The present and future of post production business and technology

Why do production pressures favor Final Cut Pro X?

I was watching the highly recommended Editor’s Lounge series of videos from the Why we make the Edit night and naturally the discussion turned to the increasing pressure to get work done faster. Derek McCants noted that where once he would have three weeks to cut an allocated segment, the expectation was it would now be done in one week.

This led to the following exchange (transcribed pretty much verbatim) starting at 21’26 into Part 2’s video:

BEE OTTINGER: I think time is – there’s just not as much time. That’s the bugaboo all of us have. It’s the Avid. The greatest thing in the world is the the Avid. I wouldn’t go back for anything, but it.. it… other people had more to say because it was easy to change. The ease of change you would think would make things more creative because you could try things and it isn’t that great.

DEREK MCCANTS (Editor Big Brother): I would agree.

BEE OTTINGER (Music Video): Time?

DEREK MCCANTS: Yeh, and because of that in reality there’s less ownership for the editor. It used to be that an editor would do an episode. Now there’s three or four editors – maybe five – are working on the same episode to get it done.

ANDREW SEKLIR (Editor Battlestar Galactica): And I think part of that is when you’re cutting on a Moviola it had one picture track, usually one soundtrack that was kind of keeping going. Now they expect you to have a completely temp’d version with every sound effect, leading to “I didn’t like the way that computer beeped”. We get these kind of notes from network. “I don’t like the ring of that cell phone.” And you go “OK, maybe that’s valid but it’s a temp mix”.  But also with music and everything and that adds on.

It brings up two “modern” pressures that were not part of the traditional editor’s life (pre democratization of video): the lack of time, and the expectation that the “rough cut” will have music, temp effects, etc. The pressure is on the editor (and assistant) to go much further toward the finished piece so that the network or other approver won’t have to use their imagination. (Of course, that’s the producer’s failing and their response to be giving notes on temp effects indicates that the production skills of the executives, or their understanding of their industry, has fallen.)

I’d like to address both, and suggest why I think Final Cut Pro X is heading down the right direction. (Seriously, stick with me for a minute.)

I haven’t been using Final Cut Pro X on a huge project (yet, check back with me late next year) but I follow a lot of people who are and they universally comment that Final Cut Pro X is “200 to 400% faster” for them. As near as I can tell these people are doing the same sort of work on Final Cut Pro X as they were on Final Cut Pro 7 and finding that they get to a result from twice as fast to four times as fast.

Twice as fast to four times as fast!

Apple understands the pressure that’s on all production folk – be they working in “Hollywood” (the metaphoric one) or in the wider world of production – need to produce faster but with a higher quality product. So they designed with the following goals in mind:

  • Avoid workarounds
  • If we can automate and make something faster, we will
  • Keep the quality at its highest possible level
  • Be fast and fluid.

Now, I’m not going to argue that Final Cut Pro X as it is at 10.0.2 is a perfect solution for everyone.  The lack of support for layered Photoshop files, and no selective copy or paste of attributes still get in the way for me, but they’re interim issues.  Rather than looking at what the current release might lack, I’m more interested in how in-tune with modern production needs across the spectrum of editing, not only for broadcast television or film editing, Final Cut Pro X really is.

Back in June I wrote about the process of creating Conquering the Metadata Foundations of Final Cut Pro X:

What’s interesting is it parallels what seems like a design philosophy behind Final Cut Pro X. From what I’ve done in Final Cut Pro X, it seems to me to encourage a much more polished project along the way. It’s as easy to add an animated, high production value title as it would be to add a placeholder to remind you to do it later, as I’ve always (previously) done.

With the way clips (and titles) stick to other clips, I feel we’re encouraged to add polish as we go, by making it no extra pain to add the polish: a little color touch up; maybe a reposition; animate some clips. These are all so easy in Final Cut Pro X that I have to think this is part of the design philosophy.

What’s that got to do with the book? Every other book I’ve written or attempted to write, the draft was written in a Word processor and careful track had to be kept, with strict formatting guidelines, of what images were being added later in layout. It’s not until much later in the process, after the text is finalized, that it goes to layout.

That process wasn’t going to work in this case, so as I wrote on my computer, I would have Apple’s loaner beside me, snap a screen shot with the built in tools that are not perfect but functional. Rename it, drag it to iChat and dropped it via Bonjour to my own laptop. Then dragged the imaged directly from iChat to Pages and into the layout. It turned out to be a very efficient workflow.

I consider that to be a core strength with Final Cut Pro X – the ability to polish as you edit is much more fluid than in other NLEs of my experience. When you already have a searchable database of music cues and fx sounds, ready access to an Aperture photo library (or iPhoto), and hundreds of pre-programmed titles and looks, it’s much easier to approach finishing-as-you-go, and therefore fill that demand of modern production situations.

Now there are times when I don’t want to think about anything but story, and that’s just fine too. Final Cut Pro X gets out of the way there as well when all the finishing options just disappear from the interface when not needed.

While that’s great and I see how it fits with the ‘demand’ to see first cuts that appear finished from producers and executives, it’s the reported speed increases that fascinate me and tell me – for that reason alone – Apple’s bold attempt to redefine the NLE (as I had hoped) will be successful. In September last year I wrote an article What Should Apple do with Final Cut Pro:

What if Apple – since they have to rewrite much of Final Cut Pro – decided to not just do a “faster horse” rewrite but rethink what the NLE should and could be? The first problem with making major improvements is that it will involve change and we know that no-one likes change: they want things to get better but never change! So if Apple are re-imagining Final Cut Pro, it will be unpopular with “the pros”, at least until they give it a try. (And I can probably name those who will hate it among my acquaintances.)

Well, I did get the part about “the pros” hating it! And that some would come around when they gave it a try, but it was in a following paragraph that I asked them to:

Rethink the Interface. Reportedly Apple were looking to hire interface designers for the Pro Apps as recently as May 2010. I presume they’re hired by now, but you would expect a redesign to take at least a year to 18 months.

They rethought the interface according to the philosophy outlined above – faster and more automated – and we have Final Cut Pro X.  Let’s assume that it’s only twice as fast as Final Cut Pro 7. Some of that is simply because of a modern foundation that drops any requirement for transcoding or rendering effects, and that’s shared with other modern NLEs like Premiere Pro, Vegas, Media Composer and Edius. But some is because of the way the interface has been redesigned.

I noted when I first started using Final Cut Pro X how fluid it all felt and I expect that’s driving the “it’s faster” meme.

The thing is, if we have one NLE that’s noticeably faster in use, that word will get out to producers and, guess what? Producers and executives like things done faster because that’s the direction they’ve been pushing. (Oh, and faster is usually cheaper.)  If a two week job can be done in one, if a one week job can be done in three days, then whoever is doing it will adopt the tool that lets it be done in three days, or they’ll be looking for other work.

Now, I hope that there will always be projects that value the careful deliberation of the editor, where time for contemplation and reflection on the edit is expected, but if the panel at the Editor’s Lounge are to be believed – and they are – then these pressures are already part of their life.

It seems to me that if getting to a cut faster – and getting to a more finished cut while you do it – are the realities of a lot of editors lives, then Final Cut Pro X has been designed perfectly for the modern, professional edit environment. Even if it’s not there yet, the design intention and production reality seem destined to make Final Cut Pro X’s market share increase, even among the pros. (They won’t like it, but twice as fast can’t be ignored, let alone “four times faster”.)







101 responses to “Why do production pressures favor Final Cut Pro X?”

  1. The problem with what you’re pointing out here is that it’s almost the opposite of what the editors in your initial transcript appeared to be complaining about…

    Already “the Avid” (in quotes because I believe it applies general to Non-Linear Editing) makes it too easy to do these things, and has created an expectation among producers and execs that they will be done in “the offline”.

    Instead of focusing on the core task of creatively editing the content broadcast editors are now increasingly being expected to be sound designers, motion graphics designers and colourists. Not only are they expected to do these things, but notes in viewings are now picking on these things instead of the (arguably) more important issues of timing, shot selection and other basic story-telling things.

    I’m a traditionalist (at least compared to you I think Philip) in that I believe to some extent that these tasks are separate and should be tackled, if not at least by different people then, at different stages in the editing process. Even on projects I do for myself I’ll still focus entirely on the cut before even really considering the finer points of the look and sound – and I’m primarily an online editor, look is what I do.

    The show that I Post Supervise is lucky enough to remain fairly traditional in approach. The viewing for producers and network is ungraded, with temp effects (if any), almost no music and no sound effects. They watch the cut for the cut, and the editors edit for the cut – no time is spent (wasted?) focusing on finishing detail before the proper time.

    That FCP-X makes it easier to do everything at once still doesn’t, in my opinion, endear it to the professional/broadcast world. If anything it furthers exactly the frustration that was being expressed in the Editor’s Lounge. Editors want to edit first and foremost. Not worry about all the other details all at the same time.

