Episode 25: NAB and Final Cut Pro X

In this Episode – recorded while Philip was still in Las Vegas before the NAB Show ended – Terence and Philip share their thoughts on the sneak peek of Final Cut Pro X. The good, the bad and the questions.

Many thanks toΒ Isai Espinoza for editing the show again and making us sound smart and for turning this around so quickly.

50 thoughts on “Episode 25: NAB and Final Cut Pro X

  1. I enjoyed this podcast the most I think, but for the first time I find myself slightly disagreeing with both of you.
    Philip, I’m not sure, but are you suggesting that over the life of a computer a PC will cost you MORE than a Mac? I can tell you that professionally this has prove to be completely the opposite, and has personally. I could bore you with details, but I’m first more intrigued why you think this to be the case?
    Terence, I completely agree that FCPX will sell by the boatload. As you say, everyone who has FCP now will buy it, as will people in our industry who own a Mac, and a handful of people who like to make professional looking home movies. But I don’t think the latter will add up to the 8million non-FCP users out there, purely because, although $300 is dirt cheap of an Editing software, it very expensive for an App that most people will only use in a limited way. My guess would be that around 5 million will be sold in the first year, but that when they release an FCPX for the iPhone, THAT will sell in epic numbers.
    And finally, I thought I’d share this video with you – in case you haven’t seen it. It’s actually quite a useful cut-down of the FCPX demonstration, but also just happens to have some of the best vox pox I’ve heard about anything. Ever. Enjoy.

  2. I also disagree with Philip’s call on Macs being cheaper. But we were focusing on FCP X so I didn’t want to go there.

    If there truly are 2 million FCP users currently, I don’t see why they couldn’t get a 5X bump. It really depends upon how it is marketed. but think of all the dentists who own a Mac and can edit “just like the professionals” for 299. :-0

  3. Oh yeah, and the schools. They can now outfit editing labs for 299 a station? (Assuming they already own Macs) And all those students will want their own copies….

  4. Good call on the schools, but as they already have FCPs coming out of their ears, I assumed they fell in the 2million user-base. I definitely think FCPX will sell very well – even I’ll buy a copy! – but I think the price and the current economies mean that it’s a little too expensive for an impulse buy, even for Dentists. We’ll see.
    I’m more interested to see what Avid will do now to be honest. Maybe a theme for an upcoming Podcast?

  5. Well, it’s certainly a good price, which I think after all is said and done about the new workflows and tech, is the most notable announcement they made about FCP X.
    By analyzing the price, I think we can see the audience that FCP is targeting. It’s not designed for the professional niche market that is film and broadcast editing. It’s for industrial, prosumer, and video enthusiasts (which all of the “automatic” features point to as well).
    My thought is that you could still buy Color, DVD studio Pro etc., as additional components for professional work, but for most people vanilla FCP would have just enough features that they wouldn’t need additional apps. But for those of us who need Cinema Tools, that they are still available.

  6. Yeah John, I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens to all the Studio programs. That will show everyone what Apple have in mind for FCP.

  7. @ John. I don’t think your price analysis holds any water. The whole Final Cut SUITE sells for $999, where FCPx is selling for $299. Once the rest of the apps that previously made up the bundle are announced, we may not be far off from that 1K mark again. Regardless, I chafe at people who would point to the price as an indicator of quality. Apple sells software cheap to push hardware- this has been their methodology for a long time, and it seems to work for them. In comparison to similar apps of the time, the original Final Cut was astonishingly cheap. And where are we now?

    @ Terence I’m not sure how you can write off the “top %5” of FCP user base yet, as we haven’t received any solid information that any critical features have been removed, like OMF or XML export. As Larry Jordan said in his post Supermeet blog, this was the same presentation and same build of the software he saw in February. So no one can lay claim to any more info than we have now. Except Beta testers that is…

    1. I think that I came off a little dismissive in my previous post. I didn’t mean to imply that by having a cheap price, that the software itself is cheap, or substandard. Just that they are hoping to sell a lot more copies of the software to a larger video market, than a few copies to the film and broadcast market. And that the price point was predictive of this. This is going to sell a lot more iMacs than MacPro’s though.

