Is There Something In The Wind?

Posted on by Larry

UPDATE: Philip Hodgetts was the first to point out that Apple updated FCP X to version 10.0.8 this morning. The release notes indicate that it is mostly a bug fix release, with new support for Sony’s XAVC codec. The update is free and available via the Mac App Store.

There is an article in this morning’s Los Angeles Times. It was about Apple, which isn’t unusual. However, it was about Final Cut Pro X, which IS unusual.

Is there something in the wind?

The article, entitled “Apple aims to win over video editors,” takes a look back at the stormy reaction to the birth of Final Cut Pro X where the launch, and the highly-charged negative reactions to it, completely over-shadowed the program itself.

Chris O’Brien, the article’s author, does a solid job of capturing the anguish of FCP editors over the new software. (Though, as a quibble, in the thousands of emails I’ve gotten on this subject, I’ve never had one person complain about the new, lower price.) I won’t rehash the article here, it is well-written and deserves to be read on its own.

The question I want to reflect on is “Why this article now?” Is this simply a reporter covering an industry leader, or, did Apple plant a seed?

As someone who has had many interactions with Apple executives over the years, I’ve learned that Apple does not do anything spontaneously. They are strategic, with time-scales often measured in years. This strategic focus doesn’t make them perfect, but it does prevent them from being impulsive.

Why now?

The answer, I think, lies in the calendar. Tennyson may have written: “In the spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” But in the media industry, spring means the NAB Show – that massive industry event that heralds the release of new versions of just about everything related to media. Every company on the planet is trying to think up ways to get their voice heard and their products considered.

Our entire industry is focused on the NAB Show, which starts in a little more than a week in Las Vegas. Apple hasn’t exhibited at NAB for more than five years, but it’s presence is palpable across the trade show floor. It’s the 800-pound gorilla that few talk about, but can’t live without.

Many companies like to think they play the role of disruptor in the industry. But no one causes chaos quite like Apple.

Consider that while the Times article is crammed with a solid look back at the history of the program, the news hook is the posting of three new customer stories showcasing high-end customers successfully using Final Cut Pro X. The rest of the article rehashes past events.

No new products. No new hardware. Just Apple’s announcement about posting customer success stories.

NOTE It is interesting to me that, while the article references Richard Townhill, who was the face of Final Cut Pro X at the launch, no Apple executives were actually quoted in the article.

What Could This Mean?

Unlike when FCP X was announced, I am not privy to any inside Apple information, so these are just informed guesses.

Does this presage a return to an “updated” version of Final Cut Pro 7? Absolutely not. That program is dead and gone.

Does this indicate that Apple is getting ready to release an entirely new version of Final Cut Pro X – such as FCP 11? No. Apple has bet the ranch on continuing to evolve this edition of FCP X for the next several years.

Apple could release a new update to FCP X in the days leading up to NAB. This would dominate the news when every other company in our industry is scrambling to be heard. But I don’t think this is likely. It would make more sense to appear to be doing something, but to wait until after NAB to actually do it.

I expect the next update to Final Cut Pro X to contain major new features, but be built on the same foundation as the current FCP X. I also think it is likely that a new, supporting application will be released at the same time. Logic is the application that comes first to mind, as audio is still a major hole in FCP X.

I think the purpose of this article is to acknowledge that Apple is aware of the damage it caused at the launch, to point out the things that it is doing to repair the damage, and to clearly state that Apple feels Final Cut Pro X is ready for professional use, as illustrated by the customers that are using it today.

The LA Times article ends by quoting Harry Miller, head of the American Cinema Editor’s technology committee: “We are in a precarious business…”

Precarious indeed. Perhaps Apple is trying to reassure us that it better understands that.

As always, I’m interested in your thoughts.


48 Responses to Is There Something In The Wind?

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  1. nickeditor says:

    Nop, that’s the reason why I am making those questions

    That XML is also compatible with another applications (Nuke, etc)?

    But after two years, isn’t it sufficient time to simplify and include it in Final Cut X?

    • Larry says:


      We need to move this conversation outside of this blog.

      It is up to each application developer to decide what XML version to support. XML is like the letters of the alphabet – they can be combined into a variety of different languages. For example, Blackmagic Design supports FCP X XML in DaVinci Resolve. Nuke decided in 2011 to release their XML import script into the public domain and leave it up to individual developers. As they stated in their blog: “… it was impossible for us to improve the script [such that] it suits all needs.” Many other developers supports the FCP 7 version of XML. In which case, the Xto7 utility can convert FCP X XML into FCP 7 format.

      No one is saying that FCP X is supported by all applications everywhere. If Nuke is critical to your editing, then FCP X is not for you.


    • Larry says:

      Thanks, Leo.

      I did a quick Google search for this utility when I was writing to Nick, but couldn’t find any reference to it. In general, Apple provides developers with the ability to support FCP X XML — but the decision on whether to implement this is up to each developer; or, in this case, independent programmers.


  2. Caesar Darias says:

    Regarding the Blu-ray discussion: I also want more BR capability in X.

    I used DVD Studio Pro all the time. It was great. Before that I used iDVD. It also worked great. You could drag virtually anything into iDVD- regardless of camera used- and it would compress it perfectly.

    I’ve burned a Blu-ray project using FCP X. It worked. However, it was painfully slow. It took more than six hours to get my first disc. Granted, the TRT was over an hour (1:18) of 1080p video that was “optimized” on ingest.

    As far as I know, you can only use BR directly from X. You can’t use Compressor then burn to BR.

    And as I’ve stated before, other than attaching an HD antenna to your 50-plus inch TV, Blu-ray will get you the highest quality TV picture to play back your content on your large TV.

