Are the “Pros” at the tipping point with Final Cut Pro X?
It’s the end of the month and, as do most small business folk, I look at how the month has been, and how the year is going. Looking at the end of the March quarter, I noticed that our Sync-N-Link sales had tipped from our Final Cut Pro 7 version to favor Sync-N-Link X (for Final Cut Pro X).
Sync-N-Link is very specialized software, used only by “the pros” because it batch synchronizes separately recorded audio and video by using matching Timecode. This type of setup is not cheap and not simple, and generally only used in the higher levels of production where its efficiency tips the balance. Traditionally, Sync-N-Link for Final Cut Pro 5-7 has been our most profitable product for Final Cut Pro (Classic).
We figured that we’d do the version for Final Cut Pro X in November 2012. Instead we were strongly encouraged to move it up the schedule, so that Leverage and Danni Lowinski could be some of the Final Cut Pro X success stories. We were happy to be part of those successes, but – as predicted – sales were very sluggish, until November 2012, when sales started to improve.
Like I said, Sync-N-Link and Sync-N-Link X serve a very specific, and very much a “pro” market – episodic Television, Studio Movies, and the like. It doesn’t sell well to creators of “cat videos”. So, it can be used as a reasonable proxy for the use of both versions of Final Cut Pro in new shows. (People tend to buy Sync-N-Link as they start a workflow on a show or movie.)
When we developed the Final Cut Pro X version, we couldn’t simply remake the Final Cut Pro 7 app, instead we needed to rethink what it does in the context of the new software. One of the features of Final Cut Pro X that I think is absolutely at the center of its efficiency are Roles, and (importantly) subroles. Right from the start we offered the opportunity to assign subroles to tracks in the audio: Camera, Character name, mic ID, etc.
A good start but not good enough. We discovered that there was metadata identifying those channels often being entered by the audio person. This isn’t the first time we’ve discovered additional metadata coming from audio rather than video, so I guess if you want the easy life, get into production audio??
That audio channel metadata is carried in the WAV file as iXML and we now transfer it directly from the WAV file to an audio subrole for Final Cut Pro X. We also maintain the timecode on the synchronized clip and bring clip metadata from either the audio or video to the Synchronized clip. This is part of our internal mantra of “don’t lose metadata”, ever!
So we think the Sync-N-Link X app is very useful in these high end workflows and will be required as shows (or movies) move to Final Cut Pro X, which is why the quarterly figures were so useful.
In March 2013 we sold more Sync-N-Link X than Sync-N-Link, which continues to sell just a little less than it did two years ago, indicating that there are still a lot of shows starting new on Final Cut Pro 7. Not only did we sell more for March, but for the entire first quarter of 2013.
While Final Cut Pro X may not be a perfect match for all workflows (e.g. collaborative ones) it’s pretty silly to continue with the “it’s not professional” mantra when clearly a lot of very professional users are making top level entertainment (and more) with it.