    1. Markus

      I’ve been cutting movie trailers (professionally) for years now. We’ve always been film editors, music editors, sound designers, producers, copy writers (sometimes) in one person. And guess what – it’s fun. It doesn’t get boring that way. – But I can see why this isn’t for everyone.

  2. Philip

    To be clear they were talking about offline – all their projects went elsewhere for finishing, be it sound design, color timing, title design, etc. They have to do temp work, even though the real work is to come. And that’s an additional time pressure.

    I do agree (and indeed have written) that “offline” (editorial) and “finishing” are different mental processes, at least in an ideal world, but it’s not always an ideal world, and the panelists basically felt they had to give in to the changes that have occurred.

    1. Fair enough, but I doubt that many of the panelists would have expressed a desire for a product that makes that stuff any easier specifically. If they want to have access to a keyworded library of sound effects then a tool like Basehead is ideal. I’m fairly sure it does it’s task better than FCP X does. I am also a believer in the right tool for the job, rather than one that tries to do everything 🙂

      1. Philip

        They probably wouldn’t ask for it, for the same reason that Ford said that if he’s asked people what they want they’d have asked for faster horses! Final Cut Studio was an attempt at “right tool for job” and the entire time people asked for a unified interface!
        Apple have never made the specialist tool. What they make are tools that are very very good for what 80% of users do 80% of the time. (FCP 1-7 is really the exception but it wasn’t designed at Apple). That’s Motion (AE is much more sophisticated and capable), that’s Soundtrack Pro (not even a ProTools wannabe but all the audio an editor needs, and so on. Specialists need specialist tools, and if I was cutting episodic TV or film I’d almost certainly be using Media Composer by now.
        As an Apple tool – faster, better for 80% – Final Cut Pro X meets the description. Once the speed factor is confirmed, the choice of tool will be made by producers with an eye to the budget, not by the editor. (I don’t say I like that, I’ve often set up a film based on the editor’s preference, but I say it knowing the reality of the business of the biz.)

        1. andy

          thats nearly hilarious.

          Apple have never made the specialist tool. What they make are tools that are very very good for what 80% of users do 80% of the time. ***(FCP 1-7 is really the exception but it wasn’t designed at Apple)***. That’s Motion (AE is much more sophisticated and capable), that’s Soundtrack Pro (not even a ProTools wannabe but all the audio an editor needs, and so on. Specialists need specialist tools, and if I was cutting episodic TV or film I’d almost certainly be using Media Composer by now.
          As an Apple tool – faster, better for 80% – Final Cut Pro X meets the description.


          read that again phil – seriously – read that through. its nearly a good gag. who do you think is going to use nearly useless stuff that isn’t garageband? THere is no in-between level of moron-ish 80% useful software.

          it doesn’t exist.

          either you can use it professionally in multiple use scenarios or you can’t.

          you and the other guys desperately trying to boost FCPX are having a laugh. its brain damaged.

          please feel free to block.

          1. Philip

            If by “professionally” you mean the small market of broadcast or cable tv and film editors, then you’re right and if that’s you, I strongly recommend Media Composer. That’s a tool made for the niche and those who need those tools. But that’s not the majority of the editing market, as I believe I’ve established over the last year. As a data point I once again point to the US Department of Labor Statistics who state that there are 25,500 “Film or Video Editors” employed in the United States – expected to grow a couple of thousand in the next three years.

            Compare that with Apple’s 2 million seats of Final Cut Pro Studio (including Final Cut Express), or their 1.5 million unique customers. Or Avid’s (my estimate) approximately 600,000 seats of Media Composer. Clearly the biggest markets for editing software are outside the traditional film and video editor. But I make the point that even those markets will pay attention if one tool and workflow does turn out to be faster.

  3. Pablo Davinci

    By “professionally” andy means those who can actually draw an audience. Sure, anyone can make money doing an edit – my kid sister does it all the time on a laptop and $90 software. She can also sing karaoke along with 300 million other people. Who cares?
    The real question is, who’s listening?

    We have entered an age when anyone can do anything, but when you look at what’s out there, 95% of it is unwatchable. I guess editing actually takes insight. So does shooting. And directing. And sound design. And color, etc. Who’d have thunk.

    Having those areas all lumped together with half-baked tools and limited functionality, tied to a system that is completely cut off from any other application- without the help of 3rd party support – is such a philosophical miss-step, one wonders if any editors were involved in the development at all. I mean real editors – you know – the ones that can hold a crowd.
    Those with the skills demand tools that aren’t insulting to our intelligence. We also don’t see the point in pandering to corporations who treat our particular brand of art as something that can be shoe-horned into their “quick -n- easy” philosophy. Funny, they’re finally coming around to promising support for broadcast. I thought we didn’t need that! Weren’t those photoshopped displays in BlackMagic’s brochures proof enough?

    Apple has become so lame. I won’t even touch Lion – breaks too many things. Snow Leopard’s colorsync is still questionable with 3rd party calibration. And the MacPro is getting older than Moses. They still don’t put out a display that can handle the full Adobe RGB gamut. And their Thunderbolt launch is as exciting as FCP X – oops.

    There was a time when we, in America, thought the Japanese were our mortal enemy. In 1944, who would have imagined that there might come a day when the leader of Japan would want to visit America, and tour Memphis so he could sing his favorite American artist’s song at a place called Graceland? Time can heal anything, I suppose.
    And who would have ever thought that the PC-market would eventually become a refuge for artists who had mistakenly put their faith in a production ecosystem that would one day be decapitated for the sake of a faster buck? Ironic, that.

    As to Henry Ford, he didn’t invent the automobile, but he did make the Model T as backwards compatible with the horses and buggies as possible – even to the point of offering a transmission that would allow it to cross the same streams as buggies did, with the added benefit of being able to remove one of the wheels and use the axle to drive farm machinery. Henry Ford was the “anti-Apple” – doing everything to “fit in” with what already existed – no 3rd party diapers needed.
    But, then, he grew up on a farm, so he knew how important that was. Apple dumped their Pro-Apps consultants about the time they realized that Smoke was too big for them, so who’s surprised at the birth of this POS? No-one. What’s surprising is the (small) number of people still pounding drums in support for it.

    It makes a good rhythm section for the karaoke generation, I suppose . . .

    1. Philip

      If your work reaches hundreds of thousands is it less professional if those hundreds of thousands work for a pharmaceutical company?

      I see no evidence to support your hypothesis about Henry Ford in history. I think you’re making stuff up (including your name) to make your point.

      What’s not surprising is how many people are giving FCP X a fair go and finding that it works faster, and more fluidly for them. If you personally don’t like it there’s Media Composer or Premiere Pro or if you decide to hate Apple’s hardware, Edius and Vegas. All are excellent choices and it’s nice to finally have an interface choice on OS X.

      1. Pablo Davinci

        100’s of thousands working for pharma will watch Powerpoint if they have to.

        What part am I making up about Ford? That he didn’t re-invent seats and doors and wheels already designed for the buggies and other automobiles of the day? That he didn’t insist on making his cars operate differently from every other car on the road? Or that he designed his machinery to be farm friendly, travelling the same trails as horse-drawn transportation? It doesn’t matter – the info is easy enough to find – but the only link I’ll give you is this.

        Ironic it took until 2001 for that first “quote” to show up anywhere in print. FCP X’ers love that quote. Don’t know why. I saw it a lot when Apple released the “awesome upgrade.” Guess they love being told what to like.

        Anyway, your pharma comment explains everything. I feel like such a bully now.

        I won’t bother you any further – I promise.

        1. Philip

          Since you’re not using your real name, you’re actually not welcome, so not bothering in the future would be appreciated.

          1. Larry

            Phil, You insulted Pablo, essentially calling him a liar.
            He proves his facts and thus is un elcome? Typical Apple koolaid drinker can’t handle legitimate criticism eh?

          2. Philip

            Larry, please join Pablo – who did not support a single assertion and posted under a clearly fake name – and not come back. You are not contributing to the dialog.

  4. Tim Johnston

    FCPx is an amazing retooling of the edit interface, and for that alone, I think the product is fantastic.

    I’m all for the tools becoming easier to use and faster.

    But while it does allow you to work faster as a one-man-band, its shortcomings not only slow you down, but are prohibitive. After all, what is the point of making ‘polishing’ touches to the color effects, if you cannot properly display to a broadcast monitor?

    How are you speeding up the process with multiple editors if it is difficult to manage media and versions of a project?

    …and sending your project off to color or sound mix with potential changes? … A texted and textless version of the show for international markets? Very clunky in FCPX’s current state.

    Maybe these improvements will come, and things will become more fluid eventually, but right now I see FCPX as making it faster for the lone editor, and no one else.

