The Future of Non-Linear Editing?

Posted on by Larry

I received the following email today from someone who needs to remain anonymous. However, I trust them and their opinion and wanted to share their thoughts with you here as a way to continue our discussion.

While I don’t agree with all of this, it does spark an interesting chain of thought.


P.S. I did not write this, nor did I ask it to be written. I have obtained permission to share it with you.

– – –

Apple says that FCP X is about the future of NLE. After thinking about it, I think they are right.

It’s not just about the GUI or features per se… but the fact that our culture is going mobile and our work along with it. A new generation is growing up and moving them from iMovie to FCPX will be easy. Also the new generation will invent their own workflows and their own content and their own way of doing things. Apple may have jumped the gun in a way that made it impossible for a percentage of the current editing community to go along, but those folks are not the future. Not in the same way a 16-year-old iMovie whiz is.

Look at the big picture. Sales of standard PCs have fallen while portable products have been flying off the shelves. This is no fad, it’s the future.

Watch as the system requirements for NLE on the Apple side look more and more lean. Apple owns both hardware and OS, my bet is that they will leverage that to guarantee they are ahead of the curve in performance requiring smaller and smaller hardware overhead. It’s in this way, as the new generation of editors comes up, FCP will take back it’s place as the de facto platform for any level of project. I’m absolutely convinced (as is Apple) that sooner than you think, a teenager today will be working on an episode of “Extreme _____ Makeover” using an iPad__ with lots of storage on board. I already saw someone using an iPad as a 2nd display for FCP X and how some functions were already touch screen enabled. Those pissed off edit suite owners may be pissed off at what Apple has done, but just wait till all those up-and-coming digital kids start to see those very expensive edit suites as dinosaur grave yards.

That’s where Apple is headed and a powerful, sleek FCP that uses iCloud technology along with all the other new technologies is where the future really is. Does anyone remember those $250,000 edit suites that got replaced by a $1,300.00 Final Cut Studio, back in the day? Well, Apple is doing it again with one major change, this time they are obsoleting themselves before someone else does.

It really is the future, or at least it’s headed in that direction.

109 Responses to The Future of Non-Linear Editing?

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  1. Dick Applebaum says:

    Here’s a look at editing from a different perspective — the prospective of one who employs the pros to do editing.

    This is from a friend who is a high-level executive at one of the major TV Broadcast Networks. I asked for some feedback on FCPX vs FCP 7:


    “FCP is actually a powerful program but I still think iMovie does the job for most less than 10 minutes productions. Its real value is revealed when using After Effects or Motion, integrated tight in the production. Content is still king and video ‘direction’ makes a video look pro… not really the ‘editing’ tools in most cases.

    If you ever travel to NY I would love to give you a tour of some of the edit suites and see how the product is integrated in the workflow. FCP is not the main edit tool, however as a FCP fan you will see its value when connected to graphic virtual sets and tapeless video ingest servers. Pretty amazing in capable hands. But you will also see how simple on & off-line systems (equiv. to iMovie) does the bulk of the work.”


    What really surprised me was:

    ” I still think iMovie does the job for most less than 10 minutes productions”


    “simple on & off-line systems (equiv. to iMovie) does the bulk of the work.”


    In my research on FCP 7 and FCPX, I have read multiple tales of when FCP was the “new kid on the block” — competing with the entrenched pro products costing 100 or 200 times as much.

    I suspect that many, of today’s FCP 7 pros were early pioneers of FCP 1.0 — and were able to deliver a product faster and at lower cost that was “good enough” * to compete with the establishment..

    * sometimes they were able to deliver a superior product or one not practical with the entrenched technology.


    The executive quoted above says that iMovie is used for most jobs of 10 minutes or less and that iMovie equivalents do the bulk of their work.

    They employ lots of professional editors.


    What will happen to “today’s editing pros” when the iMovie equivalent is used for the bulk of work for 30-minute productions? 60-minute productions?


    I am not suggesting that all pro editing will be done with iMovie — rather, that an evolving FCP X which combining FCP editing power with the speed and accessability of iMovie — this could satisfy many video production needs.


    I guess the question is: “Will FCPX be good enough?”

    To quote my friend: “The word came back. FCP X is a winner. “

    • Larry says:


      These comments certainly piqued my interest, because they seem to contradict what I’m hearing from other sources. Especially when (he) mentions that iMovie is being used for programs shorter than 10 minutes.

      I am very doubtful about that. It, perhaps, suggests to me that this executive is not as familiar with their edit suites as (he) would like to pretend.

      On the other hand, I could be wrong.

      Where I do agree with you is that video editing is evolving quickly and the way we edit in two years will not be the same way we edit now. What we will be editing with, however, remains an open question.


  2. Dick Applebaum says:


    My friend has the props — so I don’t question the evaluation. I don’t think the statements come from a technical perspective — rather, from one who is responsible for the profit of the product.

