The all new Final Cut Pro

So for the last few days the internet has been abuzz – or at least the part of the internet that I pay attention to – with the news that Apple unveiled the new version of Final Cut Pro to a small group of industry vets and influencers.

The humorous thing is that everyone who actually knows anything can’t SAY anything. And everyone who doesn’t know anything… well, they CAN say anything, but really have nothing to say. I would fall completely into the second category.

I was not at the event, but have heard all of the rumors. If you have actually been working – for example EDITING – and haven’t had time to catch up on the latest FCP gossip, I will try to fill you in quickly.

The one rumor that can be firmly squashed that has been floating around angrily for the last year is that Apple has given up on Final Cut Pro and is abandoning development. This was crazy rumor to begin with. Apple’s had a very capable development team chugging away doing SOMETHING. Soon, we’ll find out exactly what they’ve been spending their time on.

64-bit will supposedly be coming to a FCP suite near you soon. Just how much capability, before the release of Apple’s impending Lion system software release, is – as lazy journalists like to say – “yet to be seen.”

The big question is how radical a change this software is. From varying reports, it seems to be a pretty radical change. It may even be radical enough that I may have to use my least favorite, most overused, over-hyped word on the internet: “paradigm shift.” From what I’ve heard, we’re not simply talking about adding all of those juicy feature requests that so many people have been throwing around. We’re talking about a radical rethinking of the entire application. If that’s true, then it may leave a lot of people either clinging to their old FCP7 release until it dies, or looking for new editing solutions. It could also mean that whatever this re-thunk FCP app looks like, you adapt or die. One largely circulated quote from someone who’d seen the new version is “The biggest overhaul to Final Cut Pro since the original version was created 10 years ago.”

I’ve heard rumors that this massively rethought FCP (let’s call it FXPx) has headed down the iMovie path in many ways. Now, I love iMovie. There are some very cool things about it, but I do NOT want to edit a feature film or a TV show with it. Of course, Apple has plenty of big-time, famous editors that it turns to for advice when determining what to do with FCP, so I can’t believe they’d agree to a radical dumbing down of FCP, making it, in essence, iMoviePro. But it is possible that many of the thought processes or technologies of iMovie will be coming to FCPx. Many editors will embrace that. Many will revolt.

Speculation about all of this should come to an end relatively soon because the release is due for sometime this spring. Apple is not on the official list of exhibitors formally at NAB, but they could – as in years past – present off-site. Apple has increasingly refused to tie their product releases to industry meetings and conventions like NAB, MacWorld and the rest.

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Steve Hullfish has been producing and editing award-winning television since the mid-1980s. He has written six books, and edited four theatrical feature films (including two Number One New Movies in the US). He has lectured…

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