Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chris Fenwick Buries Final Cut

Video Director/Editor Chris Fenwick took a carving knife and plunged it into the heart of Final Cut yesterday as he spent an hour explaining why he's switched to Premiere Pro in one of Adobe's "Ask A CS Pro" webcasts. Sounding at times defensive "I'm an Apple fanboy, I own Apple shares,"and at other times combative "QuickTime 10 is like QuickTime for my Mom" he did a reasonable job of outlining what features attracted him to Premiere Pro;
  • Getting away from QuickTime Pro color issues
  • Premiere Pro uses all your machines processors
  • The Mercury Playback engine plays content without having to recompress
  • Randy Ubillos is working on iMovie
For the most part he made sense while covering ground that others have already explored. Most Final Cut Pro users are only too aware that Premiere Pro has leapfrogged Final Cut with it's true 64-bit multi-processor and graphics processor support, enabling real-time processing of more complex content.

But at the same time you got the sense Chris has some unresolved issues that may not be related to Final Cut Pro at all. It sounded like he was still getting over having to leave his Media100 system for Final Cut, which he admitted "I was kind of emotionally invested in" and that he "got to the party kind of late." It sort of felt like he jumped to Premiere Pro because he didn't want to get burned again...after all, he was looking for a replacement to Final Cut as early as 2004.

And the argument that because QuickTime was created in 1991 and the Mercury Playback Engine was created in 2010 it had to be better seemed a bit of a straw man. If there's any complaint to be made against QuickTime, it's not a legacy issue but an audience focus issue; Apple's QuickTime team hasn't been focused on professional video.

Here's some of the high-lights of the event:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him;

As an editor, I think we need to have one eye on our timeline, but we also have to have one eye on the future, and to do that, we have to understand the past

The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones,

Randy Ubillos wrote Premiere 1.0. Then went to Macromedia and started on Keygrip, which got bought by Apple [and became Final Cut]. He was intimate with FC through 4.0. 4.0 was the last great revolutionary change[...] Ubillos then went on to Aperture, and iMovie, and then iMovie for the iPhone, which I kind of find disturbing, because if this is the smartest guy in video, I don’t want him working on video editing for my niece, I want him making them for me.

So let it be with Caesar ... The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:

Ultimately, an editing system will work better if everything is in the same codec – it just will
[...] The Mercury Playback engine let’s you throw anything at the screen

If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answered it ...

“Driving a car, and driving a bicycle are a bit different” ....... I’m not saying Final Cut is a bicycle.

Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest,
(For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all; all honourable men)

Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral ...
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man….

Transcoding is a drag. Not only does it generate a bunch of new media and take a lot of time, but you are also giving up visual quality by doing the transcode.

[...] Shane Hurlbut says that image quality in CS5 is better

He hath brought many captives home to Rome,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?

I want them to continue to give me access to the very best processors available, and I want to be able to use them all. […] The problem is that Final Cut really only has the ability to work with one of those processors.

When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.

Motion doesn’t work very well…It demo’s well. 

You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?

QuickTime 10 is like QuickTime for my Mom.

Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.

I’m not advocating deleting Final Cut Pro from your hard disk; that’s not what I’m about 

I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:

Gamma Shifts: if you take video content out of FCP, it never looks exactly the same. 

What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?
O judgement! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason…. Bear with me;

I was really impressed by the multi-cam support in Premiere Pro. It worked much more intuitively than in Final Cut Pro – this is coming from someone who never uses multi-cam in Final Cut Pro.

My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

I think my fear is, that [Final Cut being discontinued] might happen. If you look at the news, Apple just killed their server line. … but what’s important is Steve’s response to that; he said "hardly anybody bought that." Well that’s not making me very comfortable Steve. Because if you look at the revenue from Final Cut Pro compared to iPad sales, that’s a small sliver.

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