Video editors demand Apple be more proactive about Final Cut Pro

Posted:
in Mac Software
A collection of video editors have written an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, accusing Apple of letting Final Cut Pro fall behind rival editing tools, and demanding the company puts more effort to promote it as a professional filmmaking application.




Apple's video production tools, including Final Cut Pro, received updates in April at around the same time as other more major changes to Adobe's tools and Blackmagic Design's DaVinci Resolve. However, in a letter to Apple, editors suggest that Apple isn't pulling its weight to keep Final Cut Pro relevant for professional productions.

The open letter, published on Tuesday and addressed to Cook, is said to be from "professionals working in Hollywood and other high-profile movie and TV markets around the world."

Opening with praise about Final Cut Pro as the "biggest leap forward in editing technology since the move to digital," the letter then complaints some of its signees cannot use it for their work. "Work that could easily include productions for your very own Apple TV+ service," it states.

While admitting Final Cut Pro is successful with a high number of users, the letter insists "unfortunately in professional film and TV, editors who use Final Cut Pro are a tiny minority." Therefore, the editors ask Apple "to promote Final Cut Pro publicly and add the few remaining features that our industry has consistently stated are needed."

This includes public support and certifying suppliers of third-party products and services editors use so that Final Cut Pro can be integrated "into industry-standard workflows." There is also an urging to improve Pro Apps support and for Final Cut Pro to be bought through existing industry suppliers, as "this is essential for big productions to accept Final Cut Pro as legitimate."

The writers believe a renewed public commitment to the professional film industry and Final Cut Pro will increase the number of editors who "would discover the joys of using Final Cut Pro."

"We hope you will encourage our industry to see Final Cut Pro as a professional choice for editors of future award-winning TV shows and movies, and for millions more editors all over the world."

The letter is jointly signed by 112 editors,, directors, and visual effects artists, who worked on projects including "Drive My Car," "War of the Worlds S3," "Bridgerton," and "BBC News."

Among the improvements, signers suggested that it could benefit from a public Beta program, improved collaboration tools, and how it teaches people to edit in the first place. There is also aa call to make it easier to "get permission to edit TV" with the tool, as "you can't use it without fighting producers, directors, post-production supervisors, sound editors, etc."

April 12's updates to Final Cut Pro brought the tool to version 10.6.2, with the main changes revolving around finding duplicated media, machine learning background noise reduction, M1 Max and M1 Ultra optimizations, support for importing Magic Movie and Storyboard projects from iMovie for iOS 3.0, and the addition of Korean language support.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    I’m not sure what this letter seeks to do. I have Final Cut Pro but rarely use it, most of my work uses Resolve, which has become what FCP7 used to be before Apple totally abandoned it. I wouldn’t bet the farm that Apple won’t sell it off to a third party.
    spliff monkey
  • Reply 2 of 26
     "Industry-standard workflows" means totally cross-platform. Final Cut Pro is not a cross-platform and it remains a niche for Mac users only.... forever. I used to love Final Cut Pro but the interface changes back then threw me off the curve and hindered production. Now I am using Adobe Premiere where FCP is used to be. Matter of fact, Apple, thank you for that because the tight integration and the awesome workflow between Adobe applications saves me tons of hours.
  • Reply 3 of 26
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,259member
    This is all very good feedback for Apple to hear, but the vehicle they've used to gain Apple's attention seems a bit scattershot and amateurish. I don't see many, if any, actionable first steps identified for this sizeable group to suggest ways that they are willing to work in partnership with Apple to improve the situation. I can clearly see where having some elected (in very loose terms) representatives of this group meet with key members of Apple's FCP team, ideally face-face, to make sure Apple clearly understands exactly what they are asking for would be more productive than publishing an open letter with a bunch of grievances.

    I have no doubt that Apple would be very receptive to establishing a working relationship and feedback loop with an organized group of their key customers who have a very valid set of concerns and who have identified themselves as stakeholders in the future success and acceptance of a product that Apple puts a great deal of investment into. Working with Apple as shared stakeholders may actually be more productive than trying to publicly shame Apple in social media with this type of letter. That said, even though the letter is out there and cannot be rolled back, there's no reason why the next steps cannot be done in a more productive and actionable context. Despite the clumsy approach, there's definitely a problem that needs some follow-up by Apple.

