Well, it’s taken a few days to sink in, but I’m beginning to get my brain around the reality of what’s going on in our little corner of the world. I am referring to the release of FCP-X. Something which has caused an uproar in the community of editors. The biggest concern comes from the core group of editors working in environments where they need to recall old projects, hand off elements to other specialists, or need to deliver finished products to clients, whether they be Broadcast Networks or Corporate Clients. Professional. Prosumer. Amateur. Working Editors. Whatever you want to call it. Working in creative field such as we do, there are certain expectations put upon the tools we use. Expectations that, if not met, can exclude a piece of hardware or software from being viable for serving us in our craft.
Unfortunately, I’m not in a position to get my hands on FCP-X at the moment. Too many on-going projects and no time to look into the software, so this isn’t a critique of much of anything within the application. From what we’ve read and heard, it sounds like Apple is really attempting to re-define the way we work with our projects from the ground up. It remains to be seen how it will integrate into an overall workflow and environment. The lack of being able to drop into existing workflows will hurt the adoption of the application.
As the craft of visual media has moved from the analog to the digital, the tools that rise to prominence are the tools that act as extensions of the artist’s ability. Tools that make tasks easier often fall into that set: Photoshop is a perfect example of a piece of software that, when combined with sufficient hardware, has made the tasks of image manipulation easier. Photo retouching, airbrushing, and graphic design used to involve mucking about with real world materials – paint, chemicals, ink, lead. The invention of Photoshop brought these tasks to a much larger number of people. People who otherwise wouldn’t have had access to the skills, equipment or know-how to manipulate images have been exposed to the possibility afforded by this program. Photoshop has remained a tool with infinite and complete manipulation of the graphical image. Certainly there are plugins that can make images look like an Ansel Adams photo or a Lomo photo in an almost magical or automatic way, but the ability to manipulate each and every pixel in a given image has never been removed. I’ve stated before that auto-magical processes are not something we need or want in a professional application. We need complete control and flexibility to craft our projects.
Throughout it’s existence Final Cut Pro has grown into an application that does for video most of what we editors have needed. It is very well suited to the task of editing. Sure you still need Photoshop, After Effects and some other specialized apps to get the job completely done. It has enabled thousands, or millions, according to Apple’s own research, access to an editing platform that, prior to its arrival, cost tens-of-thousands of dollars. At around $1,000, FCP gave those editors an ability, not unlike Photoshop – access to very high-quality tools that were very flexible and fit nicely into widely-accepted practices of the post-production industry at a very low cost. During its decade in the market, the program has been revised to fit neatly into the place carved out for non-linear editing systems. FCP has even revolutionized some aspects of the process of creating visual media projects. It has been slightly bumpy, but an all-together smooth flow from the days of linear editing’s dominance into a world of (nearly) exclusive non-linear digital editing systems.
A few days ago, however, that all got tossed out. FCP-X was released and, without a doubt, it is going to be a game-changer in the post-production industry once again. The question is, though, will it change the landscape of the industry or will the industry simply change around it? Will we be abandoning it for products that dovetail better into existing workflows? Do we need auto-magical, “time-saving” geegaws that take control away from us as artists and hand it off to the computer? Or will FCP-X create a new segment of the market that we didn’t even know was there waiting to be tapped? Like many things Apple has done in the past, I think it will be a little of each. There isn’t going to be one simple answer.
And that’s really what this post is about – there are no simple answers. Sure you can be in the Apple-fanboy camp and kneel-and-bow before everything they create without hesitation or you can be an old grump and deride and knock it down before you give it a chance to prove itself. But, I feel, the answer lies in a much grayer area than either of those extremes. As I’ve thought this over. As I’ve watched my Twitter and FB streams explode with people arguing over this like their very lives depended on it (I do know that many businesses actually do depend on it. So it’s not something to be taken lightly). As I’ve seen what’s happening, I keep hearing a small voice in my head repeating this phrase, “fear, uncertainty, and doubt.”
That’s really whats going on here – fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
Allow me to explain my thinking…