One of the problems of being in the middle is that I can see both sides. I don’t necessarily agree with them, but I can appreciate their point of view.
My blog this morning – Who’s Accountable – touched a nerve because, in addition to the people that commented directly on the blog, I’ve also had several private conversations with Apple and people who are very, very upset with Apple.
What’s become obvious over the last week, is that the way the Final Cut Pro X launch was handled has totally overshadowed the features of Final Cut Pro X.
Over the last several days, I’ve been consumed with trying to decide what to do – stay with Final Cut or move to another platform. If I switch, what do I switch to? What advice should I give to others trying to make the same choice?
As my office will attest, all this internal debating has not made me a pleasant person to be around.
Let me share my thinking with you — then, you can decide for yourself whether you agree or disagree.
First, let me say that I think the launch of Final Cut Pro X was very badly handled. As I’ve written, I don’t think Apple needed to cancel Final Cut Studio (3) as abruptly and coldly as they did. They should have given us more time to make an orderly transition. They were thinking as a technology company, not as editors managing a decade of assets.
Canceling Final Cut Server, even though it was incompatible with Final Cut Pro X, has unnecessarily jeopardized companies building a business on that platform.
Apple never does things accidentally, so they will disagree with me. Probably strongly disagree… I remember a remark one of the people at Apple told me before the launch, in that they were expecting a lot of controversy over the new version of Final Cut Pro.
Well, we can certainly agree about that.
I also think that Apple seriously erred in not providing a conversion utility between Final Cut Pro 7 and FCP X. The one-two punch of canceling FCS (3) and an inability to convert old projects dominated the discussion far more than the merits of FCP X.
Apple will disagree, but the launch did not take the feelings and passion of editors properly into account. And damage was done.
On the other hand, there are some very cool new features in Final Cut Pro X. Some editors are writing and telling me how much they are enjoying the new program. (Just as other editors are writing to tell me, at length, why they are moving to Avid or Adobe.)
There’s a lot of passion on both sides. And both sides have some truth behind them.
But, let’s look at a few more points:
* Apple said in their presentation at NAB that FCP X redefines video editing for the next ten years. There is lots of additional development planned.
* Apple told me that because FCP X is distributed via the App Store, they can update the program much more frequently than when it was sold as a package on DVD.
* Apple wrote in their FAQ that they are already working on adding new features, such as XML and multicam, to the product and releasing updates quickly.
* Apple has stressed that FCP X is designed to provide a feature set for professionals, and not just as an upgrade for iMovie. (I am not saying they MET the needs of professionals, but a look at the architecture of FCP X reveals features that no iMovie user would ever need.)
* However, it is also self-evident that Apple needed to provide a clear and consistent upgrade path to iMovie users who were totally lost trying to understand how Final Cut Express works. Apple feels that it is possible for one product to meet both needs.
As I wrote in an earlier blog – Moving Forward – the first rule of business is to stay in business. All of us should keep an eye on our options. Check out what Avid, Adobe, and Media 100 are offering. If you feel you can’t wait, then switch.
But I would also suggest that many of us would benefit by taking a deep breath and giving Apple a chance to live up to their promises for the program.
Final Cut Studio (3) still works.
It took Avid, Adobe, and Apple many years to evolve their programs to their current feature set. I’m willing to give Apple a few months to get their act together and fix what’s broken with FCP X.
I’m going to stay with Final Cut Pro for a while. Work at learning the new version. Give feedback to Apple on what they need to do to improve things. And share what I learn with you.
Final Cut Pro X has a lot of exciting potential – but, for many of us, that potential is not yet realized.
The burden is on Apple to deliver on their promises, update the program quickly, and repair the damage they did during the launch. The proof is in the program.
If they succeed, great. If not, Avid and Adobe will still be around in six months.
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