In the wake of the scathing criticism surrounding the release of Apple Final Cut Pro X, Apple has released a FAQ that attempts to answer some of the questions. There are a few in particular that caught my eye.
“Can I import projects from Final Cut Pro 7 into Final Cut Pro X?
Final Cut Pro X includes an all-new project architecture structured around a trackless timeline and connected clips. Because of these changes, there is no way to “translate” or bring in old projects without changing or losing data. But if you’re already working with Final Cut Pro 7, you can continue to do so….”
More than anything else, that is the complete deal breaker for us and confirms what some very smart people have been telling me all along. In our production workflow we refer back to projects 4 to 6 years old with a need to revise, pull elements from or sometimes complete re-cut using the original elements. While FCP X can access the media, it cannot access the original sequences and project organization.
As we have discovered, Adobe Premiere Pro opens up legacy FCP Projects very nicely and we know that we can share projects with Avid as well.
“Can I edit my tape-based workflow with Final Cut Pro X?
Yes, in a limited manner. Final Cut Pro X is designed for modern file-based workflows and does not include all the tape capture and output features that were built into Final Cut Pro 7….In addition, companies like AJA and Blackmagic offer free deck control software that allows you to capture from tape and output to tape.”
Many of the documentary videographers we work with still shoot tape, predominately Panasonic DVCPro HD Tape. The ingesting of tape is not that big of a deal using the AJA capture software, but when it comes time to output, the way this works actually is actually much more inefficient than the ability to lay out to tape directly from the timeline. If Apple can convince every single network and station that HDCAM tape is no longer necessary, then they’d have their modern workflow, but for now, tape ingest and tape output is still here for the broadcast and much of the professional market.
Adobe and Avid support tape workflows natively.
“Does Final Cut Pro X support external monitors?
Yes. If you have a second computer monitor connected to your Mac, Final Cut Pro X gives you options to display the interface across multiple monitors. For example, you can place a single window — such as the Viewer or the Event Browser — on the second monitor, while leaving the other windows on your primary monitor.”
Honestly can’t believe Apple considers this “supporting external monitors.” This is laughable at best. What Apple is actually doing is using my $1500 AJA Kona board and my $5,000 FSI Reference Monitor as a second computer monitor. The video output quality is marginal at best, AJA calls it “preview quality” in their documentation.
This is NOT supporting an external monitor that I require for accurate color grading of a project. Supporting an external monitor means allowing me to use two computers monitors via the graphics card while also sending a true video signal via my AJA Video Card (or BMD, Matrox if that’s what you have). This FAQ in particular tells me Apple truly doesn’t “get” the professional market.
Adobe and Avid support external video displays properly.
“Can Final Cut Pro X export XML?
Not yet, but we know how important XML export is to our developers and our users, and we expect to add this functionality to Final Cut Pro X. We will release a set of APIs in the next few weeks so that third-party developers can access the next-generation XML in Final Cut Pro X.”
Translation: We know it’s important to our users so we removed it from Final Cut Pro X and you’ll now have to purchase it from a third party developer. Apparently it was so important the APIs weren’t even ready at launch.
Adobe and Avid can export XMLs natively.
UPDATE: An Avid buddy of mine told me Avid does NOT export XMLs natively. Thanks for the info!
“Does Final Cut Pro X support OMF, AAF, and EDLs?
Not yet. When the APIs for XML export are available, third-party developers will be able to create tools to support OMF, AAF, EDL, and other exchange formats.”
Translation: We know it’s important to our users so we removed it from Final Cut Pro X and you’ll now have to purchase it from a third party developer. Apparently it was so important the APIs weren’t even ready at launch. (Is there an echo in the room?)
“Can I send my project to a sound editing application such as Pro Tools?
Yes; you can export your project in OMF or AAF format using Automatic Duck Pro Export FCP 5.0. More information is available on the Automatic Duck website: http://automaticduck.com/products/pefcp/.”
Wes Plate has been developing incredible plug-ins for pro users so make applications talk to each other for years when the manufacturers wouldn’t. So what I’m about to say is not a knock against him, he is a business man and I applaud him for creating this and everything else he does for us.
