Where goes Final Cut Pro X and the other NLEs?
I haven’t seen the numbers, but I would be willing to bet against FCPx being accepted as the new norm by most people in the post production industry, or even in the necessarily smaller sample of previous FCP users. I know some folks are slowly gravitating back to FCPx now that it is more mature. And, I know even more who are using it to some smaller extent – for specific roles in their overall business. But, is it true that over 50% of previous predominant FCP users are now predominantly FCPx users? I would think that would be the qualifying factor to make a blanket statement about “most people.” Again, I might just be wrong about my assumptions to the contrary, and that indeed, most people love FCPx…
In any case, I don’t mean to take the conversation too far afield here. I just don’t think Apple has the best interests of the professional user in mind anymore.
What I don’t particularly appreciate is the hubris exhibited by Apple’s administrators. The thought that I, or collectively, we “will love” anything they make before they even make it, is presumptuous and not knowable. They told me that about other stuff they make/have made, and it wasn’t true. I bristle at their form of aloof marketing, not just because it’s presumptuous and sometimes wrong, but because it informs me as to what my supplier’s misconceptions are about me, what I do, and how I should be doing it.
I’m going to leave the last paragraph untouched as it’s personal opinion that I don’t agree with but allow that it’s a position several have.
Let me address the direct question in the first paragraph:
But, is it true that over 50% of previous predominant FCP users are now predominantly FCPx users?
The simple answer to that question is “No, and no-one has ever claimed that. Not Apple, not me nor any other commentator I’ve read”. What Apple have claimed, and I have no reason to dispute, is that Final Cut Pro X has outsold the sales of Final Cut Pro 7, specifically version 7, and version 7 only. That’s entirely credible because not a huge percentage of the 2 million seats upgraded to Final Cut Pro 7.
Right now the vast majority of Final Cut Pro 6 or 7 users are still on Final Cut Pro 6 or 7. If I had to create an informed guess I’d say that more than 80% of Final Cut Pro 6 or 7 (or even 5) users are still working with that software, continuing to make money with it. Among those whose systems I support or maintain no-one has switched to anything: they’re still on Final Cut Pro 7. There hasn’t been a wholesale move to any other platform, although I’m highly confident that Premiere Pro CS5.5 or 6 has benefited more than Media Composer or other platforms.
I also took an initial position that Apple could well afford to ignore the “pro” market (whatever that might be, as there’s no real definition for it) but I don’t believe that’s true. Apple are spending an enormous amount of effort, privately, in outreach to post production facilities and media organizations around the world: the very “pro” market that Eric thinks (and certainly not alone) that they are abandoning.
Look at the Final Cut Pro X In Action stories. Two of the four stories are broadcast projects – significant broadcast of cable series at the “Pro” end of the market.
I’ve got enough data points to be fairly confident that, as of October 2012, Final Cut Pro X has probably outsold Media Composer’s lifetime sales. I’m very confident that it’s outsold Final Cut Pro 1-2’s numbers 16 months after its release. (Although if anyone can track down the exact date that Apple made their first sales number announcement, which I recall as being around 100,000 sales, I’d very much appreciate the data. Also when they announced 400,000.)
What I have found to be pretty much universally true, is that those who embrace Final Cut Pro X for what it is, instead of trying to put “old wine in new wineskins” find it very suitable and universally faster than any other NLE they’ve used. I would echo that experience. This is the fastest, most fluid NLE I’ve used, reminiscent in some respects to Media 100. Media 100, while very easy to use, was also easy to outgrow as one’s editing experience grew.
The irony is that Eric, along with most of the IMUG (original the International Media 100 User Group, which changed its name to the current one as most of the members migrated to Final Cut Pro around the FCP 3 era), was vilified by the “pros” as Media 100 was “not for professional editors”. (Remember guys?)
Where I think Final Cut Pro X picks up and improves on the tradition, is that Final Cut Pro X has an enormous amount of power that is not revealed until you need it. That makes it both suitable to the casual professional editor, and those that edit all day, every day. (These days I’m editing 2-4 hours a day on average, working on a reality series in among my other roles.)
To return to that “faster” assertion. It’s my personal observation that I can reach an output result faster with Final Cut Pro X than I have been able to do with Media 100 and Final Cut Pro 1-7. I personally do not relate to Media Composer (although to be fair I’ve not experienced it with the Smart Tools, which I’m assured I’d like) but respect its role. Media Composer is not a fast fluid interface (unless you are adept enough to be almost entirely keyboard focused). It’s also true that any NLE is faster when using the keyboard than mouse driven.
