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A new beginning or swan song for Final Cut Pro X

07 June 2013 / 14:06:14  GRReporter
20933 reads

Ivan Petkov

Every story has a beginning. The beginning of this story was in 2003 when Walter Murch, editor of the film "Cold Mountain" (with a budget of 79 million dollars), decided to edit the film using editing software, which was less expensive and not so popular in the world of professional video, namely Final Cut. Both viewers and critics received the production, which had brought its creators revenues of over 173 million dollars, very well. Shortly after that, Final Cut won the hearts of professionals and enthusiasts and greatly contributed to the glory of Macintosh as a multimedia creating and processing platform.

So, the pre-history is as follows: Final Cut is not an Apple product – it was created by Macromedia under the name of KeyGrip. The project involved Randy Ubillos, creator of the first three versions of Adobe Premiere - Final Cut’s greatest current rival. Macromedia decided to target only web development software and ultimately, KeyGrip became the property of Apple. The product was renamed Final Cut in 1998. In 2005, the giant Adobe Systems, which develops Adobe Premiere, acquired Macromedia.

 "Cold Mountain" is not the first film, which used Final Cut. Before it, this video editor had been used in the productions "The Rules of Attraction" (2002), "Full Frontal" (2002), "The Ring" (2002). The program found ardent fans among editors of television programmes too. Then, it was recognized for its role in the creation of television productions and was awarded the "Primetime Emmy Engineering Award" in 2002. So, after "Cold Mountain", Final Cut was ready for its "prime time".

The rising trend continued until 12 April 2011 when Final Cut Pro X was released. The program was completely revised in order to remove an old code that had been left from Macromedia and to be ready for the emerging mobile revolution launched by Apple with the iPhone and iPad. The aim was to simplify the use of the application in order for a larger number of users to be able to benefit from it. The price of the new version was reduced from $ 999 to $ 299. This new version, however, posed a number of problems to professionals, including incompatibility with previously used file formats. Walter Murch himself was among the critics of the new version who stated that the he could not use the program in its new form:

A wave of refusals of the new version ensued. The guild’s disappointment was embodied in the expression "Apple's Lemon". The failure was compared with that of Coca-Cola’s "New Coke", which is considered as an emblematic failed product. It had remained unclear whether Apple was planning to develop Final Cut as a professional product over the next two years or if it intended to target it entirely to the ordinary user. Ordinary users are the ones who have brought phenomenal profits to the company and turned it from a manufacturer of high quality and expensive but relatively unpopular hardware and software firm into a company with annual profits greater than the budget of the U.S. government. The question received an answer in early 2013. After 2 years of development and 7 software updates, Apple decided that Final Cut Pro X was ready to win the professionals’ confidence again. The company from Cupertino launched a PR campaign to recapture the attention of the film guild. Over the years, it has become clear that a product like Final Cut is not the basis of the financial success of Apple but apparently, the maintenance of such software is a matter of prestige for the company and a clear sign that it has not forgotten its past.

In 2007, Final Cut held 49% of the market of professional software for video processing. Today, some of the professionals are expressing their doubts about the quality of the software. Moreover, they are not sure whether they can trust a product that misled them two years ago. Some of them, however, state that despite the initial scepticism, having tried the latest version of Final Cut Pro X, the progress of the program has pleasantly surprised them. Why is Apple launching this campaign right now? The answer is simple and the reasons are objective: a large number of post-production professionals still use the old version - Final Cut Pro 7 - whose technology life cycle is close to its end. The new version of the operating system Mountain Lion OS X 10.8.2 does not support Final Cut Pro 7. In practice, no one who wants to purchase a new Macintosh will be able to use Final Cut Pro 7.

What are the alternatives? The first is to use the current version of Final Cut Pro X, if it meets the needs and expectations of the editor. The problem is the compatibility between the old formats that are no longer supported, but there are already solutions for this. Another option is to use the competitive product by Adobe - Premiere, which we mentioned at the beginning of the article. In both cases, there will be some discomfort and you will need some time to get used to the product, both scenarios have their advantages and disadvantages. The problem is vast and very personal at the same time. So, it remains to see whether the users will prefer to migrate to the rival product or to turn to the new version.

The idea for this article came from last week’s material about documentary filmmaking. It makes it clear that it is easy for every ordinary person to become a source of documentary content. At the same time, we have found out that this mass character has its impact on professionals, including our website, as Final Cut Pro 6 and 7 are used for the creation of our documentaries too.

Do you make "documentaries"?
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