There is no doubt that Final Cut Pro has come a long way since it’s introduction many years ago. We’ve seen an architecture change with Libraries, multicam added, a new XML format, an interface redesign, machine learning features, in-app tracking, workflow extensions and even dropping the “X” for the name. Just looking over the release notes shows a long list of features, updates and bug fixes that goes back years. But the flip side of this is the argument that the Apple team working on Final Cut Pro is moving too slowly and not keeping up with competitors. It took over a decade to get the very basic feature of dupe detection. Rumor has it there is a Roles-based audio mixer somewhere in the FCP code but it hasn’t been turned on yet (who knows if that is even true or if it will be … rumor!).
With that, a large group of editors has signed an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook (and presumably, others in Apple marketing and product management) asking, pleading, for them to take a more proactive approach to all things Final Cut Pro. I didn’t put this campaign together but I don’t disagree with the sentiment. So I thought I would share it.
You can take a look at the letter ⬇️:
Support Open Letter to Tim Cook about Final Cut Pro
I signed it and you can too.
Dear Tim Cook,
We are professionals working in Hollywood and other high-profile movie and TV markets all over the world. We are excited by Final Cut Pro. We think that it is the biggest leap forward in editing technology since the move to digital. We think it’s incredible.
We also think it’s incredible that some of us still can’t choose it to do our work. Work that could easily include productions for your very own Apple TV+ service.
Final Cut Pro is a wonderful application used by many YouTubers, education and small business content creators worldwide. We know why it is successful. It is liberating, efficient and fun to work with. Sadly, in professional film and TV, editors who use Final Cut are a tiny minority.
We want Apple to promote Final Cut Pro publicly and add the few remaining features that our industry has consistently stated are needed.
We’d love to see Apple publicly support and certify the suppliers of the third-party products and services we use to integrate Final Cut into industry-standard workflows.
We welcome your forthcoming brand new FCP Certification exams. We need more experienced film and TV production crew who also know how to use Final Cut Pro.
We also hope to see Apple ensuring that improved ProApps support is widely available and that Final Cut can also be bought through current industry suppliers. This is essential for big productions to accept Final Cut Pro.
If Apple renewed its public commitment to the professional filmmaking industry and its visionary product, we believe an increasing number of editors would discover the joys of using it.
We hope you will start showing that Apple aims to make Final Cut Pro the best application to edit TV and movies. We believe that this could lead to a Pro Apps renaissance as pioneering as your amazing M1 Max MacBook Pros and the M1 Ultra Mac Studio.
It’s wonderful that Apple+ has become the first streaming platform to have a best picture Oscar winner with CODA, but it’s disappointing to know that Final Cut Pro is so unlikely to have been a possible choice as the film’s editing app.
We hope you will encourage our industry to see Final Cut Pro as a professional choice for editors of future award-winning TV shows and movies, and for millions more editors all over the world.
Who signed on?
It’s a good list of over 100 film and television editors, assistant editors, directors and post-production personnel. Many of them do their best to work exclusively in Final Cut Pro. Many others have to work on other editing platforms as those are the established workflows for the projects they edit. Some of them are editors who know and love Final Cut Pro (and probably use it on their personal projects) but can’t touch it in a professional environment for one reason or another.
And they would all like to see Apple do more for Final Cut Pro. This is not just an urging for Apple to update the NLE more often with new features but more of urging for Apple to take a more proactive role in the development and promotion of Final Cut Pro (and all the ProApps really) in totality. There has been a pretty long-standing team running the ProApps division and conventional wisdom has it that they are doing the best with what they are allowed to do. It’s not only up to the relatively small team working on all things Final Cut Pro exactly what features will get added in what time frame when those features will be released and how much Apple marketing muscle is put behind Final Cut Pro overall. There are others in the chain of command that also have a say in this pro app. I think this letter is directed more at them.
Marcos Castiel, an editor in Portugal, instigated the Open Letter. Marcos had this to say about the idea of championing this letter:
The turning point came for me when I was not allowed cut on Final Cut Pro because FCP is not a part of Netflix Post Alliance – the list of products and services that Netflix have approved for use in production workflows for TV shows and films they have commissioned.
The crazy thing about that statement above is that all of us who know and use Final Cut Pro know it is completely capable of cutting a Netflix original. They do qualify the other big three NLEs from the other A companies, and the B one. Why Final Cut Pro isn’t on that list is either laziness or ignorance or prejudice. Or perhaps a bit of all three.
Many of the signatories of this letter made a comment about it. These are some of the quotes that stood out to me:
I think it would make a big difference for workflow consultants, systems integrators and third-party developers if there was a public Beta program for Final Cut Pro. Apple already do it for iOS, macOS and even Safari. It would make Final Cut more reliable and make it much easier for people to fit Final Cut into their plans for the future.
– Knut Hake BFS, Editor Blood Red Sky
The modern workflow of FCP makes sense, is fast and I can’t live without it anymore. Even organizing is fun in FCP!
– Shahin Shokoui, Editor, MTV Unplugged
I’ve edited for cinema, TV and web with FCP for years and it continues to be a blast. We need a lot more open conversation with Apple though to get it off the ground to become recognized as reliable in the business.
– Sebastian Leitner, Editor, Female Voice of Afghanistan
Final Cut helped me a lot to be more focused on the content, instead of being focussed on the app.
