Simplicity

df_simplicityThe ongoing battle in all areas of the tech sector has focused on the conundrum of simplicity versus complexity. The central question being, whether or not a professional application needs to be complex by its very nature. We’ve seen this in the Final Cut Pro X arguments and we will see it again with the new Mac Pro. Clearly everything Apple has been doing for many years, is to enhance the user experience by hiding some of the complexity under the hood.

This recently has come home to me in several ways. First, when Apple launched Final Cut Pro X a little over two years ago, some of my acquaintances on the Pro Apps team made this comment in regard to the streamlining of user settings compared with FCP 7. They pointed out that they would no longer need to field those tech support calls from confused users. Although I’ve always found this versatility useful in FCP 7, I do recognize that what they were saying was quite true, as the myriad of user format options was overwhelming for nearly all beginning and casual users. By streamlining this, FCP X allows users to quickly dive in and start editing – with the added benefit of lower support costs for Apple.

I recently had my 2009 Mac Pro repaired at a local Apple Store. This took a longer-than-normal amount of time and towards the end, I was calling the Geniuses every other day to find out what the hold-up was. In those conversations, the tech on more than one occasion noted how complex the Mac Pro towers are and how long it takes to run the proper diagnostics in order to truly isolate and repair a hard-to-define issue. In the end, the repair was well done and they were more than fair. In fact, the final bill was so low that I’ve come to realize the Genius Bar service simply can’t be a profit center for Apple. It is, in fact, part of Apple’s holistic approach to the customer experience. From a corporate point-of-view, this means that pressure has to be on quick repair and lower operating costs. Under this concept, wholesale board swaps – even when it amounts to using a bazooka to kill an ant – are far cheaper than component-level electronics repair. With that philosophy, the design inherent in an iMac or new Mac Pro, is bound to yield rewards for Apple in the cost of operating its Genius Bar repair service.

Another variation of this is software. As part of the repair, certain components were replaced that tie into how software, like plug-ins, is serialized to a particular machine. In essence, my machine was now internally viewed by some of the licensing as a different computer. To clean up some of these issues – and to do an upgrade to Mavericks – I opted for a completely clean installation of the OS, coupled with re-installation of all applications and re-authorization of all necessary software and plug-ins. No migration. It’s the sort of thing that can do wonders for your machine’s performance, but it’s also something everyone avoids. This took two-and-a-half days. As I went through this process, the easiest part by far, was re-installation of any Apple application. Not only was this simple, thanks to the App Store, but some of the older apps that were installed from discs, were then subsequently upgraded to App Store versions. The second easiest was Adobe using Creative Cloud. Again, log-in and download the applications you want to use. Among the plug-ins, FxFactory (and their associated partners) was easy, because they, too, have adopted an App Store-style model.

If you look out at the greater world of computing, the macho-tech experience of dealing with towers, peripherals, add-ons and more is waning for all but the most complex set-ups. Naturally, if you are going from a large investment in these add-ons to a new Mac Pro with Thunderbolt, you are going to need to buy some adapters, docks, etc. to see you through the interim transition. But look around you. The reliance on such peripherals is the exception and not the rule. Most users are on laptops. If they have a tower, it’s probably not much more that the stock set-up. Mac users have migrated to all-in-one iMacs. Tablets are everywhere. I almost never take my laptop on the road anymore, unless I need it for actual production. My iPad is more than adequate. All of this means that for the vast majority of users – including pros with demanding requirements – the hardware is fading into the background, because simpler solutions are powerful enough to get the job done.

My dad used to repair TVs. He worked through an era when component-level troubleshooting gave way to circuit board/module swaps. While the pieces might have been more expensive, the cost in labor was less for complex problems. Fast forward to today and there probably isn’t a single flat panel that we buy, which has much if any ability to be repaired. Computers are following that same path and so is software.

This will scare many. I used to write simple autoexec.bat files in the DOS days. These let me create a menu page with a table of contents for the applications I used. Typing in the number of the application from that list would launch the software and when done, would exit back to this menu page. I certainly have no need, nor interest in doing that with any modern OS. It was a skill set based on the needs of a cruder technology, but is now as obsolete as setting up a 2” Quad VTR. Tinkering with your computer or software falls into the same realm as shade-tree auto repair. You can do it on a ’57 Chevy, but you certainly can’t do it on any modern automobile. To some this may have seemed like fun. To me, I’d rather get on about with the business of using the software/hardware to achieve results.

©2013 Oliver Peters

 

More thoughts about Adobe’s Creative Cloud

df_adobecloud_1Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that in June Adobe switched its access to software from a licensed ownership to a subscription model. After a year of offering both options – perpetual licenses and subscription – Adobe has decided to go all-in on subscriptions for the latest version of its creative tools, while continuing to offer perpetual licenses only for Adobe CS6 products. Adobe has branded these offerings under two divisions – the Creative Cloud (content creation software) and the Marketing Cloud (back-end web, marketing and analysis software). This move changes your interaction with Adobe’s software from one of purchasing a product to one of purchasing a service that includes software tools as part of the package.

Predictably, many creative professionals have been in an uproar, because continued access to your Adobe software-based project files means that you need to maintain a valid subscription for that software to function. There are many pros and cons in this argument and some users will find it a really good deal, while others could end up paying more per year, depending on their previous upgrade cycles. Let me try to clarify some of the issues. First, the term “cloud” tends to be misunderstood. In the case of Adobe’s Creative Cloud, the software you choose to use is downloaded and locally installed on your computer. Any Creative Cloud application version carries the suffix CC instead of CS (as in CS6). There are additional cloud-based services hosted by Adobe’s servers that are available to subscribers, who are free to use or not use these as they see fit.

Just the facts, ma’am.

You do not have to maintain a constant internet connection to use the installed software, but it does ping Adobe’s authorization servers monthly to check your account status. Lack of a successful account check kicks the software into a trial mode for a period of time before the software is completely de-authorized and cannot be opened. In the case of people paying by the month, there’s a 30-day grace period. For those who have paid for a year in advance, it’s 180 days. Cloud subscriptions can be purchased for single applications or as individual, Team or Enterprise accounts. Individual users can install and simultaneously run any Adobe software on up to two machines (Mac and/or PC), while Team accounts are valid for only one machine per authorized user. Individual subscribers must download software separately to each machine; but, there is an option for Team and Enterprise users to install localized, server-based tools for simplified installation across multiple workstations.

