The Morning After…
After over a decade as a happy Final Cut Pro user, proponent, and propagandist, it’s been a terrible two weeks for me. When George Rizkallah and I went in on our first FCP v.2 system from Promax back in 2000, little did I know how accessible editing would grow to change my life. As a director, I could cut my own work. When I could afford to hire another editor, I would do so – but on a system I understood. And as I grew with Final Cut Pro, editing actually became a revenue stream for me between directing gigs and my knowledge of a professional-level tool made that possible.
Accessible pro-level editing has also changed the landscape of all editing. Avid, the industry leader in Nonlinear Editing (NLE) was prohibitively expensive before FCP barnstormed onto the scene and forced Avid to lower their prices for their customer base. And the low price created an exponentially-larger market than anyone would have guessed in the early 1990’s when this stuff first showed up.
It has filled me with dread to watch the Windows Vista-like release of Apple’s latest Final Cut Pro offering, and the subsequent backlash, and Apple’s tone-deaf, tin-eared, mealy-mouthed, “Think Different” response to that backlash. Editors have made videos, and even put together a petition, to reinstate FCP 7 as the standard and to relegate the edit-abortion that is FCPX to the trash heap of time. First, David Pogue of the New York Times posted a blog where someone deep inside Fortress FCP explained to us pleebs why FCPX’s bullshit was actually Jello pudding. Consultant and blogger Richard Harrington reposted Pogue’s blog with his rational responses point-by-point here.
Falling Fairly Far from the Tree
And what of Apple directly? Have we heard anything from them? Barely. They released a FAQ paper explaining how their loyal supporters can spend $500 on the utility “Automatic Duck,” for something the program has always done for free as well as a litany of other things mostly which lead me to believe that, as a professional tool, Final Cut Pro X has a long road ahead. Will it get there? Maybe. Will I be there if/when it does? Well, I won’t be asking for a refund, but that doesn’t mean I’m counting on FCPX to turn the ship around.
But the real question anyone who edits is this: What are we going to do right now? I mean what are we actually going to do? As professionals, we don’t have the time to play around with multiple new programs until this dust settles as it could be months, and it might take Apple over a year to put FCP back on track.
To their corporate credit, both Avid and Adobe have jumped on Apples misstep by offering huge discounts on their products. Yes, it’s obviously the dealer’s first hit of crack for most of us, and as always I ask myself which of these two media-making monoliths will actually net the most new professional customers by the time this is all over. Which brings me to the here and now…
In the here and now, I actually have a project I’m cutting for my friend and frequent collaborator, Kays Alatrakchi. Entitled “APPNTMNT,” it’s Kays’ first film as director. Shot on the RED camera (with some Canon 5D in there for B-camera), we want to stress-test whatever software we used to see how well it handled all the professional-level demands we could throw at it. He and I waited until FCPX was released to begin the editing process (which is why I downloaded FCPX on day one). And now we’re switching horses.
To Adobe Premiere Pro 5.5.
Watch This Space
So I took Adobe up on their offer and upgraded my Production Suite, and I’m going to chronicle here what that’s like, the ups and downs. Any Premiere users, I’d love to hear how I can make this smoother. I’m going to post screencaps, complain about missing functions, and hopefully sing the praises of the software that (from my perspective) could be the one to fill the gap that Apple is leaving for filmmakers and post professionals – both of which I consider myself.
Honestly, I’m not excited about moving to a new platform. This will be my third (Media 100, Final Cut Pro, now this – go ahead and laugh, Avid users). But the integration of AfterEffects (which is becoming a must-have item for filmmakers, see www.videocopilot.net to understand my zeal) and Photoshop make it an attractive one-two knockout punch.
So here goes nothing. I will let you know what I think as I go.