    BR is what people want. I saw a Blu-ray player at Best Buy this month for about $80.

    When it comes to FCP, Apple needs to stop taking one step back every time it takes one step forward.

    Dear Apple: Add, update, enhance and revise. Don’t subtract.

  3. nickeditor says:

    Thank you both

    For long time I’m not aware of Final Cut X updates with detail

    Sorry if I disrespected someone, I did not mean


    • Larry says:


      Thanks – no apology necessary. FCP X is changing rapidly. I study it on a daily basis and am always learning something new.

      No harm in asking questions – the key is to remember that no software stands still.


  4. Steve Marshall says:

    I am unable to try FCPX to determine if it is great or not… Not until I know that it can export audio to OMF or AAF, and that every piece of audio will end up on specific tracks without. Further more I need to be reassured that I can just start editing without having to enter meta date – it may be the future but for me it will slow me down – I get a brief from a producer/director and make time code references or clip number notes on my script, and then I need to get to work. Finally I don’t want clients to have easy access to seeing my list of other projects/clients when they sitting next to me.

    • Larry says:


      All reasonable requests. Here are the answers:
      1. X2Pro, from Marquis Software, handles moving audio files from FCP X to ProTools and back. Check out their website for all the details.
      2. Correct. Metadata can be added at any time, it is not required to be added prior to an edit starting. In fact, you can easily edit without adding any metadata.
      3. You can easily view source timecode using the Event Browser.
      4. You can easily move projects (edits) and media (Events) into or out of FCP X so clients only see their work. You can do this manually or with a utility like Event Manager X.


      P.S. Apple is still offering a 30-day free trial of the application, so you can experiment risk-free.

  5. Clayton says:

    If Apple’s original FCPX miss-step was due to a lack of resources to spread around, we would have understood. However we know that even as of today, their market cap is around 416 Billion. Making them the second most valuable company. No other company now selling NLE software is even in the same universe. So all Apple need do is simply “decide” and re-commit and their off to the races. They could package FCPX with a new qualifying Mac for $49.95 and for twice as long as it would take to cripple the competition.

    Heck they could buy Adobe outright, keep it branded Adobe, keep selling for both Mac and PC but offer the Mac version of Premiere Pro for $99 with the purchase of a new a Mac and just watch what happens.

    When your debt free and have that much money, you have choices, you just have to decide. We’ll see.

  6. Marcus Moore says:

    @Clayton Money isn’t always the solution to coding applications. “Too many cooks in the kitchen” applies here too.

    With 10.0.8 being mainly a maintenance update, I’m particularly intrigued about what they might announce over the next few days.

    I’m sure Larry will have a ring-side seat and will give us a full report.

  7. Craig says:

    Apparently nothing in the wind.

    From what I understand the press briefing happened and it may be that nothing was reported out of what one might find on Apple’s “In Action” page.

  8. Butch says:

    @Craig I’m not going to hammer on the DVD/BR versus streaming point much, but at this point it’s getting as hard to have your work noticed licensing your stuff to “indie” streaming companies as it is getting noticed on Youtube. For a lot of projects you may your audience better than the streaming company you’re paying to know your audience.

    As for the updated, networked FCS X…I’m not really confident that it’s in the offing. Apple could have pre-announced the development of FCS in the “X” variety at any point to begin to stem the gushing flows of users to Premiere, Avid, smoke etc. but they haven’t done that. They could have made FCS3 permanently available with OS fixes until FCSX was ready to ship, if that was in the cards, but they haven’t done that. It really doesn’t take industry professional advice to analyze the fact that the company had 2 million users with the previous iteration of a product and now with the “better” version there’s probably less than a hundred thousand users after two years and probably less than a quarter of those users actually use FCPX as their primary editing solution…it’s not rocket science to figure out what’s wrong.

    @Marcus Moore It’s not about me or you being right or wrong it’s about numbers at this point. As I just pointed out with one product release Apple cut their own market share probably by 90%. It’s fine that some people are enjoying working with FCPX, but for that to happen 90% of the rest of the FCS/FCP users got jammed.

    Apple had been jamming Adobe for years, so now Adobe is pretty clear about what the customers want and are doing a pretty good job of emulating what was successful about Apple’s FCS strategy. The thing is it’s great to interchange with third party apps, but it’s pretty much a certainty that there will be a point where companies head down forked paths and the apps to work well or don’t work well together at all and it’s the editor/”post-production specialist” that’s left holding the ball. It’s nice to have full application capability in all discipline areas that are required to finish projects whether it’s alternate options for one or multiple people that generally work in another app.

    Ultimately, after two years of rejection of FCP X by many FCS customers it should be clear to Apple that they are on the wrong path and it doesn’t seem like it is. For the people that like FCPX, great carry on for everybody else enjoy the Adobe post-production suite as it keeps getting better.

    • Larry says:


      These are all good comments. I would make only one change. Last week, I learned from Apple that they have sold more seats of FCP X than they have of FCP 7.

      I asked if I could quote that and they said “Yes.”


  9. Craig says:

    In addition to Larry’s comments about FCPX vs FCP7 sales I’d note (at least in the US app store):

    FCPX is the number 2 top Grossing app behind only Mountain Lion and ahead of Pages.

    It is the number 12 top Paid app just ahead of Pixelmator.

    While it’s hard to discern the rankings relative to “hard” numbers, clearly FCPX is selling well.

    @Butch you can certainly make DVD and Blu-ray copies of your work FCPX and Compressor support that. They don’t support many authoring features beyond menus. There’s absolutely nothing preventing you from DVD/Blu-ray distribution. The metrics of sales and rentals do bear out that online VOD is surpassing disc though.

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