For most people, the big plus to the Adobe Creative Cloud is access to the entire repertoire of Adobe content creation tools for web, print, photography and video. For the cost of the single subscription, you have access to use any of the applications formerly known as the Master Collection, as well as Lightroom. If you bought the Creative Suite 6 Master Collection today, that would run you $2,599 (plus Lightroom). Version upgrades have been in the $600 range and Adobe had been on an annual cycle of updates. Now with Creative Cloud, the equivalent software “bundle” costs $49.99/month without the initial outlay up front to own it. Of course, that’s the rub for many users, because when you quit paying, you can no longer open, edit or export legacy projects. The truth of the matter is that your software doesn’t just go “poof” and vanish from your hard drive. If you needed to re-activate a subscription six months later, then it would simply be a matter of renewing your account for as little as a few months to get you through your project revisions.

Advantages of the Cloud

There are several selling points to the Creative Cloud that have even skeptics coming on board. Up-to-date software is a big one. When you first install Creative Cloud, a new resident desktop management tool is installed, which replaces the former Adobe Application Manager. The Creative Cloud desktop application manages which software is installed and up-to-date, including both perpetual CS6 and subscribed CC versions. Adobe’s intent is to offer faster version updates, feature additions and bug fixes through the cloud delivery model.

If you are on a Mac, then pending Creative Cloud updates are also flagged through the OS X Notification Center. You control when to install an update. To date, Adobe has already delivered several updates with bug fixes and new features. The desktop application seems to work reasonably well, but I have experienced some download issues. My recommendation is to use it for updates or additional downloads only after a computer restart for best results.

By using this software-as-a-service model, Adobe is no longer bound by the arcane policies surrounding the timing of feature improvements, which are a by-product of the Sarbanes Oxley regulations. Instead, Adobe is free to update features when they are viable, rather than hold off to wait for quarterly revenue cycles.

Customers focused on one line of business, like only video or only photography, have a real advantage in this new scheme. For no additional cost, Adobe has now given you access to the software necessary to add new revenue streams. Want to add website design services? The Creative Cloud desktop application makes this easy. If you started with a handful of video apps and now want to download and add a few print or web applications, then simply click the additional software to install them.

Value added services

Aside from access to Adobe’s software, the Creative Cloud is an effort by Adobe to build a community and become a one-stop creative resource for its users. Not all of the options have been fully implemented yet.  Using the Creative Cloud desktop application you will be able to upload and share project files, sync application settings, install additional fonts and join the Behance design community. The latter is a portfolio site geared towards photographers and graphic designers. It supports video samples, but is not as well-known to video editors as YouTube or Vimeo. Adobe will also host up to five websites per account.

Adobe offers each user up to 20GB of online storage backed by Amazon. Unfortunately access to this storage hasn’t been integrated into the desktop tool and requires access through a web browser. You can store files there and allow others to download them, but video files do not play from within a browser. They must be downloaded and viewed locally. All-in-all, these services are a nice add-on. If your main focus is video, though, these are not yet an appropriate replacement for Apple’s old iDisk, Vimeo, DropBox or even a service like Sorenson360. Adobe is aware of this and has indicated that improving the Creative Cloud’s video-related services as a priority going forward.

Adobe has sought to respond to the flak surrounding software de-authorization when you end a subscription. Although a number of potential solutions have been posed – such as read-only access to past project files – there have not been any definitive announcements yet. Photoshop CC and After Effects CC do offer some backwards compatibility, but Premiere Pro CC is only forward-compatible. That means, you can migrate a project from Premiere Pro CS6 to Premiere Pro CC, but not in the reverse direction. Actual users of the Creative Cloud seem less concerned, but if this is an issue in your mind, then make sure to export your project in forms that ensure some compatibility, including XMLs, EDLs and superless, textless master files.

Conclusion

Whether or not the Adobe Creative Cloud is a good deal for you depends on many variables. Here are two anecdotal examples. A local college uses plenty of Adobe software across several departments, including graphic design, photography, digital media and film technology. That’s likely to be several hundred computers across several campuses. Four more licenses of the Creative Cloud just within the film program adds approximately $1400 annually to that department’s budget. Often upgrades of hardware and software are done via grants and don’t happen on a regular and predictable annual basis. Moving an entire school to a Cloud plan, means a big change in how such software is purchased, because it changes from being an asset to a monthly expense.

In example two, look at a company that forms around a single project. This is common of limited corporations formed to produce a single film and then close their doors when it’s done. Often they need software to edit and do effects, but also to cover they own print and web marketing needs. In this example, the Creative Cloud is perfect, because all of Adobe’s relevant software is available to them for a monthly charge. Simply put a small Team account in place for the year that the company exists and the net cost is much less than compared with the perpetual license model. For this type of client, there’s no ongoing value to the software as a tangible asset once the corporation is dissolved.

The Adobe Creative Cloud will come across as a good deal for many. It has afforded a lot of individual users the ability to “come clean” with legal access to all of Adobe’s content creation software on what, for many, amounts to one billable hour per month. Larger users, like production companies, broadcasters, ad agencies and corporate users seem very excited about being able to put any Adobe application on any computer in their operation (depending on their subscription plan). The extra Cloud services like Behance and 20GB of online storage are icing on the cake that can save money elsewhere by replacing other paid services. I suspect once the ruckus over the subscription model settles down, for better or worse, many other software companies will follow Adobe’s trek down this pioneering trail.

Originally written for Digital Video magazine

©2013 Oliver Peters

Thinking about the Tube

df_mp_1Desktop computers had been on a trajectory of faster performance based on Moore’s Law until they hit the wall just under the 4GHz mark. Then came a variety of ingenious technological workarounds, including hyper-threading, multiple processors (CPUs), multiple cores within a single processor and finally, offloading processing to one or more graphics display cards (GPUs). All of these solutions have benefitted content creation professionals running edit and graphics software. With all of that effort, no one seems to have taken the effort to re-imagine how the hardware should work, nor whether the hardware is really built for what software developers are doing. For example, few applications really make effective use of multiple CPUs in a computer.