    1. Philip

      Currently the vast majority of output never goes to a network or TV station. ColorSync in FCP X (as I wrote many months ago) is far more accurate than what the majority were previously doing – using a domestic TV as a monitor. For the tiny group that need to see Rec 709 on a broadcast monitor will be accommodated with the next release of FCP X, as Apple have said. (That could not be built by AJA, BMD and Matrox until *after* Lion was released and AV Foundation’s capture classes exist on the mac.)
      FCP X is currently not for multi-editor projects but neither is that the majority of work being done.

      1. Philip, I think that you need to use examples that match the point you are trying to make. If you keep telling us “FCX isn’t for broadcast people…it isn’t for people exporting for TV, or those in a multiple editor setup.” For that “tiny group that need the Rec 709 monitor.” If it isn’t for us 2% broadcast folk, then stop using us examples on how this will work better for us than FCP 7, or Avid, or whatever else we are using.

        Show examples of how this software will save time for those who will actually use it.

        1. Marcus R. Moore

          The caveat to ALL this is the word “now”.

          Broadcast monitoring is coming in a few months.

          Muticam ditto.

          FCPX isn’t all it was ever going to be with it’s release feature set. As Philip has said several times, it takes time to write great software, and FCPX is to a large extent starting over.

          Apple never says anything about it future plans, but my impression has always been that Apple released FCPX to first of all get it into the hands of people who could use it as it is (and there are a lot of those people), and also so everyone else could see where it was going.

          But the largest problem with the discussion over FCPX today is people confusing features vs intent. Because FCPX didn’t have this or that feature at launch, it was never meant for the “pro” market. When all it means is those features aren’t there yet.

          I’m already using FCPX for web delivery content, and once Broadcast monitoring is back, I’ll be doing just about everything on it.

          1. Art Bell

            Respectfully…when i can make a living with ‘intent’ …your point is made.

            I agree FCX is fast, its just not productive for projects that we still need to do in FCPro – which is all of them. The list remains too long…but i agree hopefully with Phillip above…Maybe next year.

            Later next year.

            My iPad is equally fast but i don’t cut television on it either.

          2. Marcus R. Moore

            @ Art Bell.

            I’d never expect anyone to move to a platform before it’s ready for them. For some people, that time has already come, for others (like myself) it will be next year.

            What I fail to understand is how short sighted some are being. Because FCPX is not ready for them (yet), it’s fundamentally flawed and has no future. How does anyone expect a technology to grow without time for it to develop? Electric cars don’t serve every need or consumer- should the concept be scrapped? Of course not.

            Or closer to home… anyone who’s been using FCP for any length of time knows that it wasn’t birthed out in 2002 the way it is now. It took YEARS for some features, BASIC features, that you’d never want to live without now to make their way into the program.

            FCPX is not a linear progression from FCP7, it’s a faster car on a stripped down body. With loads of potential.

        2. Jim Woo

          Amen, Shane. Amen…

  5. The NLE isn’t the problem, it’s the producers. Expecting great cuts in that short amount of time is lunacy. We don’t need tools that allow us to cut faster. We need TIME to allow us to craft the story. Time to explore all the options and present the best one. QUALITY…not quantity…not speed.

    Why should something that took us 3 weeks to do a few years ago, only take 1 week now? That extra time wasn’t spent rendering, or transcoding. No, a small amount of that time was. The rest of the time was spent looking at the footage, determining what worked best. Studying the footage and crafting the story we needed to tell.

    But now the producers expect us to do that quicker, yet retain the same quality. And to make it worse, they shoot MORE footage than they did before. Shooting digital is cheaper than shooting film, so they shoot a lot, and leave it to us to dig through that footage to find the best takes, and make the best story…and want it done faster than before.

    I was at the same Editor’s Lounge. I heard the same words. But I guess I heard something different than you did. The editors all wanted more time…not a faster tool. They wanted more time to view the footage and tell the stories they tell. They didn’t once mention time lost to rendering, transcoding, importing. And again, that amount of time is small.

    Sorry, but again you show how little you understand the needs of the working editor. Someone tasked with crafting a story in the best possible way. Because that is what we are hired to do…we are hired for our storytelling ability.

    Unless it is one of those jobs that gives a rats ass about quality, and needs content and needs it now. In that case, any tool and any old editor will do.

    1. Philip

      The reality is that you’ll have less and less time, and those darn producers don’t care about the process as long as the job gets done. The only ultimate solution (you’ll hate this) to the faster with more footage problem, is to automate. The editors at the meeting wanted more time. They’re not going to get it and they admitted that. Ergo the solution that will win is the one that gets the job done in the time available. That’s the new reality that you have to adjust to. Hopefully, as I said in the article, a few people will care about quality enough for their projects to get the time they deserve, but they will be the minority of projects.

      The “working editor” is a construct and real only to you and those like you working in the niche business that is film and TV.

      1. FCX, at this time, will not get the job done for many of us. Will it make a scene? Yes. Can I tell a story with it? Yes. Can I preview on an external monitor? No. Can I batch capture tapes? No. Can I send to an audio mixer for an audio sweetening pass? Well, yeah, but in such a mess that it will add on to THEIR time.

        Now I am struck by something…does FCX fit the needs of ANYONE on that panel? Will anyone on that panel be using FCX in the near future? Distant future? I can venture a guess…I highly doubt it. Because they, like I, am that 2% that you like to point out FCX isn’t meant for. That “niche” business model that is film and TV. This app will do nothing for their needs. Doesn’t fit into our workflows. So I find it pretty interesting that you use them…that niche…as the main examples in this blog post. You would have been better suited to use editors for whom this app was designed for…and who will really use it.

        1. Philip

          Does everyone who makes video need broadcast video out? No, does everyone need to capture from tape? No, Does everyone need to do Batch Capture? No. Will anyone on that particular panel use FCP X in the next year? Probably not. But in 10 years when they are told they have to use FCP X because it’s faster? Yes, definitely. And since all your criticisms are on the announced features for the next release, isn’t it time to stop using lame discussion points. Auto Duck’s FCP to OMF exporter is free, and yes, I think FCP X needs an internal mixer and a better path to OMF.

          You see your close little niche and – like so many – think that’s what everyone does. And that’s where you are just plain wrong. You work in a small niche industry that no NLE company can afford to make their only focus. No, not even Avid where all their NLE income accounts for only 13% of consolidated net revenue. Media Composer and DS could go away and Avid would survive (at least as likely as their current survival).

          1. You see FCX in our industry in 10 years? I don’t. Guess we’ll have to see how that pans out. The whole approach to editing, it’s editing paradigm, is wrong IMHO. Someone who is NOT an editor designed a way to edit that just makes no sense.

            But, whatever. You are wrong sometimes, right other times.

            But if you want to keep pointing out my small, very minuscule niche market, then stop using examples from our small niche market to make your point. Start using real examples of who use it now…not who will in 10 years. Show us who will REALLY benefit from this “200-400% productivity increase.” SHow of the 98% of the people who use this…instead of the 2% that don’t.

          2. Scott Simmons

            This is a good point that Shane makes. “We” may be a super small part of the overall editing market out in the world at large but film and TV is a niche that many aspire to move to. Apple knows this and Apple knows they HAVE to have this market for their marketing efforts. Otherwise they wouldn’t have called it Pro (they could have called it Edit Pro Supergood [shameless podcast plug ]) and been just as well off but they knew if the didn’t call it “Pro” they would be looking like they were playing in a different market. They could have chosen not to demo it as the largest gathering of video pros in the world but they didn’t as they knew they have to pitch to that demo. If the 2%ers don’t matter to Apple they could have just pitched FCPX directly to wedding, event and web video but they knew if they did that it wouldn’t have been just laughed at it would have been ignored.

          3. Jim Woo

            Philip, is this your IMDb profile:


            If that’s the case you are far from an expert in the field and whatever you write should be labeled as opinion, nothing more…

          4. Philip

            Yep that’s my profile, although it doesn’t show my role in Soul Surfer, Legally Blonde 3, Bring it on 5, Dance Revolution, etc where I set up systems and workflows (both FCP and Media Composer) and provided technical support throughout the shows. Brookwell McNamara credit me with “saving” Dance Revolution by improving their workflow.
            Every single thing I write on this blog is opinion and I don’t see how it could be interpreted as anything else.
            And if you have to be doing to be an expert then I presume there are only female gynecologists who’ve had babies? Obviously not true – some of the best gynos are male. There is also the very real aspect that, if you’re too close to something, you can never really gain perspective.
            I write opinion and promulgate how the future may go. Today is already established but the future holds many, many changes. I simply try and look at the data points and extrapolate from there, and I’m actually pretty good at it. You can ignore it, disagree wit me, whatever. Doesn’t make no difference to me.

          5. Chris Wilby

            And yours is where? Jimmy Woo???

    2. Chris Wilby

      Scott why do you and lots of others continually go on about not calling it ‘Pro’. Premier has the tag line, yet I don’t think Walter Murch or the Coen brothers cut a film with it? Is Media Composer for musicians? Get over it, its a ‘pro’ piece of software. What next, Logic Studio isn’t a ‘pro’ piece of software because it only costs £140? Stop being eliteist, its childish and does you no favours.