    It's actually quite common that companies like Apple have internal teams that are highly focused on addressing the needs of specific industry verticals, e.g., health care, life sciences, food & beverage, entertainment, etc. These teams work with user groups and industry representatives who help providers (Apple) better understand the detailed needs of their customers in these industries and verticals so their products can better fit the needs of their customers and ensure the health of the provider's products. It sure sounds like Apple and these FCP customers need to find a way to connect and move forward.
    muthuk_vanalingambala1234lolliverOfer
  • Reply 4 of 26
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,263moderator
     "Industry-standard workflows" means totally cross-platform.
    The letter notes some of the requests, the original FCP wasn't cross-platform and isn't expected. The only way this could feasibly be done is by open sourcing it but this would show how much active work is being done on it.

    The requests include a beta program for 3rd party tools to test them before updates come out. There's also a request for collaboration features, FCPX has a single-user library and they'd like to have shared libraries.

    There's no reason that editing apps can't all have a shared timeline description format. If 3D apps can use complex formats like FBX, USD etc, there can be a standard timeline format in JSON or XML that FCP can save and Da Vinci, Premiere can open/sync the same timeline directly. This would save file paths relative to a library root and each machine would set the root, which can be a shared library or local.

    It shouldn't be an exchange format like EDL, AAF but a project format. A program's specific settings could be stored in an auxiliary data portion but probably wouldn't be needed. The quickest way to design a format would be for each major NLE developer to have an ascii project format and a group can find a way to express everything that's needed in an open timeline format.

    There can be a master edit stored in this format and there can be a version control system where multiple people can branch and commit changes into the master edit. If someone wants to check out an alternative edit, they can switch to that branch and play the timeline. They'd be able to cherry pick parts into the master and there can be a notation system for suggestions.

    It wouldn't matter if every machine supported every part of the master edit as long as they were preserved on making changes. For example non-destructive color corrections and filters won't be the same in every app but where they aren't supported, this would be flagged as a native portion and there can be a requirement to store a proxy render in collaborative workflows for previewing.

    This would make it much easier to integrate FCPX into a different workflow because a project could be started on FCPX for planning and putting ideas together and the edit can be switched transparently to Da Vinci or Premiere later in the process for refinement.

    Apple has said they have over 2.5 million FCPX users and the vast majority of users will be sole editors so the product will be designed around the most users. The original FCP creator Randy Ubillos left Apple a few years ago. It sounds like he had a major role in the direction of Final Cut and every product he worked on:



    This has happened with a few products at Apple like Aperture and some they purchased. When the driving forces behind the projects move on, the project eventually goes into maintenance mode for a few years. If it's a niche product, it is usually EOL'd. With FCPX having 2.5 million+ users, it's pretty mainstream so I doubt it will get abandoned like the others but I could see it being a low-priority project for Apple.

    I imagine some of the lack of interoperability is due to other niche NLE makers wanting some proprietary lock-in. It's a very low volume industry and some companies are very vulnerable. Avid could easily have gone bankrupt over the past few years. Their net income has been under $50m for the past 3 years:

    https://ir.avid.com/static-files/954d3944-c78c-4807-a09c-4a8094bf8d9a

    Maybe they could merge with BlackMagic or become part of Adobe similar to how Substance products have been taken on. They only have 1400 employees and $1.6b market cap. Adobe could easily buy them out and they'd probably make it back from Pro Tools subscriptions.
    dewmeravnorodomforegoneconclusionrundhvid
  • Reply 5 of 26
    Ok - I reread this reading between the lines I’m guessing they want workflow support for apps like adobe after effects - they might not want to hold their breath on that - the last request is bizarre:
    There is also aa call to make it easier to "get permission to edit TV" with the tool, as "you can't use it without fighting producers, directors, post-production supervisors, sound editors, etc." 
  • Reply 6 of 26
    That's very informative from the "Moderator". If Adobe buys Avid, for sure they will kill it just like the fate of Freehand, my favorite vector application over Illustrator.
    DavidEsratidocno42
  • Reply 7 of 26
    Ok - I reread this reading between the lines I’m guessing they want workflow support for apps like adobe after effects - they might not want to hold their breath on that - the last request is bizarre:
    There is also aa call to make it easier to "get permission to edit TV" with the tool, as "you can't use it without fighting producers, directors, post-production supervisors, sound editors, etc." 
    That's one of the features I love from Premiere is that I can import native AfterEffect files without rendering or exporting. Save me butt load of time. On top of that, I can import native Cinema 4D 3D animated files into AfterEffect without rendering or exporting. Another butt load of time saving. Any updates I made on those native files, Premiere/AfterEffects will automatically update the timeline. The final rendering part is not even from Premiere, I just pass it down to Adobe Encoder to do the heavy duty rendering at the end over night or whenever. FCPX is more for pure video editor who doesn't deal with Photoshop, AfterEffects, 3D files and so fourth. It serves them well as pure video editor.
    edited April 2022
  • Reply 8 of 26
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 1,011member
    Marvin said:
    Maybe they could merge with BlackMagic or become part of Adobe similar to how Substance products have been taken on. They only have 1400 employees and $1.6b market cap. Adobe could easily buy them out and they'd probably make it back from Pro Tools subscriptions.
    I have been saying that Apple should acquire Blackmagic for a while now. The benefits would be outstanding and Apple has more than enough cash to make it happen. Does anyone know what they’re worth? 
  • Reply 9 of 26
    mike fixmike fix Posts: 270member
    People still use Final Cut Pro?  This was DOA when they slapped the X on it and ruined it.  

