The present and future of post production business and technology | Philip Hodgetts

Jun/10

24

Why Apple should drop Log and Capture from FCP

My friend Terry Curren and I get together for lunch periodically. Last time he was trying to convince me, among other things, that Apple will drop Log and Capture from the next version of Final Cut Pro. I resisted the idea until I realized that not only was he right, but that Apple should drop Log and Capture. Here’s why.

Tape is deadish now, will be more so in 2012.

After revising the HD Survival Handbook last year I realized that HDV and tape in general was dead. HDV was the last tape format for acquisition and that too is now (according to me) officially “dead”. (Not that it’s out of use, but that it’s unwise to invest further in that format.)

So, given that I have considered tape to be “dead” for a year, how dead will it be in another 18-24 months? Very dead.

Sure, there will be people who need to capture from tape and output to tape. Output is already handled by Blackmagic Design and AJA with utilities that ship with their hardware. Blackmagic Design’s version includes capture.

Rewriting Log and Capture will waste engineering resources that should go into an improved Log and Transfer.

If tape capture and output is a third party opportunity (and both Blackmagic Design and AJA utilities are better at accurate insert editing than FCP is itself) then the engineering resources could go into improving Log and Transfer: speed and metadata support could be beefed up.

Dropping old technology and moving to new is in Apple’s DNA

We’ve dropped the floppy disk, ADB, and a host of other technologies. In the iDevices, Apple have frequently used the latest and greatest technology, so it’s much less likely they’d invest the resources that would be necessary to rebuild Log and capture.

So, I’m convinced: Log and Capture must go. Even though they have Cocoa code in the HDV version of Log and Capture I can’t see the benefit when the vast majority of FCP users in 2012 so it has to go. Leave an opportunity for third parties and move FCP into a newer, modern future.

Updated: Matt has a point in the comments that I should have addressed: tape will be with us for quite a while and I made almost all the same arguments to Terry before becoming convinced I was wrong.

Beside, tape is dead according to this image from Chris Roberts of a Copenhagen shop window:

Tape could well be dead.

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74 comments

  • Matt Jeppsen · June 24, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Gotta say that while I think you make a cogent and fair argument for dropping tape ingest support, I think it’s several years too early to make that call. There’s a LOT of shops still shooting tape, HDV in particular, hell there’s folks haven’t even made the jump from SD! And there are many with good reasons not to bump to HD. I’m shooting a commercial for broadcast tomorrow that will go out on a local SD station in 4:3. Shooting 5DMKII, so right now I’m figuring out on-screen crop marks. An SD camera would be much simpler, and most of those are tape-based.

    Not to mention the backwards compatibility…I’ve got literally hundreds of tapes on the shelf that are client backups. If I must rework an old project, I can recapture those tapes with a few clicks in FCP, and my stuff relinks. Bam. Done. It would be a chore to have to buy/install/find a different tape capture utility just to ingest media for a project backup restore or (god forbid) a project update. All the tape in/out clip points are likely lost, it’s no longer a turnkey no-brainer, it’s a nightmare.

    Too soon. IMHO FCP tape support needs to carry through for another 3-4 years before we can break the habit. My alter-ego 4 years in the future agrees with you. But I disagree with you today. :-)

    Matt Jeppsen
    FreshDV.com

    • Admin comment by Philip · June 24, 2010 at 5:05 pm

      It would be easy for the external app to read an FCP XML file to g get capture points. And remember the similar “we can’t do without/what are Apple thinking” when they dropped floppy disks (too early) or any time they’ve dropped old technology. Make FCP a pure non-tape editor I say!.

      And half of your 3-4 years will have elapsed before we get another FCP anyway. (See my earlier writing on that subject). http://www.philiphodgetts.com/2010/03/08/what-are-apple-doing-with-final-cut-pro/

      Philip

  • Scott Simmons · June 24, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    I’m fine without tape but tell that to the clients who have literally thousands of tapes, masters and sources, stored in our vaults that are still used on a very regular basis. They aren’t going to convert that stuff to disc, nor should they, the cost would be tremendous and storing on hard drives isn’t an answer. We can’t do blu-Ray according to Apple cause it sucks. And then there’s mastering and deliverables. They still want those on tape and requirements are still tape for the foreseeable future. But damn if shuttling these things are around isn’t a huge pain in the rear.

    Apple doesnt have to put many resources into the tape based tools in FCP but i would love to have some rolling timecode numbers but at this point it isn’t going to happen. But hey ….. media composer can do that!

  • mark raudonis · June 24, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    No additional development… sure, I can understand that. But, drop it out of the program? WTF are you thinking?

    Humans still have an appendix, and as far as I can tell, nobody’s used theirs for at least a million years!

    In my opinion, there’s just too many “occasional” needs for accessing material that exists ONLY on videotape to even think about eliminating L &C as a feature.

    Beside, Terry just wants Avid to win. Getting you to write about this is his subversive plot to give Avid a fighting chance. I can’t believe you fell for his evil trick.

    Mark

  • Alik · June 24, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    This would be probably one of the dumbest things apple could do. It would render all camera’s built before 2 years ago pretty much useless. Which I still use tape cams and know a ton of people that still do. I hope this post was just to get a rise out of people and your not actually serious.

  • Terence Curren · June 24, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    Sheesh Mark, you sure give me a lot of credit. And Philip is smarter than I ma anyway.

    But think about it, what is the advantage to Apple in supporting that old architecture. Steve Jobs openly says everyone is going to download all their content. Listen to him. DVD is dead. BluRay is dead. Isn’t that his tune? So where is his return in supporting dead formats? And what is Apple’s historical record of supporting what they believe to be dead?

    In the Jobsian future, you shoot on file based, cut it on an Apple product, hit the big red button in the middle of the screen that posts it to iTunes, everyone watches the content on their iPad, iPhone, iPod, or AppleTV if they still watch those silly oversized television thingies…

    …and Apple takes a piece of every paid download.

    Tape? What the heck is that. If Apple cared abut that, the tape i/o on FCP would be as solid as Avid. And it’s far from that.

  • Terence Curren · June 24, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    PS: I don’t want Avid “to win”. I want the best tool for my workflows to win. And as long as they keep competing, it is good for me.

  • Scott Simmons · June 25, 2010 at 5:03 am

    “Tape? What the heck is that. If Apple cared abut that, the tape i/o on FCP would be as solid as Avid. And it’s far from that.”

    That is a telling statement because fcp’s Log and Capture ( and Edit to Tape for that matter) has been a big steaming heap of crap forever.

  • mark raudonis · June 25, 2010 at 7:21 am

    In 1729 Jonathan Swift wrote an article called, “A modest Proposal”. Google it!
    That’s what this ideas sounds like.

    Mark

  • Philip Hodgetts · June 25, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Mark,

    Log and Capture is currently old code. To include it in the next (presumably rewritten) FCP requires rewriting – a finite expense. Unless it’s going to be around for ever, why would it be around for the next release?

    Philip

  • Alan Halfhill · June 25, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    I use Log and Capture for old tape formats. WE still need to capture old tapes. More importantly I use it to capture LIVE streams from Firewire or my Matrox MXO2. I can not loose this live capture.

    Alan

  • jon · June 25, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Get “REEL”! Tape is the best backup to Solid State.
    and legacy footage is around for 5-10 years.
    Your statements in this article are profoundly Uneducated unrealistic for
    95% of the professional that use FCP.
    Unless all you shoot are weddings.

