The Final Cut Pro X Backlash

Chris Foresman at Ars Technica:

Many users have expressed their frustration with a litany of missing features in Final Cut Pro X. To begin with, there’s no support for output to tape, and input from tape is very limited. There’s no support for EDL or XML export, commonly used to move projects from the editing stage to the finishing stage using other software. There’s no OMF output for mixing audio using Pro Tools. And because FCPX uses a completely re-architected underlying media handling and editing paradigm, it can’t import projects from previous versions of Final Cut Pro.

The gist is that many professional editors see Final Cut Pro X as an improved version of iMovie, not an improved version of Final Cut Pro. This Twitter search, for example, is instructive.

On The Talk Show earlier today, Dan Benjamin and I made the analogy to the first release of Mac OS X — a true ground-up rewrite with the intention of laying a solid foundation for the long-term future, but, in the short term, lots of missing features and frustrating changes compared to what current users were accustomed. The difference is that with the transition from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X, Apple kept Mac OS 9 around for years, both as a boot-the-machine OS and in the form of the Classic emulation layer. There was a years-long transition. Whereas the previous — dare I say classic? — versions of Apple’s professional video software were discontinued upon yesterday’s release of the new versions.

This ground-up rewrite may well have been the right thing to do. Apple seems convinced that this is a better fundamental concept for video editing — and, really, storytelling in general. But it may prove risky not to offer a transition period. Hell, even with iMovie, when they made the switch from old-style editing to the new model (and lost a bunch of features in the initial release of the new iMovie), Apple kept iMovie HD 6 available as a free download for two years. If iMovie users were worth appeasing with a transition period, surely professional Final Cut Pro users are too. If Final Cut Pro X can’t even open Final Cut Pro 7 projects, how quickly can editors be expected to switch?

Further reading on what’s missing in FCP X vs FCP 7:

Walter Biscardi, Creative Cow:

All in all the worst product launch I’ve ever seen from Apple or pretty much any software manufacturer. Instead of a nice suite of applications that worked well together (FCP, Color, Motion, SoundTrack Pro, DVD Studio Pro) you now have one big app that really doesn’t do all that much well. It completely ignores the 11 years of existence by giving you zero options to open older projects. We called it iMovie Pro when it was debuted back in April and quite honestly, that’s what it is.

David Leitner, Filmmaker Magazine:

Great design, like great music, is almost always foreign at first, if not disturbingly strange. You have to spend time with it. But if it is great, and if you invest your attention, it will change the way you look at the world. After using FCP X for a week, Premiere Pro looks to me like the past.

At present there is no way to translate timelines from older versions of FCP to FCP X. Setting aside the question of why you would want to do this in the first place, you will, in any case, always want to preserve a copy of FCP 7.0.3 into the future, in order to open older timelines.

Which underscores the obvious: FCP 7.0.3 is as robust and capable this morning as it was before the announcement of FCP X yesterday morning. No reason to cease making a living using it, into the foreseeable future.

Philip Hodgetts, concluding his excellent Final Cut Pro X FAQ:

From the answers above you should be able to see that at version 1 Final Cut Pro X won’t support some professional workflows, but for other professional workflows it will be more than capable. Using Final Cut Pro X to cut together a story, I’m struck by how fast it is to achieve a result, as if everything was designed to get a result as quickly as possible.

Lastly, the reviews in the App Store are worth reading to gauge the pulse of those users who depend on the features in FCP 7 that were omitted in FCP X. Some of this, no doubt, is simply a knee-jerk rejection of the new and unfamiliar, but much of it is along the lines of “I depend upon some specific feature of FCP 7 and now it’s gone.” I predict this transition going the way of iMovie’s (and, again, Mac OS X’s) — with a two-year transition where the previous Final Cut Pro suite remains available, whilst the new Final Cut Pro X suite regains lost features.