Seattle filmmaker Dan McComb alerted us to the post over at Philip Hodgetts’ blog, saying the Final Cut Pro X petition that has been circulating is bogus.
I did not sign this petition.
I do not support the goals of this petition.
Clearly this petition is bogus. Of those who’s name appears on it, how many are bogus like mine?
Apparently Petitions Online has no verification so you can just add any old names.
This is completely bogus and should be ignored.
If you want to make a difference, send feedback to Apple via the Application menu item in either Final Cut Pro 7 or Final Cut Pro X – both point to the feedback page at http://www.apple.com/feedback/finalcutpro.html.
The gist of the petition didn’t seem so far-fetched. Basically, it represents itself as a group of professionals who feel FCPX is scaled back and more of the “iMovie Pro” program it’s been mocked as in some circles.
One commenter on the Hodgetts post says this:
I’m pretty sure Apple does not care what I think about FCPX or why I’ll be switching to another NLE, but I signed the petition anyway. I thought it conveyed a fair reasoning of why so many people are upset with the direction Apple has taken with FCPX, and the requests, while futile, I felt were reasonable.
And here’s another:
I’m curious, did you actually talk to the author of the petition or did you just summarily declare this “Bogus?”
I ask because I’ve been in touch with the author for over a week now. He approached me before he started it to ask what I think. I told him it was a pointless exercise and wished him well. Eventually one of my buddies shamed me into signing it because I am one of the “early adopters.”
He’s a sincere kid who truly wants to bring back FCP 7 / Studio 3 if he can. In fact he’s going in there and cleaning up all the clearly bogus name. He even contacted me to ensure that I did truly sign the petition. I thought that showed some class.
So while the petition will amount to nothing, it’s by no means bogus.
Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Here’s a petition that’s just surfaced:
To: Apple, Inc.
We, both the editors and affected filmmakers who rely on Final Cut Pro as a crucial business tool, do so in the same way Photoshop, Maya, Pro Tools, and other industry-standard applications are relied on by leading post-production environments. Many have invested hundreds of thousands (some even millions) of dollars in creating Final Cut Pro based companies. These are now threatened by a “prosumer-grade” product upgrade of Final Cut Pro 7 titled “Final Cut Pro X,” and will likely put several of these companies out of business. The costly process of migrating studio hardware and software is a major burden, especially on studios that have made recent upgrades to support Final Cut Pro. If many had known of the Final Cut Pro X release prior to investing in expensive hardware and software licenses, most, if not all, would have sought alternative solutions.
A large corporation such as Apple, Inc. should not make “revolutionary” paradigm-shifting changes to software which can be referred to as “industry-standard”. This is unfair to workers who rely on Final Cut Pro as a business tool and will devastate the Final Cut Pro community. Many editors have relied on the software since its first release and supported Apple through both the hard and easy times. Apple Inc. now has over $75 billion in assets and does not need to risk the livelihoods of its professional customers by silently discontinuing “Final Cut Pro” instead of selling it to a company willing to support working film, tv, and advertising industry professionals.
We, the Final Cut Pro community, hereby request that:
1. Final Cut Studio 3 is immediately reinstated, supported, and referred to as Apple’s “professional grade” editing application.
2. Final Cut Pro is restored under a new name with the functionality and user interface of Final Cut Pro 7.
3. Final Cut Pro X is to be considered part of the iMovie family or labeled a “prosumer” product.
1. The source code to Final Cut Pro 7 is auctioned or sold to a third-party by January 1, 2012.
I just returned last night from New Orleans, where we screened my latest documentary, “Library of the Early Mind,” to a good crowd at the New Orleans Convention Center, where the American Library Association is holding its national convention. We were in an evening program that included “The Most Dangerous Man in America,” the Academy Award-nominated doc about Daniel Ellsburg, which also drew a good crowd in the Convention Center’s 400-seat auditorium. The NO screening is one of about 40 paid gigs we’ve done across the country since we opened at Harvard University’s Askwith Forum in October, and it’s been from LA to New York in the interim.
With more screenings in the fall in places ranging from Dublin to Chicago, and a DVD release set for the fall, we’ve already seen our investment in the film more than pay back. (I’ll write a series in the near future that goes through a look at the business of the film). But one of the base realities that has made these business possibilities very real: The emergence in the last decade of portable HD projectors, most often using LCD technology.
These projectors are in universities, auditoriums, libraries, museums and theaters across the country. Whereas in 1999 you had to rent theaters with 35mm projectors and carry or ship cans of film to the destination, now it’s possible to create theater experiences in spaces that are much less expensive. My doc has had New York screenings at the New York Public Library’s 200-seat South Court Auditorium and at the Scholastic Theater in Soho; we’ve been to Pohlad Hall at Minneapolis’s stunning new Central Library and at UCLA’s Korn Convocation Hall.
