On Final Cut Pro X: What Pro Video Editors Won’t Tell You

And the Pro Editors are hopping mad about it. You’ve probably seen the brouhaha all over the tech corner of the web, with Pro Video Editors fuming at Apple’s slick new upgrade for Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Pro X which EOL’d Final Cut Express and the Final Cut Studio Package, unifying Pro and Express and splitting the Studio Suite into three core Apps all available on the new Mac App Store. What’s got the Pro Editors hot and bothered? They’ll tell anyone who asks (And anyone who doesn’t) that it’s simply the fact that Apple has abandoned them, Apple doesn’t care about Pro any more because this App is “unsuitable” for professional video editing – it’s not Final Cut Pro, it’s iMovie Pro! (Note the irony here: the iMovie Pro name is supposed to demonstrate that Final Cut Pro X is not a tool for Pros. One would wonder then why it has Pro in its name even in this derisive nickname?)

Here’s the truth. That’s all a load of FUD. And I’ll tell you why: the reality is, the world of video has grown and changed. Pro Video Editors? They have not. They’re dinosaurs, stuck in a world of TV (TV Networks in general can be considered at least partially responsible for the dinosauric attitudes of the Editors owing to their cheapness and general unwillingness to upgrade technology – many still require masters on tape) and film in an era where video has shifted.

Simple question for you: where would you say you saw the most video content in the past 24 hours? For most of you I’d wager the answer is not “Traditional TV broadcast” and certainly not “in a movie theatre”. Nor is it likely to have been film or TV on DVD/Blu-Ray. For most of you, the answer is probably “the web”, or some variation of it – such as on-demand on a TV.

Apple’s aim with Final Cut Pro X was to produce a Pro Editing App for the modern era. Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere and even Sony Vegas are all built from he perspective of the past. And it’s one the Pro Editors love. It’s conservative, it’s heavily keyboard-driven, it’s bathed in dependence on timecode and syncing and preposterously complicated formats and drivers and encoders and decoders and tapes and format wars and piles of jargon-heavy windows with unusual and complicated interfaces. It’s built on a foundation of “you’re going to do x by doing y or else z is going to break unless you a b and reverse the c of n”. In short, it’s complex, hard to learn – harder to master – and inaccessible.

Existing Pro Video Editing Apps are built with the wrongheaded belief that you should be made to learn the App to edit the video. It’s My Way or the Highway with Avid and Adobe. Even FCP 7 was guilty of this to a certain extent.

And that was weird, because it’s not Apple’s way. Nor is it a credible way to design a video editing app. A lot of Avid Editors will scoff at the idea of someone using the new Smart Tools Avid added in the latest version of Media Composer. Know why? They use the mouse. Editors don’t like the mouse, they like the keyboard. Know why? Cos anyone can use a mouse, and video editors are special. But that’s their own hang up. If they want to prove you need to be a Pro to be great at editing, then the tools shouldn’t matter. A Pro should always be able to edit better than a consumer, regardless of the App, otherwise their training in editing theory was an expensive nothing.

The real reason the Pro Editors all hate FCP X so much is simple and twofold: it makes editing too easy and it’s not optimised from a conservative worldview.

Final Cut Pro X is optimised for an all file-based workflow. Do you know who uses all file-based workflows?

People like me. People like the folks over at Channel Awesome.

Oh sure, some independent web producers use tape or DVD in their workflow right now (I believe Cinemassacre do, or at least did until recently) but it’s more about that kind of work than any specific producer. I myself do use a tapeless workflow. And FCP X cures literally all the bottlenecks and hangups in my workflow. Better yet, it operates in such a way that editing is easy, the App gets out the way and lets you arrange the video and audio and export for the web with ease.

Independents like me and the other examples do need Pro grade tools – I couldn’t use iMovie for what I do – but that doesn’t mean we need Avid Media Composer. I’ve been professionally instructed in Avid and I still hate using it because it constantly gets in my way. Likewise Premiere Pro which I found to be mess of complications and incompatibilities – as well as being hideously ugly and suffering the worst UX of the big three (FCP, Avid and Adobe Premiere). The App being simple o use is very important in the era of democratised video:

Sometimes the editor is the talent. And the producer. And the cameraman. And the writer. And the director. Certainly that’s the case with me. In this era, we need pro tools which do not require speciality training in order to use.

