If you follow the Final Cut Pro X world then you’ve probably heard of Off The Tracks. It’s a documentary by Bradley Olsen about the life (and launch) of Apple’s modern video editor. It was a labor of love by Bradley and features many of the familiar faces you might know from the Final Cut community. Bradley even got NLE engineering legend Randy Ubilios to sit down and talk. The film was very well made. I especially love the ending.
Off The Tracks has been available for quite some time via on-demand (of course it’s on iTunes) and recently popped up on Amazon Prime Video. But the director has also created an “abridged” cutdown version that is streaming on YouTube. While about a half-hour shorter it’s still a great view and tells the story well. Even if you only have a casual interest in the FCPX launch and what really makes it a different beast, both loved and hated, it’s a good watch.
I was always sad I didn’t get to be in Off The Tracks and tell the story of being sent training materials before the launch of the FCPX. It was almost deep throat-esque when I received an email via my website some weeks before FCPX came out. We didn’t know the release date at the time but the email said it was most likely imminent. The email said the person had access to a full series of training videos for Final Cut Pro X and it was indeed going to be a much different application than FCP 7 and would probably ruffle feathers a lot more than people realized. For one thing, you couldn’t open an FCP 7 project in FCPX the way the Supermeet keynote implied.
The email asked: Do you want to see them and write about them?
My answer was, of course, yes. A strange URL followed and I downloaded the files on an old computer. After watching through them, deep throat was right. FCPX was very different than what came before. Publishing an article with some screen-grab and my opinions on what I saw would have been a blockbuster scoop.
I approached the editors of a couple of publications I was contributing to at the time. They were understandably reluctant to publish for fear of legal repercussions but then again tech blogs had published stolen iPhone information without legal action so as far as being newsworthy and in the public interest, it was.
When asked how I got these videos I told how they had come to be but deep throat somehow got them from a server breach at the training company that was trusted to produce them. Who knows how that came to happen, be it accidental or illegal. It would clearly get someone in big trouble as Apple doesn’t trust pre-release training to just anyone. Ultimately, publishing the material on my blog was my choice but I was asked to have a conversation with the owner of the training company before I made any decision to publish. It was clear from the conversation that he and his company could have been greatly harmed by me publishing these materials and it might put him out of business. That certainly wasn’t what I wanted to do so I deleted the ill-gotten files and went on with life. I probably wouldn’t be a good investigative reporter.
I often wonder who it was that obtained these pre-release training files. And if I have met them at a trade show over the years. It’s just a tiny world of video editors who would have cared but in our little niche the FCP 7 – FCP X transition was huge and it still causes controversy to this day. Oh well… I’m just happy to be using FCPX many years later.