      1. Scott Simmons

        Chris, you could say pro, or broadcast or niche tv or whatever, the term doesn’t matter. Point is there are certain things the 2%ers need that FCPx doesn’t do well. Apple chose to show and market FCPx to that 2% and will undoubtably use that to market FCPx when it comes around. To say that market doesn’t matter is bogus since Apple chooses to market to it and with it. When you call your software “pro” I think it’s very relevant to discuss what that means.

        1. Chris Wilby

          I’m sorry Scott but you and others have used the term ‘pro’ in a rather eliteist manner. You have used the word to try and be clever with Apple and anybody else who disagrees with you.

          I though Apple was trying to market FCPX to ALL OF US?

          Listened to the first 20 mins or so of your latest podcast. Very interesting. I didn’t realise that editors could be so flummoxed by things like transcoding (ProRes); perhaps they should just go and RTFM like the rest of us! I shall now go and listened to the rest of the podcast – I need cheering up…

          1. Scott Simmons

            Editors flummoxed by things like transcoding? I don’t know what you’re talking about.

            Apple did/does market FCPX to all of us, and that means the 2% as well. My whole point was that Apple may have designed a tool for the 98% but they’ll damn sure use the 2% to market it if/when a high profile 2%er uses it. Calling the application Pro designates a lot of things in that application, many of those things FCPX doesn’t have. It can most definitely be used to do pro work without certain features but so can iMovie.

          2. chris wilby

            Scott you where in a right tiz!
            Listened to the rest of the podcast and really enjoyed it, especially the last 40 mins or so. Very informative. I now have a better understanding why all you elitists are unhappy with Apple/FCPX. Unfortunately, you’ll just have to suck it in like the rest of us 🙂

  6. Chris Wilby

    Shane, calm down dear…

    For some reason you seem to not want to get what is actually going on here. Sure, we’d all like to take more time to get things done to our satisfaction, but, in the real world, nobody seems to give a rats arse about this. It happened in print (I experienced it, and still have to suffer it nearly everyday) and now its going to increasingly happen in film/post production circles. Either learn to ride the wave or get drowned by it, its your choice and thats the reality of it all.

    PS. I still try and give a rats arse about the work I do, as should we all, but, time is money and, when its somebody else’s money they ultimate call the shots.

    1. Fine Chris…if they don’t want to give us time to review the footage and make the best decision on what take to use, and how to construct the scene, or promo, or whatever…then they cannot expect a good looking end result. Craftsmanship takes time. If they want “good enough,” that is what they’ll get.

      Pouring metal into a mold instead of letting an artists mold the metal into the object. You will end up with “mold ridges” and other imperfections where the metal didn’t fill in properly. Instead of someone who took their time to make it right.

      So I guess that “good enough” is the mantra of late…

      1. Chris Wilby

        Over the last five years or so, I’ve had more people telling me how to ‘design’ something more than I care to imagine; you are going to have to get used to that sort of thing I’m afraid Shane. Once you start to get the ‘marketing’ people involved, or as I like to call them the ‘me’ generation, your done for. Everybody can design, and, within a short period of time, everybody will be able to ‘edit’. You become less of a Designer/Editor, but more of a ‘Technologist’. You know the ins-and-outs of how things go together, but, they ‘know’ how things have to look. Its the shit-end of the stick, or as some like to call it ‘The Great Democratization’ of everything. Its been good while it lasted but, the imbeciles have scaled the castle walls. The likes of you and Philip are on the same side, but your just coming at it from different angles. Don’t get too upset about it all Shane, its not worth it… ask Steve Jobs!

        Stay hungry, and for gods sake, stay foolish!

        PS. I might not always agree with you but, keep ‘having-a-go’ Shane, at least it shows you care. :-))

  7. ” I follow a lot of people who are and they universally comment that Final Cut Pro X is “200 to 400% faster” for them. As near as I can tell these people are doing the same sort of work on Final Cut Pro X as they were on Final Cut Pro 7 and finding that they get to a result from twice as fast to four times as fast.”

    So these people are now doing the same amount of work that once took them 10 hours a day, in 5 hours? 2.5 hours? People are saving 5-7.5 hours a day using FCX? Before FCX they were wasting half their day? Really?

    They can look at the footage, tell what shot works, make an edit…then add music and effects in half the time? 1/4th the time?

    I find that hard to believe.

    Oh, and…

    “I consider that to be a core strength with Final Cut Pro X – the ability to polish as you edit is much more fluid than in other NLEs of my experience. When you already have a searchable database of music cues and fx sounds, ready access to an Aperture photo library (or iPhoto), and hundreds of pre-programmed titles and looks, it’s much easier to approach finishing-as-you-go, and therefore fill that demand of modern production situation”

    So your Aperture or iPhoto library is already stocked with every stock photo you might need? Already populated with every GETTY IMAGES, CORBIS, iStockPhoto picture you might ever need? And you already have every music cue from dozens of stock music companies on your system too?

    I do have a fair amount of cues, and I have a HUGE library of stock SFX, and for that I use iTunes. But for most of the work I do, I need to look online on several music sites to find the music I need. I don’t have it all.

  8. Hey Phillip!

    I was very disappointed with Apple. One of the reason’s was waiting for FCP8 – as a faster editor, more real time, use more core video technology, use something like CUDA as Premiere did in 2010.

    What came out was something that no one actually asked for.

    Now, I understand there will be improvement to the product over the years, but in sales, we have an old saying. Sell What’s Available Today – SWAT. After waiting for 2 years to get let down… Hard to take.

    Personally, I moved to Premiere Pro CS5.5, and because I also believe Apple have killed the MacPro, I moved to a PC. WOW – you want to talk about a speed increase? How about 10 HD layers with FX in realtime? All on a computer that cost me less than $2K!! Even Drop shadow, which I m told is only available if you take the clip to Motion!

    No, Apple have made some mistakes here, and it’s time that the leaders in our community start pointing out that the Emperor Has no Clothes.

    I’m happy with my decision. I feel more comfortable in this environment where everything talks so nicely together.

    10 years from now – if FCPX is the fastest tool to use, I’ll switch. Maybe it will be sooner.


    1. Chris Wilby

      Darren CUDA works fine with a £800 graphics card 🙂

      Has Apple killed the Mac Pro? Thats a wild assumption; it may turn out to be right but, you haven’t got a clue, its just an assumption. Perhaps when Intel get their act together Apple may well release a new Pro machine, until then, we shall see.

      In the PC environment everything talks nicely with each other? Things really have changed 🙂

      Don’t change to FCPX, then you will be able to carry on using a ‘drop shadow’ effect!

      1. “Darren CUDA works fine with a £800 graphics card ”

        This is false. Please get your facts right, Chris. Our system requirements are right here, for future reference:

        1. Philip

          PPro works fine on my MacBook Pro with no Nvidia card at all. Maybe I don’t get all the potential of the graphics card, but PPro certainly doesn’t require it to give much better performance than FCP 7 on the same hardware.

    2. Marcus R. Moore

      @Darrin. No offense, but your comment is hilarious. All we’ve had since the release of FCPX is people saying the emperor has no clothes! If you’re lucky, you can find a few people who’ve used the software have guarded optimism for the FCPX long term.

      I’ll say again what I’ve been saying since the release of FCPX; features shouldn’t be the issue so much as debating and evaluating the underlying architecture and UI changes that FCPX proposes.

      Apple completely screwed up the release of FCPX, and I’ll admit that they could have gone even further in terms of damage control. But their message ever since NAB has been that their aim IS the professional market. Even if the software isn’t ready to serve that market yet, that is their stated goal-

      Why people continue to hammer at the obvious is beyond me. Philip (like myself) actually sees some merit in where this software might be headed. If you’re not interested in the future of FCPX, why the heck are you even here? Some people just can’t seem to stand the idea there might be a scrap of merit in FCPX- as if they’re personally invested in it’s downfall.

  9. Kind of a venomous post don’t you think Chris?

    My CUDA card is an Nvidia GTX570, which runs about $350.00 – US or Canadian.

    No my return to the PC has not been without some trouble. It’s much better than the old days, but not perfect.

    As to my comment on the MacPro.

    They have been removed from display & Stock in all Apple stores. Try and find one in stock in a Mac specific store, or even a big box store.

    It’s over 500 days since the last release of a Mac Pro. there have been 2-3 iPhones, 2 iPads, Macbook Pro’s, iMacs, even monitors released. No upgrade to the MacPro.

    Apple’s biggest “Computer Innovation” has been this thing called Thunderbolt, which places emphasis on EXTERNAL accessories. Hard drives, monitors, output cards. They are handling the release of Thunderbolt as poorly as any release I have witnessed from Apple. Few companies have bought into it.

