Over the last two weeks, a huge amount of grief and panic has been caused by imprecise use of language. Specifically, the definition of the word “pro” that has been implicitly adopted in the pro vs. consumer FCP X conversation, is incoherent. As a consequence, the word “consumer” is also being misapplied. Nobody seems to have noticed.
Look at the features that have become the focus of this debate: XML/OMF/EDL export, audio track assignment, deck control, video I/O. Who needs these features? Primarily, it’s people delivering for broadcast, and people cutting feature films. That’s what “pro” has come to mean in the current discussion: broadcast and feature film work. And if you’re not a pro, you’re a consumer.
This has lead to the creation of a narrative in which the old FCP was targeted primarily at pros, because it had these features, while the new version is targeted primarily at consumers, because it lacks these features. In other words, Apple’s focus has shifted, from the pro market to the consumer market.
The problem becomes obvious when you restate this narrative with the unpacked definitions of “pro” and “consumer”. The old version of FCP was targeted primarily at editors doing broadcast/feature work because —
Wait. No. It wasn’t.
FCP has always been primarily targeted at the overwhelming majority of actual video pros (defined here simply as people who get paid to edit video) who don’t do broadcast/feature work — they do web video, event video, corporate video. These folks are probably more than 80% of the market for video editing software sold at a non-trivial price point.
This is why Apple didn’t wait on features like XML support before shipping FCP X. Not because it’s a “consumer” product (consumers do not buy $300 content creation software), but because most of the actual pro video market — if we count everyone who makes money editing video as a pro — does not require high-end workflow features.
Fundamentally, Apple’s priorities didn’t shift from the original Final Cut Pro to FCP X. The reason FCP 7 had a bunch of features to support more niche markets, and the initial release of FCP X is missing some of these features, is simple: ‘classic’ FCP had been around longer, so Apple had worked its way around to implementing lower-priority features, i.e. features that matter to fewer customers.
The same thing will happen — is happening already — with FCP X. If you believe this process lead to a credible tool for broadcast/feature work the last time around, there is no reason to believe it won’t this time. And probably a lot faster; the first release of FCP X is much closer to meeting the requirements of these market segments than Final Cut Pro 1.0 was in 1999.