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My take on FCPX or Not

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Richard Johnson
My take on FCPX or Not
on Sep 2, 2011 at 4:42:20 am

Since this forum is titled Apple FCPX or Not: The Debate, I thought I'd give my thoughts and ask for any relevant feedback.

I am not happy with the new FCPX. I like the old one a lot and have used it most of my editing life (I'm only 27) but was certainly ready for a major update. I feel we instead were handed a totally new software that can't do what I need it to. As far as learning how to "edit differently" I can learn how to use the new software. But I need to be able to send my audio to a dedicated DAW. I'm not satisfied with my work if I can't. I know the new color adjustments are fancy but I still need to be able to send my project to a dedicated color grading software (I like Apple's Color but don't mind picking up Resolve).

Those are a couple things the new FCPX can't do that are dealbreakers. (Aside from things I simply am not pleased with like lack of Multicam, less clear timecode, etc...)

The old FCP is great for me but just feels long in the tooth. I have 20 gigs of ram in my computer and would like to be able to utilize it in my "professional software". Same goes with two quad core processors. If I knew this current state of FCPX was roughly how it would look a year from now I would gladly jump ship. I just don't know whether to believe that Apple will make it work for pros through updates now that my trust in them is tarnished from hearing how "awesome" FCPX would be for pros, leading up to its release...

So here's my gameplan. I'm going to keep using the old FCP and wait till Apple gives us an update for FCPX. At that point I'll make my FCPX or Not decision. If they care about the professional they will take the feedback they've received "VERY" seriously and will have been working round the clock to impress us with what's been accomplished in the update. If they don't impress me with the update it will be a clear signal that they don't wish to have the professional user as a customer. That would be fine with me, I'd just like to know where they stand so I can invest my time and money accordingly.

If they don't seem to have made significant progress my next step is Adobe Premiere. Adobe seems very interested in making Premiere the "Photoshop of NLE's". A lot of professionals have already gotten on board and the integration with after effects as well as the ease of cooperating with other software is appealing. Another appealing factor for me is Adobe as a whole or even ADBE as a stock. ADBE has a market cap of 12.7 billion USD, and is doing relatively well as a company and has a long history of doing well as a company with strong revenue coming in from everywhere from Asia to Europe to North America and even the Middle east and Africa.

While I am confident Avid will bring an attractive offering with Media Composer 6, I'm confident Adobe will bring an attractive offering with their next release of Premiere as well. When I look at Avid as a company though, I see storm clouds. It's a much smaller company with a market cap of 420 million USD and it's a smaller company that has a history of, well, not doing great as a company. Not that Avid hasn't produced amazing competitive products, but they excelled in a time when they could charge big bucks for hardware, and AVID stock still has been rocky financially especially in the past decade. If I have to hedge my bets on investing time and money into either Media Composer or Premiere it will be Premiere. For now I can continue like I've been with the old FCP while I wait for a FCPX update and make my move accordingly. I actually hope Apple knocks my socks off and really turns some heads with the update as I think it's not that far from being the "Awesome" software so many of us were hoping for. On the other hand, if the update is a dud I do think that it will be a sign that Apple is moving away from catering to the creative pro community (as opposed to FCPX being a premature release-what a great way to describe FCPX by the way) and that will bode well for both Adobe and Avid as that decision will probably trickle to other softwares such as Aperture, Logic, Soundtrack Pro, Etc...

Sorry for the essay, I've been thinking about this for a while and wanted some additional opinions. Thanks in advance for any feedback. -Richard


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Mark Morache
Re: My take on FCPX or Not
on Sep 2, 2011 at 5:20:15 am

Well thought out.ut.

My order of CS5.5 is in the mail as I post this. Premiere is not the Photoshop of NLEs, but I can't pass up the value, and I like having more tools.

I haven't used Avid for about 6 years now. Frankly it always felt like I was driving the family minivan when I used it. It may be different now, I always associate Avid with safe and dependable.

FCX isn't the family car. I've actually been having fun using it, but I'm getting worn out and frustrated with the workarounds and bugs.

So what's more likely to happen. WIll Adobe make Premiere the Photoshop of NLE's, or will Apple will make FCX the coolest professional editing app that will revolutionize the industry the way FCP has?

I'm not placing any bets, but neither company is out of the running. Apple has such a great track record for innovation, it's why I'm not giving up on them. I'm looking for every chance I can to work with FCX, but I'm also investing in CS5.5, and meanwhile I've also got FCP7 which is 32bit, but it's a rock and I know exactly what I can do with it.

Mark Morache
Avid/Xpri/FCP7/FCX
Evening Magazine,Seattle, WA
blogging at http://fcpx.wordpress.com


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Craig Seeman
Re: My take on FCPX or Not
on Sep 2, 2011 at 5:57:41 am

[Richard Johnson] "ADBE has a market cap of 12.7 billion USD"

[Richard Johnson] "When I look at Avid as a company though, I see storm clouds. It's a much smaller company with a market cap of 420 million USD and it's a smaller company that has a history of, well, not doing great as a company."

And neither company makes most of their money from NLEs.
Certainly neither does Apple.

But Apple can sink more into the development of FCPX then either of the above companies and it would pocket change or maybe the stuff found under the couch cushions. Apple's motive though is to use FCPX to boost the sales of Macs so their potential ROI on the R&D is much greater even if it doesn't come close to matching iOS devices.