Add to this the financial aspect, which points to the growth in laptops and tablets to the detriment of traditional desktop computer sales. Is there even a need for a desktop machine that caters to professional users? Into this uncertainty comes Apple with the new Mac Pro, which I’ve euphemistically called “the Tube” in my title. df_mp_6Apple is the king of re-imagining. After months and years of wondering whether Apple still cares about professional computer users, they blew away the audience at their annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) with an innovative new design for the next generation of Mac Pro desktop workstation. Like anything Apple does, a lot of legacy technology was dropped, which has drawn both praise and criticism. Those of us in the camp that predicted few or no slots and more use of Thunderbolt had largely guessed right. But the rest of this machine’s design is literally thinking “outside of the box”.df_mp_2

Right or wrong, the Mac Pro that Apple plans to ship represents design and engineering innovation that IBM, Lenovo, Sony, Dell, HP and others are clearly incapable of delivering. All of their products tend to follow the standard PC “box” formula, with the notable exception of HP’s Z1 – itself a copy of Apple’s iMac. Naturally the round design raises concerns about rack installation and so on, but very few desktop systems used by video pros have that need anymore. If you think round is odd, then take a look at the design of supercomputers like those from Cray.

df_mp_11The new Mac Pro is clearly intended to put the maximum horsepower literally on (or under) the desk of the working video editor, graphic designer, animator, scientist and others. As noted above, many applications don’t make efficient use of multiple CPU sockets, so the Mac Pro seems to be limited to a single CPU, but based on new Intel chips that have a maximum of 12 internal cores. Apple is banking on increased reliance on the GPU to deliver visual performance. Out of the gate, there are two built-in GPUs. Clearly this will benefit core Apple creative software, like Final Cut Pro X, but also others, including DaVinci Resolve and many of the Adobe products.

df_mp_3Look more closely at the video subsystem of this machine. Apple is designing a machine geared for 4K production and post. With multiple GPUs and built-in HDMI output using the 4K-ready spec, the new Mac Pro should be able to cut 4K content “like butter” and handle all monitoring tasks (computer monitoring plus video) without the need for external devices from AJA, Blackmagic Design and others, unless the user has a definite need for these. My guess is that’s why you’ll have the extra GPU horsepower, more so than accelerating FCP X effects.df_mp_5

Connectivity is now based on USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt 2.0. The latter is a 20Gb/s bi-directional data pipe and this Mac Pro has three such busses split over six ports. While there’s been a lot of discussion on the web about whether this is adequate compared with the current PCIe standard, I think it’s too early to say one way or the other. Firewire – once Apple’s darling – has been relegated to history’s dust bin, right next to SCSI, floppy diskettes and other older technologies. In any case, if you need more connections, then Thunderbolt adapters and/or an expansion chassis will be the way to go. Just like Apple’s philosophy with FCP X, this new Mac Pro is more of a “platform” than an all-inclusive solution for people who have every possible type of need. It’s the “hub” that will handle the majority of pro requirements and if you need more, you’ll have to augment the “hub” with third-party products and devices.

df_mp_9That brings us to cost. The internal pieces of this machine aren’t cheap. It’s anyone’s guess what the price will be. There is at least the potential for it to be relatively expensive. On the other hand, Apple has a lot of leverage with its supply chain and may have incentive to offer the machine at an artificially low price. They will be flying the “Made in the USA” banner with this Mac Pro and they also have added more in-house R&D centers across the US. So, in coming years, more of the internal guts could become Apple-manufactured, which could reduce production cost. My guess is that the retail price will be somewhere in line with current Mac Pro machines. After all, a fully-decked-out, current 12-core Mac Pro aluminum tower isn’t cheap either.df_mp_7

In any case, this will be a very low-volume machine. It’s the sports car that defines the brand. Apple may or may not decide to make it profitable. Another variable we don’t know is whether the technology used, such as dual internal GPUs, will be integrated into new iMac models. In that case, a small number of users will actually buy the Mac Pro. Many will drool over it and then end up buying a decked out iMac – no slouch, by any means. df_mp_4Thus, the “halo” effect. You’re attracted by the shiny, black Mac Pro, but purchase the iMac, which generates more bread-and-butter income for Apple. Unlike any other technology company, Apple assesses its bottom line using a holistic approach. If a product contributes to the total revenue of the company, then it’s deemed important to have and to develop, even if that product by itself is not profitable (though, that’s usually not the case with an Apple product). No one outside of Apple’s executive level really knows for sure.

As a video editor, I love what Apple is doing with this machine. Does it work for my needs and will I buy one? I don’t know yet. Depends on price and actual performance, but it’s certainly on the wish list at this point.

©2013 Oliver Peters

Partly Cloudy

df_adobecloud_1This past Monday at their MAX event, Adobe clarified its plans going forward. Gone is the “next” label, as well as any mention of “Creative Suite 7”. Henceforth, nearly all of Adobe’s content creation products will be sold only via Adobe’s cloud subscription model, under the Creative Cloud (or CC) banner. Premiere Pro, Photoshop, et al, become Premiere Pro CC, Photoshop CC and so on. With a few exceptions, like Lightroom, perpetual licenses (where you “own” the software) are gone. Needless to say, this announcement brought a quick and largely negative user reaction. Clearly Adobe was having its own “FCP X moment”. Hitler wasn’t happy (warning: offensive language). Of course, he wasn’t happy with Final Cut Pro X, either. Before I continue, here are links to Adobe’s FAQ and official responses/clarifications from Adobe’s communityDennis Radeke and Al Mooney in various forums, so you have the straight scoop.

Although we tend to think of software ownership like any other asset, digital media plays by a different set of rules. What you own is a license to use the software freely according to the terms of the EULA. It’s not an asset that you can use in an unrestricted manner, such as unlimited installation or resale on the open market. In fact, in the “bad ole” Avid days of turnkey systems, you actually had to pay a transfer fee when selling a system to another user. This was often waived, but did nothing to endear users to Avid. Even today, you typically cannot legally sell used (already registered) software to others in the same way that you sell used computers – although people do it every day without issue. The bottom line is that you may have application files on your drives or installation DVD-ROMs, but you don’t own these in the same way you own a physical, printed book – or a printer.

Clearly the concept of “ownership” is limited in the digital world, but at least what we understand as “owning” is completely different than renting. Essentially that’s the shift Adobe has made. If you buy a monthly or annual Creative Cloud subscription (or a single-application subscription), then you are renting the software covered under that agreement. The term “cloud” is a bit misleading, since the application software is downloaded and resides on your local computer, just like any other software. The software is authorized over the internet and it pings Adobe’s license servers monthly to see if you’ve paid your bill. This is more or less like the cable company, which installs a set-top receiver/DVR box in your house, though you don’t own that hardware. With Adobe, this shifts your use of the software from a capital outlay to a monthly expense, like other services or utilities costs. If you quit your CC subscription, your software is de-authorized and you lose the ability to use it or even open existing project files. The software can stay on your computer and you can renew the subscription at some point down the road if you like.

