At a Crossroads in Editing
I work for a television network airing on both Dish and Direct TV. Many of the spots I create are for on-air episodic (30 and 15second) promos as well as longer form (2-5minute) spots for Web and Marketing purposes. I have been editing in Final Cut Studio for about 7 years and use Soundtrack Pro, Color, Compressor, and DVD Studio on a weekly basis. I regularly open my older projects to update and also reference for newer spots. I'm now at a crossroads with editing, trying to figure out the best solution moving forward. Should I move to FCPX, Adobe Premiere, or Avid? Or stay with FCP7 as long as possible? I realize their are no new updates coming out for FCP7, but will that keep me from creating new spots and updating old ones? I've been scouring the web and forums trying to find the best solution but can't seem to make up my mind. This is a major turning point as it will affect both my current job and my skills as an editor down the road. I recently talked with my former college professors who are switching the curriculum to Avid and Premiere from Final Cut entirely. What have others done? Any feedback would help, I'm just looking for a viable solution for both myself and my company. Thanks
[Kevin Matluk] "I've been scouring the web and forums trying to find the best solution"
I think you'll find that the "best solution" is entirely a matter of taste rather than something you will be able to evaluate objectively.
Learning Media Composer will be the most clearly valuable skill you can acquire for a good time to come.
Premiere Pro is easy to pick up if you know FCP 7 or earlier. It's worth making the effort to get to know it even if only superficially as its interchange with After Effects makes it very useful for graphics-intensive edit jobs and it's sure to be gaining ground rght now, though not as much as Adobe are probably hoping.
Learning FCPX is really not as hard as people make out and is quite a lot of fun but has questionable value in terms of getting professional editing work in the immediate term.
But as I say, no-one knows anything, so don't take my word for any of it ...
[Kevin Matluk] " I regularly open my older projects to update and also reference for newer spots."
If this is truly important than either staying with Legacy or moving to Adobe would seem to be your best options. If you don't have a compelling reason to change, then don't.
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf
I changed to Premiere Pro, but I also switched platforms to the PC.
I have tried to open older projects using the XML export that FCP has put in, and that Adobe accepts, and I can tell you it is not a picnic.
The titles don't transfer very well, and the layers can be messed up. If it's a simple cuts/dissolve timeline, you should be OK, but if you used FCP as I did to composite, I would not recommend leaving the LEgacy.
On the other hand, the new work I do in CS5.5 and the PC is faster and easier with the right PC. (New, CUDA based Nvidia card, etc.
I kept my Mac to handle my legacy projects. It's still running OS10.6.x, and FCP 7.x. It will remain like that until the computer dies, which shouldn't happen for several years. I also use the Mac platform for email, and the web. Better protection.
I'm in a simmilar position.
My advice - keep working on FCP7 for now, but get a trial of Premiere and get to grips with it (you'll take to it like a duck to water - its very simmilar to FCP legacy) There are some different ways of doing things to get used to, but also some great aspects to it (not least the amazing performance which will be like a revelation if your used to FCP!) I would hazard a guess that there is likely no major reason why Premiere cant replace FCP in your workflow eventually.
BUT - and heres a slight curve ball - I would also strongly recommend you also try out and get to grips with Avid. Its the ultimate insurance policy for an Editor, it will be around in pro circles indefinately and is solid as a rock. I'm learning it now, as well as Premiere.
The FCPX debacle has taught me NEVER to rely on one software provider alone. Last year was an utter nightmare and I never want to be in a position again where I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me. In short - learn both major alternatives (PP + Avid) then use what works best for you. No need to jump from FCP Legacy immediately, but you are on borrowed time with it so do prepare now for the shift that will be forced on you sooner or later.
I suspect the next FCPX update, coming soon, may start to interest facilities.
Given the cost of NLEs these days it can't hurt to have Premiere Pro and Avid Media Composer as well.
I love FCP X and can't imagine my life without it. You can read the history of my questions I have asked on this board and they have all be answered.
You could say I'm an Apple fan boy but that is OK. It works and I love it.
I use http://www.fcp.co as a good resource for other FCP X editors.
Also this site too.
Difficult to say Kevin without knowing your specific workflow, but I'll highlight what I can for you.