When the PC industry sales are in decline and the largest one of all, HP is about to spin off or sell their PC division because margins are so low, Apple's computer (yes, COMPUTER) sales have been on the increase and Apple's looking to make FCPX a "hook" to increase that further.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2011/may/24/apple-sales-growth-pc...

Understand that increasing sales doesn't necessarily mean targeting the "high end" as a primary target but FCP1 was originally the "DV" editor. It's popularity fostered 3rd party support and those 3rd parties help lift it into the higher markets. It's those 3rd parties that will help determine whether FCPX sales more Macs. Apple has to supply them the APIs and hooks to do that.

I think Apple is a very motivated developer.

They each have different business models. What sales does Premiere drive, After Effects, Photoshop, Flash servers? What sales does Media Composer drive, Isis 5000, Unity, AirSpeed? I'm sure Adobe would like Premiere to be an important sales leader as Photoshop or After Effects are. I suspect Media Composer is primarily a "seat" for their much more expensive "heavy iron" products.

For Apple FCPX has the job to further accelerate their computer sales. Apple's NLE (FCPX) may well be a much more important "hook" into their computer sales. If anything I suspect Apple sees FCPX as a seat that sales computers in a Thunderbolt accessorized facility at much lower cost than Avid.



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Walter Soyka
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 1:26:13 pm

[Craig Seeman] "I think Apple is a very motivated developer. They each have different business models. What sales does Premiere drive, After Effects, Photoshop, Flash servers? What sales does Media Composer drive, Isis 5000, Unity, AirSpeed? I'm sure Adobe would like Premiere to be an important sales leader as Photoshop or After Effects are. I suspect Media Composer is primarily a "seat" for their much more expensive "heavy iron" products. For Apple FCPX has the job to further accelerate their computer sales. Apple's NLE (FCPX) may well be a much more important "hook" into their computer sales. If anything I suspect Apple sees FCPX as a seat that sales computers in a Thunderbolt accessorized facility at much lower cost than Avid."


I agree that Apple is a very motivated developer, but as it always does in this debate, the question comes back to who their target market is, and I am not very confident right now that Apple understands or cares about professionals' needs.

I think we had a bit of a golden age for the 10-year span from around 1998 to around 2008. All the surprises during that timeframe were good: the OS9/OS X transition, the PowerPC/Intel transition, FCP, Nothing Real, Silicon Color, XServe and RAID, Proximity's artbox, fast iteration on the Mac Pros.

Since then, many surprises have been bad. Shake's EOL. XServe/RAID's EOL. Color's EOL. Final Cut Server's EOL. Ever-slower Mac Pro updates. And then there's FCPX itself.

FCP grew as it did in part because of third-party support, but Apple excluded all but a select few third-parties during FCPX development. The APIs aren't ready, which suggests to me they were a very low priority during development, rather than a valued, integral part of FCPX's architecture.

Apple previewed FCPX at the meeting of the National Associate of Broadcasters, then released it without video I/O or interchange, and simultaneously ended FCP7 with no transition period.

There are glimmers of hope, both from Apple (OpenCL, FCPX's metadata and rendering engines, and ThunderBolt) and third-party developers (Autodesk Smoke and DaVinci Resolve) -- but I'm having a hard time looking at all this and divining Apple's strategy on media professionals.

This muddy collection of facts stands in sharp contrast to the clear trajectory Apple shows around mobile devices (iPod, iPhone, iPad, plus the iTMS, the App Store, and iCloud). Apple has created tremendous uncertainty among their post production customers, and in the process, destroyed a lot of trust and good will that they spent the last decade building.

I rely on both Macs (I've got 7) and PCs (I've got 3) in my shop, but the FCPX-or-not debate has made me realize that I'm now far more dependent on Adobe and Maxon (both cross-platform) than I am on Apple. I'm currently budgeting a small render farm, and I had always planned on going with Macs for operational simplicity. I've reversed course. I can get significantly more power for the same cost with PCs. That means I'm also considering PCs the next time I refresh my workstations (within a year).

My question for the forum is this: what do you think we can look for from Apple over the next 6 to 12 months to indicate if they are truly dedicated to the professional (or "complex workflow") market or not?

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Paul Dickin
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 1:54:28 pm

[Walter Soyka] "The APIs aren't ready, which suggests to me they were a very low priority during development, rather than a valued, integral part of FCPX's architecture."
Hi
I think it likely that nothing these days at Apple gets 'fast-track' development 'in isolation'.
When the joint iOS/OS X development is ready (in terms of Apple's long-term OS goals) then things get shipped - another post-2008 change of policy-direction... :-(

[Walter Soyka] "...what do you think we can look for from Apple over the next 6 to 12 months to indicate if they are truly dedicated to the professional (or "complex workflow") market or not?"
Nothing, if your workflow is headed anywhere else than final delivery via Apple's cloud to iPads or a forthcoming coloursync-managed Apple television set.

For those who persist in retaining legacy workflows (like most of current post production) then Apple will most likely just be happy to take their % cut of sales to the customer via the iTunes store.



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Aindreas Gallagher
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 4:26:18 pm

[Paul Dickin] "or a forthcoming coloursync-managed Apple television set."

that's an interesting thought tho - someone said ages ago that FCPX may represent an initial marker for Apple's broader ambitions in terms of media delivery to the customer - and what that media might actually be? there was some crazy talk of Apple fashioning just in time assembly of media objects at the set terminus... they'll need something to differentiate the television people say they're working on - were FCPX to become important in the assembly and delivery of new media objects appropriate for apple's content delivery systems, then maybe that would have an impact?