      1. No Problem. I think to no small extent the low pricing comparative to other NLEs is what’s responsible for FCP’s market-share. Due to it, it was put in schools, and was affordable to smaller shops. These people learn it and know it, and prefer it as the jobs they work on get bigger- if Apple can capture the next generation of filmmakers with whatever new paradigms they’re pushing here, in the end it won’t matter what the old guard thinks.

        As to iMac vs MacPros- in a previous T&P podcast, they made the case that the days of the tower may be coming to an end to all but the top percentile of users. With the top-end laptops and iMacs realistically only a year or two behind the average tower, fewer and fewer people can justify spending that money.

        For myself, I just sold my last 2 generations of editing computers [a G5QUAD and a 15″ MBP] to finance the purchase of a new tricked out 17″MBP with Thunderbold. As a freelancer I need the portability, and realistically I don’t do lots of really advanced 3D or Color FX work, so as long as I can push multiple streams of PR422HQ 1080, I’m happy as a clam!

  8. I predict Apple will continue to sell and officially support FCP7 and the rest of FCS3 like they did with the old iMovie when they released the totally new Ubillos version a few years ago. That would give FCPX some time to get closer to feature parity, at least where their roadmap calls for parity.

  9. @Ra-ey: I can’t speak to what Avid will do, only what I think they should do. Immediate announcement of third party card support would be paramount. That would give folks who have already invested in FCP and third party support an additional motivation to switch to Avid.

  10. @ Marcus: I’m not sure I said “5%”, but there is a niche part of the pro market that I would strongly doubt that FCP X serves.

    For example, they never really got tape I/O to work correctly all the time. So why would they even bother now? I guarantee you Steve Jobs thinks there is no tape in the future. Just as there was no need for floppy disks and BluRay. And He probably sees film as a remnant of the past. As Philip likes to say, Apple serves 80 percent of the market. What percent of all the produced media on the planet do you thin fits in the film and tape universe now? In 10 years?

    So why would Apple waste resources supporting this? If I was them, I would outsource tape I/O to t third party companies like AJA. They have essentially done that already. Why not go all the way?

    @Andrew: I agree, Even if the gods were with Apple, this iteration of iMovie Pro/FCP X will not be ready for the pro market by June. My guess is that they started down this path once Steve Jobs signed off on iMovie 08. Which means they have only had 2 years to work on it. There is no way a full rewrite of over 10 years of code can happen this fast. So you will probably see FCPX, and some of the ancillary apps like Motion, come out in June. With the promise of continued support for FCP 7 for those with higher level demands. 2 years from now though….

    1. I’m confident RS-422 deck control is a goner (which is the real differentiator for pro tape I/O vs capturing iMovie-style). But no support for film editing? The film workflow has always been a function of the sidecar Cinema Tools, and Apple has always been very keen to play up Walter Murch and the Coen brothers et. al. in their marketing (including the presentation at the SuperMeet). Maybe the film workflow support lags in FCPX but I’d be very surprised if they never bring the Cinema Tools functionality to FCPX.

      Then again, in a digital acquisition and/or digital intermediate world, are you still conforming a negative or are you doing a laser print of the whole thing (and even then only to support legacy theaters projecting film)? Celluloid has a lot left to offer in acquisition and archiving, but its ubiquity in the overall cinema workflow isn’t what it used to be. 2K/4K native digital acquisition is here, 2K/4K native NLE post is here, and 2K/4K native digital exhibition is becoming commonplace thanks to the 3D craze. Even if you are shooting film, you no longer have to do proxy post with key codes and a 3:2 pulldown compensation. You can work in post with the same 2K or 4K digital intermediate that is ultimately Arrilasered back to film only upon completion. So maybe Cinema Tools is archaic, since it primarily exists to address what is essentially a workaround the industry developed to edit 24fps film as 29.97fps video.

  11. It’s interesting as Avid will be in kind of the same position when they release their next version, as they’ve already stated it will be 64bit. It’s unlikely that they’ll just re-make the 32bit version – why would they – but I suspect they will use it to effectively draw a line in the sand and move forward. I’d hope that they would at least. For instance, update the UI, which is very out-dated now. But Avid editors can be a little stuck in their ways and not quite as acquiescent as say FCP editors – remember what happened when they introduced the Smart Tool! Then of course, this would bring into questions about the future the whole product line, Symphony and DS specifically. Gonna be interesting times I feel…
    Anyway, I’ve hi-jacked this thread long enough!

