You've most likely already heard about Adobe's move to get rid of Creative Suite and offer rental-only software from now on. When the announcement was made my Twitter feed exploded with both love and hate for the new policy.
While some of the negative points people made are purely hypothetical or FUD for its own sake, others are genuine concerns. There has also been a lot of misinformation flying around, in particular with regards to being connected to the internet. You do not need a constant connection - the software will connect once a month and you will have a grace period of 99 days (soon to be 180 - thanks Todd) if the connection is unsuccessful.
Another common misconception is that the apps will run off the cloud or that they will automatically update without your permission. The apps run locally on your system as they did before but the licensing is handled on the cloud, so instead of a product key you now use your email address. Software updates will not occur automatically without your permission and Adobe has said they will periodically create fixed archived copies of the applications so you can revert to a particular version if desired.
I have no issues with the cloud or rental policies as concepts, my only objection is to being forced into them. It is difficult not to interpret this as a power grab.
Another thing Adobe may not have considered is that they have different traction in different markets. Photoshop is clearly the king of print and graphics, but Premiere has only started to gain traction since the demise of FCP 7. I know several people who were looking for FCP 8, thought they'd found it with Premiere CS Next and are now hesitating.
I have been fortunate to have access to pre-release versions of some of the new Adobe apps and the new Premiere is fantastic. The dev team has really listened and I try to use the new version over CS6 whenever I can. It's sad that instead of talking about the great new features, the whole Adobe MAX event was overshadowed by this decision from upper management.
The worst part is that in spite of all this I will still unhappily subscribe and so will many others. I am certain that this will end up being financially beneficial to Adobe, but it erases a certain amount of goodwill.
2013 is now upon us so here's a look back at the past twelve months.
It was a big year for us with our customer base expanding by 50% and us welcoming many new corporate clients and broadcasters.
Our site traffic was up significantly with over a million more pages viewed and over 6 million more hits compared to 2011.
The most popular blog posts of 2012 were:
Making Lion and Mountain Lion more like Snow Leopard
How to export chapter markers from FCPX
Avid AMA best practices
Adobe dynamic link troubleshooting
Things you may have missed:
Looking forward, we predict 2013 will be our biggest year ever. We have several big releases planned and we'll be exhibiting at NAB in April for the first time. I can't say more than that but definitely watch this space.
Today Adobe announced the full feature set of Creative Suite 6. Here are the features that stood out at me:
What's clear from this release is that Adobe is aggressively targeting a broad range of users. There are features in the new release that will be familiar to Avid, FCP7 and FCPX users. Since the demise of Final Cut Studio, Creative Suite is the only suite in town and this release fixes many of my complaints with CS 5.5 (although no word on new developer features yet). I don't think it will change my plan to use Avid for long-form and Premiere for short-form but the wide-open nature of the NLE market right now is something that is clearly producing great results for editors.
I'm currently working on a feature film that will be my last Final Cut Pro 7 project. I'd just finished implementing a custom solution to automatically log and sort clips as they are brought in, when it suddenly occurred to me that a lot of what I was doing would not be possible in the future with a competing NLE (at least not on the Mac; Sony Vegas has great scripting capabilities).
Here is a summary of things we can do with FCP 7 that is impossible or less smooth with its replacements:
(Note: we don't develop effects plugins so this post does not delve into plugin-related differences between the apps. But it's a post I'd be glad to link to if someone else writes it.)
Controlling the NLE
Developers can use Apple Events to perform such tasks as programmatically saving and loading projects, highlighting items in a bin and searching. None of the competing apps are able to do this.
We can also communicate with Final Cut Pro over MIDI, which we put to good use in Cut Notes, but Premiere and FCPX unfortunately lack this feature.
It is important to be able to easily get data in and out of the editing application. There is mixed support for this among competing apps. Avid has XML output via FilmScribe but this is not as fully-featured as FCP XML and I have found the FilmScribe app to be unreliable. FCPX XML exports do not include all of the information within the project or event. Premiere gets full marks for including FCP 7 XML interchange support.
Avid does get some bonus points for being able to import and export marker lists though, which none of the others can (it's even better than FCP 7 which was limited to export only). Some people would say this feature is unnecessary if you have XML input, however it's very useful for applications that don't need or cannot access the underlying project, such as our own Cut Notes app.
