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A Former Avid Employee’s Thoughts On FCPX

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jon smitherton
A Former Avid Employee’s Thoughts On FCPX
on Jul 7, 2011 at 8:47:33 am

" Mike Bernardo: Even though the FCPX rollout seemingly exposes Apple’s hubris, I’m glad they did it. They seem to be the only company capable of pushing boundaries. I have no doubt FCPX will eventually catch up to where FCP7 was in terms of features and capability.

I worked at Avid for a few years so I can feel Apple’s pain with this release. :)

When I was at Avid, I worked on a few internal projects trying to solve this exact problem – we saw Apple coming after us from the low end and knew it was only a matter of time before they reached Avid’s capabilities.

We worked on building “next generation” editor software. New UI, new technical foundation that would take advantage of multiple CPUs and GPUs. Unfortunately these efforts ultimately went nowhere, since the company as a whole was too timid and worried about disenfranchising the existing customer base – exactly the problem Apple is facing now.

But even back then at Avid the transition plan was clear – create a “new” editor that didn’t necessarily do everything that the flagship editors could, but pointed at a future direction that would eventually subsume the antiquated version. Both versions would be developed and maintained over time. We knew we couldn’t just throw away all our users’ investment in the current apps, which is essentially what Apple just did. "

"The bigger concern I would have if I were at Avid would be that it appears Apple is again trying to leapfrog their competition with a new paradigm for video editing. Avid’s interface was already showing its age, and now it’s only going to appear more antiquated in the eyes of young editors growing up on FCPX."

Food for thought.


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Tangier Clarke
Re: A Former Avid Employee’s Thoughts On FCPX
on Jul 7, 2011 at 3:48:22 pm

[A reposting of combined comments I left on other forums I thought fit your discussion]:

I make my living as an editor and on FCS. Sure, I am disappointed, but really like FCP X and have seen tremendous benefits in my workflow and for my job's near-term projects. I don't think that Apple is abandoning the pro. In fact, I have a problem with that term as I think it's a subjective and inconsistent in use. Perhaps Apple is reimagining what that pro (which includes prosumer) editorial space is and making the change now as it projects it's software and hardware goals in the coming years.

As for people jumping ship - it's going to happen without a doubt. Always does and always will as people don't want to accept change and the methods/motives behind it. I believe Apple will make up for those it loses in grand number and FCPX will be a trojan horse app in the long run in the way the iphone and iPad have been. It's been said that the big companies and studios and such will be the only home for pros (in paraphrase) , but as with iphones and iPads, when the vast numbers of people using FCPX and subsequent iterations, it's vast array of third party hooks, and the hardware that people will certainly want, I think it will be the business that will have to cave in to the populous to a certain (not necessarily total) extent. We're seeing that now. The iPhone and iPad has infiltrated business and IT departments where people thought it never would or could because they've become excellent personal devices and business devices. Not necessarily the best, but the preferred. FCP 1-7 had the same affect actually.

Believe me, FCPX did not meet my expectations, but in many ways it exceeded them and gave me a new way to perceive how I leverage information in my editorial workflow. Aside from learning new key commands, this version of FCP is akin to how I felt about Motion when it first came out - I could just work and not have the software in my face so much. I could play and experiment more and focus more on the creativity.

My FCP 7 still works. My Multibridge Pro 2 still works. I am not jumping ship just yet. I am admittedly hopeful and yet still wary of what my or may not come. Though with the power of computers these days, the sophistication of even simple AV and imaging tools, and general accessibility of communication tools and of course the internet, it's increasingly hard for studios to compete with a competent person or persons with their own gear and Apple knows this. Studios of many sizes have already downsized and closed for this very reason.

I like to think that's there's "pros" in many spaces of content creation. As technology levels the playing field even further and will continue to do so, FCP X on it's own doesn't need to be everything, but it Should be accessible to all these spaces via third party hooks. Think of it like iphone/iPad apps. Who would have thought that having mega applications on our desktops that do so much would be trickle down to having simple apps that just do specific things we need done and do it well.

Part of what I love about this industry is that it's constantly changing. That's what makes it fun. That what keeps me learning. Don't get me wrong, I've been looking at that Pr icon in my production suite with an itchy finger, but just out of curiosity to see what other's are talking about. I am having more fun learning FCPX cause it's new and shiny and stuff!

Perhaps we can think of this release like the release of the Wii. Nintendo decidedly realized and enacted on the fact that they didn't have to make the most powerful system. Frankly there wasn't enough market penetration of HD televisions to warrant the expense of a heftier system. They decided to rethink how gameplay happens; the human interaction and experience. Low and behold, Wii sales trumped PS3 and XBOX 360 combined for a while and yet it was a technically inferior system. It didn't have to do everything, be the most powerful, play movies, or be loved by hardcore gamers to qualify it as a competitive system. Nintendo brought people to gaming who never played and never thought they would. Nintendo shocked the world and many nay-sayers with their inferior-system-that-could and just like FCPX, people screamed bloody murder about how Nintendo screwed up big time and the screamed very prematurely

This is perhaps one way to perceive Apple's FCPX and if you really think about it, it is what happened with Final Cut Pro prior to X. FCPX represents a new paradigm in editorial and it's relationship to digital acquisition, organization, and delivery. It is a NOW application that is unfinished with it's sites on the future. The old stuff will be rolled in later or brought to you by a third party near you.

Apple (in my opinion) did not abandon the pro. I can't make that assertion yet and I am actively using FCPX by the way. Rather, Apple built an application that can be applied to many differing "pro" spaces that's more accessible, prepared for the future, and of course to sell it's hardware - not to mention that there's so many overt implications of FCP X being primed for touch interactivity (whether this manifests or not).

Sure I'm not happy about a few things that just really make FCPX an inconvenience, but so far I am really enjoying it and significantly more productive with it. Though I don't deliver on tape much anymore so I recognize how this is a problem for many.



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