Apple’s Final Cut Pro X Sneak Peak – Professional or Prosumer?

Videoguys NAB2011 Report, Part I: Apple’s Final Cut Pro X Sneak Peak – More Than Meets the Eye

One of the big stories leading up to NAB2011 was the rumor that Apple had taken over the FCPUG SuperMeet and that they would be showing a sneak peak of the new Final Cut Pro X. Apple didn’t just take over the SuperMeet, they took over NAB. You could not go to a booth or have a meeting without people talking about FCP X. There was a lot of speculation over what would be announced and what exciting news Apple had up their sleeve.

Videoguys is a long-time supporter of the FCPUG and a sponsor so of the SuperMeet so I was there along with 1,699 other FCP users and let me tell you – I was blown away by the Apple presentation! No more boxed versions, no more dealers to buy it from. Buy a Mac, download the app, edit away. But, the biggest news came at the end ? FCPX will be a $299 download from the app store – coming in June!

Apple did not talk about any of the other applications in Final Cut Studio, but I have no doubt they’ll be coming down the road to the app store (more on that later).

Professional or Prosumer?

This is the BIG question. Is FCPX enough for editing professionals, or is it a really cool prosumer NLE? We won’t have that answer until it ships. I think that most Pros will buy it and try it, but they will not switch over to FCPX for a while. They’ll stick with FCP7 or they will migrate to Avid or Adobe. Or perhaps Grass Valley Edius or Sony Vegas.

I am not a professional editor. I’m a prosumer editor. I make vacation, sports and event videos of my family and friends using professional tools. My biggest projects are the video montages I made for my children’s Bar Mitzvahs. My editing ability is limited, but I have a lot of fun doing it, and I have a pretty good understanding of the technology and what goes into making it work. I’ve also gotten to use just about every version of editing software that has shipped over the last decade. I like the new Final Cut Pro X interface and I like the new tools. I think they will make editing easier and more efficient for me.

While the overall interface is right out of iMovie, that doesn’t mean it’s bad. I don’t really care if it is ‘iMovie on Steroids” if it makes my life easier. I think it will. FCPX allows you to skim through your source video and rather then mark in and out points, you simply highlight and grab the section of the clip you want and drag it into the bigger timeline. I would use this to create my rough edit first, then dig down once the clips are on the timeline to make everything exactly the way I want it. This way of editing is fine for me, but I can see the Pro editors bristle at the thought of it. I hope that there is more buried here then Apple was willing to reveal in the sneak peak.

We can’t really judge how professional FCPX is until Apple makes it available to Pros who will actually use and evaluate the new software. Until then, we should all take a wait and see attitude before we bash it. I think many editors’ first impression is that it’s not professional enough for them. But even then, I have a feeling that the things many Pros may initially complain about may become things they can’t live without once they dig in deeper and really unlock the potential. It’s going to be very interesting to see if Apple can maintain their market share in the top part of the market with FCPX.

While FCPX may not have every feature the Pros are looking for, it appears to me that Apple isn’t just launching a new video editing app, they are trying to change the way we edit video. This isn’t really FCP version 10; it is a FCPX 1.0, the first version of the future of video editing. As with all 1.0 versions of software, you’re going to hit some bumps in the road and you’re not going to please everybody.

Optimized for today’s 64 bit hardware, but perhaps not the hardware you own…

No surprise here at all. FCPX is a 64 bit native application. It is also resolution independent. Edit anything from DV thru HD all the way up to 4K. It will take advantage of multiple cores and use Grand Central Dispatch to optimize CPU and GPU core usage. In addition it will handle a ton of RAM. which you will need plenty of, based on all the new features. I don’t expect this software to run well on anything less then 4-cores with 8+ GB of RAM. I would not be surprised to see Apple lock out older, less powerful machines from even being able to download the app. While many will see this as Apples way of forcing users to buy new hardware (it is), the reality is also that these features require horsepower. I’m sure someone will hack a way to run this software on inadequate hardware, but it will prove to be frustrating and not worth the effort.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something Blue

The first thought that came to my mind as I started watching the presentation and demo was Yogi Berra’s famous quote – “It’s D©jà Vu all over again.” So much of what I saw was actually just Apple taking existing technology and making it their own. As I watched the demo, I chuckled to myself – this is Fast iVegas.


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