    Maybe they need to try slapping an 11 on it.
    indieshackravnorodom
  • Reply 10 of 26
    This makes me wonder about Apple having 'talked' to their pro-users about developing the Mac Pro and the Mac Studio. That must have been a tiny group. 
    edited April 2022
  • Reply 11 of 26
    JinTech said:
    Marvin said:

    I have been saying that Apple should acquire Blackmagic for a while now. The benefits would be outstanding and Apple has more than enough cash to make it happen. Does anyone know what they’re worth? 
    Good lord, I hope not - Apple would close down resolve which is a wonderful NLE. Apple had industry standard solutions like FCP7 and Shake, then junked them overnight. FCPX has almost zero penetration in Hollywood projects, which is not to say that it’s terrible or unusable, but I don’t see how it overcomes the momentum that Resolve has generated in just a few years. I still think the letter these folks wrote is somewhat odd, but does raise questions about the future of FCPX.
    ravnorodomdocno42
  • Reply 12 of 26
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 1,011member
    JinTech said:
    Marvin said:

    I have been saying that Apple should acquire Blackmagic for a while now. The benefits would be outstanding and Apple has more than enough cash to make it happen. Does anyone know what they’re worth? 
    Good lord, I hope not - Apple would close down resolve which is a wonderful NLE. Apple had industry standard solutions like FCP7 and Shake, then junked them overnight. FCPX has almost zero penetration in Hollywood projects, which is not to say that it’s terrible or unusable, but I don’t see how it overcomes the momentum that Resolve has generated in just a few years. I still think the letter these folks wrote is somewhat odd, but does raise questions about the future of FCPX.
    Well if Apple were to acquire Blackmagic, hopefully it would mean for the hardware, software and for their engineers and developers so essentially Resolve would be baked into Final Cut Pro, or they would bake Final Cut into Resolve. The way I look at Resolve, is though it's an NLE, I also look at it like an OS for BRAW. The two go hand in hand and without each other, they could not exist. Apple would never terminate that, and I think with Blackmagic developers, the software would stay the same, if not get better.
  • Reply 13 of 26
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    JinTech said:
    Marvin said:
    Maybe they could merge with BlackMagic or become part of Adobe similar to how Substance products have been taken on. They only have 1400 employees and $1.6b market cap. Adobe could easily buy them out and they'd probably make it back from Pro Tools subscriptions.
    I have been saying that Apple should acquire Blackmagic for a while now. The benefits would be outstanding and Apple has more than enough cash to make it happen. Does anyone know what they’re worth? 
    A couple of billion probably.  But Blackmagic Design have a huge number of hardware products, I can't imagine an Apple acquisition being good for that.  It'd likely be a very destructive acquisition.
    ravnorodom
  • Reply 14 of 26
    JinTech said:
    Marvin said:
    Maybe they could merge with BlackMagic or become part of Adobe similar to how Substance products have been taken on. They only have 1400 employees and $1.6b market cap. Adobe could easily buy them out and they'd probably make it back from Pro Tools subscriptions.
    I have been saying that Apple should acquire Blackmagic for a while now. The benefits would be outstanding and Apple has more than enough cash to make it happen. Does anyone know what they’re worth? 
    If Apple purchases Blackmagic, Apple would kill Windows version just like what they did to Shake. And then kill Blackmagic at the end. Without Windows version, Apple pigeonholes itself again.
  • Reply 15 of 26
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 1,011member
    crowley said:
    JinTech said:
    Marvin said:
    Maybe they could merge with BlackMagic or become part of Adobe similar to how Substance products have been taken on. They only have 1400 employees and $1.6b market cap. Adobe could easily buy them out and they'd probably make it back from Pro Tools subscriptions.
    I have been saying that Apple should acquire Blackmagic for a while now. The benefits would be outstanding and Apple has more than enough cash to make it happen. Does anyone know what they’re worth? 
    A couple of billion probably.  But Blackmagic Design have a huge number of hardware products, I can't imagine an Apple acquisition being good for that.  It'd likely be a very destructive acquisition.
    If the industry depends on said hardware products, Apple would not kill them. What Steve did for Apple was one of the best things in modern tech history, simplify the lineup. I doubt that would happen with a Blackmagic acquisition unless the products were just not selling.
  • Reply 16 of 26
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 1,011member
    JinTech said:
    Marvin said:
