow that were entirely lacking in the new product. They also cited features that they thought weren’t there, but in fact were, had they read the manual. The Great FCPX Whinging is still going strong on Twitter and forums, and it’s entirely counter-productive.
Folks in the industry like to say “Editing is about storytelling”. I also believe that to be true. What I am witnessing however, is not this. I’m seeing my Twitter stream flooded with apoplectic editors complaining about how a just-released tool doesn’t meet their needs, and countless regurgitations of ‘facts’ that are simply untrue. If the just-released tool doesn’t meet your needs, don’t use it. It really is that simple. The products you were using last week are still running, and you know them well. If you’re in the middle of a project, you shouldn’t change tools anyway. Some worry about future support for FCP7. Yes, eventually Apple will stop supporting the product (they have already stopped selling it), but that’s in the future. In the now, you have deadlines. Worry about meeting them. Smart editors will take the time to learn this new product at the ground floor, so when it is ready for their workflow, they can integrate it. When that time comes, those editors will work faster than the competition, still learning how to make new bins (hint: keywords are the new bin).
FCPX is best thought of as a totally new product. Don’t think of it as Final Cut Pro Ten, think of it as Final Cut Pro X version 1.0. No one gave up their Avid rigs when the original Final Cut Pro hit the scene. Instead, they continued to use the tools that allowed them to tell their stories.
Let’s have less emo whinging, and more great storytelling.
Earlier: Omnigraffle Linkback Screencast
Later: 21st Century Digital Boy