I still basically do think it's an Edsel tho.


http://www.ogallchoir.net
promo producer/editor.grading/motion graphics


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Craig Seeman
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 4:41:02 pm

[Walter Soyka] " the question comes back to who their target market is, and I am not very confident right now that Apple understands or cares about professionals' needs. "

They're targeting the broad "middle" and with the help of third party developers may creep up the ladder.

[Walter Soyka] "but Apple excluded all but a select few third-parties during FCPX development. The APIs aren't ready, which suggests to me they were a very low priority during development, rather than a valued, integral part of FCPX's architecture. "

I suspect they're not ready because they're having a combination of issues which may also be related to Lion. There comes a point where for various reasons they have to let a product out the door, ready or not. FCPX, as I've said before, really seems like alpha, not beta, software. There are features that just aren't implemented and some of them aren't specific to higher end pros. API/Plugin issues is one such issue.

We'll never know why it was released in the current state but Apple is working on the missing features.

[Walter Soyka] "Apple previewed FCPX at the meeting of the National Associate of Broadcasters, then released it without video I/O or interchange, and simultaneously ended FCP7 with no transition period."

Which is why I suspect there was some internal problems which may not have been purely technical, for the handling of EOL as well as FCPX release.

[Walter Soyka] "but I'm having a hard time looking at all this and divining Apple's strategy on media professionals."

I think the strategy is fairly clear, it's the tactics that went awry. FCPX is designed to sell Macs. It doesn't do that in its current state though. That's going to change assuming the third party developers don't fold. This is a major financial loss for those developers otherwise.

[Walter Soyka] "in the process, destroyed a lot of trust and good will that they spent the last decade building."

But that "trust" is always measured against future sales for a business. I'm sure Apple did the calculus but they may have got the answer wrong or, something went wrong internally.

[Walter Soyka] "I had always planned on going with Macs for operational simplicity. I've reversed course. I can get significantly more power for the same cost with PCs. That means I'm also considering PCs the next time I refresh my workstations (within a year)."


[Walter Soyka] "My question for the forum is this: what do you think we can look for from Apple over the next 6 to 12 months to indicate if they are truly dedicated to the professional (or "complex workflow") market or not?"


This is why I think FCPX is part of a bigger equation for Apple and it's tied to both Thunderbolt and whatever becomes of the MacPro. I think they anticipate something that persuasively affordable. Of course I have no idea if it will work but, again, FCPX is about driving Mac sales. Whatever they do will have to have equal or more power than MacPro but have a point of entry down around the higher end iMacs. That's why I think it'll be a workstation with limited PCIe and Internal storage. Connectivity to storage, video I/O, networking, will be through Thunderbolt and it's why Thunderbolt is in everything from MacBook Air and MacMini on up. It'll be an entirely modular system designed for low cost and much wider appeal than the MacPro is now.



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Aindreas Gallagher
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 4:57:36 pm

[Craig Seeman] "that's why I think it'll be a workstation with limited PCIe and Internal storage."

that sound OK. sort of modular like a red or something. so one would really just be buying umpteen processor cores and GPUs to hook up to storage and a display.
if they make it 1U we might as well call it macproxserve. (you'd have to say the 'prox' bit like 'proxy')


http://www.ogallchoir.net
promo producer/editor.grading/motion graphics


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Craig Seeman
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 5:14:07 pm

[Aindreas Gallagher] "that sound OK. sort of modular like a red or something. so one would really just be buying umpteen processor cores and GPUs to hook up to storage and a display. "

Yup. Consider that an iMac with i7 QuadCore is about $2300. Drop the monitor, allow for up to 12 (or more depending on when it comes out) and a 16 lane PCIe slot (or two) to allow for some GPU options. Internal storage would be one SSD (super fast booting) and one hard drive.

You could have a box that might even have a starting price below the top iMac (because you have to add your own monitor). Depending on what you connect to the Thunderbolt ports, you have a computer that can be anything from a modular desktop to a rack mount server. Eventually they'd add the optical version of Thunderbolt for a blazing fast large pipe for media networking. Given the shape it can be flat like a MacMini (but obviously bigger) or stand upright on its side. For Apple it would mean a single design which could have much wider use than the current MacPro. You might even say the hints for this are already there given the Mini comes in a server edition. Obviously the Mini is too underpowered for professional use.

Given that FCPX is supposed to sell Macs, if/when they get it up to a versatile NLE, this presents a low cost point of entry for a facility.



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Walter Soyka
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 5:23:06 pm

[Craig Seeman] "Given that FCPX is supposed to sell Macs, if/when they get it up to a versatile NLE, this presents a low cost point of entry for a facility."

But is FCPX supposed to sell Macs to facilities, or to the broad middle?

Am I really going to need ThunderBolt fiber HBAs or ThunderBolt 10G Ethernet boxes, ThunderBolt MiniSAS HBAs, ThunderBolt video I/O, and ThunderBolt hardware compression co-processing? Plus rack hardware for all of the above?

Modularity is nice, but I don't see ThunderBolt as a facility-oriented solution -- especially if it comes at the cost of high-speed PCIe slots in the Mac workstation at the dawn of the GPGPU/OpenCL age.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Craig Seeman
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 5:40:45 pm

[Walter Soyka] "But is FCPX supposed to sell Macs to facilities, or to the broad middle?"