  • Kevin Monahan · June 25, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    It’s a good point, Philip. It may be time for tape i/o to go. However, I think they’ll keep the HDV L & C window because it’s all Cocoa (as you mentioned). It will be very easy to integrate that into a FCP rewrite. It does seem like tape will be dropped at some point. Only a matter of time.

    Kevin

  • D'Lynn Waldron · June 25, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Putting digital video tape in the technological dustbin will rob us of many years of history and the arts archived on tape, just as when the BBC freed up shelf space by throwing away all their video tapes of past shows just before the advent of DVD for the home and the advances in cable capability. The extent of their economic loss grows every year, not to mention the historical and artistic loss.

    I am in the classical music business and I have many hundreds of hours of performances and rehearsals on digital video tape and am constantly going back to the tapes to pull footage. I have transferred the tapes to archive DVD for reference using the automated JVC machine, but that is not broadcast quality. I do not use Log and Capture, I use capture now, but obsoleting the technology to access digital video tapes is a mistake that cannot be made!

  • Thomas Irvin · June 25, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    I agree that Log and capture should stay. There are other great benefits to log and capture than just ingesting tape footage. I produce a church service each week using 4 camera feeds into a mixer with footage captured directly into FCP via log and capture. Am I missing an easier alternative way to do this?

  • Jose Vergelin · June 25, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Getting rid of log and capture at this juncture seems truly premature given the amount of people who still use tape. In fact, personally I believe its a mistake to go completely tapeless because of the whole backup issue. Now we have to have everything backed up in at least two drives. And drives sitting around on shelves FAIL eventually. My opinion is that until we resolve the backup issue in a cost effective way, cameras should have both technologies so that we can capture tapelessly for fast ingestion into non-linear editor and at the same time record to tape as a backup. I also disagree that tape is dead. Many of us are still using and will be using tape for many years to come…

    • Admin comment by Philip · June 25, 2010 at 4:01 pm

      Just like it was “way too premature” to drop floppy support :)

      Philip

  • mark raudonis · June 25, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    “Rewriting is a finite expense”.

    Tough beans. Buck up and consider it the cost of doing business. To even consider dropping this as a possibility is to REALLY misread the user base.

    I think enough people have weighed in here to back me up on that. To claim that this is an economic issue, from a company the size of Apple is just pure poppycock.

    “Why would (should) it be around for the next release?”

    I’m not gonna even dignify this with a response.

    This is the dumbest idea I’ve heard in a very, very long time. Seriously.
    Makes me want to call Frank at Avid and ask for an evaluation copy of MC 5!

    Mark

  • Philip Hodgetts · June 26, 2010 at 9:56 am

    I just want to make it absolutely clear that the idea of dropping Log and Capture is my own. I think it makes logical sense in the context of the way the industry is changing; the (my expected) delivery of the next version in 2012 when there will be further shift to tape; and a major rewrite of Final Cut Pro.

    I do NOT claim any inside knowledge – just plain simple logic.

    A lot of people already capture or prepare media outside FCP; Log and Capture’s 3rd party replacements would still allow access to tape, just not core to FCP, so the next version can focus on being a kickass NLE without the need for legacy media lacking metadata.

    But it’s only my opinion. No-one go commit suicide over it.

    And by all means check out Media Composer 5; it’s a really, really strong release from Avid.

    Philip

  • Michael Sanders · June 27, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    In the UK at least tape is far from dead.

    Many productions, broadcast and corporate are still shooting on everything from DVcam to Digibeta and HDCam.

    For my own productions (where I cut them) I have tried to stay away from tape for at least two years now – and I love XDcam HD, Tapeless is kicking in fast – the EX3 in particular is doing a roaring trade.

    BUT…

    Many companies simply don’t have the IT infrastructure to support not so much a tapeless workflow but the archive and storage aspects.

    Also, so many operators have invested so much in tape based cameras – and they aren’t going to give up easily.

  • Dylan Reeve · June 27, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    I’ve long hated the FCP Log and Capture tool – it’s so clunky and inelegant. But it’s still very necessary for many many people. In my day to day work (in Avid) the vast majority (>90%) of my source material is tape or XDCAM disc which we usually treat as tape. There are still a lot of markets where file-based formats have not taken off, and tape is still very much in use.

    The only mitigating factor I can see in the idea that FCP might do without a tape I/O is that it’s inherantly file-based at a clip level, and a took from a third party could provide that functionality without too much difficulty – but it would be extra steps and extra complexity for a process (tape-based capture) that already seems to cause problems for many people (tape labelling, proper timecode, etc).

    I can’t see FCP goign this way in the next version it would be a massive line-in-the-sand move for not a lot of saving in development time. The Log and Capture code exists, porting to a new architecture is only a matter of refactoring, which has to happen with the entire application anyway.

    As for Log and Transfer – this is were I see that FCP’s entire reliance on QuickTime seems to have let them down a little – while it was great when most video files you wanted to work with were Quicktime, as otehr formats become more common, then Quicktime’s limitations become FCP’s limitations. Extending support to other formats now actually requires extending Quicktime support for those formats, an added layer of abstraction.

    And Mark, I’d heartily encourage a trial of Media Composer 5 – it’s changed quite a bit since you last used it, I suspect.

  • Eric Mittan · June 27, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Phillip,

    While I find your proposal interesting, I have come to doubt that rewriting the necessary components for a Cocoa-based Log and Capture will take Apple’s Pro Applications Engineering team any longer than it took me to read this article and all it’s comments. As you’ve said, HDV capture is already modern, and I’d be willing to bet a good portion of the needed SD/firewire code can be copied from iMovie.

    However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see something more akin to the system you described on an episode of the DP Buzz where you came to realize Apple had created a platform with Log and TRANSFER that would allow vendors to write their own modules for use in Final Cut Pro. At this point, all Apple would have to do is deliver modules for firewire capture (DV and HDV) and simply hand off all the rest of the work to the various vendors who supply products that capture. AJA, BlackMagic, Matrox, etc., could all write their own Log and Capture modules for their own products using the new Log and Capture platform. As long as the plugin handed over the captured media to Final Cut Pro in a standard way, it would work. And in the meantime, Apple’s outsourced all the engineering to the capture card venders of the world.

  • Jack Jones · June 27, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    Unbelievable article.

    Whilst I hope tapeless is the way forward, preferably with a more secure backup than a spare external HDD, support for Log and Capture is essential to the professional post environment.

    We would have to tell clients that they can’t use their archive footage – At times some of this is still on Beta SP where it hasn’t been transfered to Digi yet.

    Most important of all though is deliverables… So few broadcasters accept file based deliverables because of the danger of losing the file and not being able to replace it in time. Also equipment cost for a whole network to upgrade to be server based is so costly.

    The third issue is insurance. Currently if you work on a tapeless production you require 3 hard drive backups. Each at 3 different locations, one of which should never be plugged in unless all else fails. Imagine losing, even if it’s only a low budget documentary, £100,000 of footage because someone thought the project had finished and cleared the HDD. This happens, all be it very occasionally, but I have known it to of happened. Far better to be able to digitise tapes solidly for 5 days at a cost, than to lose the whole project forever.

    As ‘jon’ said; Unrealistic unless you’re all shooting weddings.

  • Shane Ross · June 28, 2010 at 2:09 am

    Philip, I like you, but I am glad you are not involved in the coding of FCP. Your idea, pardon me, is full of crap.

