Matthew Panzarino Goes Behind-the-Scenes With Apple’s Pro Workflow Team

Matthew Panzarino got exclusive access to Apple’s pro hardware and tools group:

Now, it’s a year later and Apple has created a team inside the building that houses its pro products group. It’s called the Pro Workflow Team, and they haven’t talked about it publicly before today. The group is under John Ternus and works closely with the engineering organization. The bays that I’m taken to later to chat about Final Cut Pro, for instance, are a few doors away from the engineers tasked with making it run great on Apple hardware. […]

To do that, Ternus says, they want their architects sitting with real customers to understand their actual flow and to see what they’re doing in real time. The challenge with that, unfortunately, is that though customers are typically very responsive when Apple comes calling, it’s not always easy to get what they want because they may be using proprietary content. John Powell, for instance, is a long-time Logic user and he’s doing the new Star Wars Han Solo standalone flick. As you can imagine, taking those unreleased and highly secret compositions to Apple to play with on their machines can be a sticking point.

So Apple decided to go a step further and just begin hiring these creatives directly into Apple. Some of them on a contract basis but many full-time, as well. These are award-winning artists and technicians that are brought in to shoot real projects (I saw a bunch of them walking by in Apple Park toting kit for an on-premise outdoor shoot). They then put the hardware and software through their paces and point out sticking points that could cause frustration and friction among pro users.

The big news of the day is that Apple told Panzarino the new Mac Pro will not appear until 2019 — disappointing to many, but not surprising to me. I know that many pros want Apple to simply put Intel’s most powerful Xeon processors in a tower enclosure and call it a day. Apple clearly has something more than that in mind, and they’re not going to tell us what that is until it’s ready.

But this Pro Workflows Group idea is fascinating — and I’m surprised its existence never leaked. They’ve got real film editors, visual effects artists, and music producers working in house, right across the hall from the engineers working on their tools. And these groups are informing the design of the new Mac Pro (and other future pro hardware).

Sure, I wish the new Mac Pro were coming sooner. But overall this story is fantastic news for pro users — it shows Apple not only cares about the pro market, but that they’ve changed course and decided that the best way to serve pros is to work with them hand in hand.

Thursday, 5 April 2018