First Adobe, now Avid. Apple's competition for the hearts and minds of professional film and video editors is heating up further now that Avid is offering a "crossgrade" from Final Cut Pro (excluding the new FCP X version) to Media Composer for $999 - a fraction of its regular retail price ($2,500).
Apple has been under fire from pro video and film editors since its June release of Final Cut Pro X - a new version of its venerable video editing software that's a complete reboot, missing key features needed by many pros, sporting a radically different interface, and lacking the ability to import existing Final Cut Pro 7 projects. My colleague Scott Raymond has even declared that Apple is abandoning the professional market altogether.
The new version of Final Cut Pro, available for a fraction less than its predecessor but only through the online Mac App Store, has been derisively dismissed by some editors as little more than "iMovie Pro," and Apple has found itself in an uncustomary position of being on its heels.
Apple reacted by posting a FAQ answering many of the major questions that video editors have asked, and revealing that plans for new features, like multi-camera support, are due in an incremental release. But many of the answers Apple gives in the fact make it clear that the company's not reversing course or offering an alternative for video editors who don't find Final Cut Pro X viable for their workflows.
Avid, meanwhile, is itself credited with creating the modern digital video editing marketplace. The company was founded in 1987 and by the early 1990s had built up a legion of loyal users; it became the gold standard for use in professional video editing and, later, film. Its fortunes have waxed and waned as Apple, Adobe and other companies have introduced competitive video editing products, but Avid still retains a huge cachet with pro video editors, many who were originally trained on Avid systems. And in some respects, it's the workflow that Avid pioneered which Apple is trying to get away from in Final Cut Pro X.
In a post to the Avid Community blog, company CEO Gary Greenfield reiterated Avid's commitment to video pros. Without directly addressing the complaints about Apple, Greenfield said video editors have been in heated discussions recently "because this is about your livelihood," and added that Avid customers "can depend on us to be thinking about your needs first."
Adobe has similarly responded by offering Final Cut Pro users a deal of its own - Premiere Pro CS 5.5, Adobe's own pro video editing application, is also available at a steep discount for Final Cut Pro users - 50 percent off its regular retail price. The deal also applies to Avid Media Composer users. Adobe has created a Web site with information on switching to Premiere Pro.
Adobe's move is ironic: although the original Premiere originated on the Mac platform in 1991, Adobe stopped selling Premiere to Mac users in 2003 concurrent with a complete rewrite of the app and the introduction of Premiere Pro, available only for Windows. Adobe later developed a new version of Premiere Pro that worked on Macs, releasing it in 2007 with Creative Suite 3.