[Kevin Matluk] "I have been editing in Final Cut Studio for about 7 years and use Soundtrack Pro, Color, Compressor, and DVD Studio on a weekly basis."
Some elements of Soundtrack and Color have been included into FCPX, but they are not replacements for those programs. Depending on the extensiveness of your use of those programs, it's possible FCPX will work for you, but perhaps not. Even Apple suggests Resolve as the Coloring tool of choice for FCPX. The thing is, I don't know if you can send Premiere or Avid projects to Color, and CS doesn't really have an equivalent yet (although it looks to be coming).
Compressor and DVD Studio can be maintained and used with any NLE choice. DVDSP is EOL, but its been EOL for years now and still works fine.
[Kevin Matluk] "I regularly open my older projects to update and also reference for newer spots."
This is a problem with FCPX as it doesn't have the ability to open FCP 7 projects. I think Premiere can though, and Avid with a plug-in, but in both those cases, there may be "gotchas" along the way. If you're opening old projects in order to steal graphic overlays or such for current promos, then perhaps FCPX would work in conjunction with Motion. Promo elements can be built as Motion projects which would be available as title effects inside FCPX. Its one of FCPX's best features.
[Kevin Matluk] "This is a major turning point as it will affect both my current job and my skills as an editor down the road."
As an editor, I would do everything I can to be as familiar with all the big players. In the short-term at least, there will be a post-production shift to Avid, but there are lots of shops with varying needs who are perfectly satisfied staying with FCP7 for the next few years or switching to Premiere, or even to Vegas, Edius, Lightworks, what have you.
[Kevin Matluk] "I recently talked with my former college professors who are switching the curriculum to Avid and Premiere from Final Cut entirely."
This isn't surprising since colleges have to follow the industry in order to prepare their students for jobs. You would have to see some facilities use a proven FCPX workflow before colleges started offering classes on it. Since FCPX is still missing some key features for post facilities, I wouldn't expect many places to adopt it fully for some time yet.
In all though, my advice is to stay with FCP 7 as long as you can. If you aren't planing on shooting on different formats than you currently are, and your workflow works, there's no reason to jump away just yet. Especially if you need to access old projects.
I'm on board with Andy's well thought out reply.
I expect that you can continue to edit with FCP7 for years to come.
Meanwhile, the FCPX trial is freel for 30 days. It's going to be a time commitment to get used to it. It took me a few extra days to complete my first project, but now I've got it running smoothly, and even with some of the bugs, it's still faster for me, and I think it's fun.
Stick with 7. Give X the time to really try it.
I bought Premiere 5.5 as part of the suite while it was half-price. I've been too busy enjoying X to start working with it.
That's my 2 cents.
FCX. She tempts me, abuses me, beats me up, makes me feel worthless, then in the end she comes around, helps me get my work done, gives me hope and I can't stop thinking about her.
Evening Magazine,Seattle, WA
[Andy Neil] "The thing is, I don't know if you can send Premiere or Avid projects to Color"
It's possible to import Premiere Pro projects into Color, but it is within the limitations of XML and of course the codec (ProRes). Assuming you're on a Mac, I'd transcode to ProRes via AME, cut your piece and then send the Premiere Pro XML to Color.
Moving forward, with Adobe's acquisition of IRIDAS and SpeedGrade, it will be interesting to see where we go.
Dennis - Adobe guy.
Same situation for us. I've been researching Premiere, but there are so many little things that make me a hesitant. Adobe has a real opportunity to pull people into Premiere and become the dominant tool used by the industry, but this means overcoming some major roadblocks in thinking that has haunted the company for many years. They've got to start incorporating more creative looks into their software. They've got to stop leaving major holes in AE like no 3D text and extruding without buying a 1k plugin. They need to make an FCP simulator for Premiere, a plugin app store that constantly updates, the ability to have multiple open projects, and more frequent bug patches throughout.
We just wrapped up a project with 100 different kinds of sources, and it occurred to me today that lots of the rendering, conversion, media management, etc., would be much easier on FCPX. If only they'd update the stupid thing already to make it usable.
I just can't even consider Avid. I played with the demo of 6, but it just feels like going backwards. Ugh.
For now, we're waiting and staying with 7.
John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.