    Apple have backed away from their “Pro Applications” FCP, Shake, DVD Studio Pro etc. It was those apps that sold the big machines.

    They are a consumer electronics company now. Good for them, good for the consumers – like me with iPads, and iPhones and iPods. Love that stuff.

    It is just an opinion, and everyone is welcome to one. Even me.

    1. Marcus R. Moore

      I’m not sure where you are. But MacPros are still on display at all 4 Apple stores in the Toronto area. And do you REALLY think that someone who’s looking for a MacPro is going to BestBuy for it?

      That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if MacPros DID disappear from stores. The people in the market for them are much more likely to buy them as a custom order item from an Apple reseller or online, like I did my last 3 machines. Apple stores are FOR the consumer facing side of the business. Why people conflate the MacPros lack of visibility in Apple’s marketing with it’s imminent demise is beyond me.

      And as for Thunderbolt, I think the people whom it would benefit knew it was coming. Who would a broader campaign speak to?

      Thunderbolt peripherals have been slow in coming, because the spec is still being nailed down, and apparently there were some exclusivity issues as well. It’s certainly not a lack of interest on drive-maker’s part.

      Apple is a large company with varied products and services. Maybe they’re still learning how best to simultaneously juggle both those masters. But as long as Apple wants people to develop for their platforms (OSX AND iOS), there will be a desire to serve the Pro market.

      1. Philip

        Mac Pros are definitely still on sale with no official word on their future. However I am somewhat pessimistic about the “tower” in Apple’s line up. I would hope there’s one more generation, or design, that has at least room for a replaceable GPU (which currently cannot be done fast enough over Thunderbolt). TB is not yet mature enough for a direct and fast replacement, but we have seen Apple make drastic changes like that before.

        The honest best advice is still to buy what you need now for your needs now (and therefore for the next two years of economic life for that purchase) and make the same decision again when you need to buy again.

        1. Marcus R. Moore

          My best guess is that Apple would have done a MacPro refresh already except for Thunderbolt and the new processors from Intel.

          They waited on Thunderbolt, and under Intel’s roadmap assumed that they’d be able to push out a MacPro update this fall. But the next set of Intel MacPro oriented processors was pushed back to early next year- Hence, delay!

          I’d be happy to see towers go away if more robust outbound options became available. As a freelancer, I don’t know if I’m going to be working at home or on the road. The prevailing theory has been to have a tower at home and a laptop for the road. But if outbound storage and GPU expansion is available, then I could see never buying a tower again.

          1. Philip

            That’s definitely the end game – everything “special” such as RAID storage or GPU expansion (when TB gets fast enough for that) just plugs in to whatever CPU/GPU and screen you have be it Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, iMac or a “tower”. Personally I’d love a 2RU mini tower that stood alone or was rack mountable. I am not particularly optimistic, but wishful! (Not for me personally, I’m happy to rock a MacBook Pro 17″ but the need definitely exists.)

        2. The comment I made – re the disappearance of the Tower, came from a Mac rumors post that suggested they had researched the availability, and found the statement I made to be true.

          You have an angry group here Phil, and I’m departing. Please pull my posts if you would be so kind.


          1. Marcus R. Moore

            There is a difference between angry and contradictory. I’m certainly not angry.

            The last thing I’d ever do is come to conclusions about what is actually going on at Apple based on what you might read at the rumour sites. If you believed them there’d be an iPhone5 in my hands and an iPad3 on my desk right now. And a full week after it had been debunked as FUD on, Appleinsider reran the same bullish*t story about a 64bit FCP8.

            They’re entertaining reads sometimes, but I’d never make a business or buying decision based on the track records of ANY of them.

    2. Chris Wilby

      I’m sorry Darren, but I find your thought patterns, at best, irrational, at worst, imbecilic. I love speculation, but its jut that, speculation. I love ‘fact’ even more, and I’m afraid thats where we diverge.

      1. Thanks Chris, even more insulting. It’s amazing what the anonymity of the internet allows people to get away with.

        Would you say that to my face? Doubtful.

        My short visit to this blog is officially over. Open attitudes, and discussion is fine, but insults I don’t need.

        See ya Phillip

  10. Jim Woo

    “And if you have to be doing to be an expert then I presume there are only female gynecologists who’ve had babies?”

    The statement above doesn’t seem from someone with such an impressive resume. But yes, expertise requires experience. As for the OB/GYN part, that as well requires years of training regardless of gender.

    As Shane Ross pointed out, you need to use examples that match the point you are trying to make.

    1. Philip

      Why? There are many ways of considering an issue. What doesn’t show on my IMDB is the 20+ years of experience in Australia, the fact that I was also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (the highest level of membership) and ran five business for a while. My particulare expertise is in mixing the business, social and technical aspects of post, with an eye to the long term future. If you’re not interesting in that, don’t read me. (it’s that simple). I do not “need to use example that match the point I make” because I consider the example i use to make my point, make my point. I will continue to bring all my perspectives to bear on what interests me.

      As I’ve frequently said, I use the blog to try out ideas, and think openly and get some smart opinions back. That I get ill informed opinion as well is just par for the course.

  11. Brian Klein

    Two things I find interesting about this debate.

    One is that everyone who FCPx doesn’t work for is soooo angry. So vengeful toward Apple. (Maybe it’s just an angry, loud minority…) I guess that’s fine, but there are good tools available to them that work just fine. And they are so cheap compared to 5 years ago. (We can thank Apple for that by the way.) I don’t necessarily see myself using FCPx… we’ll see what happens. Thanks to Adobe and Avid, I don’t have to worry about it.

    The second point is that the “2%” talk about themselves in such a way that is pretty offensive to those who do very high end work, but do not work in a large post house working on film or television. You aren’t the only one’s who know how to craft a story. There are a ton of editors out here that can do the exact same level of work you are doing, and if they wanted to, they could use FCPx to do it.

    And to Phil’s original point, currently, I fumble my way around FCPx, barely knowing what I am doing at this point, but my cuts are done in the same speed as FCP7 or Premiere Pro. When I actually get good at it, and more features are added, I can definitely see myself getting through edits faster. In the meantime, I’m just having a blast playing with a new tool. Am I not the only one who is jazzed that there something new and fun to play with, even if in the end, it will not ultimately work for my professional needs?

    1. Marcus R. Moore

      That’s why I’m finding this so fascinating. Since the mid-90’s, the NLE process has improved, but it hasn’t changed that much. As someone who’d edited on film, tape, and now digital, I’m used to the paradigm shifts in process that anyone who’s been in this business for the last 10-15 years of stability just haven’t been exposed to.

      The process of NLEs, a process that borrows from both film and A/B roll editing, has been relatively frozen for more than a decade. As philip has stated in his posts, a lot of the paradigms that these systems were built on are largely not applicable.

      Even if FCPX turns out to be a failure, I think the different thinking will ultimately pay off down the road for all of us. But I’m optimistic.

  12. When talking about the speed and craft of editing we also need to consider the type of show that is being produced. Unfortunately, the reality today is that many broadcast shows are not about crafting a story – they are about repackaging content into an established formulaic storyline.

    If you look at daytime UK programming we have many shows such as Cash in the Attic, Bargain Hunt and Real Rescues (I’m sure there will be US equivalents) where the daily stories stay the same you just swap out the contestants or interviewees. You don’t need much time screening footage because the crew bring you back the same shots everyday. I know of one editor on Bargain Hunt who edits the show at 2x speed. He half jokes that he can cut it with his eye shut because its that repetitive.

    If we look at TV broadcast as a whole the CSIs or Mad Med or whatever big glossy episodic TV series you pick are just a small amount of the daily output. It’s too easy to make the dividing line of quality between Broadcast and Non-Broadcast work. I’ve seen corperate and wedding videos with much higher production values than what makes up the bulk of what we broadcast. Big budget film and high end broadcast work (that can be sold abroad) are in a different financial league. But they are a small part of a small part of the industry.

    I think Philips argument is sound and that financial pressures and growing competition will play to FCPX strengths. Once mulitcam and Broadcast out are added to FCPX (and it is stable) it will be more that capable of meeting the needs of the broadcast market and saving producers time in the edit… not the prestigious big shows, just the other 80% of what fills up the TV schedules worldwide. I think this is a bad thing as a whole but it going to happen. If Apple did not bring out FCPX then another company would have in the very near future.

    1. Chris Wilby

      John you missed out Desperate Scousewives in your roll call 🙂

  13. Philip, in summary you note: “It seems to me that if getting to a cut faster – and getting to a more finished cut while you do it – are the realities of a lot of editors lives, then Final Cut Pro X has been designed perfectly for the modern, professional edit environment. Even if it’s not there yet, the design intention and production reality seem destined to make Final Cut Pro X’s market share increase, even among the pros. (They won’t like it, but twice as fast can’t be ignored, let alone “four times faster”.)”