– Andreas Menn, Editor, The Colony
In France, it is extremely difficult to ask using Final Cut Pro. You can’t use it without fighting producers, directors, post production supervisors, sound editors, etc… A non-sense.
– Galliano Olivier, Editor, Marianne
I think it is a real shame FCPX is not more widely used in the broadcast industry; producers are always impressed with the speed and ease of using it and it could be a real contender if it was backed better by Apple.
– Chris Black, Editor, Fly the Flag for Human Rights
I wrote a feature film workflow book after working on the first US studio film that used FCPX. I have been a FCP user since v1.25. Apple has not taken the opportunity to deeply integrate it’s NLE into the existing pipelines in the “Hollywood” industry. My hope is they will take this step. So the films and television, which rely heavily on systems that integrate and support each other, will adopt this extraordinary platform. Making a film is not a stand-alone process, many departments must work together. Falling short of deep integration means falling out of the industry as a serious contender.
– Mike Matzdorff, Editor, The Shrinking of Treehorn
FCP makes so much sense in so many ways but it is being left in the dust by competitors.
– Jon Einarsson Gustafsson, Director, Wrath of Gods
I love Final Cut Pro. I have used it since version 2! I also have cut on Avid, Premiere Pro, and other lesser known NLEs but my favorite is FCP. I use it to make documentaries, events, music videos, short films and for social media. I have been editing since 1987 where I first learned to edit linear style as a freshman in high school.
– Jessica Houston, Producer/Editor, Rockhaven: a Sanctuary From Glendale’s Past
As a TV editor, my job consists of being creative and being fast. Final Cut is the best NLE to achieve both of those goals. Now we need Apple on board with a roadmap and open dialogue with Film and TV creators to restore confidence lost almost ten years ago.
– Jeff Asher, Editor, Big Sky
FCP is changing the way non-linear editing is done, making it far more malleable and efficient than it’s ever been. It’s unfortunate that Apple hasn’t invested the time or money into making it a viable option for professionals to take advantage of this powerful tool. I hope that can change in the future.
– Debby Germino, Editor, Genius
In Pit Lane is a weekly motorsport news show, it’s format has barely changed across it’s 25 year run. Since switching to Final Cut I am saving on average. around 4 hours per episode of valuable editing time.
– Brett Ramsey, Editor, In Pit Lane
While Final Cut Pro is my preferred editor, I’m not always able to use it on every production, often due to requirements from further up the chain. Being able to meet those requirements would help my cause immensely.
– David Peterson, Editor, Bluey
The most important things for an assistant editor when working with an NLE on a feature film are a) how fast can I generate lists of everything from music, to vfx or 3rd party footage and b) how easy is it to share the necessary files with other vendors who work with a huge array of hard- and software. Everything that serves the means of communicating easier – with standardized formats like aaf, edl, xml – makes all the difference and will be on of the most important concerns for any production when deciding on an NLE.
– David Maria Vogel BFS, First Assistant Editor, The Colony
I’m probably the first one to edit a feature film with FCPX. At that time, I was in contact with the developer’s team at Apple. It was very complicated because the film was in 3D and there was many missing features. Apple showcase our film on their webpage for many years. The software improved a lot since then, but there are still some missing features that we were already asking for.
– Yu Boyang, Editor, Detective Dee 2
I’ve been working on Avid lately and it’s so frustrating because the architecture of the software is so old that they can’t make simple updates to improve it. It’s stable but aggravating! I like Premiere, but I’d be willing to give FCPx a shot. Even though I’m not familiar with the software I’d be happy to co-sign because I feel like the industry needs competitive platforms to push each other.
– Gabriel Rhodes, Editor, Time
Kafai has been editing films for 30 years. Since the beginning, he loves FCP classic and he could never find a better NLE. Even when he edits the TOP2 box office Chinese film (WOLF WARRIOR 2, $870M worldwide), he still uses FCP7. Asking him about FCPX, he said the software is promising but not ready yet for big budget films. He wants to co-sign this letter to encourage Apple to improve FCP. Almost the whole Chinese film industry relies on FCP7 and wish they can switch to FCPX.
– From Kafai Cheung, Editor
I’ve never used any other NLE because there has never been any need to use any other NLE.
– Gregory Lynch Jr., Director, Stro: The Michael D’Asaro Story
Will this letter do any good?
It’s doubtful but it can’t hurt. While I can’t think of any specific examples of Apple bowing to pressure from an open letter we are living in an era when Apple seems willing to listen to users when updating their products. The return of things like MagSafe, ports and function keys (at the expense of weight and thinness) to the MacBook Pro is a good example of that. The whole Mac Studio is another.
But those are high-margin hardware products. I can’t think of an example of this in software beyond maybe the loosening of the iPad OS home screen setup. Apple seems slow to update a lot of its software products. Look at how slow they are to move with the “iWork” suite of tools.
Regardless of how fast or how slow Final Cut Pro development might be. And how much or how little marketing and promotion is put behind Final Cut Pro there’s no denying it’s a very fast and very capable non-linear editing tool. The naysayers can naysay all they want but the reality is that many naysayers still haven’t used Final Cut Pro in much capacity beyond opening the application and realizing it’s not what they know. Nothing will ever change some of those minds. For the rest of us, we’ll keep using Final Cut Pro and getting a lot of work done with it.
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