  12. Avid hasn’t actually said the next version will be 64 bit. They have said 5.5 is the last 32 bit version. This is important as it skirts Sarbanes-Oxley rules that would cause a problem recognizing current revenues.

    If Avid chose to convert to 64 bit as opposed to what Apple has done by starting all over, it is probably easier for them to keep all the existing functionality. Apple has to add back all the functionality that has been added over the all the years of KeyGrip / FCP’s existence. That is why I believe that certain things will be left by the wayside. As for Cinema Tools, that was always a third party app that was never really integrated.

  13. You guys mention that the TV/Film market for NLE is shrinking. Could you explain this to me? Are you talking purely percentage of overall users of NLE systems? I find it hard to believe that with the sheer number of TV outlets we have today, in addition to the enormous amount programming available today versus even 10 years ago, that this market is shrinking. If we are talking percentage, yes that would make sense, but in actual numbers of editors I would think that it is either holding steady or growing.

    1. Broadcast means the traditional OTA networks. The link you provided shows how viewers have migrated to cable, however people are still watching TV. In fact the chart shows that overall viewership of TV is up, not down.

      Theatrical in decline, I’ll give you that. Studios don’t make nearly as many films as they did in the past and the general consensus is that they churn out a lot of crap. But again Theatrical is down and other forms of entertainment are replacing it, entertainment that is created by someone and still paid for by consumers.

      Internet viewership is challenging to quantify at this point as it includes everything from cat videos on YouTube to feature films and television shows on sites like Hulu and Netflix.

      Quality programming still costs money to make regardless of how it is consumed. Just because people are consuming media in new ways does not automatically mean that the TV/Film editing market is in decline. Who is creating all of the media that is being consumed? If the day comes where post is no longer needed because all entertainment consists of “hilarious” user generated cat videos that are uploaded directly from phones, I’ll shut up and find something else to do. But I don’t think that day is coming within my lifetime (if ever). People will always seek out quality, and until we reach Utopia quality will always cost money to produce.

      1. Replying piecemeal so I hope I don’t reply to the wrong points. You know, people seek out content rather than quality. Fine distinction perhaps, but as long as the audio is clear and the pictures can be seen, a “cheap” show with lower production values will still be successful as long as it’s funny or engaging or dramatic or just plain “entertaining”. Quality in production makes that easier and makes suspension of disbelief easier, but I really don’t think technical quality is something people seek out. Go into the house of a non-industry person and see how accurately adjusted their TV set is. πŸ™‚ Then sell me on “the demand for quality”. πŸ™‚

  14. I mostly edit cable TV episodes for a living. I’ve been using FCP and the suite of apps that go with it for the past decade.

    As psyched as I am about the new FCP X (v.1.0), it’s difficult to imagine me using it for long form projects, especially TV episodes that require a specific length. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see FCP X fitting into typical TV workflows right away.

    I do believe that as FCP X matures, people will be able to make it fit in a TV workflow, until then, I’ll have three choices: FCP7, Avid, or Adobe.

    1. One of the things that struck me on rewatching the sneak peek was how often the word “optionally” was used. Far more often than I thought.

  15. Benjamin, I agree. I think shows that need heavy tape I/O – offline online workflows, as well as shows that need multiple editors working on the same show at the same time will not be supported well with the FCPX initial release.

  16. Dan, Philip & I have done a few podcasts about quality programming. I agree there may be a market for while, but a shrinking one. If you believe people pick quality over other issues, then remember the VHS / beta war.

    Yes cable has gained slightly, but that is on ever lower budget niche markets. And talk about quality, Reality TV has dissuaded me of the belief that quality rules. When the POTUS mentions Snookie in a speech, you have to wonder…

    When Steve Jobs believes BluRay will be beaten by internet downloads, you get an idea where he believes things are going. And it isn’t about quality.