This model has several benefits for Adobe, such as a constant and somewhat predictable revenue stream. Since the software is now a service, it gets them out of some of the Sarbanes-Oxley legal issues revolving around the release of features and timing of new products coming to market. In essence, Adobe never has a “new product”, but rather posts updates to the Cloud, that users can download when they want or need to. Their claim is that new features can be introduced more quickly, because the aren’t bound by the “features versus bug fixes” conundrum that’s become an unintended consequence of SOX. I’m skeptical of these claims, since most downloaded software over the past few years has enjoyed reasonably rapid development between big point releases. You can only develop new software so quickly and having a different delivery vehicle may or may not improve that.

The ultimate question, though, is whether or not this is good for the user of Adobe products. Clearly the Creative Cloud change is one that benefits enterprise customers – the largest post houses, corporate media departments, digital media-centric ad agencies, broadcasters and TV/cable networks. These are customers who are more comfortable with a monthly fee system. They may already pay support contracts and want frequent updates. Their media is often perishable, so opening legacy projects might not be a concern. Adobe has also sweetened the pot with additional CC services and storage.

If you are an individual Adobe power user – meaning you’ve used many if not all of the applications in a Master Collection or Production Premium bundle – and you update annually anyway – then the Creative Cloud subscription will likely save you money. However, if you only use one or two applications and update only every few years, then a subscription just increased your costs. I see plenty of users who don’t upgrade. For example, at freelance sites, I routinely run into a range of CS4 through CS5.5 products. These users are quite happy with After Effects or Photoshop in those versions.

Historically Adobe has not given all apps within a bundle equal treatment. For instance, in one version After Effects may get a few whizz-bang features, while Premiere Pro only gets a few tweaks. The next time, it’s the other way around. So the subscription model is only of benefit if Adobe updates and you actually need those updates. Often software updates require newer hardware to take advantage of the next features or performance. Users may or may not be ready to bump up their hardware or their OS versions. Adobe will have older versions available on the Cloud, so you don’t necessarily have to run the newest software. If that’s the case, though, then what is the benefit to you of the subscription if you are not going to use the latest software?

There currently are four basic software use/own/rent models:

Perpetual License – This is paid “ownership” as discussed above. Avid, Grass Valley and others follow this model. Sometimes it comes with an optional support contract.

Software as a Service – This is the concept of the Adobe Creative Cloud. They aren’t the only one. Look to Intuit, Microsoft, Google and others for similar models and it will increasingly be the way a lot of software companies go.

Mac App Store – This is Apple’s approach and specifically applies to Final Cut Pro X, Aperture and other Apple and third-party software. You buy the software one time. The most current version is the one always available at the MAS and you can download and update for free when you are ready. As long as the product is sold as the same product, the developer cannot charge for an update. If the product changes or is rebranded, it can be sold (at full price) as a new application. You can install the software (for a single application charge) on as many Mac computers as you own or control for personal use. Professional use is intended as one installation only for a single machine used by multiple people.

Free with “strings” – This would apply to DaVinci Resolve and Lightworks. The basic model is free, but the developer offers certain value-added options or “add-ons”. Examples include the Lightworks Pro package (subscription to cover licensed codec support) and Blackmagic Design’s restriction of Resolve to working with its own hardware i/o products.

I’m a fan of most of Adobe’s products. Although I’m a relatively knowledgeable user of these tools, I am by no means a “power user” of Photoshop or After Effects, though I’m comfortable working there. As a magazine and blog reviewer of software, I have evaluation copies of the various Creative Suite Master Collections from over the years and for the most part, I have never touched many of the print, web or Flash applications.

I am also well aware of how capricious some software decisions can be. For example, for a few years, Adobe was developing Soundbooth – a streamlined, task-oriented audio application. It included a proprietary music tailoring function (like Smart Sound’s Sonicfire), using Adobe’s own scores. A few were included and then you could buy more scores to augment your library. I bought a number of these. Then Adobe decided Soundbooth wasn’t working for them and not enough folks were purchasing the additional scores. So they killed the product and dumped the scores out as a free download (including those I had paid for a year earlier).

Unfortunately Audition (which replaced Soundbooth in the bundles), no longer has any ability to use these scores. In fact, nothing except Soundbooth can. A few months ago I had to re-install Soundbooth from CS4 or CS5 on my MacBook Pro just to be able to build some tracks using these scores. The point is that there’s no reason that Adobe wouldn’t decide to dump some app in the future, like Prelude or SpeedGrade, for instance. After all, they can now track specific application downloads and can tell what people are using. No more bundles to shield the unproductive. Of course, Adobe has stated that if that were the case in the future, they would simply make the EOL’ed product available for download and use without further authorization to existing customers.

I don’t want any of this to sound like Adobe is doing something evil. They aren’t and I feel that companies have to do what makes the most sense for their survival and continued product development. I think the negative reaction could have been blunted if Adobe had included an “opt-out/buy-out” mechanism. For example, if you’ve subscribed for a year and don’t want to continue, you could buy a perpetual license to the software you have on a prorated basis. That would be a win-win in my book.

I personally prefer the perpetual license model or the Mac App Store. I think there’s a real issue for smaller production companies and individuals with the “monthly cost creep” that this all amounts to. It’s not just Adobe. Factor in your cable bill, your phone data plan and other services like Vimeo, Dropbox and more. These all start to add up to real dollars that run the risk of “nickel and diming” a small business to death. In fact, NPR ran a story this week on that exact subject. My druthers are the Apple Mac App Store model for know. It is the most cost-effective.

I also don’t believe that all of Adobe’s applications are “best in class”. Photoshop and After Effects probably are, but others – not so much. I don’t understand the need for Prelude, other than to fill in gaps that Premiere Pro is missing – like transcoding. Photoshop is pretty bloated for the casual user and long ago needed something between it and Photoshop Elements. My point is that for a user like me, the full Creative Cloud model doesn’t look too appealing. There are viable alternatives to all of Adobe’s solutions, but if you need to maintain compatibility with client-supplied Adobe files, you will likely find it hard to get by without some Adobe product.

My suggestion for most users in similar shoes would be to buy one of the CS6 bundles now as a perpetual license.  This gives you a fallback position. Then if you want to move forward with the Cloud, run the numbers. If you are a power user of Photoshop, Premiere Pro or After Effects and want to have the latest version of that one application, simply buy a single-application subscription. If you use three or more applications on a regular basis and want those all to be current, then the full Creative Cloud subscription makes sense. You still have the CS6 versions if needed, as long as you’ve maintained backwards project compatibility.