    Apple won’t drop log and capture from FCP…It is still VERY much in use. You seem to think that HDV is the only tape format that is still around. Sorry, you couldn’t be more wrong. HDCAM? HDCAM SR? DVCPRO HD? OH, and what about betaSP and digibeta, that I still seem to be capturing from a lot lately? And I am still outputting to HDCAM, HDCAM SR and Digibeta as deliverables to every single network I deal with. History, Discovery, Nat Geo, MSNBC, PBS, MTV. All want tape. Don’t tell me that none of your clients don’t output to tape, nor capture tape. I’m sure they do.

    The documentary world still VERY MUCH relies on tape formats. And many MANY reality shows are shot on HDV tape. DVCPRO HD tape is still very much in use (Varicam).

    You will see LOG AND CAPTURE and EDIT TO TAPE go in FCP when you see it go in Avid. At LEAST another 10 years…or more! We will always, ALWAYS be capturing from tape in the doc world. And that is a pretty large user base.

    And you guys poo pooing the LOG and Capture tool…really? You are having issues with it? I have issues with some HDV decks and tape formats, but that is a crap format to begin with. But DVCPRO HD, HDCAM, HDCAM SR, digibeta, betaSP…I have zero issues. And I captured footage for, and output from…60 shows last year.

  • dylan pank · June 28, 2010 at 4:44 am

    Education. I know you lot are professionally orientated, but I’ll guess that Apple sell (close to) as many F.C.P. licences to schools colleges and universities as they do to production companies. Tape is still very relevant to that market.

  • Brian · June 28, 2010 at 7:37 am

    Whoever wrote this article is a very closed minded editor.

    He is overlooking so many reasons why editors would still need to capture tape. I agree that moving to a tapeless workflow is where the future is, though he is ignoring about 85% of the FCP customers.

    He makes it sound like HDV is the ONLY tape format that anyone is shooting. However, miniDV is more still a huge player and works wonderfully for website videos, or the mass public who has not sunk their money into BluRay. I have yet to have a customer request BluRay; many corporations have no need to upgrade their office DVD players. Also, what about DVCPro HD, HDCam, etc. The miles of archival footage. Yes, Blackmagic and AJA make great products that TIE INTO LOG AND CAPTURE.

    I’m not sure why the author thinks that Apple would need to recode the Log and Capture in their future versions of FCP. The code exists. If you know anything about coding or writing software, they can simply reuse the previous code. Take DVD Studio Pro for example. They didn’t touch the code at all when they republished V4 in FCS3.

    Also, as much as I love a tapless workflow, keep in mind that Hard drives fill up quickly and die substantially quicker than tape does. Thus as much as the workflow is nice on the surface some are slow to adopt as the long term archivability is sketchy. Single hard drives will start to loose data after 5-10 years. Storing them on the shelf unpowered is worse than keeping them running. But a hard drive has moving parts, so its susceptible to failure. So then we move the data to a raid or LTO tape system for long term storage. But between the cost of these systems and the electricity to operate them, storing a tape properly on the shelf still reigns as the cheaper solution and the most reliable method of archiving.

    So if Apple chooses to listen to you so be it. But all it will do is open the gate wide open to the FCP demise. Then comes in Premiere to the top, or maybe Avid would have a resurgence. Or editors would realize how nice others are like Edius and Vegas. Given many poor decisions by Apple in the past, I sadly could see them doing this… Or maybe they’ll listen to they 25+ comments on this article and realize that they can’t (ever) take tape away from an editor.

    • Admin comment by Philip · June 28, 2010 at 9:15 am

      At no point did I say that editors would not have to capture from tape. If you read the article I simply say it will move from being integrated with FCP and available as a 3rd party alternative, as there are now from both AJA and Blackmagic Design. And if you’re capturing from anything other than HDV or DV then you’ll have capture and output to tape capability. It just doesn’t make sense to keep it *in* FCP.

      But everyone who’s been telling me tape won’t go away: thanks, I knew. I wrote as much in the article, making me wonder if you read it or just commented.

      Philip

    • Admin comment by Philip · June 28, 2010 at 2:48 pm

      I take exception at being called a “closed minded editor”. If you actually knew me (or read more of the blog) you’ld find out that I’m just the opposite. Although it is true to consider me a futurist: how things will be or should be in the future, not the way they are now. And I contribute a lot of that by developing software that makes the production process smoother or more bulletproof. A lot of it filling in gaps around the FCP space.

      Brian, your comments come from a lack of knowledge. FCP cannot move to 64 bit or get OS X benefits from Snow Leopard etc until it’s rewritten to Cocoa from Carbon code. There is nothing L&C that can move forward without significant work. It’s not option.

      And Blackmagic Design and AJA have tools that Capture and output OUTSIDE OF FCP. Their hardware integrates with the System to provide analog and digital tape capture for FCP (which can’t do that alone btw, except for DV and, in a completely different piece of code, HDV).

      Yes, Vegas and Edius are nice editors; they’re not on OS X so aren’t an alternative for most FCP users. They also have market share that is just incredibly low. FCP has 51%+ of the “professional NLE market”. Media Composer second at 22%, leaving 18% to be shared between Premiere Pro (which I think would be next); Vegas and Edius and Fast.

      Philip

  • Tenzopolis · June 28, 2010 at 8:16 am

    To eliminate a feature demonstrates one’s lack of imagination for using all mediums. VHS is just as important as RED. The last Harmony Korine film was VHS. Some artists still use the PXL 2000 by Fisher-Price. FCP isn’t just for commercial product, it’s a tool for content creation and all formats are of equal value. There’s more to content creation than what you see in the cineplex of a mall. I wish you tech heads who speculate would maybe participate in cinema in a broader way than just fetishizing what’s new and hi-res. It’s a very limited perspective.

  • Luis · June 28, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Wow, someone was trying to create noise with this article. The future of tapeless media and Log & Capture is not akin to a floppy disk. Floppy disks were replaced by cd/dvds. This may explain why Apple has been slow and maybe never will add Blu-ray disks to it’s computers. This makes sense but “software” log & capture, give me a break.

  • Peter in Miami · June 28, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    You are either very young or very naive.

    • Admin comment by Philip · June 28, 2010 at 2:45 pm

      With over 25 years pro video experience I am not young. As one of the leading industry commentators I am not naive. What I do have is a very, very good track record on predicting how the industry evolves. Read more of the blog, you’ll see I do know what I’m talking about.

      And once more, I do not say tape goes away, I just do not believe it would be in Apple’s best interest to re-invent L&C in a recreated FCP (as again, I think is happening, as you’d know if you read the blog regularly).

      Philip

  • Clayton Moore · June 28, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    I agree log and capture must go, but I’m not sure it will be in the next rev.

  • Nick Shaw · June 28, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    The idea of leaving tape capture to third party apps is all well and good in theory. However unless FCP gets a hell of a lot better at re-linking it is only practical for rushes capture, not recapture of an edit. Here in the UK at least, tape conform is a vital part of many work-flows, and unless it is possible to guarantee a capture in a third party app will create media which will link to a project in FCP without major manual intervention, I would rather keep L&C for now.

    • Admin comment by Philip · June 28, 2010 at 2:43 pm

      Well, they could spend money on making relinking better (by copying what we did with Matchback Magic as I expect they will since the foundation went in in FCP 5.1.2) or they can spend resources on recreating L&C.

      Philip

  • James Gardiner · June 28, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Phil, Apple only tend to DROP a technology for “Marketing Reasons” more then anything else. However, dropping one hardware tech for another better one has merit (You do only rally need one). Dropping one “software” tech for another when keeping compatibility with the older has no or little cost.. is “insane” and only a marketing move..

    If would be like dropping GIF support once PNG came out. Insane. Imagine the fact you would kill looking at any historical pages etc.
    Doh, he did this with flash didn’t he.