John - I hope you'll give us another shot some day. Our focus moving forward is along the lines of what you infer. removing obstacles is a focus. Of course, many FCP users have to unlearn some habits when moving to another NLE (like transcoding).
That said, any switch involves 'thinking different' so I understand your hesitancy.
Dennis - Adobe guy.
Thanks Dennis. Believe me - we absolutely want to start using Premiere (we have 5.0). Nobody wants Adobe to nail it with CS6 as much as I do.
We've done lots of research into it. Our editors used it in school. The dream of perfect integration with AE should make our lives much easier.
There are some really fantastic possibilities. I just think that there should be much more 'ease of use' included in the Adobe suite of apps.
Here's a great example. Do you want a reflection effect in any apple product (iWeb, iPhoto, motion, etc)? All you need to do is click a single check button. To do it in illustrator, well, there's a 7 step process if you can google some tutorials. Wanna do it in AE? Go buy the plugin RG Warp, or try using all kinds of masks and do it yourself. The point is, it's not simple or easy. These are the types of things that I really want Adobe to focus on. Simplify the interface. Think about adding things like a default dual monitor window setup. Many people who buy your products probably have a dual monitor system.
Let's put it like this. I'm all dressed up and ready for our date this spring, I just need Adobe to buy me the lobster :). Thanks for being on the forums and facing the firing squad. That really does mean something.
Try FCPX for 30 days for free.
I can't speak to what's happening in network TV, but we mostly post indie films, so I get a pretty decent idea of what's being used for various projects there. Basically, nothing has really changed from a year ago. We still see Media Composer and FCP 7 in about the same proportions. We still haven't seen anyone cutting on FCP X or Premiere. Though there are exceptions, people who didn't follow the Internet drama around FCP X seem to largely have a wait-and-see attitude rather than a "Why has Apple forsaken us?" attitude.
In a way, it makes even less sense to make major changes in editing infrastructure now than in the immediate wake of the FCP X announcement. Software-wise, we're substantially closer to the major update that Apple has promised will address most of the feature gaps in the initial FCP X release, and hardware-wise, Thunderbolt is changing the landscape very quickly. If there isn't some extremely pressing need to deploy something new immediately, the most sensible choice is to see how things settle out over the course of this year.
In the meantime, one thing that's settled is that Color is really dead. Learn Resolve; it's what everyone always wanted Color to be anyway, and the free Lite version is sufficient for practically any project that doesn't require 2K, 4K or 3D.
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.
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I think the concern for a majority of network TV companies regarding remaining with legacy FCP7 is continuing to generate projects in a legacy program. While it is true that it still functions, it seems only a matter of time before they pull the plug on support of this 32 bit program. At some point, getting to your legacy projects is going to be a tremendous pain, the compulsion for facilities to migrate to another solution quickly is to mitigate this future problem. While no system is safe from this, why would anyone want to continue to produce projects for the next year while all this shakes out vs. moving onto a company which at least has a viable 64 bit program? Not as much of a problem for smaller independent producers, but a real problem where teams generate substantial quantities of media that will have to be dealt in the immediate future (2-3 years).
I think many larger facilities have moved on from FCS7 with a "wait and see" attitude to what might become of FCPX. That being said, with the substantial investment necessitated by Apple with this release, it's going to be at least 2 years before anyone will even be able to consider FCPX for a facility. If I were planning on working with a facility that had more than 10 editors, I would not waste time with FCPX.
All that being said, if you think you might freelance smaller projects, it wouldn't hurt to have FCPX under your belt. All depends on how you would like to work. If I had to do a startup tomorrow, I might consider FCPX and AVCHD. That being said, in jobs that have specific calls for camera and edit packages, that package will be pretty limiting. FCPX and AVCHD seem quite viable for jobs where equipment is not a consideration, such as many corporate communications jobs, most local productions and most internet projects.
At this point, FCPX is an inbred application capable of doing some jobs, but not really going to be very helpful on many resumes to network TV for quite some time to come.
Add the fact that there are a great many facilities managers that have some pretty strong negative feelings about Apple/FCPX at the moment, and I'm not sure I would even mention the fact you've tried FCPX to many (unless ask). The ham-fisted launch has left many with bitter feelings about this software that sometimes goes beyond the program to the users of the program. Not fair perhaps, but it's there, as evidenced by the archives of this forum.