The last thought I’ll leave you with is this. Don’t trust any company that says they have a vision for your digital future. Adobe’s applications are built around web services. For now, these are locally-installed applications; but, they could also function as the front end user interface for software that actually does reside at a remote location (“the cloud” for real). That’s the concept behind Adobe Anywhere. In short, could the “end game” be for a strictly cloud-based, software as a service operation? Adobe Creative Cloud running like Google Docs? Maybe – maybe not. We’ll see.

EDIT: Since I posted this entry, I’ve received some feedback from my friends at Adobe. A key feature of the Creative Cloud is not only access to Adobe’s portfolio of content creation applications, but also a slew of other resources, including community support, cloud storage and online portfolios. If you are an enterprise user with a Creative Cloud Team subscription, there’s even more value, such as a larger amount of storage. While some of these features might not be needed if you already are using Dropbox, Vimeo or a WordPress blog as your website, the Cloud subscription does put these types of resources under one roof.

An enterprise customer, such as a broadcast station group, may well find the Creative Cloud plans quite attractive. They can negotiate deals that place Adobe apps on any computer within their creative departments across all divisions of the company. This type of customer really isn’t too worried about opening legacy projects from a few years ago. By shifting software purchasing to the monthly expense part of the ledger, it removes it from the annual capital expenditure battles and guarantees more frequent updates across departments. So, while there is a lot of back and forth comment across the internet about Adobe’s move, I should note that quite a few customers are and will be very happy climbing into the Cloud.

©2013 Oliver Peters

NAB 2013 Distilled

df_nab2013_1Another year – another NAB exhibition. A lot of fun stuff to see. Plenty of innovation and advances, but no single “shocker” like last year’s introduction of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. Here are some observations based on this past week in Las Vegas.

4K

Yes, 4K was all over. I was a bit surprised that many of the pieces for a complete end-to-end solution are in place. The term 4K refers to the horizontal pixel width of the image, but two common specs are used – the DCI (film) standard of 4096 and the UltraHD (aka QuadHD) standard of 3840. Both are “4K”. Forgotten in the discussion is frame rate. Many displays were showing higher frame rates, such as 4K at 60fps. 120fps is also being discussed.

4K (and higher) cameras were there from Canon, Sony, RED, JVC, GoPro and now Blackmagic Design. Stereo3D was there, too, in pockets; but, it’s all but dead (again). 4K, though, will have legs. The TV sets and distribution methods are coming into position and this is a nonintrusive experience for the viewer. SD to HD was an obvious “in your face” difference. 4K is noticeably better, but not as much as SD to HD. More like 720p versus 1080p. This means that consumer prices will have to continue to drop (as they will) for 4K to really catch hold, except for special venue applications. Right now, it’s pretty obvious how gorgeous 4K is when standing a few feet away from an 84” screen, but few folks can afford that yet.

Interestingly enough, you can even do live 4K broadcasts, using 4K cameras and production products from Astro Designs. This will have value in live venues like sporting events and large corporate meetings. A new factor – “region of interest” – comes into play. This means you can shoot 4K and then scale/crop the portion of the image that interests you. Naturally there was also 8K by NHK and also Quantel. Both have been on the forefront of HD and then 4K. Quantel was demonstrating 8K (downsampled to a 4K monitor) just to show their systems have the headroom for the future.

ARRI did not have a 4K camera, but the 4 x 3 sensor of the ALEXA XT model features 2880 x 2160 photosites. When you use an anamorphic 2:1 lens and record ARRIRAW, you effectively end up with an unsqueezed image of 5760 x 2160 pixels. Downsample that to a widescreen 2.4:1 image inside a 4096 DCI frame and you have visually similar results as with a Sony or RED camera delivering in 4K. This was demonstrated in the booth and the results were quite pleasing. The ALEXA looked a bit softer than comparable displays at the Sony and RED booths, but most cinematographers would probably opt for the ARRI image, since it appears a lot closer to the look of scanned film at 4K. Part of this is inherent with ARRI’s sensor array, which includes optical filtering in-camera. Sony was showing clips from the upcoming Oblivion feature film, which was shot with an F65. To many attendees these clips looked almost too crisp.

In practical terms, most commercial, corporate, television or indie film users of 4K cameras want an easy workflow. If that’s your goal, then the best “true” 4K paths are to shoot with the Canon C500 or the Sony F55. The C500 can be paired with the (now shipping) AJA KiPro Quad to record 4K ProRes files. The Sony records in the XAVC codec (a variant of AVC-Intra). Both are ready to edit (importer plug-ins may be required) without conversions.

You can also record ARRI 2K ProRes in an ALEXA or use one of the various raw workflows (RED, Canon, Blackmagic, Sony, ARRI). Raw is nice, but adds extra steps to the process – often with little benefit over log-profile recording to an encoded file format.

Edit systems

With the shake-up that Apple’s introduction of Final Cut Pro X has brought to the market, brand dominance has been up for grabs. Apple wasn’t officially at the show, but did have some off-site presence, as well as a few staffers at demo pods. For example, they were showing the XAVC integration in an area of the Sony booth. FCP X was well-represented as part of other displays all over the floor. An interesting metric I noticed, was that all press covering the show on video, were cutting their reports on laptops using FCP X. That is a sweet spot for use of the application. No new FCP X news (beyond the features released with 10.0.8) was announced.

Adobe is currently the most aggressive in trying to earn the hearts of editors. The “next” versions of Premiere Pro, SpeedGrade, Audition and After Effects have a ton of features that respond to customer requests and will speed workflows. Adobe’s main stage demos were packed and the general consensus of most editors discussing a move away from FCP 7 (and even Avid) was a move to Adobe. In early press, Adobe mentioned working with the Coen brothers, who have committed to cutting their next film with Premiere.

The big push was for Adobe Anywhere – their answer for cloud-based editing. Although a very interesting product, it will compete in the same space as Quantel Qtube and Avid Interplay Sphere. These are enterprise solutions that require servers, storage, software and support. While it’s an interesting technology, it will tend to be of more interest to larger news operations and educational facilities than smaller post shops.

