Thursday, June 23, 2011

Seriously David, What are you drinking?

[UPDATE 2:50PM It appears that David's review is now out of beta. They've posted a new version that includes several changes, in particular noting features that are missing, the applications that are gone, etc. He hasn't noted the bugs he encountered, or the cool new features that are coming, but you can't have everything.
The update: Apple’s Final Cut Is Dead. Long Live Final Cut.
Note: I have corrected the spelling of levelly in my piece.

UPDATE: 4:00 PM And now he's posted a fairly exhaustive piece on missing (and not missing) features: Professional Video Editors Weigh In on Final Cut Pro X

UPDATE 9:00 AM 6/24: Richard Harrington has posted his own extensive response to David's post, which is well worth reading: My Response to David Pogue’s  “Professional Video Editors Weigh In on Final Cut Pro X”

As the story has unfolded, I've been trying to remain as neutral as possible on Final Cut Pro X . Sure, I've been excited to find out what was coming, but as an editing dilettante, the outcome - is it really pro? how good is it? - hasn't interested me as much as the story. I've tried to levelly report on the negative criticisms, as well as the positive ones - when I can find them.

But I was reading David Pogue's column in The New York Times today, and had I been drinking I would have done a spit-take all over the keyboard, because seriously, I don't know what he's on about.

David starts off by describing the problems Apple had when they rewrote iMovie a few years back and changed the interface, and "took three years of upgrades" before they caught up with it's predecessor.

Oh...not a good start...

But wait! David tells us:
Fortunately, Apple hasn’t forgotten. If there’s anything important missing from the new Final Cut, I can’t find it.
That all sounds good, but wait! You can't find anything missing? Do you not have the Internet where you work? Have you not heard about the absence of: Multican, tape ingest, Soundtrack Pro, DVD Authoring, External monitoring, opening older projects, Color...

And the new features and improvements are so gigantic...
I don't know if I'd say gigantic. There's certainly some interesting tricks up Final Cut Pro X's sleeve, but even after seeing the demos, I'm not sure I'd say it was gigantic.

Maybe I'm just a bit jaded. Let's continue...
...the upgrade is almost a no-brainer — especially because the price is $300, not $1,000.
No, no, no. There's some major errors there. Firstly, the previous upgrade was $300 from Final Cut Studio 2 to 3, and actually, Final Cut Pro X is $400 when you add in Motion 5 and Compressor. Yes, that's less than half what you'd have paid for Final Cut Studio 3 if you're "upgrading" from iMovie, but if you're upgrading from Final Cut Studio that's no great deal here at all. It's about what we'd have expected.

In fact, if Apple had rolled out this release as Final Cut Studio 4, without SoundTrack Pro, Color, and DVD Studio Pro, and said the new price was $999, and the upgrade price was $400, I'm pretty sure existing owners would have been rioting in the streets already. The point is; for new buyers, it's a deal. For existing buyers, it's not; unless Final Cut Pro X is a bigger upgrade than we'd have expected..
All of the programs formerly called Final Cut Studio have been rolled into Final Cut except Motion and Compressor...
That's not just a bit of an exaggeration, that's completely wrong too! Some of the features from Color and SoundTrack Pro have been rolled into Final Cut Pro. But not all of them. And DVD Studio Pro is gone completely; no rolling going on there. That's sloppy reporting at best.
First — and this is huge — there’s no more waiting to “render.” You no longer sit there, dead in the water, while the software computes the changes, locking up the program in the meantime, every time you add an effect or insert a piece of video that’s in a different format.
Yeah, kinda. While it's a huge improvement, you can still wait; just try moving an Event from one drive to another and find out you can't do some other things due to the background process. Yes, things are improved a great deal, but it's not a magic wand. And unfortunately, isn't this just giving us something that Adobe Premiere was doing already? Is catching up to the competition; "huge?"

Normally I'd let it go, but the "gigantic's" and the "no-brainers" before probably have got me getting too picky.

David does then list a number of cool new features, though I can't help thinking that some of them sound good in theory, but may be less so in practice:
  • keywording sounds good; if you do it
  • analyzing clips for people and shots sounds good; if it works accurately
He almost concludes:
The bottom line: The rewritten Final Cut is much, much easier to use than the old one, and its immediacy keeps your creative flow going.
I'm not sure I agree with that blanket statement; certainly not the second half. If you're used to iMovie, then maybe it is easier to use and your creativity will keep flowing. As a frequent user of Final Cut Pro 7, and occasional user of iMovie, I found my creativity sort of hit a roadblock when I first opened the application.

I'm not saying they were wrong to change it. And maybe learning a new way will actually be a one-step-back, two-steps-forward kind of thing for us old dogs, but there's a lot of us out there. Don't over sell it.

If you're used to Final Cut Studio, you will spend some time floundering around.
Also, the fact that Final Cut is much less intimidating may be a bitter pill to swallow for professionals who have sweated blood to master the old version. Online, some early adopters are already cursing how “consumer-y” the new program looks.
Oh come on! Let's not go there. Yes I know there are some pros- that may be acting that way, but there are actual features that pros need, and they are rightly concerned about some of the changes in the way Final Cut Pro X works. Changes that may make sense for the individual user, but might not for those working in editing suites (the lack of self-contained Projects, how media is handled, etc.)

And I like things that are powerful and easy to use. What I don't like are things that are powerful, easy to use, but force you to do what they want, rather than what you want.

David does note some issues:
I also ran into a bunch of typical first-release bugs. Don’t entrust your next Cannes entry to this program until Apple produces the inevitable bug-fix patch.
Really? Tell us more? Because, you know, that could be really interesting and helpful to know just how buggy and problematic you found it.
The biggest disappointment...
Oh, you're not going to tell us then? But you devoted paragraphs to new features! Just a couple of sentences on the bugs?
The biggest disappointment is that Final Cut X can’t open old Final Cut projects. They’re now orphaned, stuck forever in the old program. Apple says the architecture of the new program is too different from the old one
Yes, that is a disappointment.
Yes, some bugs need fixing, and the “coming soon” features need to come soon.
What bugs? What "coming soon" features? The only ones I've even heard whispered about is multicam and importing older projects, and you've just said that the latter is dead in the water!
Final Cut X is already intuitive, powerful and very sweet.
Intuitive? Only when you know how it works. Powerful? Speed wise yes, some features yes, powerful as in does everything the competition does? No. Very Sweet? You know it does look sweet in a "isn't that interface different to what we are used to" sort of way, but very sweet? Even this fanboy thinks that might be gilding the apple.

New York Times: Apple’s Final Cut Is Dead. Long Live Final Cut.

1 comment:

poguenyt said...

OMG, Michael--PLEASE read the revised review. I think you'll find a much better informed writeup:

Your whole post is based on an (admittedly bad) early draft.

And then PLEASE read my followup today at

Looking forward to an update to your post!