Broader middle initially. The middle is not the bottom. The broader middle are "mom and pop" shops who need a computer with fast i/o and storage for professional work.

[Walter Soyka] "Modularity is nice, but I don't see ThunderBolt as a facility-oriented solution -- especially if it comes at the cost of high-speed PCIe slots in the Mac workstation at the dawn of the GPGPU/OpenCL age."

As I said, I believe there will be one or two 16 lane PCIe built in for GPU flexibility. Thunderbolt handles everything else.

[Walter Soyka] "Am I really going to need ThunderBolt fiber HBAs or ThunderBolt 10G Ethernet boxes, ThunderBolt MiniSAS HBAs, ThunderBolt video I/O, and ThunderBolt hardware compression co-processing? Plus rack hardware for all of the above?"

You'll buy what you need if you're a facility. The per unit cost of each bare computer will be less. Yes Apple and third parties will want you to buy Thunderbolt tools.



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Walter Soyka
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 5:48:34 pm

[Craig Seeman] "Broader middle initially. The middle is not the bottom. The broader middle are "mom and pop" shops who need a computer with fast i/o and storage for professional work."

Totally agreed. This is where ThunderBolt will be most beneficial -- but what separates the broad middle from the bottom?

Which will be smaller in the coming years? This distinction between the bottom and the middle, or the distinction between the middle and the top?


[Craig Seeman] "As I said, I believe there will be one or two 16 lane PCIe built in for GPU flexibility. Thunderbolt handles everything else."

I believe there will be one or two 16 lane PCIe slots as well, but I don't think it's enough for heavy GPGPU. Some of the work going into GPU-based renderers is amazing, and being very parallel, splits across many GPUs nicely.


[Craig Seeman] "You'll buy what you need if you're a facility. The per unit cost of each bare computer will be less. Yes Apple and third parties will want you to buy Thunderbolt tools."

But my point is that this is not facility-friendly. Visualize that machine room, with all these modules, ThunderBolt cabling, custom rack mounts, and wall wart power supplies. It's not a problem when you locate the hardware on the user's desk, but it's not going to be pretty for co-location.

Of course, current Apple hardware isn't really rack-friendly either, so this may be moot.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Craig Seeman
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 6:01:23 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Which will be smaller in the coming years? This distinction between the bottom and the middle, or the distinction between the middle and the top?"

I think there's an industry wide problem related to PC desktop sales. I think the solution is a more scalable desktop. The bottom moves towards tablets. The middle and top will be consolidated by the PC manufactures who need to increase margins to make desktops a viable market. The computer that works for the "stand alone" professional has to also work in the facility.

[Walter Soyka] "But my point is that this is not facility-friendly. Visualize that machine room, with all these modules, ThunderBolt cabling, custom rack mounts, and wall wart power supplies. It's not a problem when you locate the hardware on the user's desk, but it's not going to be pretty for co-location.

Of course, current Apple hardware isn't really rack-friendly either, so this may be moot."


Apple's really good at design. I suspect this is one of the issues they're tackling. Cables and external power supplies can be a mess. Keep in mind that big boxes with lots of PCIe slots have their own problems. They're not space efficient. Cooling them becomes an issue as well. I don't have an answer to this but I think Apple may. Its an area they've excelled at.



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Herb Sevush
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 6:09:06 pm

"Apple's really good at design. I suspect this is one of the issues they're tackling. Cables and external power supplies can be a mess."

Apple's Cinema Display monitors have the worst cabling system on the planet, is that an example of Apple's design prowess when it comes to cabling?

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions


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Walter Soyka
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 7:07:39 pm

[Craig Seeman] "I think there's an industry wide problem related to PC desktop sales. I think the solution is a more scalable desktop. The bottom moves towards tablets. The middle and top will be consolidated by the PC manufactures who need to increase margins to make desktops a viable market. The computer that works for the "stand alone" professional has to also work in the facility."

I don't really see how a scalable desktop solves the PC industry's woes. Computers have become a commodity, and splitting that commodity up into smaller, more elemental commodities isn't going to make the consumer any less price-sensitive. The only way out of the commodity trap is to differentiate, which is certainly a challenge in today's open-technology environment.

Beyond that, I wonder if part of our disconnect as we discuss this is that we're thinking about computers differently. I draw a distinction between desktops and workstations.

Video used to require a proper workstation. Consumer desktops lacked the throughput and processing power to push all those pixels around. That's not true anymore. Although FCPX benefits from OpenCL, fast GPUs and multiple cores, and can actually use all the power in a workstation, you can reasonably edit HD video on an iMac.

If anything, I think fewer editors in the broad middle need a workstation than did before. An i7-powered desktop with SATA drives and a $350 video card is more than enough for many editors.

Heavy compositing or 3D work, though -- the sort of work that facilities generally do and the broad middle generally does not -- is much more restrictive on modern consumer-grade equipment than video editorial is.

FCP was the linchpin holding Macs in professional post. With so many important apps being cross-platform, and with many also running on Linux, Apple needs to give the industry a reason to continue buying Mac computers.


[Craig Seeman] "Apple's really good at design. I suspect this is one of the issues they're tackling. Cables and external power supplies can be a mess. Keep in mind that big boxes with lots of PCIe slots have their own problems. They're not space efficient. Cooling them becomes an issue as well. I don't have an answer to this but I think Apple may. Its an area they've excelled at."

