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Re: FCP X features or lack thereof. Your opinion on the rationale.

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Tim Wilson
Re: FCP X features or lack thereof. Your opinion on the rationale.
on Nov 27, 2016 at 8:37:03 pm

[Robin S. Kurz] "[Tangier Clarke] "Is it merely Apple's intent is to provide the brain (FCP X) and let the third party developers provide the choice to the masses? "

Yepp. And that's a brilliant strategy, too, imho."


I agree. I'd like to see even more of it. There are only a handful of core features that cover most editing scenarios, so they invested their energy exactly where they should have: organization, interface, and the heart of "the experience".

After the NAB presentation in 2011, and before we got the release, I speculated about -- AND HOPED FOR -- a scenario where Apple did virtually nothing BUT the core. I imagined -- AND HOPED FOR -- being able to buy something like a codec pack from the camera manufacturer as an in-app purchase. Why wait for Apple to build in support for the 99K Ginormo camera some time in the next year...or more...when Ginormo has that codec ready TODAY, and could supply it INSTANTLY...if Apple had a structure that allowed it.

In fact, long after the release, I've continued to advocate for even more of this than is out there....but I'm really glad that they've stuck to this basic strategy. Keep the heart of the experience lean, mean, and fast, and let third-party developers provide functions that look like niches to the world at large, but are life-and-death within our niche. Leave that development in the hands of people for whom it's their whole world, and it will inevitably work better than what ANY host developer (not just Apple) could ever hope for.

The irony is that when host developers half-ass some feature or another that sort-of covers some of the features in a third-party plug-in or helper app, it can sometimes be enough to kill that much, much better alternative. The third-party developer's opportunity to monetize their efforts can become so choked off that they have to walk away from growing the product.

So it's critical for the development of core features for THIS market that Apple NOT be the ones developing those features!

Again, no criticism of Apple implied. It's true for ALL host developers. Build robust platforms for third parties, then leave them alone to do their jobs.

After Effects is one product that got this right in spades: an incredibly robust plug-in architecture, plus scripting, expressions, and other tools to easily enable custom functions that maybe only a handful of people in the whole world might need, but they do need.

Speaking of which, the After Effects Expressions forum has been one of our top 10 since we opened it. Depending on what's happening in the world, it can slip into the top 5. Don't for a minute underestimate the importance of this.

To put it another way, one of the most critical core features of After Effects is its extensibility for other people to go beyond its core features!

(As a former developer of third-party effects when I was at Boris FX, for whom I DO NOT speak on this count, the one area where I'm most underwhelmed is with X's support for a third-party effects architecture. The Noise Industries/FX Factory ecosystem certainly does a remarkable job with this...but I sat across from Gabriele de Simone at Boris FX when he was developing what became FX Factory...and I moved into his much nicer office when he left to go solo LOL...and I'm telling you that he was doing even more in his development tools over a dozen years ago than Apple's plug-in architecture allows today.

Likewise, not speaking for Gabe either of course...but as still a somewhat interested observer, this is one area where I feel that Apple is well behind the rest of the industry, and would have a fairly easy time jumping way ahead if they wanted to -- not building these features themselves, but building better hooks.)

Admittedly, Adobe is playing a different game than Apple, and its understanding of "core features" and "target markets" is inevitably vastly vaster. All the more remarkable, though, that as massive as their "core" feature sets become, Adobe is still deeply committed to third parties.

Which, coming back around, should not be taken as a criticism of today's Apple in general, or FCPX in particular. Apple was once justifiably famous for eating its young. Steve resented anyone making money from Apple that Apple wasn't getting a slice of in return (user groups and sites like ours included), and Apple famously bought and let atrophy a significant handful of products and technologies that our entire market would have benefited from Apple just keeping their hands off.

So it heartens me that this appears to be holding up as Apple's modus operandus for FCPX. I still want more. I want scripting, I want in-app codec packs, more robust effects hooks, and the like, blooming like a thousand flowers.


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