    In any case, dropping tape would be a great way to piss of the professionals. Not a good marketing move. And really all for the time it takes a programmer to update/port the log/capture to the latest version.

    If Apple does drop it Avid “SHOULD” win. Can you image Steve telling you how to do your job. Really, do you think he should?

    Also, one more point, many professionals use tape still as the old insurance and liabilities still mentions it.

    Has that changed much?
    James

    • Admin comment by Philip · June 28, 2010 at 2:42 pm

      They dropped PPC for the last release of FCP even though every app in the studio is still compiled Universal Binary. They dropped PPC “one release too early”??? For purely marketing and support reasons?

      Tape is over – yes it will be around for 2-3 years for the mainstream (ie about when the next version of FCP comes out) and longer still for archivists and documentarians. Some form of tape capture is required. It’s given to you when you purchase the hardware to make tape capture possible.

      Many people prepare media for FCP outside FCP. I just don’t see the issue if Apple decides that, rather than redevelop a feature that will be obsolete for the majority after they release it, or simply leave tape capture as a third party alternative.

      Tape doesn’t go away. It’s just not part of a re-imagined FCP.

      Philip

  • Chris Sanderson · June 28, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    So I keep an ‘old’ version of FCP for L&C…
    Then for as long as it runs on my Mac and the files import (with their mini-metadata) into the ‘new’ FCP, seems like not such a big deal?

  • Pippy · June 28, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Are you serious? Your argument is that Apple should arbitrarily dispense with Log and Capture because other software could perform the task? Well, we’ve already got Avid, Premiere Pro and Media 100, so why bother making FCP 8 at all?

    • Admin comment by Philip · June 28, 2010 at 2:56 pm

      Pippy? Did you read the article? That is NOT MY ARGUMENT, so I don’t think you read what I wrote, just reacted to the title. My argument is that Apple shouldn’t spend the money to recreate Log and Capture in New code – as they HAVE TO DO for FCP to move forward – when a) tape is dying b) it takes resources from other parts of the app that also need to be rewritten and hopefully re-imagined (like Media Management) and c) for those who will need tape capture in the future there are already OK alternatives and it would take little work for them to be perfectly acceptable.

      Bonus d) Apple like to be innovative and move forward; reworking a lot of code for a technology that most of the commentors here agree will “eventually” go away (and documentarians later than everyone else, for sure) doesn’t see to be that innovative.

      Media Composer is very nice, particularly at version 5 but it’s different from FCP. Premiere Pro can’t open two projects at a time, and Media 100 lacks features. If you think an editor is simply about capturing from tape and outputting to tape, then I think you’ve missed some important points somewhere.

      Philip

  • Dan Wolfmeyer · June 28, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Philip you are wrong, very, very wrong. Why do you insist that tape is dead or dying? The vast majority of shows I’ve cut shoot on tape. ALL of the companies that I do work for still shoot on tape. EVERY network I’ve delivered a show to REQUIRE that it be delivered on tape. HDCAM SR is alive and well, as are DVCProHD, D5, Digital Betacam, and MPEG IMX.

    If Apple were to drop L&C (and Edit to Tape, as it appears you are also advocating) it would cripple the app. One of the most basic functions of any NLE is the ability to ingest and output media. Doing this outside of the app itself defeats the purpose of using the app. I highly doubt that rewriting the code for L&C and ETT would eat up vast resources in the grand scheme of prepping a new version of FCP. It is basic functionality that the majority of users (yourself excepted, obviously) both expect and need.

    Comparisons to dropping floppy drives from Macs or dropping PPC support just don’t work. It is not even close to the same thing.

    • Admin comment by Philip · June 28, 2010 at 3:30 pm

      Why do you insist that your small niche is the whole market? :) Beyond that I won’t bother commenting since it’s fairly clear you didn’t read all I wrote, or didn’t understand it.

      The only thing that makes an application “pro” is the ability to capture and output tape. how interesting. I haven’t output to tape in the last five year; once this decade.

      Since I run a company that writes software, I believe I’m better places to make a clall on what code writing takes than those who don’t. I could be wrong, and will happily bow to your greater code-writing experience. Until then, I would argue that regardless of the amount of work it takes, it’s not worth doing. I also think it would take a lot more work than most people seem to think. (Like I did before getting properly informed of the coding process, and then becoming a software vendor ourselves.)

      I believe it is the same thing as dropping PPC support (too early) or floppies (too early). You’re most welcome to disagree with me, as most people commenting seem to do. I’d actually be surprised if Apple do drop L&C but I think they should.

      Philip

  • Dan Wolfmeyer · June 28, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Wow, now you’re just making a personal attack. Yes, I read your opinion and all of the comments. Thank you for insinuating that I am stupid. I’m glad that you think that broadcast and cable networks, feature filmmaking, and documentary filmmaking are niche markets. Just who, in your opinion is the “broad market” that FCP is made for?

    As you state, you run a company that writes software. You don’t spend all of your time in an edit bay actually creating content for the viewing public.

    Clearly you don’t understand what I wrote above.

  • Dylan Reeve · June 28, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Every single piece of broadcast television in this country (and in fact every minute of broadcast television I’ve worked on for networks in at least four coutries) has to be put on to a tape for final delivery.

    Also a massive amount of footage still originates on tape. Just watch a few hours of Discovery, Nat Geo or anything else with documentary content and immediately the issue of tape ingest becomes apparent in the extensive use of archival footage – most of which is orginated on a tape format.

    While external third-party applications could reproduce the basic functions of Log and Capture, the workflow would be far less fluid, and things like batch capturing would become significnatly more challenging. And then there would be the issue of consistent user interface. Editors would have to learn the quirks of a number of third-party I/O tools just to do fundamental things. Potentially apps from Blackmagic, AJA, Matrox and others would all be completely different.

    I find it stunningly difficult to believe that the demands of refactoring Log and Capture to a new architecture would represent any significant development hurdle in the overall scope of a project like FCP. Whatever might be saved in development time would presumably be lost many times over in lost business, and at the user’s end, productivity.

    Tape is possibly just about dead in terms of new acquisition products (although Sony, Panasonic and Canon still manufacture and sell many professional tape-based cameras and decks). Also much of FCP’s adoption into professional use has been outside the US, espceially in greater Europe, where tape acquisition is still going strong.

  • Admin comment by Philip · June 28, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    sorry about the perception of a personal attack, it wasn’t intended. It did seem like you were saying the only thing that made an NLE “pro” was capture from and output to tape. I thought that was egregiously bogus.

    If you look at the numbers Broadcast Television and Filmmaking are niche markets. Corporate, educational, event et al videography brings in more money overall. They’re important to Apple for their marketing value, but not for sales that support FCP. Broadcast and film licenses would be under 100,000 (and I’m being very, very generous there). That’s still less than 8% of Apple’s FCP sales, so yes, a niche. An important niche for Apple for marketing purposes.

    Until the last year I have worked with FCP every day. These days not so much as an editor, more as someone trying to find ways to reduce mundane parts of the editorial work. As such, I understand FCP a whole lot deeper than I did when I was cutting every day.

    I don’t think I misunderstood – you clearly stated that the absence of being able to capture from tape and output to tape defeats the purpose of using the App. I think that’s just plain silly. HDV succeeded with FCP before support was built in. I have a client who’s captured about 80% of his media outside FCP for the last five years (Cinewave, FCP 4.5 has a capture now bug that makes it impossible to use FCP). Hasn’t stopped him working for major studios.

    And he no longer hires in decks for acquisition or output – he uses Digital Service Station at Alpha Dogs for delivery when tape is required. Mostly he does not deliver tape anymore.

    so, what didn’t I understand?