  17. I use the term quality loosely. Quality does not always equal good. I’m saying professionally produced versus shot on a cell phone and uploaded directly to the web.

    Cable has not gained slightly, it has gained massively. Did you read the article you linked to or just pull it off Google and assume it supported your argument because it is about the decline in primetime viewership of broadcast networks (read OTA, The Big 4 (or 3 depending on your POV)?

    Is your business suffering because there is a lack of content being produced for all of the various media outlets that exist today? I’m gonna go out on a limb and say probably not. I’m sure you are keeping busy.

    1. Then I would say “entertaining shot on a cell phone” over “shot with all the professional care in the world” then the first is going to succeed over the latter. Personally I like a certain base level of technical competence, but 1) I’m old 2) I’m not young and 3) the young are consuming media differently and consuming different media.

  18. Dan, I’m not sure what your point is? What in this show led you in this direction? Is it because I felt the unique high end pro market may be left behind by this first version of FCP X?

  19. Dan, That chart went to the 2008/2009 season. Here is something from last year showing where cable is going:


    And who stands to pick up the slack? Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, etc. Will the new FCP X be able to deliver to internet based distribution better than the competition? Is that the goal? Seems like it to me. that is what this show was about.

  20. No, has nothing to do with FCPX. I’m just asking because this seems to be a topic you guys like to work into a lot of conversations. I’m curious as to how you have arrived at this conclusion. I don’t see the TV/Film production market as shrinking in terms of numbers. There is so much content that is produced, probably more than at any time in the past. Not just high-end production, but at all levels. That’s why I was wondering if it is in terms of percentage of NLE users. As NLE gets used by more and more people outside of TV/Film it can make it appear that the market is shrinking because the percentage of users is smaller, but overall there are more total users of NLE.

    1. There are somewhere between 1.4 million “unique registrations” and 2 million “installs” of Final Cut Pro. There are 6,000 members of the Editor’s Guild. If you want to put a number on editors working in broadcast TV, cable TV and studio motion pictures, then the number is likely under 100,000 (although if you’ve got better data I’d be happy to defer to it).
      It was about 15 years ago that total dollars spent in broadcast “video production” (including cable, TV and film) became less than total dollars spent, and now it’s a very nice, and sometimes profitable, niche. One that Terry and I feel will shrink as there are more and more competing sources for the same finite number of eyes.

  21. Oh, I agree that the NLE market is getting larger. The question is what will the future bring. Philip and I don’t see eye to eye on this, but we both agree the world is changing.

    Look to the kids today. How much traditional TV do they watch? Not a lot. They are becoming the “Cable Cutter” generation. What they want in “entertainment” is not what we are used to. Capturing, and staying profitable in this new market is of high interest to me.

  22. The reason I’d believe that the number of broadcasters could decline is if we see widespread breakdown of the traditional silos around national networks.

    I don’t think there’s anything people hate more than having to pay for 200 channels, when you only watch 20 of them with any regularity. If someone can provide a national [and ultimately INTERNATIONAL] way to select the channels you want ala carte, that will be the death of cable providers, and to a lot of stations that provide overlapping programming as well. And that assumes that people even want “live” TV with the existing commercial structure. I’ve been quite happy to pay for specific programs on my AppleTV, and I’ll be even happier to rent them when that option become available in Canada.

    If this could happen globally, then there won’t be a need for broadcasters at all, and for better or worse, there won’t need to be as much programming once it’s a global market.

    1. I think we need to go more granular to “programs”. Who cares about the channel, I just want to watch a program. I’d rather get it directly from the creator than from a middle-man distribution channel that adds no value but adds cost. Just my 2c worth.

  23. Hey Philip

    I’ve heard you mention a couple of times on the show that QT is event based and AVFoundation is time based. I’m not sure I understand what you mean by this.

    1. QuickTime is an event based multi-media operating system. It was never really intended for time-based media with the precision that video media requires. By sequencing events at 25 times per second, or 29.97 times per second then we can simulate time based media, but QT never really had a sense of the need to deliver a frame at exactly the right time. This led to issues like the “long frames” of early FCP. QT also includes an enormous number of interactive features, filters, transitions, and much more. (Much of which is destined for the scrap heap as I wrote in my blog.
      AV Foundation is designed for one thing only: working with time based media. Media must be delivered on time, something QT never understood.