Avid came on with Media Composer 7 at a new price, with Symphony as an add-on option to Media Composer. The biggest features were the ability to edit with larger-than-HD video sources (output is still limited to HD), LUT support, improved media management of AMA files and background transcoding using managed folders (watch folders). In addition, Pro Tools goes to 11, with a new video engine – it can natively run Avid sequences from AAF imports – and faster-than-real-time bounce. The MC background transcode and the PT11 bounce will be time savers for Avid users and that translates into money saved.

Avid Interplay Sphere (announced last year) now works on Macs, but its main benefit is remote editing for stations that have invested in Interplay solutions. Avid is also bundling packages of ISIS storage, Interplay asset management and seats of Media Composer at even lower price points. Although still premium solutions, they are finally in a range that may be attractive to some small edit facilities and broadcasters, given that it includes installation and support.

The other NLE players include Avid DS (not shown), Quantel Pablo Rio, Autodesk Smoke 2013, Grass Valley EDIUS, Sony Vegas, Media 100 (not shown) and Lightworks. Most of these have no bearing in my market. Smoke 2013 is getting traction. Autodesk is working to get user feedback to improve the application, as it moves deeper into a market segment that is new to them. EditShare is forging ahead with Lightworks on the Mac. It looked pretty solid at the show, but expect something that’s ready for users towards the end of the year. It’s got the film credits to back it up, so a free (or near free) Mac version should shake things up even further.

One interesting addition to the market is DaVinci Resolve 10 gaining editing features. Right now the editing bells-and-whistles are still rudimentary, though all of the standard functions are there. Plus there are titles, speed changes with optical flow and a plug-in API (OpenFX). You can already apply GenArts Sapphire filters to your clips. These are applied in the color correction timeline as nodes, rather than effects added to an editing timeline. This means the Sapphire filters can be baked into any clip renders. The positioning of Resolve 10 is as an online editing tool. That means conforming, titling and trims/tweaks after grading. You now have even greater editing capabilities at the grading stage without having to return to an NLE. Ultimately the best synergy will be between FCP X and Resolve. Together the two apps make for a very interesting package and Apple seems to be working closely with Blackmagic Design to make this happen. Ironically the editing mode page looks a lot like FCP X would have looked with tracks and dual viewers.

Final thoughts

I was reading John Buck’s Timeline on the plane. Even though we think of the linear days as having been dominated by CMX, the reality was that there were many systems, including Mach One, Epic, ISC, Strassner, Convergence, Datatron, Sony, RCA and Ampex. In Hollywood, the TV industry was split among them, which is why a common interchange standard of the EDL was developed. For awhile, Avid became the dominant tool in the nonlinear era, but the truth is that hasn’t always been the norm – nor should it be. The design dilemma of engineering versus creative was a factor from the beginning of video editing. Should a system be simple enough that producers, directors and non-technical editors can run it? Sound familiar?

When I look at the show I am struck at how one makes their buying choices. To use the dreaded car analogy, FCP X is the sports car and Avid is the truck. But the sports car is a temperamental Ferrari that does some things very well , but isn’t appropriate for others. The truck is a Tundra with all the built-in, office-on-the-road niceties.

If I were a facility manager, making a purchase for a large scale facility, it would probably still be Avid. It’s the safe bet – the “you don’t get fired for buying IBM” bet. Their innovations at the show were conservative, but meet the practical needs of their current customers. There simply is no other system with a proven track record across all types of productions that scales from one user to massive installations. But offering conservative innovation isn’t a growth strategy. You don’t get new users that way. Media Composer has become truly complex in ways that only veteran users can accept and that has to change fast.

Apple FCP X is the wild card, of course. Apple is playing the long game looking for the next generation of users. If FCP X weren’t an Apple product, it would receive the same level of attention as Vegas Pro, at best. Also a great tool with a passionate user base, but nothing that has the potential of dominating market share. The trouble is Apple gets in its own way due to corporate secrecy. I’ve been using FCP X for awhile and it certainly is a professional product. But to use it effectively, you have to change your workflow. In a multi-editor, multi-production facility, this means changing a lot of practices and retraining staff. It also means augmenting the software with a host of other applications to fix the short-comings.

Broadening the appeal of FCP X beyond the one-man-band operations may be tough for that reason. It’s too non-standard and no one has any idea of where it’s headed. On the other hand, as an editor who’s willing to deal with new challenges, I like the fast, creative cutting performance of FCP X. This makes it a great offline editing tool in my book. I find a “start in X, finish in Resolve” approach quite intriguing.

Right now, Adobe feels like the horse to beat. They have the ear of the users and an outreach reminiscent of when Apple was in the early FCP “legacy” era. Adobe is working hard to build a community and the interoperability between applications is the best in the industry. They are only hampered by the past indifference towards Premiere that many pro users have. But that seems to be changing, with many new converts. Although Premiere Pro “next” feels like FCP 7.5, that appears to be what users really want. The direction, at least, feels right. Apple may have been “skating to where the puck will be”, but it could be that no one is following or the puck simply wasn’t going there in the first place.

For an additional look – click over to my article for CreativePlanetNetwork – DV magazine.

©2013 Oliver Peters

Editing in 2013

df_edit2013

Undoubtedly this year will continue the trend of fractured market share for edit systems. If you tally up every system in general use, your professional choices include NLE systems from Adobe, Apple, Avid, Autodesk, Boris/Media 100, Dayang, Editshare/Lightworks, Grass Valley, SGO, Sony and Quantel. In most US markets, the split in market dominance boils down to an Adobe/Apple/Avid split. In many cases, the leader is still the now-defunct Final Cut Pro 7. Even Apple is stuck competing with itself.

By mid-2013, Final Cut Pro X will have hit its two-year anniversary. The screams of “iMovie Pro” have generally died down. Even the most diehard critics grudgingly admit that it offers many professional features. Although I don’t see it taking off in great numbers within the pro editor community during 2013, I do believe that there’s a “silent minority” of users who are testing it for their own use or as an island within a larger facility. I say “silent”, because many of these folks simply are not the sort that post to forums – or haven’t yet, for fear of getting sucked into the typical pro-con arguments that invariably ensue.

There have been four typical responses to X from FCP “legacy” users: 1) adopt FCP X; 2) stick with FCP 5/6/7; 3) move/return to Media Composer; or 4) move to Premiere Pro. Maybe a few jumped platforms, too, as well as pursued PC options, like EDIUS, Vegas Pro or Avid DS. In my market (central Florida), folks have been sticking with FCP 7 in the interim. Many will start moving to Premiere Pro. That seems to be the most common trend that I see. A few going to Media Composer and a handful with FCP X. As far as I know, I’m the only pro editor in town who has used FCP X on real gigs. I’ve encouraged a few others to at least test the waters. In major markets, like New York or Los Angeles, I think Avid will be the biggest beneficiary of this shift.