    Philip

  • Admin comment by Philip · June 28, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Dylan, no argument on the fact that tape still exists in niche markets like broadcast. But that doesn’t affect 1.2 million of Apple’s 1.3 million customers. Damned important for marketing reasons.

    Maybe the cost saving would be negligible. It depends on what Apple are doing. If they decided to remake the app with strong metadata support then L&C with no metadata fails to make the grade.

    The future is metadata driven, you just don’t know that yet :) Tape has no metadata worth considering.

    Do they make a kick-ass modern tapeless app or make a faster horse?

    Philip

  • Dan Wolfmeyer · June 28, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    The basic job of a NLE is to be able to edit media. Part of that process is getting media into and out of the system. By dropping L&C you are effectively saying that it is only important to get file based media into the system. I’m saying that you are cutting out a lot of users in any market by no longer allowing them to capture/digitize footage off tape from within the app.

    As Dylan points out above, doing this outside of the app creates potential workflow issues. Why should we have to rely on a third party app to ingest footage when we have been able to do it within our NLEs for the last two decades? (I’m talking about NLEs in general, not just FCP) If we must go outside the app to ingest and output, then why bother using it at all? We might as well use an app in which we can ingest, edit, and output.

    This has nothing to do with “pro.” Any number of FCP users in any market, be that corporate, educational, event videography, broadcast, or even amateur hobbyist may be working with tape. They need to be able to get that media into the system and L&C is the best and most intuitive way to do it.

    Just because YOU don’t use tape doesn’t mean it is dead.

  • chuck r. · June 28, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    what absolute drivel. seriously.

    has the author ever worked within a professional editing environment? one where you’re juggling multiple delivery formats for multiple territories around the world? this is a bit more complicated than – oh, look, bestbuy isn’t stocking tape based cameras anymore – tapes must be dead!

    wrong on so many accounts. expect log and transfer to stay for the next version and the next. and, really, 2012? it’ll be here sooner than that.

    nonsense.

    • Admin comment by Philip · June 30, 2010 at 3:53 pm

      Thank you for your well thought-out polite comment.

      Philip

  • Dylan Reeve · June 28, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Strong Metadata and tape support and not mutually exclusive. Avid has very strong metadata support, and very very strong tape workflow support.

    While tapes may not have a lot of valuable metadata, retaining support for them in the application assures that what little metadata is associated with them (timecodes, reel number, alternate reel information, etc) will be consistent and properly normalised. Relying on unspecified third-party capture tools just means that that metadata is less likely to be consistent, which will become messy when encountering issues like lost media files, or recapturing.

    If I capture some tape for my FCP8 project using my Blackmagic capture interface, and then later I send to project somewhere else where they need to recapture some of the footage with their AJA capture tool, then is there any guarantee that necessary metadata will be maintained ane that it will be where AJA’s tool expects it to be.

    While there are probably a lot of FCP users who never use the tape features, I find it hard to believe that only 100,000, by your reckoning, do.

    I see no reason they couldn’t make a kick-ass tapeless app, and retain Log and Capture functionality (and hopefully improve it).

    While I can see, and agree with, the argument that many do not use tape-based I/O day-to-day, I can’t make the leap from that to “it should be eliminated”. I can’t see how in a cost/benefit analysis you’d ever come to the conclusion that it’s better without that support.

  • Admin comment by Philip · June 28, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    I would never consider my use patterns to be representative but I support half a dozen LA-based production companies: one does no tape in house other than BetaSP and he’s captured outside FCP for the last five years. He’s stopped hiring in decks for capture or output, using Digital Service Station instead because it’s less effort.

    The biggest prod co of them hasn’t done a tape-based project since the end of 2007: two films direct to DVD, their latest to Film with a tapeless workflow.

    The others have tape decks but don’t use them. In fact his output is now to KiPro with higher quality than any tape format short of HDCAM SR. They al work as editors.

    But at no point have I said there wouldn’t be a way to capture tape into FCP.

    And likewise, just because your world sees nothing but tape, doesn’t mean it’s the only view.:

    philip

  • Admin comment by Philip · June 28, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Dylan, Tapes have NO metadata other than TC. All other is entered by a person. (As I’ve written a lot on the role metadata plays in post production, including some of the most original research into it.)

    Tape-based vs non-tape metadata based workflows are mutually incompatible, in fundamental design. Unless you want to cripple metadata based workflows by forcing legacy support.

    here’s the thing. I just don’t know what they’ll do. I hope that Apple are taking a good hard look at the entirety of the application. If they do, then I believe that L&C and Edit to Tape will go from the primary application. If it’s just a basic rewrite to get Cocoa and 64 bit/Grand Central Dispatch and OpenCL support, then L&C will likely still be there.

    FCP has suffered from some architectural mistakes made in its development through 1996-99 that can’t be changed easily (Media Manager’s problems among them). If they re-architect (as I hope they do) then they’ll avoid putting in unchangeable elements merely for backward compatibility.

    It wouldn’t surprise me that, if L&C was dropped, that Apple wouldn’t offer the “third party” utility rather than mess up nice new code with legacy format support. (And let’s not go over “legacy” again. You know that’s what Apple thinks about anything not shipping now.)

    Philip

  • Alastair · June 28, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    i only got as far as “Tape is deadish now”.

    uh oh!! what that hell is my facility going to do with all these hdcam-sr decks??

    • Admin comment by Philip · June 28, 2010 at 6:36 pm

      Keep using the HDCAM SR decks by all means. But when you consider that there are fewer than 5000 or so HDCAM SR decks in the world, the whole app should be written around them? You’ll always be able to capture and output from tape, just maybe not inside FCP.

      The rest of the article is worth reading too. :)

      Philip

  • Andrew Richards · June 28, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    I’m with you 100% Philip! Log and Capture is archaic. It is archaic for modern workflows that don’t acquire on tape and it is nearly archaic for legacy workflows that do. Your Henry Ford paraphrase regarding a faster horse is apt.

    I only differ in that I think it will make one more release of FCP because I’m fairly certain Apple is keen to keep the “halo” users happy. Even if the broadcast/feature/doc users constitute a tiny fraction of the FCP user base, their use of FCP is worth a thousand times more than the rank and file to the marketing types that need FCP to be seen as a professional’s tool. If the voices in these comments are a reasonable sample, removing L&C would piss of the halo users.

    Now, onto my soap box. The righteous indignation in this thread about the durability of videotape versus HDDs or LTO is laughable. I especially enjoyed the comment about how videotape’s durability is superior to HDDs because HDDs have moving parts. I’m curious which tape format that commenter is using which does not have any moving parts! I also wonder how many of the tape faithful have a selective memory when it comes to their beloved camera masters jamming decks, tearing off reels, stretching, or dropping signal during a long capture?

    I’m also not going to accept arguments about how expensive RAIDs and LTO equipment is compared to the thrift of tape. This from the defenders of the $70K HDCam VTR? I can build you a complete SAN back-end for file-based FCP post with asset management and automated LTO-5 archiving for not much more than that. Maybe you already own the VTR, but what are you going to invest in next?

    Obviously we are a long way from never touching another videotape in our industry. But if you capture footage from the same tape more than once, your time must be worth a lot less than mine.

    • Admin comment by Philip · June 28, 2010 at 7:11 pm

      If it’s there in the next release it will be there forever. This is the time for rewriting or not rewriting the whole darn App. Major changes (like things we’ve all been asking for) could happen if they re-architected now, while converting the code to Cocoa. Once done, it’s done. If it could have been delayed another 2-3 years it would be a much easier decision.

