The present and future of post production business and technology

Evolving Thinking on FCP X Collaboration

As we don’t have children our post dinner discussions range across all sorts of topics: from design details for a current project, to discussions about industry issues, such as collaboration. My thinking is evolving somewhat, because of the discussion with Greg, which built on a conversation he had with filmmaker Bradley Olsen.

One conclusion is that, if/when Apple add collaboration to Final Cut Pro X, there will be serious hate! Again!

I’ve long thought that collaboration was what kept Avid’s Media Composer in the position it has in ‘Hollywood’ film and television production. It has been a unique selling point against the competition in recent years. Now it’s clear that Blackmagic Design are directly challenging Media Composer’s position with collaborative workflow in Resolve 14. Plus, there are persistent rumors that Adobe have been previewing Avid-style collaborative workflows in a future version of Premiere Pro.

Without collaboration Premiere Pro and Resolve will continue to find it hard to displace Media Composer in the ‘Hollywood’ market. With it, then both NLEs will continue to grow market share at Avid’s expense.

Until recently, my approach was “Great, three major companies chasing after the same small niche.” And indeed the ‘Hollywood’ market is a small niche compared to the wider world of editing. It’s a production system built on multiple editors generally with multiple assistants. Beyond those markets, who needed collaboration.

At NAB this year Brad and Greg had a conversation about this subject and Brad bought up “schools.” Now, to my chagrin, Greg relayed this conversation to me on drive back, but its import never seeped into my brain until the other night. There are many situations where collaboration would be valuable.

Definitely school and college projects. Probably education production companies like Bisk with many editors, would benefit from collaboration.

Then I realized that two recent projects I worked on could also have benefited from collaboration.

So, this is a much bigger group than just ‘Hollywood’. But should it be something Apple focuses on? After all, back when I was growing up in Australia there were four networks and on a Saturday afternoon three would broadcast non-stop sports. Different sports on different networks but sports. The fourth network mostly showed classic movies. It turns out the non-sport viewing market was bigger than the specific sports market and this network garnered the highest ratings during Saturday afternoon, despite being the overall last rated network at the time.

Maybe Apple didn’t need collaboration? Maybe they could be more successful as the “alternate” approach. But Greg pointed out how the rest of Apple have been viewing collaboration. Almost every app that Apple makes now includes some sort of collaboration, in keeping with apps from Google and others. This includes web/browers collaboration.

Greg pointed out that Numbers, Pages and Notes all have collaboration, which we happen to use to some degree.  Some are document based, some are not. We agreed that there is definitely a positive attitude toward collaboration at Apple!

But FCP X? I can only speculate because I am confident I know nothing. No hints, or conversations that I can recall that would give any clue to future plans.

I would not rule out collaboration in Final Cut Pro X at some future time. Should Apple decide that’s something they need to allocate resources to, they will, but we agreed they won’t do it until:

  • They can do it right (in terms of engineering)
  • They can make it as accessible for the high school group (with no IT help) as they can for a ‘Hollywood’ TV show or movie.

It’s not surprising that the Resolve and Premiere Pro approaches to collaboration are very similar to that in Media Composer: people involved in the original Media Composer implantation now work for both Blackmagic Design and Adobe. This is a smart approach as it’s what assistants expect. It’s what editor’s are used to.

I doubt Apple’s approach will be built on Media Composer! I doubt it will require an IT team to support it. It will be a rethought approach to collaboration, because that’s what they do.

And that’s why there will be serious hate! “Why did you make it easier and more broadly useful? We just wanted it like Media Composer!”




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4 responses to “Evolving Thinking on FCP X Collaboration”

  1. Completely agree. And the point of waiting until is done right is extremely important. I have no doubt we’ll see some sort of collaboration feature, the when that’s unknown.

  2. Jamie LeJeune

    Collaboration on logging material would actually be more useful in most of the larger feature length projects I work on. In most cases a project will have a single editor, but a number of producers and assistants that need to add comments and notes to footage prior to the edit (and in the case of archival on a constant rolling basis as new footage is discovered). Adobe’s “Team Projects” beta is really missing the mark in my opinion as it seems to be geared toward situations where multiple editors are cutting the same timeline. That’s a solution looking for a problem that doesn’t exist. I hope Apple keeps their clear focus on metadata and media management if they implement collaboration in FCPX and ensures that collaborative logging is simple to manage. And I hope they make it work beyond the 4 walls of a single office. The best 3rd party solution I’ve seen so far for managing collaborative logging for a team that is not all in the same location is Axle Video. Pretty amazing what they’ve put together. It would be absolutely amazing if that type of solution was built into FCPX.

    1. Philip

      Although most of the assistant work will be taken over by Machine Learning driven AI, not the rather crude methods we use today.

  3. Karsten Schlüter

    One of Apple’s core skills is, to raise the right, fundamentally question – here, what means ‘collaboration’ in modern video making anyhow? Who/what collaborates, people, locations, apps, devices?

    And, an assumption, Apple does not see ‘Hollywood’ as the Gold Standard answering this questions … Simply put, any Highschool in non-zip-code Idaho is better business opportunity than whole TinselTown…

    Excellent article, Philip