A ‘pro’ app with missing features

Well, the “It’s not a pro app!” freak-outs have started. The only real surprises for me, in terms of feature omissions, are support for video I/O cards and XML exporting. I expected those things to be there from day one, and they’re not.

But I don’t buy that this isn’t a pro app. To me, this looks a lot more like a pro app that was pushed out the door with features still missing than like a consumer app. It has DPX/OpenEXR exporting, 4K support, and credible video scopes… these are not ‘consumer’ features. Plus, there’s the extensive metadata/tagging stuff, which seems designed for large, complex projects.

OpenEXR is not, last time I checked, a consumer video format.

Why would Apple do this, instead of waiting and doing a more feature-complete release later? Well, the key to answering that question is to look at who this release is useful to: it’s seriously useful to anyone who does work in formats FCP 7 doesn’t support natively, and who doesn’t need offline/online editing. Among other folks, this includes most DSLR shooters, who are a pretty big market. Apple presumably figured it was worth getting something out there for these folks ASAP.

The real issue here is that Apple is sufficiently secretive about its decision making process that they’re probably not just going to come out and say this; they’re going to let people freak out for, probably, months, before missing features start quietly showing up in updates.

If this seems hard to swallow, consider that we’re talking about the same company that, in 2007, shipped a new smartphone platform that didn’t support third-party apps, copy and paste, and other features that people thought should be taken for granted, without so much as a word about future plans to fill in those gaps. People freaked out. But things turned out pretty well for the iPhone in the long run.

FCP X seems to provide a strong technical foundation, and some long overdue rethinking of the standard non-linear editing user interface conventions. Apple has a history of starting off with simplified products and building on them incrementally. Being annoyed by the fact that FCP X isn’t useful (to you) today is perfectly reasonable; personally I was hoping it would solve a couple of problems for us that it doesn’t solve yet. But writing off Apple in the pro video editing market is premature.

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4 Responses to A ‘pro’ app with missing features

  1. marcus.sg says:

    “The real issue here is that Apple is sufficiently secretive about its decision making process that they’re probably not just going to come out and say this; they’re going to let people freak out for, probably, months, before missing features start quietly showing up in updates.”

    That’s the issue. Sensible folks KNOW that in time, the bread and butter features are going to show. I said sensible folks. You can ignore the histrionics and dummy spits of forums and the twitterverse for the moment. The app will get there, but it’s Apple’s culture of silence and “Ta-Daa!” , like some magician at a childrens party that is going to irk Pro users no end. I can’t think of a single instance outside of this year’s WWDC where Apple have broken that M.O. Pros like to see what’s coming down the pike but Apple don’t operate like that, which leaves a dangerous void for Apple and rampant internet speculation/whinery.

    Right now, for one type of workflow the app is awesome, but for the rest of us, right now the app is pretty much an island with one palm tree in the middle and no way off. I can see the coastguard on the horizon, they’re going to take a few months to get here, but there’ll be a few familiar faces on board to greet me when they do.

    As it stands, FCP7 isn’t going to stop working. It makes no sense to “jump ship” when the product you have in your hands already, does what you need it to do right now. You can learn FCPX with the expectation that in the near future it’s going to rock. There’s a lot you can do today, and exciting, different ways to do it.

    Going 64bit AND a ground-up re-write is an immense challenge that’s obviously going to take some time and prioritise certain features over others. Not abandon, but prioritise. Do you remember the kerfuffle over Quicktime X ? “ZOMG wh3re ar3 my f33tures? Appl3 is teh lame” went the editosphere. The informed ones amongst them would have read John Siracusa’s review of Snow Leopard, and in particular, the section on Quicktime X

    http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2009/08/mac-os-x-10-6.ars/6

    If you want to see why Apple have done what they have done with FCPX and where it is going, you really need to read that article above.

    A modern foundation doesn’t just pop out of nowhere folks. How long did it take Adobe just to transition out of Carbon code? how about Quark? Avid?

    It all involves some growing pains but the future results are going to be good. If there’s one company that can do transitions it’s Apple.

    68k to Power PC. OS 9 to OS X. Power PC to Intel.

    Breaking new ground in established markets: The iPod, the iPhone and iPad. Give it time (and not really a lot of time with the new online model of distribution: no pressing of discs, no boxes to package. no wharehousing, haulage, shipping, shelving) and FCPX will deliver.

  2. Smash Ashby says:

    “they’re probably not just going to come out and say this; they’re going to let people freak out for, probably, months, before missing features start quietly showing up in updates.”

    That’s what we are hoping for, and even though admittedly that’s what happened with the iPhone, it certainly wasn’t the case with with Shake…

  3. Jussi says:

    Hi,

    while you are right in many ways, the biggest issue here is the immediate EOL:ing of FCS3. If I wanted to add another FCP workstation at a customers Post Production facility, I would have to hope that one of the local Apple resellers has an extra FCS3 box lying around, else I would have to pirate the software. Right now FCPX is not usable in many workflows, and it might take a while before we get the needed features (XML support, OMF support etc.).

    FCPX is a very promising platform, no doubt. Apple just botched the release by claiming that the software is ready for professional use EOLing FCS3. Has Apple FUBAR:ed their relationship with professionals remains to be seen… /jussi

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