Manipulation of project data
Probably the most useful feature is the ability to change data within the project. You can add new clips, batch modify metadata and sort clips into bins. It's very powerful and you can specify various options when importing a clip or bin such as only adding clips that do not currently exist or making copies of existing clips.
Avid doesn't support this at all and Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere only support this via manual XML import / export.
Premiere wins extra marks for basing its project file format on XML but it then loses most of them by not documenting the project file format nor encouraging development of it.
These are all great features that we're putting to good use in our apps and it's a shame to lose them. We've developed workarounds for most of them but these often require additional manual work by the user, which we're keen to avoid.
Apple created third-party developer ecosystems with FCP 7 and FCPX that simply don't exist with other NLEs (and FCPX's developer features still need some more work, as noted above). We're putting this post out to encourage NLE manufacturers to increase their focus on third party developer-friendly features. Fostering third-party development helps end users, developers and the manufacturers themselves. Everyone wins.
Today Apple released Final Cut Pro X 10.0.3 which offers several new features such as multicam and broadcast monitoring (beta) that were previously missing.
Looking through the details, it's hard to find anything that would appeal to consumers and it is clear that this is an attempt by Apple to appease at least some of the pros. My first reaction (and the reaction of a lot of people on Twitter) was that this was the version Apple should have released back in June.
Here are some of the features I found interesting:
That doesn't make it a perfect tool for the professional broadcast / film industries of course. I really can't see EDL support ever being added, nor support for broadcast tape capture. But over time I think this will matter less and less. Case in point: I'm working on a feature right now and was very surprised when the post house asked me to deliver the Final Cut Pro 7 project for grading / mixing instead of EDLs and OMF.
I think Apple is very much gambling on the future here and I am definitely considering looking into it for short form work.
Update: Larry Jordan offers more info on the differences between FCP7 and FCPX's multicam implementation. Thanks Larry!
FCP 7 would LINK up to 128 cameras in a multicam clip, however you could only view 16 of them. FCP X links and allows you to view up to 64 clips at once, by switching between up to four banks of 16 cameras each. Also, edits can be made in real-time or by positioning the playhead.
Apple's recent obsolescence of Final Cut Studio has forced a lot of us to reexamine which editing platform we want to use for future work. Ironically, Adobe Premiere Pro is a much easier transition for FCP 7 users than Final Cut Pro X due to its similar interface, support for old FCP projects and ability to use FCP's keyboard shortcuts.
The transition to Premiere is easier than any other NLE but there are lots of little things that I miss from Final Cut Pro. Here's a list of some of them, in no particular order.
The Ctrl+V keyboard shortcut in Final Cut Pro can be used to make a cut on the timeline at the current playhead position. While Premiere also has a keyboard shortcut for cutting (Cmd+K), it pauses playback when it does so. There is no way to cut and continue playing.
Premiere Pro is limited only to four multicam angles.
Unlike Final Cut Pro, the audio mixer in Premiere doesn't work on a clip-by-clip basis. Every adjustment affects the entire track.
It took such a long time for colored markers to be introduced in Final Cut Pro 7 that I was sad to see them disappear in FCPX. Premiere needs this too.
Final Cut Pro can also export text-based marker lists, which is a great way of sending markers to another application. If Adobe were to implement this, I would also recommend they include a way of importing markers from a list, which Final Cut Pro unfortunately lacks.
Like Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere has a useful Paste Attributes command. However, unlike FCP, this function does not allow you to specify which attributes you would like to paste - it just pastes everything. This is often not what you want.
Ctrl-G in FCP can be used to easily close a gap in your timeline. There is no equivalent keyboard shortcut in Premiere to do this in one step.
Update: This one seems to have been misunderstood by a lot of people so I'll repeat it with additional emphasis: there is no way to do this in one step. There are many ways to do this in more than one step.
Only one project can be open at a time in Premiere. There is no way to refer back to another project without closing the first one.
When you cancel a render halfway through, Premiere discards the entire render file, unlike Final Cut Pro where the portion you rendered remains valid.
Using the JKL keys to navigate through media in Premiere can sometimes be tricky because the audio becomes high-pitched and difficult to understand.
Scrolling your mouse vertically scrolls the Premiere Pro timeline horizontally. This is useful if your mouse is only capable of vertical scrolling, but if you have a trackpad or a mouse with a scroll ball, there is no way to scroll vertically to see extra tracks. There should at least be a preference for this behavior.
