Why some video pros are moving away from Apple

“Which came first: Apple’s creative pro market shrinking, which might have led to dramatic changes in Final Cut Pro; or Apple’s cavalier attitude toward legacy features, which might have frightened video editors? According to the professionals we spoke to, there was already signs of an industry shift to Avid before FCPX came along, but Apple still had a very loyal and dedicated user base that it’s now turning away from,” Jacqui Cheng reports for Ars Technica. “‘The perception here is that Apple is more concerned with selling iPads and iPhones than they are with the people who have stuck with them since the 90’s, the professional editors and VFX people,’ said Jude Mull, who works at a post-production facility in Hollywood that processes and digitizes some of your favorite TV shows.”

“Mull explained that this perception was already there when FCPX was announced, but has only increased since then due to Apple’s aggressive attempt to cut and switch up its features,” Cheng reports. “For example, when editing video for TV shows, editors will put together a final Edit Decision List (EDL) with data that essentially tells the post production facility which scenes to keep or cut. ‘Why Apple decided to do away with EDLs is beyond me. This makes me think they aren’t targeting the professional market,’ Mull told Ars. ‘When I read Final Cut Pro X didn’t have the ability to generate an EDL I figured Apple is targeting a different audience, the Tweeners, people with a little $, time and creativity, the Indie crowd. This looks stupid to even read, so again, kind of baffled.'”

“Despite the amount of hatorade being dumped on FCPX by the professional crowd, not everything about it is sour,” Chang reports. “‘My personal view on FCP X is that it’s a brilliant program, provided the user can essentially forget everything they’ve learned from using the previous Final Cut Pro/ Studio applications and go into it with an open mind. Don’t be quick to judge a book by it’s cover, or give in to all the negative hype,’ noted production systems and workflow consultant Jon Alper told Ars. ‘I may be more optimistic then others by nature, but after learning FCPX in it’s current state, I’m more excited about future potential of the application then I am concerned with it’s current shortfalls.'”

Chang reports, “Everyone we spoke to agreed that Apple would have a much better standing among professional users if the company would just acknowledge them a little more and act like their concerns are being listened to.”

Read more in the full article here.

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51 Comments

  1. Well, maybe Apple will kill all the segment… stop Mac Pro and really turn its back to creatives sitting in studios, mixing and cutting along with movies?

    Mister Tim Cook, please, make it clear!
    I need no iPhone, no iPad, no MBA. I need a truck with heavy CPUs and good programs for film making.
    So Mister Cook, please tell me if i have to brake the last 15 years of using a Mac to do that? Because if Apple will take the easy way of “iCosuming” only, i’ll HAVE TO leave the boat… And that would make me sad enough!

    1. Well I hope for your sake and other’s walking in your footsteps, Apple steps up to meet the industry professionals concern with proper FCPX software updates and New Mac Pros with heavy lifting capability.

      With that said, Apple has made a butt load of money on those “iConsuming” devices. This is in no way trying to be disrespectful, but looking at it from a merely financial POV through Apple’s eyes, if they did as you say and need no iPhone, no iPad, no MBA, would Apple still have it’s market cap and the cash reserves it enjoys now by only selling Mac Pros and FCPX software?

      If you were Tim Cook and your job was to keep the company going and to make money, which area would you choose?

      And Apple hasn’t given up entirely on the entertainment post production people. After all, they did spend the time to recreate their software. Granted it appears to be missing some items that old timers need and like, so maybe next revision. Since when has Apple come out with a product that could have had something but didn’t? Like the original iPad without a camera. It wasn’t like they couldn’t have put one in there, but what selling point would they have for the next years iPad 2 model?

      Again, hopefully your concerns will be met in the near future, but if they are not or do not meet your needs, bear in mind that Apple is moving into new bread and butter markets, following the PostPC era and those markets are the iPhone, iPad, soon to be iTV, iCloud, iOS and other iConsumerism devices we have yet to realize that we needed.