    I didn’t attend or otherwise see the Editors Lounge meeting which prompted your original post so I hope my comment isn’t out of context or repetition of ground that was covered already … but I can’t help thinking that whilst FCP X may indeed offer editors (even those in the broadcast market) the potential for significant speed increases by dint of its many positive features, I still find it hard to see how the forced trackless/magnetic timeline is necessarily a part of that advantage.

    And if I could just pick up on one point you made in the comments : “But in 10 years when they are told they have to use FCP X because it’s faster? Yes, definitely.”

    I guess I’ve been lucky so far inasmuch as I’ve never worked anywhere where the edit tool is dictated but the producers … regardless of that tho, as unlikely as it may seem, I think that if future FCP X revisions reintroduced some of the more traditional edit modes, not least of which would have to be the inevitable track based view (perhaps in which mode “non-magnetic” could be the default behavior), then it could only serve to accelerate acceptance of the whole of FCP X (including its trackless mode) and so help them to see that 10 year prediction actually come to pass.


    1. Philip

      Track based editing is NEVER coming to FCP X. And those who adapt to the magnetic timeline (OK me) find that it is faster because of the redesign. It is not possible, nor is it desirable, to graft in tracks into a design that was specifically designed to eliminate the need for tracks. And it does eliminate the need for tracks. It replaces implicit metadata (track layouts) with explicit metadata (roles) that does the job that track had become by default.

      As to the “if it’s faster” question- “if” in a sentence is predicate: predicated on the “if” happening. So “if FCP X is faster” means that it needs to be proven faster for the “then” part of the predicate. So if FCP X isn’t faster then there is no advantage. I believe it is faster and others suggest so as well – but it’s not proven or established. But *if* it is/will be faster then no-one can afford to go with less fast/less efficient workflows. At that point producers will dictate the tool you use or only employ people who are fast with the fast tool. And again, I note *if*.

      1. >Track based editing is NEVER coming to FCP X.

        To be fair Philip, you said pretty much the same thing about broadcast monitoring, that by design it couldn’t happen with AV Foundation etc. Good strong hunches based on your then understanding of how it worked … but some of us said you were wrong, and we were right. Obviously this doesn’t mean you are wrong this time, but never say never ;-).

        Seriously tho, there is nothing within the current design that could and would not work if applied to a track based metaphor. Metadata (and its effective use and misuse) does not in and of itself preclude the use of tracks … indeed, taking “roles” as an effective example we can see how the metadata is easily mapped to a track based model and visa versa. As I tried to imply, I’m not dead set against the trackless model, I just fail to see how it is necessarily universally “better” all the time. I understand that its metadata driven and that it suits you and the way you like to work, but as has been droned on about plenty of times already, many other editors prefer a more visual approach. Neither is the “right” or “wrong” approach, each have certain advantages and disadvantages. My point is that were Apple to add a track “view” (which I’d argue from a programmers perspective is technically not so difficult to achieve than perhaps one might at first think … in part, effectively putting a UI on mapping tracks, and therefore the clips assigned to them, to roles) then they would eliminate one of the stumbling blocks, provide a visual means to assign metadata to those more so inclined work that way … and just perhaps those folks who would otherwise argue the contrary may begin to see the advantages of and embrace the trackless model.


        1. Philip

          Trust me, I have much better sources on “no track ever” than I did on AV Foundation video output (which had to wait for Lion’s release before work could start)

          There will never be a track-based view in FCP X. Never. This time I will say never, categorically. It’s just not possible with the fundamental design of FCP X. In fact I would say you have to design an NLE with track, or you have to design one without. it is NOT possible to design one that can work in both modes. There are no fundamental track to map to in FCP X.


          1. Thanks Philip

            >Trust me, I have much better sources on “no track ever” than I did on AV Foundation video output

            Fair enough, I do trust that you have good sources on this. Disappointing tho (from my perspective).

            >It’s just not possible with the fundamental design of FCP X.

            I don’t know Philip, Is it possible your head is actually too far inside the box on this point? If one attempted to map every facet of the existing trackless / storyline / clip connections model directly into a regular track model without any of those conceits, and be able to then simply switch ad hoc between such “views” maintaining optimal and effective functionality in both, then I’d completely agree that its just not possible. I’m guessing thats where you might be looking at it from … but that’s not really what I’m suggesting here. I’m thinking of it more from the point of view of having a functioning “roles” view if you like, and just as one needs to embrace the use of roles metadata in the trackless view one might equally need to embrace the use of storyline metadata in a so called roles view. Obviously the more ingenuity extended in realizing such a design the better it could and would work. As you already noted it’ll never happen (but it won’t be because of a fundamental design impossibility).

            Just my further 2c. Appreciate the discussion as always.

          2. Larry

            “it is NOT possible to design one that can work in both modes.”

            It is patently obvious that you are not a programmer either.
            It is only impossible if your application is strictly clip centric and treats all sequence information as methods applied to clip objects. If this is the case with FCPX that would be terrible programming practice.
            I suspect that this is the case since roles are assigned to clips.

          3. Philip

            Your programming credentials are? Remembering my day job is as a product manager directly overseeing a programmer. I think I have a little understanding how applications are structured – both FCP 7 and the new incarnation. Optimal design would be around a flexible structure – magnetic timeline defined by relationships between clips – OR around fixed track clips. If you were to explore some of FCP X’s XML Project exports you might understand a little more about how the application is structured.

        2. Marcus R. Moore

          @Andy. I understand what you’re saying, and there’s a solution I’d love to see implemented.

          Specifically with audio (but it could work with video as well), I’d love to see a visual organization of content in the project “timeline” based on Role assignments.

          Right now by default, audio is scattered in the timeline with no discernible order. You can manually move elements up or down, but there’s no decisive visual order to those elements. What I would love to see is the creation of “zones” stacked one on top of another that correspond to Role assignments. Either the clips or the background behind them could be colour coded, but the important thing is it keeps all your DIA, MUS, SFX grouped together. Isn’t’ this just tracks? Nope, because as you move your primary visual edit around, all the elements within these zones are allowed to move and overlap as they do now using connected clips. I think its an important distinction and a powerful one. Subroles would similarly organized as well. It would create clean, visual organization for the project that best of all, the editor doesn’t have to manage.

          1. Philip

            Roles and subroles exist now, and will highlight when selected. There’s no need to arrange then in straight lines simply because they used to be arranged in straight lines. Track evolved to become defacto metadata, in FCP X they are explicit metadata designed to do the job that track evolved to do by accident.

            Marcus, that’s exactly how roles exist now. I see no value in moving them around to be in straight lines. (if you must, put them in a secondary storyline). The times you really need “tracks” for compositing, they’re there.

          2. Jeremy G


            We talked about that here:


            Here’s a picture, but you’d have to use your imagination and remove the secondary storylines that I have hacked here as separators


            Still no tracks, and the magnetic timeline is all in place, there’s just more visual organization and role placement automation.


          3. Philip

            I have to say that’s just ugly. Not sure I consider it an improvement.

          4. >There’s no need to arrange then in straight lines simply because they used to be arranged in straight lines …. I see no value in moving them around to be in straight lines. (if you must, put them in a secondary storyline).

            And perhaps therein lies the rub Philip, just because your good self (and no doubt many others, including the Apple FCPX design team) see no value in it does not mean it is therefore defacto a bad idea. Those straight lines offered a simple visual overview of the structure of an edit at a glance and/or a means of necessary organisation that suited their needs.

            >Track evolved to become defacto metadata, in FCP X they are explicit metadata designed to do the job that track evolved to do by accident.

            I think I might be misunderstanding your point here so please forgive me if thats the case, but how is/was ones clip layout on tracks accidental or using tracks for such organisation purely accidental? Back in our linear editing / tape based days were we not careful to assign audio to the correct tracks?

            >Roles and subroles exist now, and will highlight when selected.

            Indeed they do, and its an excellent thing … but it allows me to see only the selected role, scattered throughout my edit (well, maybe “scattered” is doing a disservice to my editing!) whereas a view that offered a more structured vertical and linear arrangement would allow me to see the overall layout of all roles for the whole edit.

            >@Jeremy G: Zones – We talked about that here … Still no tracks, and the magnetic timeline is all in place, there’s just more visual organization and role placement automation.

            There you go, I knew it must be old ground!

            >I have to say that’s just ugly. Not sure I consider it an improvement.

            Beauty is in the eye of the beholder … but we’re hypothesizing about the potential of adding such functionality (an additional view/mode) to what is already extant here, not about replacing existing functionality … And just think of all that Core Animation awesomeness that Apple could use to transition between such views 🙂

            I’m sure this horse isn’t quite dead yet Philip, there are plenty of beatings left in it, but I’ll bow out for now 🙂

            Thanks everyone for the discussion, here’s wishing you all the very best of the festive season … and a Very Merry Christmas to those of you that partake.


