Apple's Final Cut X: right idea, appalling execution

Apple's Final Cut X: right idea, appalling execution

Summary: Apple Final Cut Pro-X is not the great upgrade Apple though it would be. Here is my enterprisey take.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Apple
37

As I have said on many an occasion, I am an unashamed Apple fanboi. I am also enterprisey in my leanings. On occasion, I fancy myself as the second coming of Steven Spielberg though in truth that would best be regarded as deranged and wishful thinking. So when Apple released Final Cut Pro X I was more than eager to see what could be done to improve a well loved but ageing video production solution. The result, even for this aspiring video maker was little short of disastrous.

While Apple had done its level best to improve the user experience, that came at the cost of dumbing down a solution that I understand is aimed at serious producers of video content. In my day to day world, it is akin to hiding the complexity of debit and credit but gutting functional control. What do I mean?

The previous version of Final Cut was unquestionably showing its age. Fully featured and highly flexible yet clumsy and over burdened with processing overhead, it certainly needed an overhaul. But in the process (sic) of reinvention, it seems the gnomes of 1 Infinity Loop sacrificed enterpriseyness for populist appeal. In the process, they didn't just drop the ball, they stomped on it as well. How?

Apple says:

Rebuilt from the ground up to meet the needs of today’s creative editors, Final Cut Pro breaks free from the restrictions of old-fashioned timeline tracks. A new, dynamic editing interface lets you experiment freely while working with extraordinary speed and precision.

Whatever Apple did, FCP-X divided the community of users, best summed by The Register a couple of months back when it said:

The early response to Final Cut Pro X is at best mixed, with some complaining that the film editing application lacks XML support, and worse still, is bereft of backward compatibility with previous versions of the software.

Others who use Final Cut Pro are saying it's too early to be moaning about the application, which Apple said yesterday had been "rebuilt from the ground up".

The complete re-write of the software has left many film and video editors perplexed by the radical changes to Apple's Final Cut Pro, which competes with Avid in the film editing software market.

A steady stream of insults against and in support of Apple is currently flowing around the blogosphere.

One forum over at Creative Cow has fanbois waving handbags at each other about the new look application.

I observed much of this from the sidelines but was ultimately prepared to fork over $199 for the upgrade in the hope FCP-X would give me much welcome relief from interminable rendering time and a new UI that would prove more intuitive. What a mistake. I feel cheated.

Rather than reprise much of the to and fro on this topic I will simply recount the result of my experience. Instead of giving me what I needed, Apple took away much of what was essential, i.e. control over the creative process.

In the end, Apple has done something I could never have anticipated: it has driven me gratefully into the arms of Adobe Premiere and After Effects, even though that is at much higher cost.

Many colleagues welcome the new FCP-X and that's just fine. But as someone who is aspiring to deliver more than edited home movies, FCP-X doesn't come close to meeting my needs. To make matters worse, in going through the upgrade, Apple took away my ability to return to the clunky yet annoyingly familiar older version.

I see this in a much broader context. While colleagues clamor for the consumerization of enterprise technology, none of us should forget that runs the risk of yielding a less than optimal result.

Those looking at stodgy old enterprisey apps and thinking their day is done could learn a great deal from Apple's botched job. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. It's a very bad idea.

In its defence, Apple has said it will address concerns. Unfortunately, that doesn't matter to the many who rely on professional production systems and in a world where video production is becoming increasingly popular. These folk need to get things done now. I count myself as among them, even though I may never win any Oscars.

I confidently expect to see others reporting a run for the Adobe hills as they seek to regain control over their creative needs.

Topic: Apple

Dennis Howlett

About Dennis Howlett

Dennis Howlett is a 40 year veteran in enterprise IT, working with companies large and small across many industries. He endeavors to inform buyers in a no-nonsense manner and spares no vendor that comes under his microscope.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

37 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Apple's Final Cut X: right idea, appalling execution

    But the whole point of the AppleVerse is it supplies technology for people who don't want to think ("It just works straight out of the box" etc.) Your average Mac user doesn't want complicated they just want it to work. Many of my friends who started with a PC are now with Apple for that very reason and they are very happy. There is a consequence of this approach and you have just described it perfectly.

    There are professional editing suites out there - as you have mentioned - for those PC & MAC users who want to do things a in a more sophisticated manner - but for you average computer user, what Apple is offerering will be perfect.
    psychobdelic
    • RE: Apple's Final Cut X: right idea, appalling execution

      @psychobdelic Then they need to use iMovie, not the supposedly professional editing tool.
      Aerowind
    • well, yeah, except...