      1. Phil
        I’m pretty sure there would be many at Apple or formerly of Cupertino who would disagree with this :

        QuickTime was never really intended for time-based media with the precision that video media requires. By sequencing events at 25 times per second, or 29.97 times per second then we can simulate time based media, but QT never really had a sense of the need to deliver a frame at exactly the right time.

        Two of the QT engineers were awarded patents prior to QT launch for video editing tools and the QT group itself were working with a number of companies focused on frame accurate editing.

        Didn’t FCPs problems come more from DV technical mis-steps?


        1. Nope, no technical DV missteps – in fact FCPs implementation of DV was quite good but the underpinning QT was simply not up to professional grade video editing. That they got it to work was admirable, but it isn’t a modern media framework, suitable for the demands placed on it by professional video editing. Frame accurate editing has to be grafted into QT (hence having QT team members work with those attempting), whereas with AV foundation it would just work, there’s be no need to dedicate Apple resources to “make it work with QT”.
          Check the AV Foundation developer videos (you can get access with a free developer account) and see how they talk about “getting frames on time” and “time takes time”. From former QT team members :}

  24. But “cable cutters” are still getting the same type of media, they are just consuming it in a new way. I don’t see the need for story telling (which is what every bit of content essentially boils down to) as going away, ever. Will future generations want new types of stories, yes they will. But the “kids” of today still watch movies, they still watch TV shows, and they still play games. We shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the need for quality production and that there will always be consumers willing to pay for it (directly or indirectly).

    I keep using the word quality, and I think you guys are getting hung up on it. I’m basically trying to differentiate between content types. It is not to say that there is some imaginary line that says everything above this point is quality and everything below it is not. Maybe production value is a better term, but that probably opens a whole new can of worms!

    Sorry I hijacked the discussion with comments that aren’t directly about this episode!

  25. As far as taking breaks goes, Avid has had that feature implemented for some time now. When you’re in the grove and moving along, it will simply tell you to take a bus to the main thread. That’s Avid speak for “you’re done.” πŸ˜‰

  26. @Josh. Yeah, I used to use the tape rewinding time to get up and stretch in the linear days. Now I use the render time to force me to do that. But with no rendering, and background import, we will fins ourselves sitting for many hours straight.

  27. After looking at the presentation again recently, strictly speaking, of course there’s still “rendering”. It just happens in passive CPU cycles. So I guess it’s going to depend on how efficient FCPX is, whether it can background render WHILE your working, or if it’s only rending while your not doing anything else. If that’s the case, it still may benefit you to get up from time to time and give the machine a chance to get caught up.

  28. Indeed, though how much of that multi-threading power will be needed to play back what’s otherwise “nonRT” media. It will be a floating answer I’m sure, based on your system, and the media in your sequence.

    It was hard to tell from watching the demo, since Randy was taking lots of breaks to talk about what he was doing. But it was typically when the machine was idle that you saw it attacking the renders. Maybe I’m wrong, or maybe it was the build of the software the were using…

  29. Some thoughts on this FCP X and background rendering:

    – I will always be waiting for renders to happen because FCP will always have to render stuff. It’s just the way it works and it’s just the way I work. I don’t want to spend time setting up a nice effect and then go to another part of my timeline to muck about while I wait for the render. Just because it renders in the background does NOT mean it will render instantly. Whatever section I am currently working on is what I want to be working on.

    – What FCP has always lacked is the ability to “remember” renders. In Avid if you have a rendered effect on a layer and move it out of sync it needs a new render. BUT if you move it back to it’s original position it remembers that the parameters are the same and it no longer needs the render. I have dreamed of FCP doing the same but I think those dreams will never be realized, especially considering the following:

    – I am switching back to Avid. I really like FCP but I also really liked that hot girl I dated way back when. She just tried too hard to please too many people too much of the time.
    I am all grown up and a professional editor- something I don’t plan to change! I have to have the best professional features I can get from my editing software and can’t take the chance that I will be unable to export and XML to my audio guys.

    Thanks for a great show Terenceandphilip!

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