  14. Charles-Olivier Bleau

    First of all, sorry for my english, it is not my first language.
    Since FCPX debut, I hear and I read a lot of people saying: “I’m a professional, you’re not so, you’re nut and I’m right and my father’s stronger than yours and blablabla”.
    What is the professional definition of a professional anyway?
    For me (‘cuz in my professional point of view, I’m a professional), a professional (deliberate overuse of the “professional” word (can’t wait for “the P word” tv shows’s debut)) is someone who can use and/or choose the proper tools to do the proper jobs, and someone who’s considerate by is pair good and fit for the task.
    It’s a little simplistic definition, but nonetheless accurate.
    Where to you see “it’s a god”, or “someone who KNows with a big KN”, or “someone with the proper IMDB profile ? (I still laugh out loud the IMDB reference. It’s like using Wikipedia reference in court)
    I here a lot of people saying “I’ve tried FCPX and it’s not working well, it’s bad, etc”.
    Wait a minute… YOU’VE TRIED??
    It’s an all new program, you have to learn it to be able to use it properly. Oh, sorry, I forgot you were a professional so you don’t have to learn, you just KNow!

    Anyway, as a professional, I can’t work with FCPX for all my project right now. But each time I can, I don’t even think about it and I use it because it’s faster than the other NLE program that I work with (FCP7, Media Composer, Premiere).

    By the way, don’t IMDB me, you won’t see a thing even if I direct and/or produce a lot of thing for the web and TV. And I do no wedding stuff.

    And do not misunderstood me: I respect professional. It’s just that using that you’re professional as an argument doesn’t make your opinion a god’s one.

    By the way, thanks for Event Manager. A “must have” app.

  15. Philip

    Can’t seem to hook this straight onto Andy’s last post but picking up with this excerpt:

    >>Track evolved to become defacto metadata, in FCP X they are explicit metadata designed to do the job that track evolved to do by accident.

    >I think I might be misunderstanding your point here so please forgive me if thats the case, but how is/was ones clip layout on tracks accidental or using tracks for such organisation purely accidental? Back in our linear editing / tape based days were we not careful to assign audio to the correct tracks?

    I don’t equate assigning audio to the correct tape on a track to be in any way similar to laying out tracks in an NLE. Tracks were for compositing images – FCP was to have only 8 composition (AE style) tracks before it came to Apple (at .9 that I saw in 1998 while still at Macromedia). Superimposition track (early Premiere) or Title track (M100) were purely for compositing video and mixing audio.

    It was only much later that tracks started to take on a role representing metadata. I wrote a bit more about it at

    1. Marcus R. Moore

      Hey Philip. I’d been meaning to do this for a blog post for a while, but in terms of illustrating my suggestion, here it is:

      Though I’m totally onboard with Apple’s concept of Roles as a replacement for tracks, I think using that metadata to give you some visual organization in the Project timeline doesn’t belittle at all what they’re trying to do. If I’m looking to edit the level or add a effect to an audio clip, I think this would make it much easier to zero in on where the specific elements are located.

      The problem with compound clipping is that you loose the connection between the audio element and the primary storyline. So if the edit in still in flux it could be a problem.

      I suppose it might give some the illusion of “tracks”, when in fact it would just be a way of organizing the connected clips into logical groups.

      Does that make sense?

      1. Philip

        I’d love the idea of assignable colors to roles, as long as there are plenty and customizable (or at least tasteful, unlike FCP 7’s Marker or Clip colors).

        1. Marcus R. Moore

          Indeed, and the colour option would probably be very easy for Apple to implement. Using the metadata to auto group roles in the Project timeline would be the stickier wicket, I’d imagine…

      2. John moffat

        Also, the Roles need a stacking order. You should be able to assign a ‘wieght’ to a role or sub role. I.e. a music role will be forced below a narration role. A SFX roles will be forced below a music role. This way roles will always be placed in a consistent order in the timeline ( sorry, storyline) .

        1. Philip

          That seems to me that you really just want to force the old “track location as metadata” model on the “explicit relationships metadata” of FCP X.

          1. John Moffat

            I suppose I do in part but mainly to over come a weakness of the magnetic time line: the ability to see and easily read a visual representation of the whole edit overtime.

            I’ve tried to approach FCPX as a fresh start as much as possible. I absolutely love keyword collections and they way X manages media. I don’t need ‘tracks’ as such in a timeline but I do need order and consistency. For me the timeline isn’t just about the relationship of clips to each other and that relationship to the playhead but a blue print of the whole edit. With a traditional track based layout I can see a 60min of basic info at once. FCPX as it stands hides potential timeline information that helps the edit process.

            When I look at a 1 hour edit in a timeline I think it helps, for example, to see if all the music cues are equally spread out. If I can see a 15min section that clearly does not have music I will spend more time looking at it to see if it does or does not need music. If i’m asked to replace a piece of narration I need to easily locate it at any given point in the timeline and not wade through a load of green clips to find the narration track. Colours will really help solve this problem with FCPX but so would the ability to determine a stacking order. Like clips would always group together. SFX with SFX, music with music etc.

            Maybe I am missing something and still holding on to old ways but I’m not a machine and meta data does have it limits. It strikes me as odd that the event viewer is so visually intuitive while the timeline has been visually crippled. I can determine colours and location quicker than reading lists of words. which brings us back to one of the original points of the post – FCPX being all about ease of use and speed. Currently, speed gains in the organisational tools are lost when working with the hard to decipher sea of clips that is the timeline. This could easily be fixed without breaking the integrity of the idea behind the magnetic timeline.

          2. Marcus R. Moore

            I’m with John on this one, I don’t think some visual organization to the Project timeline is necessarily “retreating” to tracks, such as it is expanding on the great ideas that are already working in FCPX.

            In the Event browser when you tag clips, they are put together into Smart Collections, which is really just a wonderful way of automating the process of FCP7’s bins. You can then go further and create Smart Collections that satisfy a number of predetermined tags. I REALLY love this.

            I think what both John and I are pushing for is the same automatic organization in Projects that Apple has already implemented in Events. When audio (or video) is tagged with a roll it is automatically organized visually in the timeline, either by colour or order or both.

            You see, I see the real strength behind FCPX’s magnetic timeline and connected clips is that it frees the editor from having to manually maintain the structure of their edit. Working in a complicated timeline in FCP7, adding or removing a second involves a lot of manual selecting, then deselecting of video and audio elements that cross over the edit point. The fact that in FCPX you can tie a specific point in the audio to specific moments in the video means that regardless of what you do to the picture, those sound effect are going to stay locked to their picture sync point.

            I don’t care what anyone says, that’s awesome.

            If they’d wanted to deflect some of the negative buzz, I suppose Apple could even really have left “tracks” in if they’d wanted to- but there’s really no point when metadata is manually managing it’s visual placement in the timeline, and it’s assignment in an OMF export (when that get’s added in).

          3. Philip

            I like the idea of color coding for roles, given a little time to think about it. I do worry that it could look like a real dogs breakfast if the colors aren’t tasteful. (I would put the Marker colors in FCP 7 in the “not tasteful, but not the worst colors an engineer has ever chosen” category.)

  16. Cris Daniels

    There are so many things Apple does and does not do that I am finding it VERY hard to believe that Apple is going to “fix” FCPX. They simply don’t care.

    Frankly, I don’t have the time or patience for Apple to re-develop an already mature product. Much of what they have done visually isn’t the problem, I actually like the new interface, of course the issue is all the things it can’t do, and that the cheerleaders are making a HUGE assumption that all of these gripes will be addressed in subsequent releases. Meanwhile we have fully mature products such as Media Composer that are only getting better with age.

    Apple has killed so many pro apps, I have no faith that they even care about that market at all. The new Mac Pro will tell you a LOT about where they intend to go. That they expect you to replace an X-Serve with a MacMini is beyond laughable.

    I think my biggest complaint about FCPX is how Apple has handled the product. Pulling FCP7 off the market? Really? What marketing genius thought of that, without ANY warning to the professional market. And the absolute bald faced lie that it couldn’t be backwards compatible since it was now fully 64-bit is a breathtakingly arrogant bunch of BS. I welcomed the new look, but not at the sacrifice of a conventional big-boy toolset. We wanted FCP8, 64-bit, Color 2.0, Motion 5. Instead Avid and Adobe were given a massive gift.

    Take Adobe, does ANYONE clamor for After Effects CS6 to be simplified or watered down? NO WAY, they want more tools, options, and power. And guess what? people will get work done faster with CS6, and with better quality, because we get more powerful tools. If anyone here is making the case that dumbing down the toolset is going to make you more productive, then why not just use iMovie?

    I certainly hope that FCPX eventually turns out to be the program everyone wanted in the first place, although by then who knows how relevant it will be given the massive exodus to Avid/Adobe. You are only hoping that FCPX will do multicam, or any of the other features promised down the road. There is zero guarantee that any of this will ever happen. Zero.

