The Dawn of a New Era

April 13, 2011

Last night was an extravaganza. An event. And yes, a bloodbath. The focus was on Final Cut Pro, the application that we know, love, and use on a daily basis. They showed off statistics boasting about its success… an installation base of over 2 million, far above its competitors and the industry standard in growth. So what do you do with a product that has a 94% satisfaction rate and has millions of adoring users?

You trash it of course.

At least, if you’re Apple that’s what you do, and that’s what they did last night. Final Cut Pro as we know it is dead. But that’s not a bad thing. Whether we knew it or not yesterday at this time, now we realize just how archaic, just how antiquated and behind the times the revolutionary piece of software was. All of sudden, the game has changed, and like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, so is Final Cut Pro X emerging from the destruction of FCP7. So, the question is, what has Apple done?

It proved all the naysayers wrong.

Those that said Apple was going to abandon the professional video market just got slapped on the face. Last night showed that Apple has put years of R&D and manpower into developing the new suite. According to Larry Jordan, there were over 2 rows of top Apple executives at the event last night, including Phil Schiller, an all-star lineup that wouldn’t get sent to a product launch they didn’t care about. Apple has not been waiting for Final Cut to die a slow death… they have been pumping it with new life.

Those that said Apple would abandon the professionals and produce an iMovie Pro were put to shame. Incredibly, there still is a vocal group that is claiming Apple trashed Final Cut for an iMovie on steroids. But those who truly use Final Cut on a daily basis realize that the only people who are saying that are the people who don’t use it. At first glance, they look remarkably similar. But when you look up in the sky at night, an airplane and a star look quite similar as well. Appearances can deceive. What Apple did was automate the tasks that required unnecessary labor, something true professionals can’t afford to waste their time on, allowing all the manpower to be spent on the creativity. For the insecure who are only good editors because they have the tolerance to handle the obnoxiously laborious tasks that others don’t want to do, this will throw them off guard. But for those who are truly confident about their ability to tell a story as well and efficiently as possible, and who put that as the goal above all else, this will come as a life-changing development. Who can tell the best story is not contingent upon who is the greatest computer wiz. It is contingent on who is the best storyteller… and that’s the way it should be.

Apple also realized something vital and made an effort to address it. Final Cut Pro is one of the most torrented Mac Applications. With the Studio costing about 1000 dollars, many would just steal it from the internet. To address this, they knocked the price of just Final Cut Pro to 299, killing the unnecessary Final Cut Express. Want to produce a home movie? Use iMovie. Want to produce a quality production with the same tools as the professionals? Use Final Cut Pro. Simple as can be. It’s important to also remember that all the features and applications weren’t shown off today. But rest assured, there’s more. The guy I talked to back late last year was really passionate about the changes Motion was going to receive in that it was going to become more Shake-esque power-wise. My guess (no inside knowledge here) is that the whole studio will be priced at 499, with Motion and Soundtrack selling individually for 99 dollars through the Mac App Store with Content packs shipping through retail. But again, just a guess.

What’s important to note is that this is just the beginning. Considering the iPhone won’t be unveiled, there’s no doubt that WWDC will reveal much more. Until then, we know this… Apple cares about its video professionals more than anybody could’ve imagined, and that they’re ready to take us into a whole new era of digital editing. I, for one, am ecstatic, and will be joining Apple on the journey.