Yes, this is probably going to be a rant. I’m just about over hearing that Final Cut Pro X is “not for pros”, as if that had some useful meaning.
Guess what folks, that’s a totally meaningless sentence and anyone who says it is… Well, let’s just say I don’t have a high opinion of their thinking processes.
Every single person who gets paid for doing their work is professional. That’s the definition. So if a single Final Cut Pro X user ever gets paid for their work, then Final Cut Pro X is “for professionals”.
Unless you want to apply some “extra” meaning: Editing is a “profession”. Well, let’s explore that. If you want to use that definition of professional then you’d better have a professional body, some government regulation, education and professional conduct standards, and more.
Guess what? None of that applies to editors. The closest would be the Editor’s Guild, with about 6,000 members. But even that doesn’t really meet the definition of a “Profession”. There’s no government regulations controlling the standards that make one a professional: Medical and Legal professions do. While the Editors Guild does have membership standards, there’s no ongoing requirement for education to maintain your license to practice (like Accounting, Medical, Legal professions). In fact you don’t need a license from anyone to edit.
That is my point exactly. To say that anything “isn’t for pros” is making an assumption about what a “pro” is, and that’s rarely reasonable. What those people who are making that statement are really trying to do is to make sure their niche in the production world gets some kind of special treatment, or at least they believe they are in some way “special”.
It kind of goes with the attitude that says “the world is over, anyone can buy a professional NLE for just $299”. As if the price of the tools somehow affects the quality of the work. If you have that attitude you’ve already lost your credibility and you should go find another occupation!
For way too long, some in this industry sold the cost of their tools of trade as if that somehow made them “special”. Back in the 1990’s I realized that was a totally losing proposition. The only value you have to your clients are your skills. Buying a F23 doesn’t make you a Cinematographer; it makes you someone who can afford to buy an F23! The best still camera in the world isn’t responsible for a single great image without someone with skill and talent using it.
Your value to your clients is based on one thing and one thing only: how much money you can make them compared to how much money you cost them. If you don’t make your client more money than they pay you, you don’t have a job or career. You do that with your skills, not your tools.
Here’s a question. Presuming you get your car serviced regularly, what brand of electronics are used to tune the engine? What brand tools did the carpenter use on that last job? What brand sphygmomanometer did the doctor or nurse use to take your blood pressure?
The answer to all of these is: “I don’t care.” I really don’t. As long as the chosen service provider uses tools they’re comfortable with to deliver the job I’m paying for, I don’t care what brand they choose. Nor should I.
If your clients care about the tools you use, then you’ve totally trained them wrong, and you’ve got a huge problem coming, as the tools are now – by comparison – dirt cheap. And therefore the perception is that you’re dirt cheap.
If you’ve been promoting the value of your skills to your clients, they don’t care what tools you use as long as you deliver the job on time, on budget and the way they want it. If those tools are perceptually “easier” to use, or have automatics that balance out for the most common use cases, why not use that? By all means overwrite it with manual control when that’s important. Sometimes the shot is intended to be shaky (such is the state of “creativity today, but that’s another subject).
But who wants deliberate rolling shutter errors. Or if you do, how often as a percentage of the total? I’m prepared to say that the number of times you want a shot deliberately shaky or the rolling shutter artifacts really obvious, are definitely in the minority.
A “pro” will want to give their client the best value they can, taking advantage of the best that technology can offer, while still bringing their unique value to the client. (You should also know what your unique value is, but that’s another blog post.)
What I believe these misguided pundits are meaning is that Final Cut Pro X may not be suitable for some current workflows at version 1. That is a reasonable statment. To then somehow say that it’s not for “pros” comes back to the argument of what is a “pro” editor.
The craft of editing is now very different than it was 30 years ago. 30 years ago – around the time I started my first business in production – only large facilities and broadcasters really existed. My very basic first equipment purchase – all very carefully costed and only working in 3/4″ for budget reasons – still cost more than a reasonable house in the same area and time. Now that same capability would cost me less than a good motorbike, or a decent vacation.
At that time, in Australia’s sixth largest TV market there would have been fewer than 10 people making a living as an editor. They would be in the TV Station and, well, news and production at the local TV Station. By the mid 90’s there were probably 50 people in that same town making a living as editors, and by the time I left in 2001, double that again, or more.
As they were making a living from it, I’d have to count them all as pros. Not doing the same work as those producing TV News, or producing the Television at the network level, but cutting video to add value for their clients. Most of whom didn’t care what tools they used.
That was a long time ago and the picture has changed. Apple claim “two million installs” of Final Cut Pro 7 and earlier, compared with 1.4 million “unique registered users” a little over a year and a half ago. Not sure why the definition changed, but we all knew there were a lot more Final Cut Pro installs than there were “unique paying customers”.
The concept of a professional video editor has broadened. The editors that fill the 17-18 edit bays at TV Week are working professional editors. Similarly, those that edit movies for the majors studios are working professional editors? Both are professional. The thousands (even hundreds of thousands) of Event Videographers satisfy some demanding customers. I’ll rather get notes from a Studio Exec than an unhappy Mother of the Bride any day! All professional editors serve demanding customers, although the demands may not be the same.
So, to try and create the illusion that those professional editors using certain types of workflows are the only “pros” is ignorant at best, and insulting the vast majority of professional video editors, at worst.