      @psychobdelic

      [i]"There are professional editing suites out there - as you have mentioned - for those PC & MAC users who want to do things a in a more sophisticated manner - but for you average computer user, what Apple is offerering will be perfect. "[/i]

      They left the word [b]Pro[/b] in the title. What you describe is consumer grade software (and, as such, it's a bit pricey).
      UrNotPayingAttention
    • Whether or not that's Apple's demographic

      @psychobdelic it is not now and never has been Final Cut's demographic. I can understand lobbing iMovie at the unthinking masses. But what the heck does that have to do with Final Cut Pro? Hobbyists wouldn't lay out that kind of cash, like... ever!
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter
      • I find it very ironic

        @rbethell

        The term "unthinking masses" referring to folks who, ummm, supposedly didn't upgrade their "mission critical" software to a brand new version without doing proper testing.
        oncall
    • RE: Apple's Final Cut X: right idea, appalling execution

      @psychobdelic Your average Mac user shouldn't be playing around in FCP. This is a professional video editing application (pre-FCPX anyway). Unless you can tell me the difference between DF and NDF timecode, upper vs lower field dominance, or what a J edit is then you have no business using a professional video editing application. End of story. Use iMovie for your little home videos. Don't make me fork out the cash and training time for a new editing suite just because Apple wants to dumb down their NLE for the masses.
      brent@...
  • RE: Apple's Final Cut X: right idea, appalling execution

    [i]To make matters worse, in going through the upgrade, Apple took away my ability to return to the clunky yet annoyingly familiar older version.[/i]

    Surely you can just uninstall the new one, and re-install the old one?
    Badgered
    • He can, but that kind of defeats the whole purpose

      of the whine, doesn't it?
      fr_gough
    • RE: Apple's Final Cut X: right idea, appalling execution

      @Badgered Um, no, actually you can't. The older product has been withdrawn from sale.
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter
    • RE: Apple's Final Cut X: right idea, appalling execution

      @Badgered Not only because FCP7 is no longer for sale, but one thing you never want to do with Apple's pro stuff is to install an update and then try to downgrade to a previous version. For anything considered reliable you need to do a clean OS install. In fact it's so touchy that you should never update Quicktime, ProKit, FCP, or any other updates that affect the frameworks that FCS uses without first researching what others have experienced with each update. I have seem some sites out there with tables of which versions of updates play nicely together. So I guess in short no, re-installing the previous version of FCP is not simple or quick.
      brent@...
      • Actually... It's far more simple...

        @brent@...

        Rolling the update back via time machine is extremely simple and quick...
        i8thecat3
    • RE: Apple's Final Cut X: right idea, appalling execution

      @Badgered This is nonsense. I have BOTH FCP 7 and FCP X installed and both run just fine.
      KerwinF
  • RE: Apple's Final Cut X: right idea, appalling execution

    You lost me at "Apple took away my ability". Really dude? Did Apple make you buy the new version too? Did the force the product on you? As someone that relies on a solution for their livelihood, common sense should have lead you to understand what the product is first and then made a purchase decision.

    You can't blame Apple for your decision.
    mrgoodall
    • RE: Apple's Final Cut X: right idea, appalling execution

      @mrgoodall - I'm not blaming Apple for my decision. I blame myself for not realising just how bad it would turn out to be.
      dahowlett
    • WOW!!! Bravo to you sir!

      @mrgoodall

      So, nevermind blaming Apple for releasing a botched version of software... blame the person who bought it.

      Your lord Jobs would be quite proud of you.
      UrNotPayingAttention
  • Switch to Windows; download MovieMaker - it's free!

    You can install it on you Mac
    honeymonster
    • RE: Apple's Final Cut X: right idea, appalling execution

      @honeymonster How about "no." Windows MovieMaker is NOT in Final Cut Pro's paygrade in any way at all... not even Final Cut Pro X.
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter
    • RE: Apple's Final Cut X: right idea, appalling execution

      @honeymonster lol wow.... are you serious?
      brent@...
    • RE: Apple's Final Cut X: right idea, appalling execution

      @honeymonster

      Or you could use any of the professional video editing solutions on Windows - I know who would have thought it - other video editors are available - at least on Windows.

      Tried most of them, currently using Sony Vegas - Final Cut Pro, I've never really liked anyway ;-)
      tonymcs@...
  • RE: Apple's Final Cut X: right idea, appalling execution

    I appreciate the direction Apple is taking the product. What I don't understand from people that use Final Cut is that you claim Apple is taking away your ability to use the older version. This doesn't make any sense.
    Keonidas