Apple’s Final Cut software: intoxicating future or impending doom for media workers?

Apple Store“Workers in the media industry face either an intoxicating future or one filled with doom because of Apple’s Final Cut software and unifying digitisation removing layers of complexity from their work. That’s the theme coming out of a tapeless media summit in held last week in London’s Soho, a centre for media production and post-production work,” Chris Mellor reports for The Register.

“As the cost of video-editing equipment has come down and the capabilities of commodity server-based software, such as Apple’s Final Cut Pro, have increased layers of complex older technology, with machines costing hundreds of thousands, even millions of pounds, being rendered redundant. The people in the industry whose work and skills are based on this equipment face job destruction. They might as well be working in analogue camera film developing and printing. Just as digitisation swept away those jobs and trades so the same is happening in video production and editing,” Mellor reports.

“There was some concern about Apple’s dominant position, but most people present reckoned Apple had the better tools and that was that,” Mellor reports.

“The video editors present were largely positive about all this – and why not? What driver or transport manager wouldn’t like cheaper, faster vehicles that could do more and replace whole sets of specialised, more expensive vehicles? Just don’t expect the drivers and mechanics of the replaced vehicles to be ecstatic about the prospect,” Mellor reports. “Apple’s dominance for them is just one big threat and the final cut is likely to be their jobs.”

Full article here.

We don’t care whether Mellor is extolling the virtues of Apple’s impact on the world of nonlinear editing or if he’s just a Luddite. The fact is, it doesn’t matter; as with everything else, unstoppable progress marches on. Those who who are proficient and can adjust will continue to have their jobs and those who are deemed superfluous will not. As always.


  1. Change is inevitable, particularly with regard to technology. Mellor’s speech is ironically identical to a presentation I gave at a media/motion graphics company about a decade ago. I explained that their competition wouldn’t come from people using expensive Quantel equipment but from 13 year olds with iMacs. We used to buy specialized hardware costing in the million dollar range that only had a fraction of the capabilities of Final Cut.

    Mellor has discovered what the industry has known already for a very long time.

    In addition, this did not harm editors. Editors evolved. The state of the art improved dramatically, and opportunities opened up for all kinds of people to get into video editing and related creative expression. How often do we here of some new theatrical release having been edited entirely using Final Cut?

    There is nothing ahead for editors except possibilities.

  2. Welcome to the club. Almost everyone who produces sensory creative product has had to deal with a sea change in methodology brought on by both digitization and the internet. Keep up or get out, those are one’s only two choices.

  3. When I started working in the newspaper industry 12 years ago, we had a team of 17 people in the Porduction Department. When I left the industry 2 years ago, the same department was a team of 5 producing more than double the amount of work at the team of 17.

    The print industry has been going through this for years.

  4. Good ol’ Emmet the Fix-It Guy in Mayberry, remember him ?

    His father was a black-smith putting shoes on horses

    And his father who was a sailor, a ‘real’ sailor on ships with sails

    Da times they be a changin’ every day

    Please, try to keep up

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  5. Love iMovie HD
    Indifferent to iMovie 08
    Luurve FCP and FCPExpress

    End of story — why moan about times past? These tools simply put a premium on creativity and talent over ordinary workers bees.

  6. If it wasn’t Apple with Final Cut Pro, another company would have done it. But probably not as well as Apple (at least in supporting Mac users). Apple did not even originate the program. It was acquired and fully developed by Apple for use with Mac.

  7. The fact is, it doesn’t matter; as with everything else, unstoppable progress marches on. Those who who are proficient and can adjust will continue to have their jobs and those who are deemed superfluous will not.

    I’m going to write a new app that replaces news site editors.

    After all, those who are proficient and can adjust will continue to have their jobs….

  8. Um, I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble, but…

    FCP is not a toy in any sense of the word. To be a skillful user of FCP, Motion, and the whole Final Cut Studio software suite, takes training, and experience – and lots of both. I get that it costs a lot less to startup and use a FCP workstation than it does a Globe Caster editor/switcher, but the skill level required to use FCP professionally is not un-daunting. And if you’re using expanded tools like Apple’s Xsan (or anyone else’s san for that matter), as a part of your Final Cut Server workflow, then either you need serious training or you’ve already hired an employee(s) or outside contractor to do that work for you.

    When I first came to the broadcast facility I work for there was a clear mentality of oversimplification – That just because it was running on a Mac anyone could come in, sit down, and within a day or two be cranking out feature-length, award-winning programs.

    Over the last five or so years the production line has incorporated about 15 Macintosh workstations, and the IT dept. still gets away with providing no direct support to Macintosh users, meaning that the users support each other which in turn causes a slowdown in product delivery time, and money lost on work that’s supposed to be being done by workstation users rather than doing ITs work. Oversimplification.

    I maintain that serious jobs require serious tools, and serious tools require training and practice to be used at a professional level with professional results. Apple directly reinforces this POV by offering real certification training for all of its professional products.

    On the same note but different song, when is Apple going to get back to continuing the development of FCS in a real way. The interface needs a major upgrade, especially with regard to filters/effects and the UI of the filters and effects. When is FCP going to be 64 bit? Of course there has been the addition of Color (albeit in a very arcane state of existence), Motion is now 64 bit, and the expected bug fixes, but FCP has been looking pretty obsolete compared to other products that are coming to the Mac, or coming back to the Mac, as the case may be.

  9. “Mellor has discovered what the industry has known already for a very long time.”

    I’d say that’s an understatement..

    I’m not in the film/video industry, although I’ve used most of Apple’s editing software and subscribed to a number of trade publications for years. Pros in this industry have already moved on. Where has this guy Mellor been?

    This guy’s analogy doesn’t work and not because it’s another car analogy.

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