Pro Editors hate all this because it means change which offends their conservative nature and it also means they might not be able to command such high salaries or face tougher competition. Unfortunately for them, that’s just the way it is.

About ten years ago, Apple heralded the birth of a new era when they claimed that home video production was about to be the next Desktop Publishing. Like the way desktop publishing took longer to evolve than assumed and wound up a very different beast (The World Wide Web supplanted the original vision of people printing their own newsletters, but had an all the more devastating impact on the traditional print industry because of its inherent advantages, including cost) Apple is being proved sort of right, much later than they probably planned.

The big growth in video is small operations – less than ten people on the whole production, often as few as one person or two people doing to the majority of the work – producing for the web. Final Cut Pro X was designed with that in mind. The response thus far has suggested it’s the answer to a question no one asked at best and at worst, the wrong answer to the question the pro editors asked.

The truth is, the Pro Editors were asking the wrong question. FCP X is the Right Answer to the Question the Modern World Asked.

The 24 Hour Web

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Twitter. In fact, I’m notorious for it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Twitter is my “life online”. But it’s not just interesting for the way in which I can update friends on what I’m thinking or doing. It also represents an exciting shift in the way the web is acting.

Ever since its rise to popularity, the Web has been hailed as the fastest and most up to date way of accessing news and information. But in it’s so-called 1.x state, it remained largely a daylight system, at least for the mainstream.

Geekery continues at all hours of course, and if one has an interest in things taking place on the other side of the world, you can often find new stuff at any given hour.

But these are relatively limited, altogether niche applications of the Web’s ability to update at any given moment. They are constrained by that human phenomenon, “Office Hours”. Web 1.x was characterised by a revision of the same Publisher mentality that reigned in Print Media, later augmented by the rolling update mentality of Television.

But with the advent of Web 2.0, those mentalities are no longer relevant. News sites and so on continue to function in this manner, by necessity, but User generated Content is unaffected by Office Hours. And cares naught about time of day.

Web 2.0 has spawned the true 24-Hour Web. Users are constantly providing a live or near live stream of information and content, updating sites like Wikipedia instantly with breaking news. Twitter tracks reactions to events in real-time.

Qik, a leader in mobile web streaming, and similar desktop-oriented sites have given us a platform for providing video coverage of just about anything, far faster than any TV or WebTV crew could arrive on the scene. This change, as it stands, is nascent.

There has yet to be a major event that can demonstrate the power of the User-Controlled 24-Hour Web, but it’s already showing signs that it is coming. Real-time reactions to Elections, international sporting and media events and so on have already become the norm. I, for one, would feel lost without a Twitter to post my thoughts on breaking events.

The time is coming and coming soon when you’ll be able to ignore conventional reporting and just get your news from the 24 Hour Web.

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s awesome. And it should prompt innovation in conventional broadcasters/publishers, as they need to find a way to catch up.

Christmas Letter 2008

Oh, I guess it’s that time of year again.

You probably think I mean Christmas, but in fact you are but half-correct, half I say! I am referring to the (As of this year) annual custom where I waste the time of my friends and family with a pointlessly and arguably too-long letter reflecting on the past year, which this year means we have a lot to cover, and with any luck we’ll get some hilarious snarky comments in along the way.

Huzzah!

Ah, but what is it about this year that is most memorable? After all, so much has hap…Yeah, alright, the economy went down the proverbial crapper, nay the literary crapper. And that’s kind of a bummer. Money’s, like, useful. It can be exchanged for goods and services. And I don’t know about you, but I for one like goods and services. They’re great! But you know…Whatever. There’s more than one way to have a party!

