Angry Robot

Final Cut Pro X Updated

For free, to add a few features:

The non-linear editing program was initially launched to protests by the pro-editing community, but Version 10.0.3 addresses nearly all of the remaining criticisms of the post-production tool, adding multicam support, external broadcast monitoring (still a beta feature), and detailed chroma-key controls. And perhaps the biggest criticism—the lack of an upgrade path for projects built into previous Final Cut versions—has now been addressed by a third-party plugin called 7toX, from Intelligent Assistance.

Happy now, internet?

The recent fear and loathing about Apple dropping the “pro” market was based on two things: the perceived dumbing-down of FCP, and the neglect of the Mac Pro. It never made sense to me though. Why would Apple bother with a huge, from-scratch rewrite of Final Cut if it planned to ditch it?

The speculation was that since it a) borrowed some interface from iMovie, b) contained some DSLR-friendly features, c) was drastically cheaper, and d) was missing a bunch of features, that Apple was targeting “prosumers” (shudder) and not “pros”.

a) If the same people who rethought iMovie a few years back were doing the same to FCP, it follows that some interface will be shared. If they’ve figured out better interfaces for editing, they’re going to want to use them. As I stated before, traditional editing software packages (NLEs) are based on a tape-to-tape interface metaphor which isn’t helping anyone anymore. We should be happy that Apple is trying to improve it.

b) DSLR workflow is a file-based workflow, which is obviously the future. Things like background transcoding and auto-sync are just plain handy for whichever files you are importing, whether prosumer like AVCHD or pro like Redcode.

c) FCP X is $300 to Final Cut Suite’s $1000. Suite contained extra software like Colour and Soundtrack that Apple no longer offers (it has folded some features of these apps into FCP itself). It also contained Motion and Compressor, which Apple is now selling separately for $50. Furthermore, there is no upgrade pricing on the App Store, so the next time Apple decides to charge for a new version of FCP X (XI?), we will all be paying another $300 + $50 + $50 – and if you want Logic to take the place of Soundtrack, add another $200. It’s not that much cheaper.

d) This latest update should allay concerns about dropped features. This is how Apple does it: they don’t include features they feel they haven’t gotten right yet. The original iPhone was missing a bunch of features we take for granted now (copy & paste, multitasking, third party apps).

I’m actually pleasantly surprised multicam support has been added already (especially since I have a project coming up that will need it). So the big question mark now is the Mac Pro. Informed opinions say that Apple is just following Intel’s rather slow-moving Xeon roadmap, which suggests a March update. Okay then!