FCP: Telling Tales of Lost Love

You might not have noticed, but… it's tough to be abandoned. Jilted. Passed over.

You're right… it's sad. I was sought after, wooed, and, with the encouragement of those around me, I gave in, and let the passion carry me away. It was a beautiful romance—so many wonderful moments—but now it's all over. I'm left with nothing, tossed aside like last week's braciole.

I'm talkin' about Final Cut Pro.

And I wasn't the only disappointed lover; a lot of you were left at the altar when the latest version, Final Cut Pro X, broke the mold, as well as the entire commercial workflow, for Final Cut editors everywhere. I'm not wastin' a Mario Moment on the reasons why it's unusable; I direct your attention, dear reader, to dozens of reviews, hundreds of blog posts, and thousands of hysterical, wailing commenters for that rundown. But it's done. Gone. Kaput.


I remember it all like it was only yesterday… (Cue the harp music.)

We'd heard that a certain impudent, brash young head of a computer company (that was before we called him "visionary") had presented himself to the kingpins of the production industry, and had asked them… no, make that "told them"… that he was gonna be their new daddy. That he'd build powerful computers and applications that would take over their industry and revolutionize it. They smiled and said polite things… complimented the turtleneck. And we all looked up from our Avid, Media100 and Pinnacle edit systems, had a big chuckle and looked up the word "hubris" in the dictionary.

But he was a single-minded chap, and in the end, he did what he said he would. He hired developers, bought software companies like NothingReal and locked his staff into their iCubicles until they made the magic happen. And magic it was… last year around this time, Final Cut Studio was, arguably, the dominant suite of production tools for creatives great and small.

Smells like a big success… so why were we abandoned?


To understand the Big Breakup of 2011 even better, let's join Nellie the Neuron and hop back in the time machine for one more excursion:

The year is 1998, and you're nestled in your little prehistoric Nonlinear Editing Cave. Look around… What sort of equipment do you see? Your Apple PowerMac 9600 is the heart of your edit system, and it's just right for the job. With six PCI slots, you've been able to add a second monitor, a couple of Avid or Media100 video boards and a dual-channel SCSI interface—all the basics.

Before the romance ended... a snapshot of happier times... But trouble's brewin': The new G3 Mac models have only three slots! The Apple oracle has decreed that consumers trump professionals, and that no consumer ought to need more than three slots. And they'd buy thousands more computers than these audio and video guys, the oracle reasoned.

And thus began the big exodus. Industry professionals migrated to Windows-based applications and Intel hardware in droves, or clenched their teeth and sought expensive workarounds. (Yours truly still owns a "PCI expansion chassis" for all that extra slot stuff.) Delivered by a trusted friend, the message had a bitter sting. Apple will sell us all down the river in a heartbeat, in pursuit of the biggest market of the moment.


But, as Grandma Filomena Orazio always used to say, "Time heals all wounds." So when Apple made nice to the production industry, and then delivered the goods in grand style, we forgave and forgot, and came back to the lovin' arms of you-know-who.

Fast-forward to mid-2011. Apple's still chasing the consumer market, only this time, it's not desktops they're hawking, but gadgets—iPods, iPhones, iPads—and the sales units aren't thousands, they're tens of millions. What none of us really foresaw, though, was that the lure of pleasing the millions would snatch our beloved Final Cut away from us.

Because that's what did it. Our (relatively) tiny band of professionals was thrown under the bus to better serve consumers. Thought the pundits were crackin' wise when they called it "iMovie Pro?" Not on your life—Final Cut X is iMovie's bigger, brawnier brother, its ultimate upgrade full of intuitive idiot-proofing features for the mass market, removing all the guesswork, all those pesky choices from the drudgery of video editing.

Only that drudgery—those choices—that's what we do for a living. That's how we feed our families, and pay the rent and conduct our lives. Your hotrodded consumer product is pretty cool, old friend, but we just can't use it. And now we need to reacquaint ourselves with other old friends from Avid and Adobe and get back to work, because that's what we do.

How does that old saying go? Fool me once… but wait, this is actually the second big heartbreak with this lover. Shame on me, I guess.

Mario Orazio is the pseudonym of a well-known television engineer who wishes to remain anonymous. Email him at morazio@nbmedia.com.