      1. With Apple’s huge cash reserves it’s a no- brainer not to satisfy both and not a choice they have to make between consumer and professional interests. I am editing my last feature length project in FCP7 and it has been nothing but a headache bug-wise (and slow performer) but we needed multi clip capabilities. Avid is starting to loom large. Even Adobe Premiere Pro. I am a dyed- in-the- wool Apple user and stock holder but I can’t abide by this terrible decision by Apple not to have first released Final Cut Pro 8 in 64 bit and bug fixed (as rumored finished) and then taken another year or two with FCPX bringing it up to feature parity before releasing it. To have released a half baked NLE program (and I was at the Supermeet in Vegas when it was announced and initially very excited about it) while unceremoniously dumping support for the legacy version is completely irresponsible any way you look at it. Even if they later realized their error and brought back FCP7. Who’s making these competely incompetent decisions anyway? Apple is better than that. This question is why professional users are nervous and moving on. They know Avid won’t desert them on a whim, even if Apple is moving on in a new, perhaps better, paradigm in video cutting. Problem is once people move away and get settled in it’ll be hell getting them back.

    2. Mac Pro is not necessary for the segment FYI
      That’s 1990s thinking
      You are apparently not familiar with Grand Central and OS X’s ability to process graphics and video on the video chips independently of the CPUs. Huge performance on even a basic Mac Book model. Check it yourself
      Sorry but I have to question if you actually have a Mac or if you are just a hater or just a FCP competitor posing here

  2. Pro’s looking foe Apple to provide a roadmap of future features (much less future products) are waiting in vain. When has Apple (Post Jobs return) ever done that?

    Need to to feel warm and fuzzy that the workflow you used 10 years ago and use currently will continue just the way you like it? Then it’s time to switch to Avid, Autodesk, or Adobe.

    Want to live on the edge? Have new features that are so very close to great, but need just a short bit more time in the oven? Occasionally need to find a workaround, but otherwise fall in love with editing again? Strap on FCP X and see where you are in 18 months. I bet you’ll love it!

    1. Yeah, sorta… except for putting autodesk in that group, they actually make innovative software. Let me explain that…

      Adobe and Avid make shovels (Avid for the professional market and Adobe for the prosumers) In that I mean software for “routine production”, essentially the post grunt work. They aren’t creative nor cutting edge. They are designed to grind through the often monotonous tak of cutting through piles of clips in a routine and predictable manor. They are best suited for tasks where routine is considered a positive. (and creativity often isn’t even considered (ie. “we do it this way”)
      I think Apple had seen themselves fall into this trap with recent versions of FCP, making them barely more than another Avid and Adobe (-don’t make any real, significant changes to the software for fear of disrupting “the routine”) and decided to break out of the box (and there is no denying that FCPX is that) in a big way.

      I think they may loose some “grind houses” but they now represent a unique toolset, a total Paradigm shift in creativity, freedom and a hands on approach (where directors can actually create rather than sitting next to the “avid guy” barking objections)

      Just my 2¢…

      1. Exactly. The grunt work applications. I have never found Avid or Adobe apps to be creative and certainly feel like the mid-90’s apps that they are. Certainly innovative at the time but not anymore.

        Most people don’t like change. FCP X is a major change, I think for the better, and while there are a handful of items missing (note: they effect very few editors) Apple will either put them in later or they have something better in store.

        Those who jump ship now, as with many poor opinions of the iPad 18 months ago, are simply shortsighted. My favorite argument is still the ‘missing EDL’ one. As an editor and producer, EDL’s are the floppy disks of the film industry.

  3. Apple should not forget that the high end is often where the features are originated which then eventually make their way into the laptop and eve iPad markets.

    Hence, bowing out of high-end apps just because it is a small market can have an eventual downturn in the later laptop apps.

    Steve Jobs essentially recognized this at NeXT. He knew networking of all types (IT, WiFi, Cell, Ethernet, BT,USB) would eventually be on smaller computers and laptops as power went up with Moore’s law and price went down.

    Steve was 100% right. What was considered needed for a $20-$50,000 workstation is now done on a MacBook Air in many cases (& some with an external screen).