(FCP tip: if you have a mouse with a vertical scroll wheel only, hold down Cmd when scrolling and it will scroll horizontally.)
There is no indicator icon to show a through edit. A through edit is a cut within a clip where the frames on either side of the cut are adjacent to each other. It appears to the viewer as if there is no cut at all, and in most cases it is unnecessary and should be removed.
When media goes offline, you can browse to the location of the file if you know where it is but there is no way to search your entire hard drive.
When inserting or overwriting a clip to the timeline in Final Cut Pro, the tracks that the video and audio will end up on are controlled by the buttons in the patch panel that are normally marked v1, a1 and a2. If you don't want to insert a track, click the button in the patch panel to disconnect it.
In Premiere things work differently. The patch panels AND the tracks need to be selected in order for this to work. If you want to insert video on video track 2 without any audio and have disconnected the A1 patch button, having an audio track selected will insert a blank space into that track. It seems redundant for patch buttons and audio tracks to need to be selected in order for this to work as expected when only patch buttons are needed in other NLEs.
Walter Biscardi gives a video overview of this problem here.
Final Cut Pro 7 finally brought us a long-requested timecode overlay window. While Premiere does show timecode in the Info window, this is not a direct equivalent.
In Final Cut Pro 6.0.2 and higher, if you drag a clip and press the N key to toggle snapping, snapping will be switched on or off only for the duration of the drag. Once you let go of the clip, snapping reverts to its previous value. I found this feature very useful.
Final Cut Pro can place markers on a clip whenever an audio peak occurs. There is no such function in Premiere.
While you can view how many times an entire clip has been used, there is no way to see if a particular frame has been used more than once. This is crucial for film projects that will be having a negative cut.
Sequence markers in Premiere Pro allow you to set a name, description, duration and various other options. Clip markers cannot be customized at all.
This is a list of things I think FCP does better than Premiere. In some cases, Premiere has no equivalent feature. In others, the feature exists but I feel it is lacking. None of these problems have prevented me from editing successfully with Premiere, but things would be smoother and certain workflows much easier if these features were present. I'm sure Adobe has been getting a lot of feedback from former FCP users and I have high hopes for CS6.
Sound off in the comments if you can think of any more things Adobe should borrow from Final Cut Pro.
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion was released earlier today. I've heard a couple of people say they're not enthusiastic about it and, with features like Autosave and Launchpad, it's mainly geared at consumers. I completely disagree and here's my list of five features that are great for editors and video professionals (in no particular order).
Even in the 21st century, many people I know still use good old Sneakernet to distribute files between computers. People still use such a low-tech method of transferring files because the machines don't need to be networked to each other, there's no setup process and you're not opening yourself up to potential security issues (assuming the files and the drive are virus-free, of course).
AirDrop allows you to send files to people physically located nearby who are not necessarily on the same Wi-Fi network. When you want to send a file to someone, both of you click the AirDrop icon in the Finder sidebar and you then drag the file onto the person's name. If they accept the file, it is encrypted and sent directly to their Downloads folder.
You only appear to other users on the network if you have the AirDrop folder open. This provides greater privacy and security than having regular file sharing running constantly.
Every Mac now has the potential to be a server for just $50, giving you a great deal of control over your system and the users that access it.
Lion now includes Xsan, a network file system popular with video editors. This used to cost $999 so it's a huge saving for large installations.
Love it or loathe it, you can't deny that Final Cut Pro X is built on a great technical foundation. AV Foundation ships with Lion and allows developers to utilize the same technology in their applications. It's something we plan to explore to improve future versions of Pro Media Tools.
It's also worth noting that the QuickTime 7 API is still there so existing QuickTime applications will continue to work. Final Cut Pro 7 runs just fine in Lion.
This feature has been part of Windows for decades and I'm surprised it's taken this long to make it to the Mac. If you drag a folder onto another folder with the same name, it now gives you the option to merge the two together. This is a huge timesaver.
We're big fans of incremental backups, which is why we created FCP Versioner. It's great to see something similar included in the OS for applications that support it.
Other nice features include the ability to encrypt an entire drive without a perceptible performance drop (according to Apple's marketing), OpenGL 3.2, Resume and Time Machine local snapshots, for recovering files when you're on the road without your Time Capsule or backup drive.