    Lastly, I enjoy using Apple products as much as anyone else but if you step back and take an objective look, they could care LESS about the creative professionals. I’m telling you right now, Apple has one objective, and it has zero to do with fixing FCPX. Apple will do to Broadcast/Video/Cinema/Cable TV what they have done to the music industry and iTunes. They will be THE distribution hub for all of this digital content. Hence the giant datacenters, this isn’t only for syncing your iPhone contacts.

    Final Cut Server, Shake, DVD Studio Pro, Soundtrack, Color, Logic Studio (probably had its last big revision already), Apple has systematically dropped it all. Why anyone thinks Apple is going to devote much attention to FCPX is beyond me, they intentionally released it this way. Its wishful thinking. They just don’t care when they are selling billions in iPhones and iPads every quarter.

    Remember one thing from the recent past that should have told you plenty about Apple (besides the lying about how a 64-bit re-write couldn’t possible look or work like FCP7). The iPhone 4, when the dropped call syndrome was discovered. Apple’s answer was to HOLD THE PHONE DIFFERENTLY, it was YOUR fault. Nevermind the design of the antenna (which engineers warned about), why would you hold a phone in your left hand and not expect to loose a call? Big red flag.

    So I will keep FCPX, I didn’t take Apple up on their offer to refund the $299, but really I just don’t expect Apple will be throwing the necessary resources at the product. Its that simple.

    1. Marcus R. Moore

      Well, Apple has already STATED that multi-cam and broadcast monitoring are coming to FCPX in it’s next update “Early 2012”, you can find that info here at the bottom of the page:

      So I do have way more than zero confidence that it will happen.

      The fact that they are pre-annoucing information about an upcoming update (something they never do), says to me that they are serious about getting back to “par” with FCP7 as soon as they can. And they are being as transparent as Apple gets about it.

      Editors will never ask for a new paradigm. They have work to do and deadlines to meet, and any change, even if it’s ultimately for the better- is slow to take. I know, I’ve been through a bunch of them since the late 80s. So very few editors would have welcomed a foundational change in FCPX. But just because people don’t think it can’t be better, doesn’t mean it can’t. Is 1992 (or thereabouts), when the first NLE software was crafted, the date when we decided that this was it. It was never going to change? That seems hilarious to me. Of course there are more sea changes to come. And the old guard of editors who hold onto their skills with a particular piece of software will get outmoded, just like any editor who refused to move from film to digital.

      Of course, none of us can say whether FCPX will be one of those shifts or not, and it’s success or failure won’t even be able to be measured for years, if not a decade!

      But I do applause Apple for taking the first really bold move in NLE design for some time. All the big 3 have been basically following the same evolutionarily path for a decade. Apple, who’s financial fortunes certainly don’t ride on the success of FCPX, could afford to take the leap, even at a short term loss of marketshare.

      This entire affair has been complicated by the features missing from FCPX on it’s initial launch. Maybe Apple would have been smarter to hold off for another year and release something feature complete to most people’s standards. Maybe then we could have seen more discussions about what advantages there were to the new UI and metadata foundations. Instead, there’s been endless bickering over who FCPX is “meant” for.

      But what happened happened, so my tact is to build my knowledge base of FCPX as it becomes more stable and more functional, and until then continue to work on the product that I know best… FCP7. If I saw no merit in FCPX’s new ideas, I’d have jumped ship already, but I find the ideas intriguing, and a lot of them GENUINELY better and faster than the current FCP7 counterparts in side by side use.

      And eventually if FCPX is a failed experiment, then I’ll still have the same choices I have now, so I haven’t really lost anything.

      1. Philip

        One thing I worked out – if they’d delayed the release another month, they may not have been allowed to have it run on Snow Leopard at all – company policy seems to be “latest OS required” in many cases.

        It’s just a thought that crossed my mind.

    2. Chris Wilby

      I’ve found most of the things (if not all) you say to be irrational, inaccurate and ill thought out.
      Are you by any chance a ‘professional’ editor?

      1. Philip

        What? How is that irrational, inaccurate or ill thought out? I am confused.

        1. Chris Wilby

          It was meant for Mr Cris Daniels Philip!

          1. Philip

            Ah, thanks for the clarification 🙂

      2. Cris Daniels

        Mr Wilby, unlike the “expert bloggers” which are somehow “expert editors”, I only have full time 40+ hour a week job supporting 30+ FCP seats and editors for one of the big three networks….. I really don’t know much about editing or broadcast IT, which is why they hired me to work within a 24 hour news environment. I also shoot, although not nearly as much as I did previously. I originally learned to edit in order to become a better shooter.

        My comments on Apple and FCPX are irrational and misinformed? What makes YOU an expert?

        1. chris wilby

          I am an internationally renowned expert on the use of the ‘irrational’ and the use of ‘misinformation’ to score cheap points at somebody else’s expense.
          What you should do is learn to state ‘facts’ instead of ‘fiction’. 🙂

  17. John Moffat

    Haven’t they simply re-tooled FCP so it is more in line with there current slate of applications?

    FCPX is to Avid/Premiere what Pages is to Word OR Mail is to Outlook OR Numbers is to Excel.

    I think if you want to know how FCPX will develop in the future look at the history of there iWork suite. Pages is not as advanced as Word but is still a professional word processor.

    1. Chris Wilby

      … and another thing; most people don’t seem to think that Apple will re-introduce lots of the ‘goodies’ missing from the likes of Color. My guess, and its only a guess, is that they will. And in the end, it may look a lot like Smoke… my giddy aunt! 🙂

      1. That’s my long term hope as well… Sort of a Smoke Lite

        1. Chris Wilby

          I think thats the way Apple will (eventually!) be going. They’ve got ridden of the things they didn’t really want, and now, I think its pretty much plain sailing for the boys. Doing this sort of thing would further differentiate FCPX from the two ugly sisters it has hanging around its neck. I see Avid Media Composer as the ‘pig in lipstick’ (have you seen the new UI? Which ever way you look at it, its plain ugly and badly though out – IMO 🙂 ) and beloved by the ‘Hollywood’ set and then there’s Adobe Premier Pro, or, as I like to call it ‘… a faster horse’. Both will do the job in their respected niches but, both are over complicated and need special bits of hardware to run properly (in Adobes case, an expensive graphics card and in Avids case more proprietary – i.e.. expensive – hardware.). If Apple do decide to go down the ‘Smoke’ route, they could very well end up wiping the floor with the other two.

          1. Chris, You do not need an “expensive” graphics card to run Premiere Pro. That is false. You can run it on any computer that has our system requirements.


            Please stop making inaccurate statements about Premiere Pro, Chris. I have seen you repeat this falsehood on other threads, as well.

          2. Chris WIlby

            I should have made my comments, Kevin, a little more accurate about Premier Pro. My comment was meant to counter an earlier comment about being able to use 10 HD layers (I think it was on this thread!) easily. Well I’de like to see Premier Pro do this! If I was going to use Premier Pro I would want to use the best card I could get my hands on; same goes for Media Composer or Resolve. Get real Kevin. And stop being an apologist for Adobe! 🙂

  18. Philip

    I think they re-tooled FCP from a completely new perspective based on a lot of research.

    That said, I think you make an interesting point. Pages is a less fully featured Word processor than Word but it’s much, much more useful! Most Word users don’t understand the features (something like half the feature requests for Word are already in the app!) Pages OTOH, has all the features I need for a professional word processor, PLUS it’s a fully features layout tool as well.

    No sane person would ever use Word to lay out a book, final ready for print, but I’ve used Pages for “Conquering the metadata foundations of FCP X”, “The New Now” and eight books for my mother or family.

    So while Pages is a less fully featured Word processor, it’s a much more valuable tool.

    That’s the direction I think FCP X is going. From a post from late July:

    “What’s interesting is the parallels what seems like a design philosophy behind Final Cut Pro X. From what I’ve done in Final Cut Pro X, it seems to me to encourage a much more polished project along the way. It’s as easy to add an animated, high production value title as it would be to add a placeholder to remind you to do it later, as I’ve always done.”

  19. final cut pro x…is the future ….some will always like to walk…and not drive a car!

  20. …and by the way..thank you philip for all your great advise…on all topics fcp x..your the man!

  21. byGeorge

    “The imbeciles have scaled the castle walls” really? – relax – remember the insecurity DTP caused to the publishing houses, way back when apple revolutionised the printing industry? Is Joe Bloggs really his own author and publisher today? I dont think so.

    It takes more than easy to use software to make a quality video – but who cares?

    Creativity and craftmanship can never be subsituted by quick-fix software. So if you are good at what you do – the 2%ers – you will have nothing to fear.

    Easy tigers!!

    1. Philip

      Well, this Joe Bloggs is his own author and publisher today, using Apple’s tools and Amazon’s Createspace (and direct PDF sales too). I’m just part of the explosion of print materials that has happened over the last years.

      Just as there has been an explosion in production work outside the 2% ers, who 25 years ago were the 90%. And their numbers haven’t dropped.