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[Marvin Holdman] " At some point, getting to your legacy projects is going to be a tremendous pain, the compulsion for facilities to migrate to another solution quickly is to mitigate this future problem."
A major point in the argument for changing systems as soon as possible. The longer you stay with Legacy the more projects you will have to migrate, a process which is rarely without defects.
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf
[Marvin Holdman] "I think the concern for a majority of network TV companies regarding remaining with legacy FCP7 is continuing to generate projects in a legacy program. While it is true that it still functions, it seems only a matter of time before they pull the plug on support of this 32 bit program. At some point, getting to your legacy projects is going to be a tremendous pain, the compulsion for facilities to migrate to another solution quickly is to mitigate this future problem. "
Supporting 32-bit apps on 64-bit systems is a solved problem. Some backwards compatibility features get pulled as soon as possible because it's a hassle to maintain them or their existence requires compromises that negatively impact other aspects of the system, but this isn't really one of those; 64-bit systems are going to support 32-bit apps for a long time. Of course unrelated compatibility problems could crop up with future OS versions. But the fact that FCP 7 can export XML in a format widely understood by other apps (including Premiere) removes many of the risks associated with this.
Anyone interested in risk mitigation is sort of in trouble in this industry anyway.
The risks of adopting FCP X at present are obvious. Apple has said they'll deliver a bunch of additional features, but they haven't done it yet, and there aren't really proven high-end workflows around FCP X so far.
You could go to Media Composer, but the risks of standardizing on software from a company that can't reliably turn a profit are also obvious, and Avid has been on a decade-long downward trajectory that it's not at all clear will end with the end of classic FCP. FCP X could still succeed, or Premiere could simply take over where classic FCP left off eating away at Avid's market.
You could switch to Premiere, but Premiere still doesn't seem to have quite gained acceptance in many segments of the industry, which makes it awkward if you need to work with outside editors, DI facilities, etc. or if you're a facility trying to hire editors. The risk in adopting Premiere is that it's not yet clear when or if this will change.
There's also a certain amount of additional risk with Premiere or Media Composer in that you're betting against Apple, which might not be a great idea given their record of successfully playing the long game, and the promising foundation FCP X provides. You could go out and buy a few $2500 Media Composer licenses and replace your Macs with Wintel machines and then Apple could spend the next two years turning the $300 FCP X into a killer product that dominates the industry by 2016. I think it's fairly likely Apple could do this if they were sufficiently determined, so betting that they won't requires accurately reading their motivations and deciding they're not that determined. Infering motivations like that is a dicy prospect with a company as cagey as Apple.
By the end of the year (probably more toward the middle) several things will be a lot clearer, like whether Premiere will reach critical mass, whether Apple will deliver on its promises of additional pro features for FCP X, whether the Mac Pro will be updated (and how viable Thunderbolt makes iMacs and MacBook Pros as editing machines if it isn't). Given that there are various ways to move FCP 7 timelines to other apps if necessary, I just can't see the 'legacy file format' issue as something that should drive people to make potentially expensive decisions before being able to see where things are going.
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.
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[Chris Kenny] "You could switch to Premiere, but Premiere still doesn't seem to have quite gained acceptance in many segments of the industry, which makes it awkward if you need to work with outside editors, DI facilities, etc. or if you're a facility trying to hire editors. The risk in adopting Premiere is that it's not yet clear when or if this will change."
I won't argue about the statement outright but would point out that the acceptance you speak of is growing quite rapidly. We've had success at major broadcasters(CNN, BBC and Hearst are all public on our website) and film (Avatar, Social Network etc.). There are many more that are in process or are not public (we respect our customers).
So, while I agree that we have room to grow, I do think that we a) are a completely acceptable professional tool b) are growing in the space c) listening to our customers d) intend on supporting them
In the end, when we speak of 45% growth on the Mac (public video), it didn't all come from lower end users. ;-)
Dennis - Adobe guy
Dennis, like many at the crossroads I am watching developments. FCPX doesn't fit my area (pic & sound post on broadcast docos). I need mostly a finishing grading tool to output an onlined final to HDCam (yes so yesterday but it feeds the family).
Can you spill any beans on Speedgrade? Da Vinci beckons whilst Color & FCP7 chugs on.