      FCP has been forced into rewriting code that was not expected to be rewritten (see my earlier “What is Apple doing with FCP” article). This means rewriting most of the original FCP. They could do a basic rewrite converting to Cocoa and integrating 64 bit support, Grand Central Dispatch and OpenCL (plus other good stuff) which would leave Media Management the way it currently is (not bad these days, but not perfect); media locations are a preference not project setting; there’ll be no display of non-tape or not-entered metadata, etc.

      Or they can take this opportunity, take extra time and rethink and re-architect the application, saving media locations with projects; database based media management with in-file metadata support (for robustness); bypassing L&T etc.

      I’m hoping for the latter, but if they do that, I think L&C is more likely to not get remade in the new architecture, which would be optimized for metadata/non-tape rathr than tape.

      Just thoughts.

      Philip

    • Admin comment by Philip · June 28, 2010 at 7:11 pm

      If it’s there in the next release it will be there forever. This is the time for rewriting or not rewriting the whole darn App. Major changes (like things we’ve all been asking for) could happen if they re-architected now, while converting the code to Cocoa. Once done, it’s done. If it could have been delayed another 2-3 years it would be a much easier decision.

      FCP has been forced into rewriting code that was not expected to be rewritten (see my earlier “What is Apple doing with FCP” article). This means rewriting most of the original FCP. They could do a basic rewrite converting to Cocoa and integrating 64 bit support, Grand Central Dispatch and OpenCL (plus other good stuff) which would leave Media Management the way it currently is (not bad these days, but not perfect); media locations are a preference not project setting; there’ll be no display of non-tape or not-entered metadata, etc.

      Or they can take this opportunity, take extra time and rethink and re-architect the application, saving media locations with projects; database based media management with in-file metadata support (for robustness); bypassing L&T etc.

      I’m hoping for the latter, but if they do that, I think L&C is more likely to not get remade in the new architecture, which would be optimized for metadata/non-tape rathr than tape.

      Just thoughts.

      Philip

  • Gerard · June 28, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Film is dead too. How about getting rid of Cinema Tools?

  • Andrew Richards · June 29, 2010 at 8:57 am

    “Film is dead too. How about getting rid of Cinema Tools?”

    Maybe Cinema Tools is the model for the future of L&C support in Final Cut Studio; a standalone helper app that only gets used or even installed for certain specific workflows. Just because something might be dropped from Final Cut Pro doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t be there as part of Final Cut Studio. The Apple Loops Utility as well as Logic’s WaveBurner and MainStage are further examples of this kind of architecture among Apple’s Pro Apps.

  • Michael Sanders · June 29, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    Philip,

    Broadcast/Movies may be a smaller market for FCP than Corporate, education etc but…

    A) As editors (and cameramen) we work on all the above and more. This week alone (and its only Tuesday) I’ve cut 2 segements for a network news show (captured to and from DVcam) and 3 corporates (all in one day) shot on EX3′s. No one has a edit facility that will only cut broadcast, or one that cuts just corporate – we all just need a programme that can handle what we throw at it.

    B) Broadcast may be smaller, but overall its worth a lot more! Top end post facilities update their software and hardware as it comes out – we need it, the faster a render the more clients thru the door. Plus in marketing terms saying “The oscar nominated movie XX was cut on an Apple Running Final Cut Pro” is going to sell a shed more apple products than “by the way the training video we you just saw was editing on an Apple”

    To say broadcast is a niche market and to say its needs are less than any other market proves you really don’t understand the post production business or the selling of computers.

  • Maarten Butter · June 29, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    In The Netherlands, as of 10-10-2010 all the major networks (PNO, RTL, SBS) stimulate the post industry to deliver all content digitally. For commercials, you are required to deliver them as a MXF file already. I see tape dying very quickly.

    For archive / retrieval I would love to be able to do that from within FCP for the next 5 – 10 years. Tools from BlackMagic / AJA will do, if we have to.

  • Gary · June 29, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Phillip,
    You keep trying to defend an indefensible position.

    What all these people are saying is that being an experienced professional editor as you say you are is mutually exclusive with your premise.

    You are either an experienced professional that knows tape will be around for a long time, or an inexperienced individual trying to pass their own “niche” off as representing the entire field of editorial.

    Personally, I am still delivering a lot of tape masters. HDCam and Digibeta. Lots of standard def digitizing. Lots of DVCPro HD tape. DVCam tape.

    You are grossly exaggerating the difficulty for Apple to keep Log and Capture. It’s minor in the overall scheme of things. It’s a no-brainer.

    I have read through you blogs before. Generally there are no responses to them at all. They are generally so far removed from the real world as to be useless to respond to. Just noise.

    But this one goes right to the real world of post production.

    And it’s a stinker.

    And you finally got some traffic in your responses
    but for all the wrong reasons.

  • Dan Wolfmeyer · June 29, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    My more thought out and lengthy response to all of this: http://bit.ly/9MqnyG

  • Dylan Reeve · June 30, 2010 at 3:46 am

    It’s taken me a while to get back to you – I’ve been very busy at work capturing from- and outputting to- tape… :)

    There’s nothing mutually exclusive about file-based and tape-based metadata support. The nature of metadata as it exists is barely more than key/value pairs. For tape the metadata keys tracked are likely to be ‘timecode’ (maybe a few of them) and ‘reel’ or ‘tape’. Of course there are more than that – and even some more that are available directly from the tape.

    Take Avid Media Composer for example – as far as I can tell it has the best metadata support currently available for professional formats. It can track and display most, if not all, metadata from supported formats. Nothing about it’s ability to support tape (very well) inhibits that.

    FCP has a lot of problems and issues that hold it back in terms of strong metadata support for all formats – and I beleive all of those problems arise from it’s core reliance on Quicktime, a toolset that was never designed to do the things a professional NLE requires.

    The current Log and Capture tool is very poorly implemented and barely seems to have changed since I first used it 10 years ago, so if Apple are to take a good look at the whole of the application then I hope that better tape I/O is the end result.

    The only benefit I can see from dropping log and capture, and the only one you seem to have put forward, is a saving in development cost for not having to write the code.

    Whereas the costs to FCP in losing the Log and Capture (and presumably Edit to Tape) functionality seem very significant, even if only for a smaller part of their market. It’s a substantial lose of functionality making it much harder to incorporate into many post-production environments. In fact I suspect the lack of these features and reliance on unspecified third-party tools would eliminate it entirely in many people’s purchasing decisions.

    Simple things I do EVERY DAY would be much more difficult if tape I/O were not directly incorporated into my NLE. Insert edits into a master would be much more difficult, as just one example.

    So Philip, here’s my question: Aside from cost savings for development time, what could Apple possibly have to gain from the elimination of these core features? Commercially or in functionality.

  • Philip Hodgetts · June 30, 2010 at 9:47 am

    If the architecture remains based on reel and TC then it can’t be based on modern metadata. This has been one of the biggest problems all NLEs have had moving away from tape. Tape metadata is limiting (and limited to Timecode). Any metadata that has to be entered is less valuable than metadata we don’t enter.

    And metadata is going to be doing things you probably can’t imagine (although I tried in my SuperMag 4 article The Mundane and Magic Future of Metadata).

    If we must continue with an architecture int he application that focuses on reel name and TC, when there are more complex metadata structures required, I think we’lll fail to realize the potential of modern metadata.

    i guess it could be included as a sort of second class metadata. You can’t automatically synchronize audio and video like we do with Sync-N-Link with tape-only metadata. If we could get the date stamp out of the BWF it would be even better. Sync-N-Lnk saves a lot of production time for quite a number of shows (some are mentioned on the product page)

    If it wasn’t for time stamped words in media files then our next product wouldn’t work.