A new wild card is Autodesk Smoke 2013. At $3500 for the software-only Mac version, I suspect it will still be too rich for the blood for most editors. FCP X’s $300 price tag (for multiple machines!) is unfortunately viewed as the “new normal”. However, if your editorial focus is advanced finishing, then Smoke may be the system for you. I think it will find its way into shops with multiple edit stations. These owners are likely to add a seat of Smoke to augment the rest of their services.

All of this points to the fact that most editors are reluctant to change. FCP 1-7 was successful because it adopted an editing paradigm that was not that far removed from that of its competitors. FCP X is a different story. It requires work to unlearn and relearn what you know about how an editing application is supposed to work. That’s scary for editors who had begun their pro career within the last decade and only know FCP “legacy”. I’ve cut (on paying gigs) with well over a dozen different linear and nonlinear edit systems. If you add review systems and ones where I supervised, but wasn’t “in the seat” myself, that count is closer to two dozen. I’ve gone through at least three major editing paradigms shifts. If this disruption scares you, because it’s the first one you’ve encountered, then hold onto your hat. It’s going to get worse from here!

Here are some “crystal ball” thoughts for the coming year.

Many users will continue to try to stick with older versions of Final Cut Pro. As Mac OS continues to evolve and as more complex media formats arrive, it will become increasingly difficult to use this old 32-bit application and be efficient. I still find FCP 7 quite versatile, but I’ve just had it with out-of-memory errors and other performance issues that are now quite commonplace.

As folks migrate to an “FCP replacement”, that will most likely be Adobe Premiere Pro CS6. Expect the next version to be out later this year. Adobe has done a good job of listening to customers and I think you’ll see even more substantive improvements to Premiere Pro in this next version. You’ll also see the launch of Adobe Anywhere, which is a platform for collaborative editing. Adobe hasn’t announced specifics as to what will be required on the server side, but Anywhere will be an interesting option for enterprise users.

I don’t see major changes for Avid this year. People like to speculate that they are the next “victim” of Blackmagic Design’s annual buying spree, but I don’t see this as a reality yet (if ever). Although still running a negative balance sheet, Avid has cash in the bank and solid sales. It’s a company dedicated to the needs of pro users, so there is no stream of  consumer products cash flow to deepen their pockets. On the plus side, the products are solid and work in ways that pro users expect and are comfortable with.

Avid Media Composer is the most complex editing program there is (in terms of code), so it’s very impressive that Avid was able to move it to 64-bit with as few problems as there have been. This also means it’s hard to completely change the application. Users expect functional continuity and that cannot be sacrificed. In spite of that, new features like Smart Tool and AMA have kept Media Composer, Symphony and NewsCutter relevant for modern file-based workflows. 2013 will likely still be slow and steady for Avid, but hopefully items like resolution-independence are on the radar.

Autodesk is going to make a big push with Smoke 2013. Their biggest target with this product is the user who has heavy involvement with multiple applications to finish his/her work (like Premiere Pro + Photoshop + After Effects w/plug-ins). Smoke 2013 is designed to do all of these functions in a single application. It is also targeted at other competing finishing systems, like Avid DS. Customers now have two similar products – one on each main editing platform – and at similar (sub $10K) price points. I do think some users will try Smoke in the belief that it’s the hypothetical “FCP 8”. Those users will be disappointed. On the other hand, if you buy it for the purpose intended, then it’s the right tool for the job – conforming and advanced finishing.

This brings us to Apple Final Cut Pro X. I see pockets of use in 2013. Lots of individual users – the “one-man band” director/videographer/editor operations. Also some broadcasters (news and promos), corporate producers and event videographers. You will see some shows adopt it for post, but I think those will be in the minority. It’s important to realize that FCP X’s architecture is ideal for the direction some broadcasters want to take their infrastructure. If you want to post in 1080p/59.94 or 2K or 4K, then Final Cut Pro X is ideally suited for this challenge – more so than just about any other application.

Although Apple is less focused on the publicity gained from high-profile users, like film editors – they would certainly love to have another Cold Mountain moment. Walter Murch’s use of Final Cut on that and subsequent films gave the software some valuable street cred. Having a receptive editor and production company (like the Coen brothers or David Fincher) on the right film – at the point that the software is right AND the production is at an early enough stage – is a matter of timing. 2013 might be the year we see that. If that’s the case, it won’t affect sales volume for FCP X much, but it will change many pro users’ attitudes towards the software. Of course, don’t be surprised if Adobe gets there first!

2013 will be another fun year. More splintering of the applications in use. If you are a freelancer, then you need to know as many of them as possible. Just as 3D animators aren’t really wedded to a single animation application – relying instead on a toolkit of several – so, too, will it be for editors.

Read Scott Simmons’ blog for another take on 2013 prognostications. 

©2013 Oliver Peters

The NLE that wouldn’t die

It’s been 18 months since Apple launched Final Cut Pro X and the debate over it continues to rage without let-up. Apple likely has good sales numbers to deem it a success, but if you look around the professional world, with a few exceptions, there has been little or no adoption. Yes, some editors are dabbling with it to see where Apple is headed with it – and yes, some independent editors are using it for demanding projects, including commercials, corporate videos and TV shows. By comparison, though, look at what facilities and broadcasters are using – or what skills are required for job openings – and you’ll see a general scarceness of FCP X.

Let’s compare this to the launch of the original Final Cut Pro (or “legacy”) over 12 years ago. In a similar fashion, FCP was the stealth tool that attracted individual users. The obvious benefit was price. At that time a fully decked out Avid Media Composer was a turnkey system costing over $100K. FCP was available as software for only $999. Of course, what gets lost in that measure, is the Avid price included computer, monitors, wiring, broadcast i/o hardware and storage. All of this would have to be added to the FCP side and in some cases, wasn’t even possible with FCP. In the beginning it was limited to DV and FireWire only. But there were some key advantages it introduced at the start, over Avid systems. These included blend modes, easy in-timeline editing, After Effects-style effects and a media architecture built upon the open, extensible and ubiquitous QuickTime foundation. Over the years, a lot was added to make FCP a powerful system, but at its core, all the building blocks were in place from the beginning.