Apple's designs are beautiful, and the engineering of the Mac Pro case internals is top-notch, but again, who are they designing for? It seems to me that Apple believes computers belong in your hands. They'll settle for a desk. Apple had the Xserve, built for machine rooms, but they EOL'ed it. I hope I'm wrong about the trend I see here.

Cooling big boxes with lots of PCIe slots is easy -- most of them already have all the active cooling they need built in. Cooling a rack of ThunderBolt peripherals which are designed for passive cooling -- that's a challenge.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Craig Seeman
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 7:41:56 pm

[Walter Soyka] "I don't really see how a scalable desktop solves the PC industry's woes."

[Walter Soyka] "Video used to require a proper workstation. Consumer desktops lacked the throughput and processing power to push all those pixels around. That's not true anymore."

This is EXACTLY my point. This new computer can be an i7 multicore computer with the option for a very powerful GPU. The workstation features are added through Thunderbolt.

There's not much of a market for workstations with lots of PCIe slots. Certainly a few companies like HP had the Z series. Apple is not likely to head in that direction.

Also facilities themselves are dealing with lower budgets in the economy. Workstations make less and less sense. Apple may solve this problem making what might be termed a "MacMiniPro" or a "headless iMac" The key difference is more CPU and GPU power. Expandability will be entirely through Thunderbolt.

A facility can be designed with high powered CPU/GPU locally (the workstation) and i/o and storage handled centrally through Thunderbolt.

The one man band who doesn't want the limitation of the iMac monitor can buy one of these new boxes in the same price range as the iMac. They also have the option to get a more powerful box (cpu/gpu).

One box covering a broader market sector than the MacPro can lower the cost of production and, therefore, price. Yes commodification. Less differentiation drives down price of the base unit.



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David Lawrence
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 8:33:01 pm

[Walter Soyka] "My question for the forum is this: what do you think we can look for from Apple over the next 6 to 12 months to indicate if they are truly dedicated to the professional (or "complex workflow") market or not?"

Thanks for starting a really interesting sub-thread, Walter. These hardware scenarios all sound pretty cool even if it's all speculation right now.

I also think we need to think about software, since tight integration between hardware and software is one of Apple's greatest strengths.

[Craig Seeman] "Apple's motive though is to use FCPX to boost the sales of Macs so their potential ROI on the R&D is much greater even if it doesn't come close to matching iOS devices."

Agreed, but given the huge dominance of iOS hardware and software on Apple's bottom line, how do you think iOS will impact Apple direction with the Mac OS platform moving forward?

I'm thinking specifically of Mac OS Lion as a first step in Apple merging the Mac OS and iOS platforms. Professionals and consumers have very different needs. Many UI decisions in Lion that seemed aimed at convergence and simplicity for consumers would not be tolerated in a professional setting. Some, like autosave seem downright dangerous.

What do you think Apple's software direction says about their interest in professional workflow?

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Walter Soyka
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 9:06:10 pm

[David Lawrence] "Thanks for starting a really interesting sub-thread, Walter."

Interesting? Maybe... Incendiary? Quite a bit more so than I intended!


[David Lawrence] "I also think we need to think about software, since tight integration between hardware and software is one of Apple's greatest strengths... What do you think Apple's software direction says about their interest in professional workflow?"

Does anyone see any evidence at this point that Apple thinks that there is even a difference between consumer workflow and professional workflow?

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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David Lawrence
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 9:20:32 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Does anyone see any evidence at this point that Apple thinks that there is even a difference between consumer workflow and professional workflow?"

I think John Gruber nailed it with this post quoting Ken Segall:

http://daringfireball.net/linked/2011/07/01/segall-pro

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David Lawrence
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Walter Soyka
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 8:54:26 pm

[Craig Seeman] "There's not much of a market for workstations with lots of PCIe slots. Certainly a few companies like HP had the Z series."

Sure there is! That's exactly why the Z series has been so successful. It's a niche market, but those customers are willing to pay a healthy premium for the power they want in a single box.

My point is that very few video editors need a workstation-class machine anymore. A couple ThunderBolt ports on a high-end consumer-class machine will give them all the power and expansion they need.

For those that do actually need modern workstations, though, why limit yourself to 4x PCIe octopus expansion over ThunderBolt when you can have real 16x PCIe right in the box?


[Craig Seeman] "Apple is not likely to head in that direction."

That's my fear.


[Craig Seeman] "Also facilities themselves are dealing with lower budgets in the economy. Workstations make less and less sense."

Workstations make less and less sense for editorial. You can reasonably edit on an i7 in a very small case.

It's less reasonable to composite or work in 3D graphics without dual Xeons and lots of RAM. Once you've got those, plus a nice graphics card, plus a power supply and cooling to run it all, you end up with a big case again, with big, expensive components. Are you really going to reduce the size or cost of production drastically by leaving out a couple extra PCIe slots?


[Craig Seeman] "One box covering a broader market sector than the MacPro can lower the cost of production and, therefore, price. Yes commodification. Less differentiation drives down price of the base unit."

The workstation I want -- and am willing to pay for -- is unlikely to appeal to the broader market sector. You won't make my workstation small or cheap by removing 2 PCIe slots and replacing them with ThunderBolt ports. TB is not fast enough to expand to processors or GPGPUs, so I still need multiple big, hot, server-grade processors with multiple hot server-grade RAM slots, a couple of big, hot GPUs, big fans, and a big PSU.