Ignoring the fact that I had no idea where I was going with that metaphor when I wrote it, I shall move onto some good news. Bush is gone in a month. Obama is in in a month. For us Brits, that means we can finally stop hating the country which gives us such wonderful gifts as The Simpsons, Heroes, The Killers and Katy Perry.

Oh hey, speaking of music, Axl Rose (We get it Axl, it’s an anagram of an impure act. It’s not funny any more dude, get a real name) finally got around to releasing his album “Chinese Democracy”, the most expensive and also inappropriately attributed album ever recorded. I mean, honestly, “Guns ‘n’ Roses”? There’s more members of Guns ‘n’ Roses in Velvet Revolver! Perhaps Mr. Rose has difficulty moving on. So while your enjoying your wonderful Christmas, shed a tear for a washed-up old rock star whose latest record is rubbish and who can’t seem to move on I mean seriously what the hell get over it.

Ahem. Got a bit carried away there. Anywho, in other entertainment news, The Dark Knight came out, meaning we have been given something unheard of since before Tim Burton got kicked off the project: A good Batman sequel. If you don’t know what I’m getting at, go watch Batman & Robin, a movie so bad its star will personally reimburse you the cost of admission on request.

So I guess, actually, don’t watch it.

Now then, let us not forget that we almost did not get to see this Christmas. It seems a group of friendly nutcases near Geneva decided to build and activate the first Halo ri…I mean, the Large Hadron Collider. A device with potentially catastrophic consequences. Yes, our friends in Switzerland chose to risk sucking us all into a Black Hole. But the risk of being condensed to a singularity isn’t even the worst bit. We’d have had to die in Switzerland…That’s so boring! They’re neutrals! It’s neither a hateable place or one you’d love! Never mind though, because we seem to have escaped the worst of it.

Huzzah!

In fact, some people are trying to save the world to make up for it! That and, you know, white liberal guilt. Yes, Bill Gates has decided to dedicate himself to philanthropy. Damn does that man want a Nobel or what? Well whatever, good luck to him. Lot these days makes you think the world’s headed downhill, good work should be applauded. So, uh, yeah. Woo for the world’s charity even in what’s tastefully not being called a Depression.

But it is.

But we don’t call it that.

Cos it seems less dramatic if we call it a “Crunch”.

Or a “downturn”.

It’s like how we don’t call it Global Warming or the Melting of the Polar Ice Caps, we call it “Climate Change”.

But I digress. Man has it been a fast year or what? I swear it was only a matter of weeks ago I was gearing up for GCSE exams, and yet it was many months ago. I’ve long since passed and joined the madhouse that is Sixth Form and yet, it still seems like no time has passed at all. Nevertheless, so much has happened it’s hard to remember most of it.

Hmm…Oh, I got a Mac. Which is nice…Let’s see…Important things we haven’t covered yet…Um…I hear Canadia has had its government shut down by their Prime Minister. Something about protecting his job and right-wing policies from the left-wing will of the people. So, uh, sucks to be them I s’pose…Oh, speaking of Governance, Mr. Brown saw fit to drop our VAT! Yes, I know it’s only till the end of 2009, still nice though. Bloody Tories inflated it so much. Honestly. Anywho, props to Mr. Brown for that. He is good godammit. Stop reading the Red Tops! These are the same journalists who tell you which public figure is involved in which sex scandal!

I mean, what the heck kind of political knowledge can they have if that is what became of their lives.

Oh, hang on though, speaking of sex scandals, Screws of the World totally got Max Mosley. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke.

Hmm, I was just looking over the list of Christmas Number One contenders…I mean…Wow. It’s like actual musicians don’t even I want to beat X Factor phonies any more. Where are the proper Christmas-themed songs? I mean, there’s a few there, but they’re mostly covers and/or likely to be the same dreary pseudo-joyous “Christmas” junk we’ve had to make do with for nearly two decades now!

Someone release a new Merry Xmas Everybody, please! A proper, 21st Century Christmas rocker.

And while we’re at it, let’s get rid of the X Factor. The era of manufactured music must end! Open your ey…EARS people!