Almost always, we’ve projected from a MacBook Pro at the podium using a 4 gigabyte Quicktime file in HD. Occasionally, we’ve been asked to do DVD, and in one instance in Montreal, I screened through their PC laptop from a 4 gig USB. 2.0 thumb drive.
These projectors, whether ceiling-mounted or on an AV cart, just keep getting less expensive. Because of that, the pipeline has changed dramatically. Whereas film festivals used to be an initial place where you wanted to screen – because they had the equipment you could not find cheaply elsewhere – that equipment is now pretty much everywhere.
As much as digital camcorders and laptop editing, these digital projectors are a key to DIY distribution, and to the grassroots documentary movement in general.
In most instances, I’d venture, the quality of well-projected HD files is as good as typically-projected 35mm film. It’s not like a decade ago when it was immediately obvious you were watching “a video” in all its muddy, smeared glory.
But the words well-projected are key.
After dozens of screenings, I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps one in four of these HD projectors is properly maintained and calibrated. In one screening in Philadelphia, the color shift was a pronounced blue-yellow. In one California screening, the whites were blown out badly. In some the hue is orange, in other places green. Sometimes the colors faded in a vignetted way.
In New Orleans, there was a weird red static that popped up in areas of deep black – horrified, I asked the AV guy what was going on. “Oh, that happened all through the Ellsburg film, too,” he said . Because those screenings were done via DVD, it’s possible the problem there was not in the projector but in the DVD deck or the connections between (a task for this week is to try to get a handle on what that was – email me if you know).
Rarely was the problem fixable on-site through the remote menu, and often the remotes for ceiling-mounted projectors were nowhere to be found; when there was a tech person present, there was nothing on the settings that could fully recover the problem; often there was no tech person; often the people running the screening were reticent about letting me try to adjust the projector.
When you think about hours put into color correction, think about the output quality and you might get depressed.
One tech guy told me that it has to do with the three-color nature of LCD projectors and that these elements don’t degrade uniformly – the equivalent, I suppose, of why one shoelace breaks and the other lasts for another six months, despite apparent uniform use and stresses. Or perhaps a more apt analogy is when one color element in your printer needs replacing before others.
One study showed this to be true.
It seems the problem is multiple:
First, I found in my experiences that AV people at many venues don’t give the projectors regular checks. I asked some AV people at some venues about protocol, and got little more than shrugs. Most projectors were simply rolled in and out of AV closets and given little thought otherwise.
Second, most organizations look at these projectors as a one-time cost. At many cash-strapped universities, such as at UCLA, they knew the projector needed replacing but couldn’t get the funds (although ironically and happily, they paid a hefty fee for the screening, flew me out, put me up for five nights at the UCLA Guest House, and rented me a car for the duration, because that came out of a separate, generously endowed fund for such events).
Third, again perhaps because of cuts or just protocol, AV people were rarely there when the screening took place. AV people seem 9-to-5 animals these days; screenings are night events, and the sense of things being “all set” when they cut out for the day is commonplace.
So what to do?
I’ve actually output a variety of versions of the film through Final Cut’s Quicktime conversion, with some calibrations that are ready to take on problems at the pre-screening tech check. I have output with files with brightness at -2 and -4, so they can deal with a too-bright projector without needing to get into the projector menu.
Color is another matter. In theory, one could create multiple files with color leaning one way and another, but that problem is geometrically larger.
But here’s the funny thing – people just don’t seem to notice. After the NO screening, I mentioned to a few people at the reception that the “red static” was unfortunate. None of them had even seen it. At that Philadelphia screening in which the color shift was heavy, one audience member asked me at the panel following the screening whether I’d done that for artistic effect, sort of like Picasso’s blue period. “No,” my event host graciously intoned, “our projector needs replacing.”
In the tour with this film, in which we’ve shown to many thousands of people with tremendously positive response and very little nitpicking, it’s become so much more obvious that when you put a film on a particular topic before an audience that’s deeply interested in that topic, some of these technical issues are of little importance to them. That’s a good thing, because as much as one can obsess on one’s film at home, you cannot control all the variables once you step out your door.
The reactions in the first 24 hours to the release of Final Cut Pro X are somewhat mixed, with a good deal of the “Apple skepticism” that has rightfully followed their constant push to be cutting edge (such as iPods with inaccessible batteries that will last forever but don’t, or the irony of Apple beginning as an effort to hack AT&T’s phone monopoly for free calls, and decades later partnering with them in near monopolistic practice with the iPhone ).