    Apple have been working on robust metadata for FCP since 5.1.2 as you can read in my previous writings on the subject.

    Without disrespect, your response does suggest some gaps in your knowledge about metadata and what Apple have already been doing. I expect that the next release of FCP will make Matchback Magic obsolete. (It’s based on QT metadata and makes FCP media bulletproof through offline or proxy workflows).

    Philip

  • Mitch Ives · June 30, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Okay, I’m going to go with the old Charlie Chan line… “ahhh son’s question is ahh like TV set on honeymoon… ahh not ah necessary”.

    First off, tape is not dead. Second there a millions of hours of footage on tape that will need to be accessed. They said the same thing about betaSP until somebody pointed out that 2 million hours of historically significant footage is still on betaSP tape.

    As to the notion that we can use a third party app, sorry but no again. I have a ton of FCP project files with the footage painstakingly logged in FCP. I want to be able to re-digitize it whenever I want to.

    Third, I don’t buy the Apple is smart argument. Apple blew when they eliminated any Mac with more than 3 slots and chased everybody to the PC for video editing for many years. Removing the DVD drive in the Macbook Air has rendered it a highly unsuccessful product in terms of sales numbers. Now we have a new iPhone that has reception problems when you hold it. Great, at least they are posting to hire some antenna engineers.

    The bottom line, this would be unwise and has NO upside and considerable downside. I.E. it’s a bad investment…

  • Dylan Reeve · June 30, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    I think I have a pretty solid understanding of metadata on a broad level. What specific implementations might be with various formats, well I’m not too concerned at the moment. Metadata can express many things – that every clip may not have all available metadata doesn’t limit other clips from having more, or the application from tracking more.

    As I said Avid Media Composer already offers strong metadata support (although much of it can’t yet be used in ways it might later) without having to limit support for tape in anyway. And it’s support for tape doesn’t seem to limit it’s ability to track metadata at all.

    Even in the system you propose FCP will still have to be able to deal with tape-originated media, even if it’s been captured with an outside tool. And presumably it should still maintain the ability to create EDLs and other standard interchange formats from selected metadata when necessary.

    Supporting tape and being based upon tape-based workflows are not the same. The fact that FCP is reliant on various tape-based conventions at the moment is not due to it’s support for tape, but due to design. It can continue to retain strong tape support while becoming a more versatile application for other workflows.

    I still can’t understand, as a programmer or an editor, how retaining native tape support will in any way limit versatility in regard to other applications.

  • Philip Hodgetts · June 30, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Actually Media Composer had huge problems with non-tape workflows until they re-achitected and added in AMA. Architecture matters.

    As I design metadata-based tools I can see clear distinctions in the way I’d design an app for tape (reel and TC) to one that’s designed to take advantage of “real” metadata, and do things with it.

    That you reference ELDs and other interchange formats, does make me wonder about how deeply you understand metadata, sorry.

    As for your last paragraph, as a programmer and (somewhat former) editor, I can see how retaining tape support compromises a truly metadata-driven application simply because, by comparison with what the app would be doing with metadata, any tape source would be crippled.

    And that’s not an elegant, S. Jobs approved approach. See http://gizmodo.com/5575412/apple-design-vs-apple-engineering for what I mean by elegance :)

    If media that comes in from non-tape sources is automatically having faces and places identified, voice transcribed and summarized into keywords ahead of the creative work of the editor; and another source (tape) has none of that, it’s not an elegant design or engineering solution.

    If you are interested in metadata (in a real sense, not to just say you “understand on a broad level” then can I refer you to:
    http://www.philiphodgetts.com/2009/06/05/i-think-theres-a-sixth-type-of-metadata/
    http://www.philiphodgetts.com/2009/06/01/what-is-the-fifth-type-of-metadata/ which references the original four I identified early 2009.

    Plus, if you want to understand my vision for where it’s going in the future, then the Mundane and Magic Future of Metadata article in the free Supermeet Magazine http://supermeet.com/supermag/index.html will help.

    thanks all for the Conversation it would seem that Apple would need to be “very brave” or at least careful in how they handle the (eventual, if not next release) drop of tape. This is my last post on this thread.

    Interestingly, the same topic generated well over 100 emails at the Final Cut Pro yahoo group. By the time we got close to 100, some of the comments started to realize that a) tape capture is hardly integrated in any NLE – it always sits off to the side; and b) as long as we could capture tape in an elegant way (batch capture projects) then a changed approach might be good.

    Thanks again for the conversation. I conceed! It’s too early to drop tape support but then I never said tape support should go away. Just not be written by Apple.

    Cheers all

    Philip

  • Ripvanmarlowe · June 30, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    I agree with Dylan, multiple vendors for I/O just screams compatibility issues, that’s why Avid’s capture tool is so awesome – only Avid make their I/O boxes.

    Every single one of the broadcasters we deliver to in the UK INSIST on tape-based deliverables. This is the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, MTV, amongst others. The BBC requires all high def programming to be mastered on to HDCAM SR. We certainly deal with file-based productions but ALL of them must be output to tape if they are to be broadcast. 90% of everything we do (and we are a large post production house encompassing offline, online, grading, audio post which deals with primetime, mainstream national and international programming) comes in on tape, and a lot of that is still digibeta, it’s still very much in use, to suggest it’s dying seems incredibly premature when we are seeing absolutely no decline in tape-originated productions (if our 15 digibeta machines, 2 HDCAM machines and 2 HDCAM SR machines are dead by 2012 – not to mention all our beta SPs, D2s, D5s etc – then we are in serious trouble!). The thought that i couldn’t just open up my avid or FCP and go to capture seems ridiculously backwards. Why on earth wouldn’t you want that level of intergration in your editing product?

    However, if the rumours are true and the next version of FCP will be “dumbed down” as it were to target the prosumer market then getting rid of log and capture would make sense. Just don’t expect it to win any fans from the professional market and start waving goodbye to that supposed 51%+ market share (i’d like to know how that figure was arrived at as most broadcast post houses i know of tend to favour Avid, especially when it comes to large scale productions requiring multiple editors and shared storage – but that’s a whole other FCP ball ache).

    And what’s all this about tapes not having metadata? They have timecode and a little barcoded sticker with their tape number on it! (if you take your tapes seriously and seeing as we are talking about professional editing applications i’m sure we all do!) That’s all you need to identify media. I have a timecode and when i capture my clips i add roll number and designate a workspace to capture onto – any important metadata that i need is created by me at the capture stage. Now i have a clip with timecode, tape number, storage location, along with various other details (media type, resolution, clip length, number of audio tracks etc) and this is more than enough information for me to effectively find the media or track it back through online to offline and relink if i need to.

    Without a tape based master i start to get nervous. What if a filename gets changed? What if someone accidentally deletes a file? what if you have more than one shift working on it and someone stores the media in a directory and doesn’t tell the next shift where they put it? Being able to capture from tape provides a comforting visual reminder that if you blow away media by accident then all is not lost. I don’t need 3 hard drives to feel safe all i need is a little red tab pushed to its “In” position to know i won’t blow a hole in my master. This may sound like “old thinking” but until hard drives can last for decades without failing then there will always be a place for tape (just type “tape is alive and kicking” into google and open the sony PDF). I don’t know anyone seriously archiving onto a Lacie drive and thinking it will be ok. FCP is the least streamlined and most clunky of the two big players (IMHO – not their fault, Avid have been around for yonks) and the last thing they should be doing is removing basic functionality that, i would dare to say, all editors expect to come as standard. Adding another layer of complexity with third party capture just seems whimsical.