That's the whole point behind my concern over the future of the Mac Pro, and it's definitely where I veer off from this conversation in terms of FCPX. Editorial used to need workstations, and the Mac Pro used to be a workstation. Now that editorial no longer requires a workstation, and now that Apple doesn't sell any products that do, will the Mac Pro continue to be a workstation?

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Craig Seeman
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 9:26:22 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Sure there is! That's exactly why the Z series has been so successful. It's a niche market, but those customers are willing to pay a healthy premium for the power they want in a single box."

Niche market is the problem. Apple is not going to target the niche specifically. I do think they will have a comparably powerful core box in which through third parties you'll add what you need. Apple's design philosophy is single design to meet many needs. Apple's core box would easily match CPU/GPU capabilities (as I would envision it). They just won't design a box with lots of PCIe slots. People pay premium for the PCIe slots because there had been no viable alternative.

You need to rethink what makes a computer a "workstation." CPU/GPU they can stick in anything with the power to handle that. Internal storage moves to external but just as fast or faster. Video I/O as external boxes is also very common these days.

If Apple designs a box which can range from i7 4 core to i7 12 core and a couple of GPU options with SSD for near instant on, that cover a much broader range of the market from upper end iMac to HPZ800.

The fact that HP desktops aren't profitable and HPZ is says a lot about the computer industry. Apple will approach this differently. That's in their DNA. iMac's top out at i7 4 core and limited GPU potential and that's an issue Apple will solve with this box.

[Walter Soyka] "For those that do actually need modern workstations, though, why limit yourself to 4x PCIe octopus expansion over ThunderBolt when you can have real 16x PCIe right in the box?"

Because if Apple makes a "commodity" box with the same power it will be less expensive and that's going to lead purchases.

FCP sold not because it was "better" than Avid but was a lot less to buy a PowerMac and FCP than an Avid turnkey Media Composer system. Of course people still buy those systems and Avid nearly went under with the niche market dominance. Apple will do this with hardware. If they've learned anything from iOS devices it's that mass production leads. 3rd party developers will sell the product just as the apps go a long way to sell iOS devices.



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Walter Soyka
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 9:58:13 pm

[Craig Seeman] "Niche market is the problem. Apple is not going to target the niche specifically. I do think they will have a comparably powerful core box in which through third parties you'll add what you need. Apple's design philosophy is single design to meet many needs."

Isn't that the main discussion here, though? We are talking about a small market of media professionals. This is niche that Apple used to cater to -- a niche that is not satisfied with the single design that meets many needs -- and a lot of the discussion in this forum has been dedicated to the question of whether they will continue to cater to that niche.


[Craig Seeman] "You need to rethink what makes a computer a "workstation." CPU/GPU they can stick in anything with the power to handle that. Internal storage moves to external but just as fast or faster. Video I/O as external boxes is also very common these days. If Apple designs a box which can range from i7 4 core to i7 12 core and a couple of GPU options with SSD for near instant on, that cover a much broader range of the market from upper end iMac to HPZ800."

I agree that storage and video I/O can reasonably be external, and do not a workstation make -- that's why I didn't mention them.

You're asking me to rethink what make a computer a workstation. I'll ask you to rethink what kind of work you absolutely need to have a powerful, modern workstation for. Video editorial simply does not require a workstation anymore.

I think a modern workstation is defined by processors, memory, and GPU, as well as excellent integration and engineering. I don't think you can just "stick [a CPU/GPU] in anything with the power to handle" it. There's a difference between consumer-grade and professional-grade hardware, and I just don't see how you can make it truly modular over a big market range with 4x PCIe over ThunderBolt holding it all together.

Core i7 won't cut it -- it doesn't work in multi-socket configurations. You need to step up to Xeon, which adds cost. You need ECC RAM, because while a RAM error may be tolerable in a consumer machine, it's a showstopper on a workstation. This adds cost. As we see more GPU co-processing with technologies like CUDA and OpenCL, those 16x PCIe slots will become more valuable and ThunderBolt 1.0 will not look like such a fat pipe.

All these expensive components draw serious power and require serious cooling, which requires space. None of these components are strictly necessary for straightforward video editorial anymore.

I agree with you that small, cheap, extensible computers are more powerful than ever before -- but I disagree that you can make the core of a modern workstation small, cheap, and extensible.

We need a much, much faster interconnect than ThunderBolt to offer the kind of expansion I think you're suggesting.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Craig Seeman
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 10:23:52 pm

[Walter Soyka] " a niche that is not satisfied with the single design that meets many needs"

They will if the price, power, flexibility is right. It still one meet everyone's needs. Neither did FCP legacy. Hollywood and brodcast still has plenty of Avids even at FCP's maturity. FCP still made its way into some broadcast and feature work. I think Apple's new hardware would do the same assuming the third party support happens.

Just as there's a MacMini Server model so would the new box be capable of it. Servers themselves are niche compared to the broader market. Apple can do it with the Mini because it's the same box with a few parts swapped out. This new box would cover that range. The idea would be higher power but commodity components and a design that lends itself to Apple swapping in/out things for the niche.

Apple really has become the ultimate hardware commodity company. iPads are just about the least expensive tablets on the market at least relative to power. While Android has a bigger smartphone market share the iPhone specifically probably outsells any specific model Android phone. The MacBook went away as the MacBookAir, now with Thunderbolt, dropped in price radically and increased power and connectivity from its introduction.