Faster is mentioned in one way or the other in all the Final Cut Pro X in action stories. It’s a consistent theme from anyone who has used it with an open mind. Generally people say it is “2-4 times faster”.
It’s being used right now for narrative, episodic Television. It’s being used for the wider democratized profession that is the new reality. I doubt I’d attempt a Studio feature on it right now, but that would be more because of certain workflow issues, rather than any unsuitability of Final Cut Pro X.
Who shouldn’t use Final Cut Pro X?
If you’re working on a Studio feature film or other collaborative environment, then Media Composer is your best choice. (Adobe already have previewed a collaborative solution that looks encouraging, and I’m confident it’s on Apple agenda, but neither are ready to use now.)
If you’re working on a stereoscopic 3D project, Media Composer is also your only sane choice. It’s the only NLE that truly understands 3D space.
I think Adobe have done an excellent job on producing the suite of tools that I would have loved to have in my independent, fairly stand-alone boutique production business in Australia. I still think it’s a great choice for many of my IMUG friends, especially those who frequently integrate with After Effects and the rest of the suite of tools. I have to say that I probably would not recommend Premiere Pro, even at CS6, for a Studio feature film either.
So, who’s left? Well the majority of the production business is left. What has happened over the life of the IMUG is that the industry has moved from the Middle Ages of literacy to a modern era of literacy! That probably needs some brief explanation.
Until quite recently, the skill of literacy – being able to read and write – was limited to a very select group of people. Those people generally made their primary “living” off that skill. Even in a time of near-universal literacy, there are those who primarily make their living from their literacy skills (novelists and journalists, for example). However the vast majority use their literacy skills as part of their wider career or work life. They’re important but not the only thing you do.
Even people who write business letters use a professional writing tool, usually Microsoft Word, even though they use a fraction of the features. (It’s probably apocryphal, but reportedly 80% of feature requests for MS Word are already in the application.) Although I am a professional writer (some of the time) I prefer the “non-professional” Apple Pages, with which I’ve written and published four books to the public and another six as a personal gift for my mother. It’s a more fluid and faster tool.
Where have I heard that before? The “not-for-the-pros” Pages is faster and more fluid for production professional quality publishing. Similarly Final Cut Pro X is faster and more fluid, because, like Pages, it does not force people into old paradigms. Before Final Cut Pro X, all interfaces (other than Sony Vegas) owe most of their inspiration to Media Composer. Media Composer in turn looked (very appropriately at the time) to the film editing business for its metaphors and inspiration. They had to, it was the only business opportunity they had.
Back in early 1995, when I joined the IMUG list, the industry consisted of broadcast television, cable and production facilities of varying sizes – from single person operations, to my 3-4 employee business, up to very large post houses that dominated Los Angeles at the time. That is no longer the case. As I noted in July 2011 there’s an enormous amount of production being done in a professional manner, for all sorts of purposes that don’t require going to a “production company” to achieve.
For the hundreds of thousands of new professionals (even if only part of the profession involved production) to force them to learn metaphors that are an imitation of a copy of a snapshot of a nearly 30 year old industry makes no sense. The needs of producers and editors have changed. The variety of work being done (noted at the link from July 2011) is vasty more varied than it was in the late 1990’s when I came into the industry. There’s no really good reason to think that those metaphors of 30 years ago are appropriate going forward.
Between the release of Final Cut Pro 7 and Final Cut Pro X, Apple did a lot of research among its customers large and small. In once discussion with a very large media organization they were somewhat surprised that that organization told them they were thinking of moving many of the edit stations to iMovie simply because of the speed of the interface. That’s a diverse organization and I do not know which specific department but it was an important moment for Apple, as the story is part of the briefing on “why Final Cut Pro X”.
Other than the collaborative workflow, studio movie, or stereoscopic 3D project, I can’t imagine Final Cut Pro X not being suitable, and faster. The trackless magnetic timeline is a lot of what gives it its speed, along with the powerful metadata capabilities in the Project timeline.
And that ultimately, is the point: once producers start to hear the “faster” message from multiple sources, multiple times, over a few years, the message will get out: use the faster tool or find another job. It ultimately won’t be the editor’s choice, but one imposed by the producer. (How many “pro” editors went to FCP 3, 4 or later willingly? Not many in my experience among the companies whose systems I’ve supported over the last 5-10 years.)
The other thing I like: Final Cut Pro X is just fun to use as well as being fast and powerful. It’s not finished yet (but neither was Final Cut Pro 7, which still lacked features slated for the version 1 release), but with the 10.0.6 there are fewer and fewer excuses. I also remain convinced that many people are still reacting the what was released in June 2011 (and to some degree how it was released) and are not aware of just how fast Final Cut Pro X has developed.