  • Terence Curren · June 30, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    You folks are cracking me up. I had a conversation with Philip about where I see the Apple road map going, and it runs into a passionate debate about trying to hang on to the past.

    Okay, you think Steve Jobs gives a crap about what you think about your old media formats. Check this out:
    http://www.macrumors.com/2010/06/30/steve-jobs-suggests-blu-ray-not-coming-to-mac-anytime-soon/

    That’s Steve Jobs. He is 6 steps into the future and running a huge company that is working towards being the ultimate media engine for the planet. And you honestly believe he cares about you being able to capture from a beta SP tape into FCP?

    Get ready for iCut Pro boys and girls. With one huge “Post to iTunes” button prominently displayed in the center of the screen. And yes, that will replace any tape I/O.

    ( I know nothing of Apple’s plans, this is conjecture, please don’t firebomb my house or send the Apple police after me)

    Terence (knows nothing of Apple’s future, only conjecture) Curren

    PS: Did I mention that I personally know nothing of Apple’s future and am just guessing based on outside indicators. If I’m correct, please don’t send the Apple police after me….

  • Gary · July 1, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Phillip,

    First of all, let me apologize for going over the top with my criticism. You certainly got me riled up, very riled up. And I reacted much more harshly than I should have. It was unprofessional and I feel bad about it.

    So again, my apologies to you.

    I will offer some constructive, I hope, more professional criticism sans the attitude.

    You post opinions on your blog, on a variety of topics, that are based basically on opinion. You will use quotes from other people to back up those opinions, but they are always in support of your position, unbalanced with any information that might differ. That’s cherry picking.

    But it’s your blog and you are entitled to say whatever you want.

    You used HDV tape as your example of why tape is dead. But that is a bad example to base an argument on. HDV was never anything but an interim format.
    HDV was dead the day it arrived. It was a problematic format to fill a temporary gap.

    You used HDV and ignored the other more commonly used tape formats for broadcast level work. The life spans of HDCam, HDCam SR, DVCProHD tape and the still ongoing use of standard def formats should have figured in your position.

    Terry is right that Apple and Steve Jobs are unpredictable in the Pro Apps department and can’t really be counted on to do the right thing by it’s Pro customers.

    But I don’t think a “Post to iTunes” button is coming. At this point Apple won’t even acknowledge 1080i (or 1080 p) as delivery format within the universe of Apple plans. To him 720p with a lot of compression is where the future is at. Job’s latest blog comments about Apple’s position on Blueray cements that. And I think he is out of touch with content providers many of which want even higher resolutions and picture quality, and possibly 3D. It remains to be seen if people will pay Hulu $10 plus whatever other subscription services they would have to pay if they dropped cable tv. Hulu Pro is still only 720p and highly compressed at that.

    I respect Terry’s opinion as a facility owner. A fair amount of cynicism towards Apple is to be expected from someone in his position.

    For production companies with their own in-house post, feelings run a little different.

    Jobs is only one person, albeit an important one, in the world of content creation and delivery. His position is that the only thing consumers care about in media delivery is small mobile platforms and that there is no room in the future for the big screen tv’s customers have been buying these last few years. Plus appropriate content to view on them. Other positions differing from his may find better traction in the marketplace over the long run.

    OK, I have to go back to digitizing my next project… from DigiBeta.

    Again, apologies.

  • Philip Hodgetts · July 1, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Thanks for the apology Gary. I thought a lot of the commentors went a little personal and I verged close at least once.

    Of course this is my opinion blog. That’s why I started it. That’s what it’s here for. That’s why people read my blog, mostly, because they want the opinion of a 20+ year video vet with nearly 16 years in digital video alone. The opinion of someone who the CIS determined was in the top 3% of their profession (for my green card). The opinion of someone who is actually thinking “big picture” about the industry, rather than looking “around the corner”.

    Of course, my curation of articles is subjective. Although I do post contrary positions, such as yesterday’s post about HTML5 not being good enough for YouTube right now. Whereas I hate Flash with a passion (on OS X). There’s no point promoting ideas that I’ve already rejected after deep discussion and consideration. :)

    My long term accuracy on predictions is about 80%. I’d say Apple won’t take out L&C from the next version so I guess that would count as a “wrong”. But overall, I expect to be about 80% right about what I write about, long term.

    I don’t agree with Terry that Apple are turning FCP into a Prosumer application, and have detailed the reasons in two recent posts:

    http://www.philiphodgetts.com/2010/03/08/what-are-apple-doing-with-final-cut-pro/

    http://www.philiphodgetts.com/2010/05/18/why-apple-insider-couldnt-be-more-wrong/

    I like to put out thought bombs although ironically this one was not designed to be that. They generally get no comments but when I comment on today’s (for me relatively boring) stuff, and comment about FCP, I get huge numbers of comments.

    The production and post production industry is changing. It could be changing dramatically with short notice and I’d like to know what the “new answers” might be. And it seems there is a lot of interest in what I have to say: June 17 I presented to 260 TV Academy members in a professional development session about “Surviving the changing business of Television” and they seemed to find it useful. Up against the Laker’s final.

    Two days later I presented in SF on “Grow your production and post production business in any kind of economic circumstances’ and “How to Grow and Monetize an audience for your independent project”. They were also well received,nearly a sellout.

    So, if you find what you read makes you think, that’s perfect. If you don’t want to, there are lots of blogs that tackle the working week stuff (Shane Ross, Scott Simmons, Oliver Peters, Steve Cohen come to mind immediately) that you might enjoy.

    Here you’ll find interesting stuff and sometimes leading edge thinking from one of the few genuine intellectuals thinking about post production.

    Cheers

    Philip

  • Dylan Reeve · July 1, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Hey Philip,

    I absolutely understand the potential of enhanced metadata, faces and places and all that (and I will read your linked posts when I get a little more time to take it all in) – but my argument is that retaining tape support doesn’t limit the application’s ability to support all that, it jsut means that media capture from tape will not have any of those metadata fields available.

    EDLs, for all their failings, are still the most widely supported way to move essential edit information from one system to another. I can’t track (at least not directly) a lot of the metadata, but I can take a unique source identifier (tape number, or file name) and timecode – enough to get the most important parts of the edit through.

    I’m not suggesting that FCP should abandon all hope of wide metadata support in favour of retaining a strictly tape-based system, but I firmly believe that tape-based media can live within that metadata-rich system. It just has (by default anyway) a very narrow subset of metadata (although other tools could expand that metadata).

    Again – I can see the benefit in making FCP more independant of a core reliance on tape concepts, but I can’t see any benefit of ridding it of native tape support in the process. In reality even if tape I/O is eliminated entirely FCP will still have to be able to support media with to meagre amount of metadata available from a tape, as it will continue to be captured with outside tools and used. All that would be gained from eliminating it from within the app is the earlier-mention development savings in not porting the capture or output tools.

  • Dylan Reeve · July 1, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Terry,

    I have a huge amount of consideration for the fact Steve Jobs is known to be something of a control freak in many ways. And I personally doubt he has any idea what professional post production requires, nor do I think he really cares that much… But I also suspect that a lot of the core team behind FCP do know, and I suspect that Jobs probably doesn’t care enough about FCP to want to force it in any specific direction.

    If the decision makers in Apple Pro Apps care about their ‘pro’ users then I can’t imagine tape I/O will go away…

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