What's left is the market that needs more power and expandability than the iMac. If it were too small Apple wouldn't even bother . . . and some say they won't. I think they're going to approach that problem differently by making a box that can fill a broader segment need than the MacPro could. In order for Thunderbolt to really be of value there has to be at least one Mac that will need to use that port. That's what would attract developer support . . . and strong developer support leads to more Mac sales. It's the only way I can see this being financially viable and desirable for Apple.



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David Lawrence
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 10:42:13 pm

[Craig Seeman] "The idea would be higher power but commodity components and a design that lends itself to Apple swapping in/out things for the niche."

All well and good, but if the OS driving the hardware is crippled for professional use, will it matter?

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Craig Seeman
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 10:49:33 pm

[David Lawrence] "All well and good, but if the OS driving the hardware is crippled for professional use, will it matter?"

AV Foundation may be a good thing. Avid Media Composer has been updated for Lion so it seems the OS isn't standing in the way.

I'm not sure if the UI will eventually get in the way. So far I don't think so.



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David Lawrence
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 11:17:18 pm

[Craig Seeman] "AV Foundation may be a good thing. Avid Media Composer has been updated for Lion so it seems the OS isn't standing in the way.

I'm not sure if the UI will eventually get in the way. So far I don't think so."


Agree about AV Foundation, lots of good stuff under the hood. Also true that Avid and other companies are updating now. I'm thinking more about the long term. I started a thread here about a pro hardware expert's concerns about the OS:

http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/335/14679

UI is already getting in the way for many people switching to Lion. Rght now Apple seems more confused about UI than I've ever seen before. I mean they literally don't even know which way is up! At least they give an option to turn "natural" scrolling off, but the overall direction and thinking behind it and many other aspects of Lion really makes me wonder about their priorities.

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Craig Seeman
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 11:29:06 pm

So far the only problem I have with Lion is that with gesture based control it's very easy to make mistakes such as needing a two finger swipe and accidentally making contact with the third finger. Just as I'm less fond of keyboard commands the more modifiers keys they need, I don't like having to use too many or accidentally using to many fingers on a gesture. I'm not sure if there's a graceful UI answer for either given the number of things one needs to do to differentiate commands. My answer would be more function keys. :-)



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David Lawrence
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 11:50:14 pm

[Craig Seeman] "My answer would be more function keys. :-)"

Function keys work for me!

So are you using Lion in production? Still too early for me.

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Robert Brown
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 3, 2011 at 3:39:16 am

I put Lion on my MBP as Snow Leopard was having issues and I didn't want to bother with a re-install. Although my stability issues did improve , I'd have to agree with a lot of that link you posted where things that were really nice are not so nice anymore. Mail is worse, they got rid of color coding in Finder, and auto fill is IMO much worse than to was. Other than the things I don't like it seems about the same. I have no idea really of what was changed "under the hood". At this point I think I'll stick with 10.6.8 on my big system for as long as possible.

Robert Brown
Editor/VFX/Colorist - FCP, Smoke, Quantel Pablo, After Effects, 3DS MAX, Premiere Pro

http://vimeo.com/user3987510/videos


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Chris Harlan
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 3, 2011 at 6:29:33 am

[Robert Brown] "At this point I think I'll stick with 10.6.8 on my big system for as long as possible.
"


That's where my head is at, as well.


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Chris Harlan
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 8:01:45 pm

[Walter Soyka] "FCP was the linchpin holding Macs in professional post. With so many important apps being cross-platform, and with many also running on Linux, Apple needs to give the industry a reason to continue buying Mac computers."


Yup. I've been looking at HPs and Dells this week. First time I've done that in about eight years.


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Aindreas Gallagher
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 7:28:58 pm

[Craig Seeman] "a single design which could have much wider use than the current MacPro. "

yes. I like the sound of it really.

It would feel quite neuromancer to walk in freelance to a workplace with a mmmm.. mac mini sized 64 cores of intel with a 4GB GPU and.. mmm.. 2 terabytes of flash. bang it on the table, thunderbolt to the display, display thunderbolt to the workplace NAS and we're off away into our flash gordon future.

nice.


http://www.ogallchoir.net
promo producer/editor.grading/motion graphics


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Mark Morache
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 7:21:51 pm

[Walter Soyka] "My question for the forum is this: what do you think we can look for from Apple over the next 6 to 12 months to indicate if they are truly dedicated to the professional (or "complex workflow") market or not?"

Honestly, they can get come out from behind the curtain, and do the thing that costs absolutely nothing, and can do everything to win back the hearts and souls of the final cutters everywhere.

How about a press conference.

Seriously. Other powerful companies do that. Don't just manage the spin. Explain what happened in simple terms, own it, explain what you've learned and how you're going to make it better. We're in Apple's corner, or we were at one point.

No matter how much I'd love to see that happen, I don't expect it ever will.

What I expect is that they will shortly release the API that the third party producers will need to make this product get along with the rest of the world. I expect they will come up with an update that will make the program less buggy, add back some of our most necessary functions like multicam and relinking. I expect they will continue to come up with great hardware, and that third parties will bring things that will take the party to the pro level.

There's something I haven't seen mentioned much here, but that's the magic of the app store. Not that Apple needs money right now, consider the temptation that you can push a button, the software goes everywhere at once, and within minutes a giant money barge starts unloading mountains of cold hard cash for your bank account. That might have had something to do with the release. They might have intended to be quick on the updates, which you can do so easily when the software isn't on a disc, but they might have been bogged down by the deluge of issues raised and decided one big update would be better than a dozen little ones.