    High end tools eventually becomes average “apps”.

    1. Excellent points.

      10 years ago, Apple trumped the fact that so much professional creative work was created on Macs. This reflected positively on the brand. Now it’s about sending out-of-focus pics of your night out to your exaggerated social “network”.

      1. Not true with me as I don’t post pics or swamp sites with my moves. If you are a productive person, you don’t have that much free time.

        Far better things to do with my time, which also makes me wonder if “social network sites” will stumble downstream as the fad wears thin.

        1. It’s not likely to abate as the false sense of celebrity it gives many (who may have very few other outlets for expression with such a low barrier to entry) is something basic to the core of human behavior. I mean, it could be argued that this is a phenomena that has been growing ever since the first BBS’s and will continue to get even larger with each new technology.

      2. You nailed it. FCP-X is actually “iMove Pro X Vista Edition with added “Cloud Buzz”™ ®©.

        Apple has been giving the serious Mac market (not the trend happy frat boys and sorority girls) the finger for some time now. One day even the fanbois will get the signal.

      3. While everybody in the print media business noticed the switch in Apple’s concentration from pro creative to consumer stuff, we all still use Macs, and have more problems with Adobe’s attitudes than Apple’s. There still is no real choice other than the Mac and nobody is clamoring for there to be one. Adobe would rather make snide remarks about OSX Lion than fix their printer compatibility. Remember how they played a game of chicken against the first OSX version? Like I told their rep, don’t make me choose between you and the Mac, because you won’t win that one.

    2. “Apple should not forget that the high end is often where the features are originated which then eventually make their way into the laptop and iPad markets.”

      Yup- analogous to F1 and the severe R&D that venue provides to typical auto manufacturers, especially with Apple sitting at the high capital segment of the industry. PR alone screams for involvement with a wide-ranging set of professionals.

  4. “I figured Apple is targeting a different audience, the Tweeners, people with a little $, time and creativity, the Indie crowd. This looks stupid to even read, so again, kind of baffled.”

    It makes perfect sense to me, there are FAR more people who want to edit with more than iMovie but don’t everything in FCP7, than there are of high end professional editors. Even with a 75% price cut it means much more profit.

    And EDLs were necessary when it was not possible to edit with full resolution video, so you had to uprez everything in an “Online” edit. Now you can do the whole thing just in FCP (7 or X). Onlines are not necessary, so neither are EDLs. Though it would be nice to export to protools.

  5. We need to clarify the meaning of the word “Pro” (in the context of video editing). There is a massive number of people who shoot, edit and deliver video for a living. Event videographers have their societies, their magazines, even their trade unions, and they represent a sizeable percentage of the FCP user group. These “Wedding Documentarists” have all the features they could possibly need in FCPX, not to mention significant improvements in many aspects of workflow.

    The most vocal is the small minority of high-end pros; the people who work in motion pictures and television. These people push their tools to their limits, and for them, any real (or perceived) reduction of feature set is simply unacceptable. It is possible that Apple simply won’t pursue this small segment of the pro market.

    It would be strategically wise, though, for Apple to listen to them. Throughout the history of Apple and the Mac, it was the high-end segment of the pro market (music, design and later video) that had sustained the brand value and identity (purveyor of uncompromising, exquisite tools, unmatched by others). Lowering the brand image to that of an ordinary consumer electronics peddler (even if it is high-end consumer electronics) would simply eliminate all that is special from Apple brand.

    Investment into sustaining FCP and Logic development teams (and product strategy) has important consequences for the entire company. Competitors sink significantly more money into money-losing products for strategic reasons (see MS X-Box, MSN Search, Bing, Zune as examples). I’m not sure whether FCPX, with proper feature set, as expected by the 1% high-end segment, would be a money loser or not, but I don’t think Apple should scrutinize the monetary value the team brings. Just as they continue to give away iLife (a product that is NOT part of the OS, but is given away for free with a new computer, and sold for mere $100 to the few users who subsequently want to buy newer version), they should allow FCP / Logic teams to lose money on sales, if it comes to that. After all, such move wouldn’t be without precedent at Apple.

