In the last article I wrote back in February I optimistically speculated on the future of Final Cut Pro. I argued that despite the dispair and fear of the future there was very good reason to be excited about what we now knew Apple must be working on. We learned that a select few professional editors had been called in to consult on the next version of Final Cut Pro. It was certain to be modern, slick, and amazing. Sure, there would be changes, but Apple already made the best editing software on the planet and they were certainly going to release something even better.
However as the weeks went by rumours started apperaring about Apple creating a version that didn't recognize tape workflow, that was "dumbed down", that was "iMovie Pro", and again, if you read my postings on the forum you will know I remained optimistic. After all, how could Apple possibly not release a professional editing tool while continuing to use professional editors to promote their software. The next version was certain to be "awesome", just as Steve Jobs had written.
Shortly before the NAB Show in April we heard rumours that Apple was buying out the FCPUG Supermeet, unceremoniously replacing the major sponsors including AVID and Adobe. This had to be HUGE! Apple was going to fly in and to the largest gathering of Final Cut Pro editors ON THE PLANET and show us something spectacular! Amazing! Jaw dropping! An AVID and Adobe killer combined for certain. After all, how could they not, it's Apple we're talking about!
But there were also these nagging rumours still. Not professional, dumbed down, iMovie Pro. Rumours that Final Cut Studio was dead. Rumours that Final Cut Server was dead. I lead the ranks of the optimists, of the wait-and-see: Apple will not let us down.
I was there at the 10th Annual FCPUG Supermeet, along with a more-than-sold-out crowd and a large number of Apple executives. The energy was as high as I have ever seen it; expectations and dreams were whispered of and it sounded like a group of 10 year-olds on Christmas Eve. Then the presentation started and we saw.... Well, it was curious in that in a room full of 1200+ people it seems at least half a dozen different presentations were seen. Reaction ranged from "Wow, that's amazing" to "Apple has totally screwed us" and I have to say for the first time in my life with Apple, which reaches back to the early 80's, I was closer to the latter than the former. Still, we were told to wait-and-see.
We are still being told to "wait-and-see". Apple released Final Cut Pro X and it is an application that has no possible use in any professional environment I can imagine. Yes, it's 64-bit. Yes, it's modern, taking advantage of all your computer's cores and GPUs and memory like almost no other software on the market. And it's cheap. But it is also locked in a box by itself, completely cut off from the Final Cut Studio that proceeded it, and for the most part from the rest of the post production world. Somehow Apple completely missed the fact that editors do not make finished products by themselves. Now some argue that the prosumer market demand will out-weigh the almost complete loss of professional editors, but it has been five months since the release of Final Cut Pro and....
How's that working out for you, Apple?
I have been an Apple Certified Trainer for Final Cut Pro since 2002, one of the first in the world, and I am now working my butt off (while working on a major television series seen in 118 countries) trying to catch up on the world of AVID and Adobe because I know that is what my next show is going to be cut on. I am helping to build suites for two other shows and I can tell you that neither in investing in the end-of-life FCP 7 nor the unusable-for-television FCP X. I have even resisted getting recertified as a Trainer for FCP X because in all good consciousness I cannot recommend it to anyone for anything but home movies. If my students have to learn a whole new software package (which FCP X is) would they not be better learning something they could hope to get a job using?
Apple, almost none of the people I know are playing "wait-and-see" anymore, they are not waiting and hoping you make FCP X functional. Schools, collages and universities are not going to switch to FCP X. Both Adobe and AVID have been aggressively courting Final Cut Pro users and many, like me, have taken advantage of some great crossgrade prices. Even our Calgary Final Cut Pro Users Group now regularly discussing the options available outside of FCP X. In a few short months Apple went from leading the post production world to being largely irrelevent, at least on the software side.