The more we conjecture, the worse the possible spin. A press conference would stop the misapplied ranting, and let us make informed decisions about our futures.

It's like the husband who tells his wife "I told you I loved you when we took our marriage vows. I'll let you know if that ever changes." Communication is everything.

---------
I'm calling it FCX. They took the "pro" out, so I will too.
I'll reconsider after the first upgrade.

Mark Morache
Avid/Xpri/FCP7/FCX
Evening Magazine,Seattle, WA
blogging at http://fcpx.wordpress.com


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John Christie
Re: My take on FCPX or Not AND pro viability of Mac platform
on Sep 2, 2011 at 10:13:03 pm

[Walter Soyka] "I rely on both Macs (I've got 7) and PCs (I've got 3) in my shop, but the FCPX-or-not debate has made me realize that I'm now far more dependent on Adobe and Maxon (both cross-platform) than I am on Apple. I'm currently budgeting a small render farm, and I had always planned on going with Macs for operational simplicity. I've reversed course. I can get significantly more power for the same cost with PCs. That means I'm also considering PCs the next time I refresh my workstations (within a year)."

I agree, Walter. If you remove Final Cut Pro from the editing mix, all the either programs are cross-platform. I have 20 plus suites to think about upgrading in the next few years. I don't want to switch platforms, but it's something I have to consider. If Apple starts losing the high end studio market, they're going to lose a lot of their prestige in the market place. The perception that creative professionals use Macs has helped drive a lot of Mac sales.

Cheers

John


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Bret Williams
Re: My take on FCPX or Not
on Sep 2, 2011 at 9:55:30 pm

[Craig Seeman] "Understand that increasing sales doesn't necessarily mean targeting the "high end" as a primary target but FCP1 was originally the "DV" editor. It's popularity fostered 3rd party support and those 3rd parties help lift it into the higher markets. It's those 3rd parties that will help determine whether FCPX sales more Macs. Apple has to supply them the APIs and hooks to do that.
"


It was a DV editor when being a DV editor meant that it was a lossless editor for most. We were all moving our old betacam cameras to DVCam. Media100 and Avid had to ingest those via component and recompress them to 2:1 or uncompressed if you had a nice Avid. But in either case it was going to take a minor quality hit. And if you went back out to DVCam master, well, you'd take another compression hit because there was no direct DV connection. Media100 came out with a transcoding method and Avid trickled down a DV connection over the years. But in any case, my little G4 could with FCP (and EditDV for that matter) could actually produce higher quality content with a lossless workflow. Not to mention I could ingest Betacam via svideo and a camcorder, or via component with a targa card with v1.x of FCP. WITH RS-422 support and batch capture, etc. You could even get scopes if you knew how to do it. Yeah, no audio meters like some mention, but we were all importing from tape. So pretty simple to have my DVCam deck seeing the firewire connection for a perfect audio meter at all times. FCP 1 supported frame sizes larger than current 1080p. It had composite modes. It had precomps(nesting). FCP 1 was a VERY professional editor. ESPECIALLY compared to Media Composer. The only thing amateurish about FCP 1 was the price.


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Douglas Morse
Re: My take on FCPX or Not
on Sep 2, 2011 at 3:01:27 pm

Final Cut Pro X will never have native OMF support, reasonable Blu-ray or DVD authoring, and only mediocre encoding options. Proper dual monitor support (let alone broadcast monitor) is dubious.

You're wasting your time waiting. Many of us are going to Premiere Pro. I won't say 'without looking back' because I am still looking at Final Cut Pro X or Final Cut 7 (and wondering about Avid) but the more I think about the NEXT version of Premiere (and this one is quite excellent and in many ways an improvement over FCP 7) the more I know that this is the correct choice.


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Jamie Franklin
Re: My take on FCPX or Not
on Sep 2, 2011 at 5:03:39 pm

[Richard Johnson] " At that point I'll make my FCPX or Not decision."

Having the freedom of a real canvas in FCP7, could you see yourself using that storyboard? Can you see yourself hopping for a ride on a superlocamotive on rails...

For me, not being able to import or build a sequence to my own specs on launch, restricting my resolution to locked aspects, give me pause to open the dang thing...but then, once in the timeline, I feel like a painter that just had all my brushes taken away and I was given a sword to paint with...Bob Ross found his niche (showing my age) in the painting world...but it's like they shaved his fro and took away his ability to place happy little trees wherever he wanted...


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Herb Sevush
Re: My take on FCPX or Not
on Sep 2, 2011 at 5:21:26 pm

When my son was little he would sit quietly (no small achievement)and watch Bob Ross in starry eyed wonder. I'm sure on some channel somewhere Bob's happily creating a field of little trees under a sky of titanium blue to this day... lets just add another one here ...

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions


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David Lawrence
Re: My take on FCPX or Not
on Sep 2, 2011 at 7:40:33 pm

[Jamie Franklin] "I feel like a painter that just had all my brushes taken away and I was given a sword to paint with...Bob Ross found his niche (showing my age) in the painting world...but it's like they shaved his fro and took away his ability to place happy little trees wherever he wanted..."

lol, great analogy!

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Bret Williams
Re: My take on FCPX or Not
on Sep 2, 2011 at 9:55:25 pm

FCP X is like Charlie Brown at Halloween. "I got a rock."


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Jamie Franklin
Re: My take on FCPX or Not
on Sep 2, 2011 at 10:30:58 pm

FCPx is like the '78 animated version of Lord of the Rings premiering after the Peter Jackson films...


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