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Apple Dropped the Ball....

I’m seeing this all over the various forums, blogs and twitter feeds in one variant or another in regards to the big Final Cut Pro X reveal at the FCPUG SuperMeet in Las Vegas last Tuesday.

“Hey, don’t knock down this product when it was just a SNEAK PEEK people! Sure there’s some questions out there but we should all be happy that Apple has at least shown us something. You know they’re normally super secret so the fact that actually showed Final Cut Pro X is a big change in the company. I’m excited about these new changes! Now we have to wait till June to see what features are still in the application before we start to complain.”

Apple had two freakin’ hours of stage time available and they wasted it on just one hour of a super slick presentation. Of course we’re going to knock the presentation because all it did was leave us with many more questions than answers.

How long would it have taken to mention planned support for third party filters? 30 seconds?

Third party capture cards? 60 seconds?

Log and Capture / Edit to Tape support? (are they still there?) 20 seconds?

Customizable interface to replicate a more traditional editing style? 2 minutes?

Continued support of OMF, XML, EDL, AAF import / export? 30-60 seconds?

Text Tool? 2 minutes?

Track management? (as in allowing us to specify audio tracks for elements for ease of sending to ProTools and other sound editors) 1 minute?

The other ProApps? (as in are they being updated, retained and if so, expected releases?) 2 minutes?

In other words, MANY of the unanswered questions that all of us are asking could have been answered in that additional hour with plenty of time to spare.

Even if they didn’t want to show one of their patented slick slides or video demo, they could have at least told us about the various professional features that many of us use every day. But apparently those questions I’ve asked up above are somehow trade secrets that simply cannot be revealed because what if (gasp) one of the competitors (Avid, Adobe, Quantel, Autodesk, Vegas) finds out that Apple intends to retain standard pro features?

I’m sick and tired of sneak peeks and teases quite honestly. Put the product out there where we can truly test it out and ask questions like the Adobe, Avid, Autodesk, Quantel and all the other demonstrations that were out on the show floor. Put it in the hands of 1,000 beta testers in all sorts of production situations to get real world feedback instead of relying on a couple of post houses and maybe 10 beta testers. I spoke one on one with the CEO of Avid about the product and the future of the product. That was a useful conversation with frank questions and answers.

“I cannot speak about anything except what you just saw in the presentation” is the response one of my colleagues got from the Apple ProApps team after the “sneak peek.” In other words, you have questions, I have no answers. So what was the point in coming at all if you didn’t want to address the Pro Editors’ questions?

For fanboys it was the ultimate Apple dog and pony show last Tuesday.

But in the end, in front of 1700 video editors, on what could have been the night Apple completely re-invented non-linear editing, quite simply, Apple dropped the ball. Next time come prepared to answer very simple, very basic questions from the professionals in the room.

Posted by: walter biscardi on Apr 16, 2011 at 1:34:31 pmComments (11) Final Cut Pro, Apple

Apple's "All In" Move: Big Win or Epic Fail?

So by now it’s a known fact that the FCPUG Supermeet on April 12 in Las Vegas has been abruptly taken over by Apple. Yes, it says “special presenter” on the Supermeet Website but it’s a known fact now that it will be Apple showing off the new Final Cut Pro and most likely the entire new Studio suite.

Now we know that Apple has already broken with policy by allowing Larry Jordan to publicly make a few comments about a Final Cut Pro event in Cupertino a few months ago. This was a remarkable change and I definitely took that as a signal that Apple would be making an appearance at NAB. Allowing Larry to speak publicly was certainly a marketing ploy designed to drum up some interest in the product for the show. After all, we’ve been waiting two years to see something, anything, from Apple and of course Larry called the new FCP “jaw dropping.” I expected Apple to do one of its patented Sunday afternoon events so we’d all be talking about Final Cut Pro during the show and be able to pester Adobe and Avid about their responses to what Apple was going to offer. Or perhaps Apple would be the final presentation at the FCPUG SuperMeet. But to suddenly demand essentially a total takeover of the event? Nope, even I didn’t see that one coming.

