The FCPX series I posted a couple of weeks got a lot of people talking. One issue that came up frequently is Apple’s apparent lack of interest in continuing their support of the pro filmmaking community. This is indeed a valid concern worth taking seriously.
In one way, the writing does seem to be on the wall. Shake was discontinued. Color was discontinued. FCPX “seems” to have been redesigned with the pro-sumer in mind (I put “seems” in quotes because as I noted before, the feature set of FCPX is now right on par with the other major NLEs, so I don’t buy that it’s a “prosumer” NLE). It’s no secret that these pro apps are but mere blips on the radar of Apple’s yearly revenue take. I like how Chris Fenwick put it, “On the revenue graph of Apple Computer, Final Cut is like a drop shadow.”
This was indeed one of the concerns that kept me from switching to FCPX at first. I didn’t want to adopt this new program, learn a new paradigm, then be left at the proverbial altar, standing alone. I think it’s a fair challenge to any proponent or user of FCPX. Will Apple continue to support the pro filmmaking community?
But I think this is the wrong question to ask. The right question to ask is, “Will Apple continue to support the products I need to tell the stories I want to tell?” I think the answer for professional 3D artists and color graders was obviously “no.” But is it a concern that other filmmakers should have? Is it a concern YOU should have?
I personally don’t think Apple is interested in “the pro filmmaking community” per se. Not the way companies like Avid, Adobe or AutoDesk are. Apple is interested in producing groundbreaking and beautiful products that reach as many people as possible. I do think they are heavily invested in serving the creative community though. The part of that community that makes films and videos is huge. Significantly larger than the niche that works in high-end 3D graphics. For this reason, I think the tool they have that’s geared towards that market, namely FCPX, will be around for a while. In fact, Apple is known for getting focused. I believe dropping Shake and Color was Apple focusing on FCPX as it relates to the filmmaking world.
So, if you use FCPX, the question for you is, “Will Apple continue to support it?”
First and foremost, nobody but Apple really knows what they plan to do. But in addition to the three reasons I gave in my original review, there are three other reasons that give me confidence that for at least the foreseeable future, Apple will continue to support FCPX.
- They Want FCPX. There’s a significant investment of time, labor and money that has gone into the development of FCPX. If they wanted to dump it they could have done that a long time ago, especially since they’ve taken so much flack for it. Apple doesn’t have to take all the crap they’ve gotten from filmmakers. As Sir Larry Wildman so eloquently put it in “Wall Street,” Apple could dump all the money they make on FCPX just to burn your arse! But, also like Sir Larry quipped right after, I think they happen to want FCPX and the community of filmmakers and producers who use it. Why else put up with all the whiners for two years for what amounts to a “drop shadow” of revenue?
- It Embraces the Future. It’s no secret that more and more people and companies are looking to video to tell their stories. The growth of Vimeo and the amount of video that gets added to YouTube every hour is a testament to that. The influx of amateur filmmakers and video producers is huge. These creatives are also users of other Apple products. At $300 a pop, FCPX is an easy investment decision for all those budding filmmakers and DIY producers. Ultimately, an NLE is a tool, like any other tool. Just because it LOOKS like a prosumer product means nothing. Can it do what you need it to do to tell the stories you want to tell?
- Money is Money. I don’t have any specific sources to prove this, but my hunch is that Apple has sold more copies of FCPX than previous versions of Final Cut. If it hasn’t, it probably will. And I have no doubt that it is (or soon will be) a profit center for Apple. FCPX continues to improve and more users continue to adopt it. As long as it continues to be a significant profit center, despite it’s comparison to hardware sales, there’s no reason to assume it’ll drop FCPX support
Why You SHOULD Switch
Lest I get tagged a blind, unthinking Apple fanboy (again), let me say unequivocally FCPX is NOT for every filmmaker and producer. There are a ton of reasons why a company or individual might switch. If you’re already a heavy Adobe CS Suite user (e.g. After Effects, Photoshop, etc.), it may make good sense to switch to Premiere. If you work with a lot of editors trained in more traditional editing paradigms, or NLEs, it might make sense to switch. If the funky workflow for working on networks is too much for your large team, it may make sense to switch. Bottomline, you need to make that determination for yourself. All of these disparate blog posts and magazine articles are just data points my friends.
The Smart Thing to Do
With all that said, if you make a living editing, then the really smart and wise thing to do is learn at least one other NLE besides FCPX. The more you know, the more marketable you are anyway.