When uncompressed SD and next HD became the must-have items, Avid was slow to respond. Apple’s partners were able to take advantage of the hardware abstraction layer to add codecs and drivers, which expanded FCP’s capabilities. Vendors like Digital Voodoo, Aurora Video Systems and Pinnacle made it possible to edit something other than DV. Users have them to thank – more so than Apple – for growing FCP into a professional tool. When FCP 5 and 6 rolled around, the Final Cut world was pretty set, with major markets set to shift to FCP as the dominant NLE. HD, color correction and XML interchange had all been added and the package was expanded with an ecosystem of surrounding applications. By the time of the launch of the last Final Cut Studio (FCP 7) in 2009, Apple’s NLE seemed unstoppable. Unfortunately FCP 7 wasn’t as feature-packed as many had expected. Along with reticence to chuck recently purchased PowerMac G5 computers, a number of owners simply stayed with FCP 5 and/or FCP 6.

When Apple discusses the number of licensees, you have to parse how they define the actual purchases. While there are undoubtedly plenty of FCP X owners, the interpretation of sales is that more seats of FCP X have been sold than of FCP 7. Unfortunately it’s hard to know what that really means. Since it’s a comparison to FCP 7 – and not every FCP 1-6 owner upgraded to 7 – it could very well be that the X number isn’t all that large. Even though Apple EOL’ed (end of life) Final Cut Studio with the launch of FCP X, it continued to sell new seats of the software through its direct sales and reseller channels. In fact, Apple seems to still have it available if you call the correct 800 line. When Apple says it has sold more of X than of 7, is it counting the total sales (including those made after the launch) or only before? An interesting statistic would be the number of seats of Final Cut Studio (FCP 7) sold since the launch of FCP X as compared to before. We’ll never know, but it might actually be a larger number. All I know is that the system integrators I personally know, who have a long history of selling and servicing FCP-based editing suites, continue to install NEW FCP 7 rooms!

Like most drastic product changes, once you get over the shock of the new version, you quickly realize that your old version didn’t instantly stop working the day the new version launched. In the case of FCP 7, it continues to be a workhorse, albeit the 32-bit architecture is pretty creaky. Toss a lot of ProRes 4444 at it and you are in for a painful experience. There has been a lot of dissatisfaction with FCP X among facility owners, because it simply changes much of the existing workflows. There are additional apps and utilities to fill the gap, but many of these constitute workarounds compared to what could be done inside FCP 7.

Many owners have looked at alternatives. These include Adobe Premiere Pro, Avid Media Composer/Symphony, Media 100 and Autodesk Smoke 2013. If they are so irritated at Apple as to move over to Windows hardware, then the possibilities expand to include Avid DS, Grass Valley Edius and Sony Vegas. Several of these manufacturers have introduced cross-grade promotional deals to entice FCP “legacy” owners to make the switch. Avid and Adobe have benefited the most in this transition. Editors who were happy with Avid in the past – or work in a market where Avid dominates – have migrated back to Media Composer. Editors who were hoping for the hypothetical FCP 8 are often making Adobe Premiere (and the Production Premium bundle) their next NLE of choice. But ironically, many owners and users are simply doing nothing and continuing with FCP 7 or even upgrading from FCP 6 to FCP 7.

Why is it that FCP 7 isn’t already long gone or on the way out by now? Obviously the fact that change comes slowly is one answer, but I believe it’s more than that. When FCP 1.0 came on the scene, its interface and operational methodology fit into the existing NLE designs. It was like a “baby Avid” with parts of Media 100 and After Effects dropped in. If you cut on a Media Composer, the transition to FCP was pretty simple. Working with QuickTime made it easy to run on most personal machines without extra hardware.  Because of its relatively open nature and reliance in industry-standard interchange formats (many of which were added over time), FCP could easily swap data with other applications using EDLs, OMFs, text-based log files and XML. Facilities built workflows around these capabilities.

FCP X, on the other hand, introduced a completely new editing paradigm that not only changed how you work, but even the accepted nomenclature of editing. Furthermore, the UI design even did things like reverse the behavior of some keystrokes from how similar functions had been triggered in FCP 7. In short, forget everything you know about editing or using other editing software if you want to become proficient with FCP X. That’s a viable concept for students who may be the professional editors of the future. Or, for non-fulltime editors who occasionally have to edit and finish professional-level productions as one small part of their job. Unfortunately, it’s not a good approach if you want to make FCP X the ubiquitous NLE in established professional video environments, like post houses, broadcasters and large enterprise users.

After all, if I’m a facility manager and you can’t show me a compelling reason why this is better and why it won’t require a complete internal upheaval, then why should I change? In most shops, overall workflow is far more important than the specific features of any individual application. Gone are the differences in cost, so it’s difficult to make a compelling argument based on ROI. You can no longer make the (false) argument of 1999 that FCP will only cost you 1% of the cost of an Avid. Or use the bogus $50K edit suite ad that followed a few years later.

Which brings us to the present. I started on Avid systems as the first NLE where I was in the driver’s seat. I’ve literally cut on dozens of edit systems, but for me, Final Cut Pro “legacy” fit my style and preferences best. I would have loved a 64-bit version with a cleaned-up user interface, but that’s not what FCP X delivers. It’s also not exactly where Premiere Pro CS6 is today. I deal with projects from the outside – either sent to me or at shops where I freelance. Apple FCP 7 and Avid Media Composer continue to be what I run into and what is requested.

Over the past few months I’ve done quite a few complex jobs on FCP X, when I’ve had the ability to control the decision. Yet, I cannot get through any complex workflow without touching parts of Final Cut Studio (“legacy”) to get the job done. FCP X seems to excel at small projects where speed trumps precision and interoperability. It’s also great for individual owner-operators who intend to do everything inside FCP X. But for complex projects with integrated workflows, FCP 7 is still decidedly better.

As was the case with early FCP, where most of the editing design was there at the start, I now feel that with the FCP X 10.0.6 update, most of its editing design is also in place. It may never become the tool that marches on to dominate the market. FCP “legacy” had that chance and Apple walked away from it. It’s dubious that lightning will strike twice, but 18 months is simply too short of a timeframe in which to say anything that definitive. All I know is that for now, FCP 7 continues as the preferred NLE for many, with Media Composer a close second. Most editors, like old dogs, aren’t too eager to learn new tricks. At least that’s what I conclude, based on my own ear-to-the-ground analysis. Check back this time next year to see if that’s still the case. For now, I see the industry continuing to live in a very fractured, multi-NLE environment.

©2012 Oliver Peters