    Maybe they could merge with BlackMagic or become part of Adobe similar to how Substance products have been taken on. They only have 1400 employees and $1.6b market cap. Adobe could easily buy them out and they'd probably make it back from Pro Tools subscriptions.
    I have been saying that Apple should acquire Blackmagic for a while now. The benefits would be outstanding and Apple has more than enough cash to make it happen. Does anyone know what they’re worth? 
    If Apple purchases Blackmagic, Apple would kill Windows version just like what they did to Shake. And then kill Blackmagic at the end. Without Windows version, Apple pigeonholes itself again.
    What pigeonholed Apple was Final Cut Pro X and the move away from what was Final Cut Pro 7. If they just cleaned up Final Cut Pro 7 to work natively on Mac OS X, we would be in a much better place today. Instead, they took iMovie and made it "pro" and while it has gotten way better over the years, an evolution from Final Cut Pro 7 would have been a much better thing for editors and I am sure we would still have the same install base that we do today.
    ravnorodom
  • Reply 17 of 26
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,263moderator
    JinTech said:
    JinTech said:
    Marvin said:
    Maybe they could merge with BlackMagic or become part of Adobe similar to how Substance products have been taken on. They only have 1400 employees and $1.6b market cap. Adobe could easily buy them out and they'd probably make it back from Pro Tools subscriptions.
    I have been saying that Apple should acquire Blackmagic for a while now. The benefits would be outstanding and Apple has more than enough cash to make it happen. Does anyone know what they’re worth? 
    If Apple purchases Blackmagic, Apple would kill Windows version just like what they did to Shake. And then kill Blackmagic at the end. Without Windows version, Apple pigeonholes itself again.
    What pigeonholed Apple was Final Cut Pro X and the move away from what was Final Cut Pro 7. If they just cleaned up Final Cut Pro 7 to work natively on Mac OS X, we would be in a much better place today. Instead, they took iMovie and made it "pro" and while it has gotten way better over the years, an evolution from Final Cut Pro 7 would have been a much better thing for editors and I am sure we would still have the same install base that we do today.
    From the way Ubillos talks about it, it's like FCP7 wasn't what they originally wanted. I don't think the pro industry has ever been the main focus of most of Apple's software, their focus has been on empowering individuals to do higher quality work more easily. Naturally this needs powerful tools, which are also used by professionals. Early on in computers, there were very few major software packages, companies picked up what was available. When Apple went more in the direction they originally wanted, it conflicted with what the movie industry wanted.

    If they had refreshed FCP7, there would have been less of a rift but it was old, slow and buggy software with code from the Macromedia days. It was a good decision to rebuild it from the ground up.

    FCPX is decent editing software but the focus of it isn't on the movie industry, their marketing material talks about using footage from iPhones. Other software companies have made it clear they will offer better support and I'm sure Apple is perfectly fine with that. Ubillos described the transition here:

    https://alex4d.com/notes/item/back-to-1-0-randy-ubillos-interview

    "The Final Cut Pro team was trying to figure out what they wanted to do next. X was a big shift. I had a big part in convincing people it was the right thing to do. I will say that I had a different idea of the way the launch might have gone… [audience laughter]

    My idea was that Final Cut 7 should stay exactly as it was for about a year, and every time you bought a copy of X you got a copy of 7. They didn’t want to hear it. I knew 16 months before the launch that I was going to have a bunch of arrows in my back. I was going to be blamed for this big transition. It’s the Apple way of doing things: ‘Feet first, jump in!’

    The very last conversation I had with Steve Jobs was right after the launch of Final Cut Pro X. I was getting ready to get on a plane to go to London to record the second set of movie trailers – we’d hired the London Symphony Orchestra [to perform the music that was going to be bundled with the next version of iMovie] – and Steve caught me at home: “What the heck is going on with this Final Cut X thing?” I said “We knew this was coming, we knew that people were going to freak out when we changed everything out from under them. We could have done this better. We should have. Final Cut 7 should be back on the market. We should have an FAQ that lists what this is all about.” He said “Yeah, let’s get out and fund this thing, let’s make sure we get on top of this thing, move quickly with releases…” and he finished by asking: “Do you believe in this?” I said “Yes.” He said “then I do too.”