This time the FCP X version has eliminated adjunct programs under the premise that the program itself will do it better. Based on that alone, I may keep FCP 7 for a while. The new program eliminates a DVD-authoring function, a move that seems both premature (I’m going to New Orleans this weekend to screen my doc, and they insist on using a DVD; we are also getting volumes of requests for when our DVD release is coming). Apple seems to want to force the notion that DVDs are dead and the future of film is digital viewing on (iPod/iPhone/iPad/Apple TV).
That’s where Apple’s quest for world domination bumps up against its penchant for innovation. I would rather seel my work via digital downloads, but an awful lot of people are perfectly happy with their DVD players, and will be for a while.
But, on the other hand, it seems true that Apple targets for users in the 25th to 75th percentile. They’ll let iMovie suffice for the low end, and concede the high end to Avid and potentially others. The loss of Color, for example, seems an acknowledgment that most people color-correct in FCP anyway.
But the first 24 hours since release is getting the discussion going. Other reactions to FCPX, starting with Ars Technica:
(Larry) Jordan doesn’t entirely agree with Apple’s assessment of the industry, though. The new color editing and grading tools, including what Jordan calls “power windows,” may replace Color for most users. But, while the built-in audio editing, processing, and effects are top notch, Final Cut Pro X just isn’t capable of multi-track audio recording. Also, Jordan said, “the inability to apply effects, volume, and pan settings to a track is a huge omission.”
And while Final Cut Pro—along with Compressor 4—excels at delivering video for distribution via the Web, the industry still relies on discs for delivery and sales. “Apple is fixated on downloads,” Jordan told Ars. “However, the world of media is using DVDs and Blu-ray to make money. I am personally very disappointed that Apple did not continue DVD Studio Pro.”
For users who still need to deliver projects on disc, they will have to use the existing version of DVD Studio Pro or consider Adobe Encore.
Most vexing for some pro users, however, is the lack of tape control for import and export. While Final Cut Pro X has some capacity to import from tape, there is no ability to control output to tape. Final Cut Pro X is largely built on the assumption that footage is captured digitally and output directly to some digital form. Editors that work in the broadcasting industry in particular, where tape is still regularly used, may not be able to work with these limitations. Again, the ability to install FCPX while still holding on to and using FCP7 will be advantageous here.
Here’s The Candler Blog:
Final Cut and Avid were written around videotape workflows. Not only are fewer crews shooting tape today, but even film can now be laid off to digital files and stored on massive hard drives. The age of tape is one of precision and tangibility, with media that could be labeled, handed off, shelved, retrieved, and so on. But it is coming to an end.
We are entering the age of tapeless editing, one which asks us to be more stringent about backups, more exacting about our organization and more considerate about our space limitations. It is unclear how robust Apple’s file management is in FCP X, though they did show off some cool tricks involving keywords and smart folders. The Las Vegas demo focused heavily, in fact only, on tapeless workflows, which should be a sign of great things to come. Tape has become a hindrance that manages to slow down workflows even when it is extricated from the process. If FCP X can drag the champions of tape into the next era of post-production, then it’s worth not only every penny, but every headache that is sure to come on everyone’s first project.
And, finally, MacGasm:
FCX is going to be great program that’s undoubtedly the best thing for most FCX buyers right out of the box. For the proshops and powerusers that need more from it, they’ll hang on to Final Cut Pro 7 for the near future. My guess is many users will be slow to fully transition, but all eventually will. And at $299, even the skeptics will be buying it in June.
I’m looking forward to the excitement of moving into the new Final Cut X. Not so much looking forward to “packing up the old house” — relearning where everything is, redoing all of my workflows I’ve developed over the last ten years, converting old projects, etc. Despite some things I may miss about “the old place,” it’s clearly a move for the better, and you can’t beat the price.
Final Cut X popped up in the Apple App Store today, for $299.99. Let the examinations of it begin:
Aftermarket accessories always seem ridiculously overpriced, and what appears to be a $60 spring may fit in. But, on the other hand, the DSLR Follow Focus from DSLR Solutions looks like a simple problem-solver that’s multiples less expensive than gear-driven follow-focus set-ups. We’ll keep an eye out to see if anyone has any luck with this.
The amazing evolution of camcorders means that the price point for making documentaries goes even lower, and the Holy Grail of video quality has nearly become an afterthought, because you can expect quality from so many inexpensive cameras.
Alister at HD Warrior went out on a shoot with the little Sony HXR-NX70, and came back impressed:
The Sony NX70 coped admirably with all situations thrown at it and the 1080 50p pictures on my 50″ Panasonic plasma were truly breathtaking, solid and sharp as a tac, in fact this wee camera produces better pictures than camcorders 4x it’s price, I kid you not. I am so glad I plumbed for the NX70 though I saw its potential at Haydock last month and put my name down for a camera after that show.
The camera is not availalbe yet but open for pre-orders at various outlets. The camera lists at $2,799.