    1. I think it would be better to subdivide your Pro and Prosumer categories into “creative” and production users….

      Prosumers primarily consist of low/no budget indy film (doc & drama) and wedding/event videographers. They were primarily using Adobe & FCP (with some Avid & a sprinkling other minor players) This can easily be divided into creative and not-so-creative users. The creatives in this catogory tend to be the Dramatic (and some doc) filmmakers.

      Profesional editors, primarily Avid, Autodesk (Discreet) and FCP users with a smattering of Adobe can also be broken down into Creative and not so creative. The producers who grind out several reality TV series that were featured in an Avid press release last week that would be excellent examples of the latter.

      In both cases, those most interested in just getting the (post) job done and are not so concerned about the creative aspect, are more likely (now) to pick Adobe, Avid (and the old FCP) over FCPX (and/or Discreet)

      You simply can’t categorize FCPX users as more or less profesional than Adobe or Avid they all span both catagories. It has more to do with if you are willing to take on a new, different and very creative ways to edit.

  6. ‘‘I may be more optimistic then others by nature, but after learning FCPX in it’s current state, I’m more excited about future potential of the application then I am concerned with it’s current shortfalls.”

    It’s THAN!! . These guys must have gone to school in California.

  7. I like my Mac Pro and I enjoy FCPX for what it is. For my pro video work I’ve switched to Premiere on a hefty Windows workstation. Best of both worlds.

  8. Apple dropping support for creative professions would be a huge mistake.

    Although this tiny market segment and doesn’t make huge tangible profits, it has huge intangible benefits of making Apple “cool”.

    Apple dropping pro video and pro music support would be first step to uncool.

    1. At one time only lawyers & F500s had “Wang Word Processors”.

      At one time 3D CAD was done on SGI workstations with software and the package was way over 6 figures!

      At one time video prep was that same high price.

      Even the car makers that don’t race their cars watch every nut and bolt used in race cars of all types for the clues as to how they can improve their future cars.

      Apple knows this. They need to act on it.

      1. Uh BOC, SGI was almost never used in CAD workstations (about the only place they even got close was GIS/mapping)
        You main workstation CAD vendors were(are) Dassualt (Catia), Intergraph, Pro/E, SolidWorks and on the low end of the workstation list Autodesk and none of the ever had much (or any) share on Silicon Graphics workstations.

        SGI killed it’s self by first burying it’s head in the sand (reliance o the past and little forward thinking) and then by making stupid decision after stupid decision in a reactionary manor.
        There are plenty of examples of that in the market today, but really what apple did with FCPX is almost the complete opposite of what SGI did so it is a poor metaphor.

  9. My biggest fear of this is that people will start looking at Apple the way Steve did with MS. Once you get too big and the bean counters take over from the creative people (i.e. that making money is the sole interest), then you’ve hit the top and it is all downhill from there (he implied S. Ballmer and MS at the time).

    Please Tim, do not go down that route. Dropping support for the creative crowd to sell watered down stuff for tweeners may make accounting sens, nonetheless, I doubt you will lose $$$ supporting this legacy segment. However, if not, you stand to lose something much bigger….Steve’s image of Apple.

    1. “Steve’s image of Apple” was consumer-oriented, not high-end professional-oriented. After all, the Mac was “the computer for the rest of us”. The vast majority of innovations since he came back, starting with the iMac, were consumer-oriented. Seen against the backdrop of all the “i-products”, FCP is an exception to a pretty clear rule.

      Face it, Buster: this is “Steve’s image”.

      ——RM

      1. You bring up some good points, however I think it ignores the fact that Steve pushed Apple into high end graphics (PIXAR) and pushing the Mac Pro as the world most powerful computer (I loved those burning intel commercials). Perhaps it was the Hollywood ‘flash’ that he likes but these things were not for the bulk ofg the consumers you mentioned.

        In anycase, my main fear still remains. I worry that Apple will become interested in profit only and land take the consumer for granted.

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