Regardless of whether you applaud this move or not (I’m in the “or not” category) let’s take a look at what this means for Apple and Final Cut Pro. In the parlance of Las Vegas, Apple has gone “All In” for this one event. There is no Apple booth on the show floor. There is no Sunday Apple Marketing event. There is no ANYTHING from Apple other than a complete takeover of one of the largest paid gatherings of video editors at NAB. In other words, just one shot in front of an audience of the very people who will make or break the product and presentation.

This isn’t an iPhone, iPod, iPad, iAnything launch where the general public ooooohs and aaaaaahs and the latest slick Apple offering. Extensive press coverage of Steve Jobs giving one of his patented presentations including the “there’s one more thing” line dropping that one thing we can’t live without.

No, this is a product launch that directly affects the bottom line of those of us in Post Production make a living. Apple has been quietly working for two years to supposedly re-invent Final Cut Pro. They’ve now gone all-in to give us one look, one presentation in front of a crowd of post production professionals to make or break that two years of work.

So what does Apple now have to deliver? Quite simply, everything..

Forget the interface which seems to take up so much of the discussion, “will it be iMovie Pro or not?” Who cares? If it’s an intuitive interface and makes the application more efficient that’s fine. If it’s a crappy interface designed more for the iMasses and not a professional video editor, well then…….

I’m looking for the changes under the hood. Just a few of the things I’m looking for:

Media Management: No more files mysteriously going offline that I have to reconnect when I open a project. No more files just going off into the ether.

Offline / Online Workflow: We do documentaries with 200 to 500 hours of raw materials, would be nice not to have bring it all in as ProRes until the very end and do it in a very easy, efficient manner.

Format Integration: Native Format integration of H.264, MXF and others across ALL the applications. Does no good if Final Cut Pro can edit with something you can’t send into Color natively.

Project Settings: All settings remain with the Project, not global to the application. An editor should not have to constantly re-set Format, Capture Scratch, etc… each time they open a project.

TimeCode output: Timecode output via SDI like pretty much every other NLE out there.

On Screen Text Tool: Type and control your text on the Canvas, not in the Viewer.

Full Integration of the Suite: Adobe CS5 is the model, Final Cut Studio has to meet or exceed that level of integration across all apps.

There’s a lot more I could mention, but those are some of the top things I’m looking for and each of these items has to do with efficiency. At the end of the day, that’s what editors are looking for. The most efficient workflow to get my job done so I can spend more time on the creative and less time on the technical. Right now Adobe quite honestly has the lead on that one.

You know a while back I said this was basically going to be the make or break year for me with Final Cut Pro. Apple has made that decision pretty easy for me now.

Do we see the best Pro Non-Linear Application ever or do we get a watered down, single screen Prosumer level editing tool geared towards the iMasses and not Professional Post Production? Is Apple so confident they have the best product on the market that it’s worth taking over the entire SuperMeet? Or have they made something that’s really more prosumer targeted that won’t stand up to following demos by Avid / Premiere and will take 2 hours to convince us it’s the best product?

Two years in the making.

One Presentation.


Apple’s Biggest Win ever at NAB or one of the most Epic Fails of all time?

Tune in Tuesday, April 12th to find out.

Posted by: walter biscardi on Apr 7, 2011 at 9:19:02 amComments (54)

Professional Video Editor, Producer, Creative Director, Director since 1990.

Credits include multiple Emmys, Tellys, Aurora and CableAce Awards.

Creative Director for Georgia-Pacific and GP Studios, Atlanta. Former Owner / Operator of Biscardi Creative Media. The show you knew us best for was "Good Eats" on the Food Network. I developed the HD Post workflow and we also created all the animations for the series.

Favorite pastime is cooking with pizza on the grill one of my specialties. Each Christmas Eve we serve the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian seafood meal with approx. 30 items on the menu.

If I wasn't in video production I would either own a restaurant or a movie theater.



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