    I certainly will yield to your greater knowledge and connections within the industry — no question there!

    However, pragmatically, it depends on who pays the bills and what they are willing to pay — and, for what!

    • Larry says:


      Thanks – sorry to have challenged the knowledge of your source. And the person holding the checkbook always has a large say in the matter.


  3. Don B says:

    For everyone holding up the idea that editors need to “embrace the future,” or that the former FCS represents the “dark days of the past,” please check out the article below from It nicely sums up the breadth of damage that Apple has leveled upon a large number of loyal customers with it’s secretive, arrogant dismissal of a product line that was essential to the livelihood of this community. Apple made no provision whatsoever for these people in their years-long effort to “change everything!” And that’s the problem.

    If you love iMovie Pro (aka FCP-ex), good for you. But if you don’t understand by now that it’s not just about the program, you’re missing the point.

    “Is the trust for Apple gone for good?”

  4. Nivardo Cavalcante says:

    The Final Cut!!!

  5. Floris says:

    You can say what you want:

    40 days have past and everyone is still talking about Final Cut Pro X. 40 days is the time required to turn actions into habits. So I guess there will be a lot of talking about Final Cut Pro X.

    I think the big question is:
    – When will Final Cut Pro X be good enough? It might take a year or two but it will get there.

    Shifting paradigms is hard and takes time. The fact that everyone is still discussing here means that (1) people greatly care about Final Cut Pro / X and (2) they haven’t abandoned it.

    I am every eager to find out what the first update will bring!

  6. Nivardo Cavalcante says:


    really, it takes [a long time for a] disaster to be forgotten.

  7. Eric Wise says:

    I think Floris is right about it taking a couple of years before the dust settles on FCPX. A lot of editors I know are waiting on the sidelines and sticking with FCP 7 for as long as they can. But they are gonna have to make a decision when eventually new (or updated) “must have” software or hardware EOLs or reduces the effectiveness of FCP 7. Then a lot of the debate will start anew. But as FCP X jobs start to bubble up on job sites, editors are going to have to decide if not learning X is worth leaving money on the table. Maybe some will draw a line in the stand but others may reluctantly be forced to learn it. And as someone who has been using FCP / Avid for years and is learning FCP X, it’s definitely like learning to walk again. But that said, some of the new features are growing on me. Interesting times…

  8. Brandon Ford says:

    Hello Larry and everyone else. After feeling betrayed and ignored by Apple over the release of FCPX, I have finally calmed down, gathered my thoughts and here is what I think if anyone cares. The art and craft of editing is storytelling period! Tools are tools, it’s the individual creativity that matters (or team collaboration). Most working editors know the benefit of knowing more than one NLE, yes everyone has their favorite but at the end of the day it’s about productivity and a paycheck. I have been with Final Cut since version 2, it was Final Cut that brought me to the Mac platform. Actually now that I look back at it, I am glad to an extent that Apple did what they did, because it forced me and many others to take a hard look at other alternatives, and suprisingly there are some really nice alternatives out there! Premiere Pro rocks, Avid had always been solid, MC 6 looks very nice, Smoke for Mac is a tank, and DaVinci is killer (speaking of a full Color replacement) so all in all I personally feel like the blinders have been taken off, and now I am seeing clearly. Yes, the future is changing and the 16 something’s will be the next crop of editors, however, the industry has specific needs, and although it may be a small market it carries the most influence. Yes the industry has changed, the preditor mentality (producer, editor, one man band) is cool and everything, however there is still an understood way of doing things and that will not change anytime soon, I am sure it will change at some point, but that point is not today. Tape is not dead, it mat be limping but it’s not dead, just ask major companies like ESPN, it is actually funny in a way, in today’s terms everything is shot tapeless however you but then everything is stored to an LTO tape system? Crazy, DVD’s are not dead, no matter how much Apple wants it to be, real world example, you shoot a wedding, the couple pays you 6-8K for the wedding then they want their wedding video, and you say oh yeah it’s on the cloud go check it out, oh sorry I cannot make a DVD, how do you think that conversation is going to go, that is just a tiny example, I could go on, but my point was simply to all the working professionals, there are other options and tools are tools, we will be fine and continue making fantastic content. Keep your heads up. Those are some of my thoughts right or wrong, just my thoughts. Take care everyone.

  9. Nivardo Cavalcante says:


    I totally agree with your point of view.

  10. Stace Carter says:

    Larry, thanks for sharing this. I have a foot in both worlds – pro editing and teaching at a University, and can tell you that our students (the pros of tomorrow) are demanding different things than the pros of today. They expect computers and software to work differently. As painful as the transition is to “X” for me (old habits, etc.) I can already see that the designers have been studying my students, and are anticipating their needs into the future.

    It’s always good to have something new to learn 😉

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