This plug-in costs $495. So my $299 investment in Final Cut Pro now increases to $794 for a single application and plug-in.
Adobe and Avid export OMFs for ProTools natively.
“Does Final Cut Pro X allow you to assign audio tracks for export?
Not yet. An update this summer will allow you to use metadata tags to categorize your audio clips by type and export them directly from Final Cut Pro X.”
In Final Cut Pro 7 we simply line up the audio by dragging or assigning them to particular tracks, particularly since we send our broadcast work to ProTools. But what if they don’t fall neatly into a particular type? And what if I need to put this sound on Track 5 / 6 for full nat sound at this point in the show, but then I have to put it into Tracks 9 / 10 later in the show because I’m just using it underneath? How do I “Tag” the metadata correctly.
Apple assumes that everything we do falls into neat, compartmentalized categories. This is rare. Particularly with documentaries when I’m dealing with 250 hours of material. I can use the exact same clip as an Interview, Natural Sound, B-Roll and SOT.
Also note that this assignment will happen when you EXPORT the project from Final Cut Pro X. No way for you to simply visually look at the timeline to ensure everything is correct. What’s easier than simply looking at the timeline visually? Apparently assigning metatags and then asking the ProTools engineer, did everything line up? I would really like to know how many of the professional editors that made up the Beta team really thought this was a good efficient idea?
Adobe and Avid allow you to assign tracks as you’re editing within the application.
So the FAQs definitely cleared up a lot of things for me. Now I know that if I were to stay with Final Cut Pro X that I could potentially be looking at an investment of $794 to $1,000 (depending on what the cost of the third party XML plug-ins are going to cost) for a single application per machine. With Final Cut Studio 3 I had a suite of fully functional applications that worked together (for the most part). Now I will get a “$299″ application that rolls in some of what the old suite did, tossed out a bunch of other features & apps and I’ll have to add on OMF and XML support at the very least which will drive the price up at least $500 and possibly another $500 after that. Of course the price can continue to rise as more features that we use today are added back in by third party developers at a cost. This will be for each and every machine. I’m gonna use $1,100 per machine as a nice round number on the amount of money I’d need to spend for this $300 machine that will actually make our production workflow more inefficient with the lack of tape ingest / output natively.
Let’s not forget this “modern new application” will also lock out all of my old FCP projects for good. I have around 1,000 of them over the past 10 years.
Let’s not forget Apple discontinued sales of Final Cut Pro 7 the same day as the FCPX roll-out so I would not be able to purchase anymore at this time anyway. Yes a limited number may still be available from VARs but why stick to an application that was “modern” two years ago and is very inefficient in digital formats.
I can spend about $400 per machine and upgrade my Adobe CS 5 to CS 5.5 which gives me pretty much every single feature that Final Cut Pro 7 had and includes Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Audition, Adobe Flash Catalyst, Adobe Flash, Adobe Encore (for DVD and BluRay). In other words, a suite of products, each specialized to a set of tasks extremely well, working together. Here’s how Steve Forde describes Adobe’s approach to ripping apart CS4, which was not well received in terms of Adobe Premiere Pro, and created a brand new 64 bit CS5.
“In CS5 Adobe had done a complete rewrite of the guts in Premiere to 64 bit on both MAC and PC, and listened to users about how the application should change – dozens of changes throughout the application to make it ‘just work’.”
They ripped apart the “guts” creating a modern 64 bit, very efficient product, but listened to the users and kept the workflow for the post production community completely intact. Avid managed to do the same. Only Apple decided that moving to 64 bit would require a “revolutionary approach to editing.”
Thanks to the Final Cut Pro X FAQs, I’m convinced we have made the correct decision for my company to move away from the Final Cut Pro platform. It’s clear that Apple will stick to their path with no looking back while I just need a more efficient tool that fits into our workflow. Moving to Adobe and Avid will allow us to continue our jobs without an upheaval in the way we tell stories.
Quite honestly we’re all excited about the possibilities moving forward!