    That was from the top – you had the authority to make the big changes. I wish it could have gone differently. I absolutely believed it and still do believe it was the right thing to do: that Final Cut X is a better editor than Final Cut 7 was. It’s more popular, it’s bringing more people into editing than ever were before. People who have never used an editor before find Final Cut X much easier to learn than Final Cut 7.

    Talking of bringing new people to editing, what does iMovie for iOS mean to you?

    It’s always been phenomenal, the fact that people can people can have an HD editing studio in their pocket – it’s ready to go for editing. People take pictures all the time and publishing them. They tend not to do it as much with video. One of the reasons for that is that historically people have felt that to make a video is this giant involved process. People have this idea that it has to be more complicated than it is, but I enjoy showing people how to make personal movies…"

    If the FCPX team at Apple want to cater to the film industry then it makes sense to add better support for collaborative workflows. If not, these users need to accept that and use the right tools for the job.

    I don't think Apple has to commit to keeping FCPX as a competitive alternative to other NLEs, they could just commit to easier integration into different workflows.
  • Reply 18 of 26
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,393member
    JinTech said:
    JinTech said:
    Marvin said:

    I have been saying that Apple should acquire Blackmagic for a while now. The benefits would be outstanding and Apple has more than enough cash to make it happen. Does anyone know what they’re worth? 
    Good lord, I hope not - Apple would close down resolve which is a wonderful NLE. Apple had industry standard solutions like FCP7 and Shake, then junked them overnight. FCPX has almost zero penetration in Hollywood projects, which is not to say that it’s terrible or unusable, but I don’t see how it overcomes the momentum that Resolve has generated in just a few years. I still think the letter these folks wrote is somewhat odd, but does raise questions about the future of FCPX.
    Well if Apple were to acquire Blackmagic, hopefully it would mean for the hardware, software and for their engineers and developers so essentially Resolve would be baked into Final Cut Pro, or they would bake Final Cut into Resolve. The way I look at Resolve, is though it's an NLE, I also look at it like an OS for BRAW. The two go hand in hand and without each other, they could not exist. Apple would never terminate that, and I think with Blackmagic developers, the software would stay the same, if not get better.
    That’s not how software works. This would never happen for myriad reasons. Why on earth would Apple want to buy a hardware company with as many products as BMD? Why would YOU want that? They’re doing just fine on their own. 
  • Reply 19 of 26
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 1,011member
    JinTech said:
    JinTech said:
    Marvin said:

    I have been saying that Apple should acquire Blackmagic for a while now. The benefits would be outstanding and Apple has more than enough cash to make it happen. Does anyone know what they’re worth? 
    Good lord, I hope not - Apple would close down resolve which is a wonderful NLE. Apple had industry standard solutions like FCP7 and Shake, then junked them overnight. FCPX has almost zero penetration in Hollywood projects, which is not to say that it’s terrible or unusable, but I don’t see how it overcomes the momentum that Resolve has generated in just a few years. I still think the letter these folks wrote is somewhat odd, but does raise questions about the future of FCPX.
    Well if Apple were to acquire Blackmagic, hopefully it would mean for the hardware, software and for their engineers and developers so essentially Resolve would be baked into Final Cut Pro, or they would bake Final Cut into Resolve. The way I look at Resolve, is though it's an NLE, I also look at it like an OS for BRAW. The two go hand in hand and without each other, they could not exist. Apple would never terminate that, and I think with Blackmagic developers, the software would stay the same, if not get better.
    That’s not how software works. This would never happen for myriad reasons. Why on earth would Apple want to buy a hardware company with as many products as BMD? Why would YOU want that? They’re doing just fine on their own. 
    Why does any company buy any company?
  • Reply 20 of 26
    My proposal for Apple is to create a Windows version of Final Cut Pro. Yes, Windows.... just like there's Windows version of iTunes. On top of that, bundle Final Cut Pro X with Motion (Apple version of After Effects) and Compressor (Apple version of Encoder). One thing I like about Apple Motion is that it's more of automation kind of control vs Adobe After Effects feels more like a manual transmission stick shift car. These days Apple Motion and Compressor are like stuffs buried somewhere in the basement and forgotten. They were exposed more when Apple bundled them with FCP7 as Final Cut Studio back in the old day. I do think Apple Video Suite (or Final Cut Studio 2022) will have a lot of potential and it can draw even more user base if it's opened up to Windows users. By then, third party plug-ins will start flooding in and you will see workflow integration with other applications.
    edited April 2022
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