Erm, excuse me. Got a bit carried away there. So, what will the new year bring us? Well, if I knew that, I would be aiming to make a killing at the Bookies and on the Stock Market (They’re having their 35 Years-ly Blowout Sale by the way!). So since I have no idea, I can but guess…Let’s see…Predictions and aims for the new year…2009…Two Thousand and Nine…Hmmm…

Sky will stay blue; music will continue to dominate culture; the economy will finally begin to rebound; summer will be hot; spring will suck just as much as ever and someone, somewhere, will be inappropriately offended by something they know was not meant in that way – they will proceed to destroy someone’s career over it despite being aware they meant and caused no actual harm.

Yeah, I guess most of those are cop outs, the summer one’s just wishful thinking. Yes, you read that right. So then, aims…

Hmm…Seems like I should be more decisive and also stop, you know, thinking in text…I mean, it’s text. If I need to think of something why don’t I just stop writing until I have? I mean, the way I’m doing it’s just weird, right? Well, anyway, those and probably something about expressing love. That sort of thing always goes down well. So, yeah. Hmm, actually that reminds me of something…

Yes, I’ve checked. Mistletoe’s white things are, indeed, berries. Also it’s a poisonous parasite.

We humans chose some odd symbols for love.

Anyway, I’ve kept you long enough. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone!

Yours,
Paul “Jensonb” Douglas

PS: I just noticed this letter’s almost twice as long as the first one.

PPS: I want to make it clear, that I think that is all the way awesome.

PPPS: So there.

Samsung NC10 Review

Well, I finally received my Samsung NC10 last Thursday. Unfortunately, I was also in the middle of being mad sick so it was hard to enjoy it to the full. But I got better and I’ve been playing around with it for over a week now, so it’s time to do the review.

First up, I’ll do this in-depth text review. Later, I’ll be doing a video review for your viewing pleasure. Possibly Sunday. I dunno, I might be busy. Whatever, it’s not important. Onto the review. The NC10 is a 10.2” Intel Atom-based Netbook. Specs-wise, it’s pretty typical of the class. 1.6GHz Atom, 1GB of RAM and all the usual ports.

Unusual is the hard drive. A spacious 160GB model gives me lots of room for games, a definite plus. The battery is a nice big 6-cell unit and either by witchcraft or fine engineering, it runs longer than other netbooks sporting same capacity batteries in my experience – such as the Eee PC 1000 (Which has flash storage incidentally).

The keyboard is the next standout feature. It’s been described as the best netbook keyboard ever and I’m inclined to agree. Typing on the Samsung is bliss, the keys are a nice size and the feel of them – both the texture and the action – is fantastic.

The touchpad is nothing to get excited about. It’s functional and it sports multi-touch gestures like pinch to zoom but I disabled the scroll regions – I just find it makes the touchpad too small, especially since I’m the kind of guy who likes to sue the whole are for my mousing around.

The boot time is perfectly adequate. I think it takes a little longer than my old Eee, but not long enough that it bothers me. It’s still a might fast boot, and that’s Windows XP we’re talking about! Fast booting XP used to be crazy talk!

Stylistically, the Samsung’s a clear winner. It just has an undeniable sleekness and the nifty glowing Power button on the side at the hinge is awesome. I also like the SD card slot’s blocker – a nice touch.

The system runs at a nice temperature, never too hot to sit on your lap comfortably. Air is blown out the left, but despite this and the presence of a hard drive, I’m pretty sure that the Samsung is never as loud as the Eee PC 701 was (When the latter had its fan running). That’s odd, but also awesome.

All in all, I love the new system. With it’s larger screen the internet now displays perfectly. The Windows operating system has allowed me to get back into (Admittedly) classic PC gaming and the weight remains sufficiently low that I can carry it in one hand by a corner.

The Samsung NC10 is the pinnacle of netbooks and, at £299.99 delivered, it’s value is incredible. I can honestly say I recommend this model to anyone considering a netbook purchase and it’s easily going to tide me over until I buy my MacBook Pro in late 2010.