Lion seems faster too - I've seen noticeable performance improvements in all of our applications when run under Lion.
Of course, there are downsides too. Firstly, it's only available from the Mac App Store. If you are running OS X 10.5 Leopard, you will need to first upgrade to 10.6 Snow Leopard in order to access the store and download Lion. Apple will be selling Lion USB keys for $69 in August for users on Leopard or without broadband internet access.
Secondly, Rosetta is dead. This means that applications built for PowerPC computers will not work on Lion, including the Final Cut Studio 2 installer.
Thirdly, for some reason Apple decided to invert scrolling in Lion, meaning that dragging two fingers down scrolls up and vice versa. This would work well on a touchscreen but feels unnatural with a scroll mouse or trackpad. Fortunately it can be disabled in System Preferences but I don't know why Apple decided to make this the default.
Fourthly, features that some professionals have been demanding for a while, such as OpenGL 4.1, 10-bit monitor support and Blu-ray playback via third party drives still haven't materialized.
Overall, I think Lion is a step forward for professionals that provides much-needed additions to OS X. Driver and application support will likely take a while to catch up, despite the beta period, so as a rule I wouldn't recommend using it for professional use until the .3 or .4 update ships, even though I've actually found it to be quite stable in my testing.
I've already mentioned The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Final Cut Pro X but when it comes to developer features, there's a lot more to like.
Chris Kenny has been doing some delving and discovered that there are references to Python and AppleScript in the Final Cut Pro X app. This would be a big step up from the current method of sending commands via Apple Events.
There are also references to XML import and Final Cut Pro XML import, which implies that they will be two different formats. This makes sense, as the structure of FCPX projects has changed significantly (no more bins and no concept of tracks for instance) and there is a greater focus on metadata.
Neither of these are publicly accessible right now but they show that Apple has at least experimented with these functions and it is likely that they will be enabled in a future release. There has been speculation that import of FCP7 projects or XML may never come as the project formats are too different, but I think it's likely that we will at least see an FCPX-specific exchange format at some point in the future.
Final Cut Pro X now uses the Motion engine to render effects, which means that plugin output is now consistent between Final Cut Pro and Motion - something that was not the case in previous versions. Developers need to wrap their Motion plugins as Final Cut Effects in order for them to show up in Final Cut Pro X.
Other notable changes include more control over plugin user interfaces, support for multi-threading, keyframing, undo and bezier paths. These have been requested for a long time so it's great that they're now here. Thanks to Darrin Cardani and Paul Schneider at Apple for listening to the needs of developers.
Final Cut Pro X and Motion 5 require plugins to be compiled as 64-bit so most users' plugins won't be compatible. This is only a temporary problem until plugin developers catch up and the benefits of a 64-bit environment and FxPlug 2.0 will make it worthwhile. (There are, of course, some bugs in the implementation as would be expected in a 1.0 release.)
Just before Final Cut Pro X was unveiled at NAB earlier this year, I wrote a post about my Top 5 Developer Requests for the Next Final Cut Pro.
Storing settings in preference lists was number one and, as expected, this was implemented. While the reasons for wanting it so badly (mainly for programmatically changing scratch disk locations) are less important in Final Cut Pro X, we can still do a lot of things with it.
Making the Final Cut Pro project format more open was second on the list. This one is a little more complex because on the one hand, it's in SQLite format which makes it readable by the sqlite3 Terminal command but on the other, Core Data assumes that no-one other than the owning application will ever touch those files and so it's very easy to corrupt it if you're not careful. Also, while the SQLite format offers some predictability, Apple are free to structure the database any way they see fit and change it without notice in future versions. I've written a basic filename parser but I'm going to wait for official documentation or an API before doing anything more substantial.
Third, fourth and fifth on the list were requests for more API control. This is not in the initial release of Final Cut Pro X and remains to be seen if it will be in future versions.
Of course, I wrote this on the assumption that FCPX wouldn't remove any developer features that were in the previous version. While the developer features are sparse in the current version, the future looks bright, especially as it appears that Apple is expecting third-party developers to fill in many of the gaps in FCPX's feature set.
This list will document the bugs in Final Cut Pro X as they become apparent.
This one is scary. There are several reports of people losing work due to FCPX's autosave function (which is the only way to save) not working.
When you add media from another drive and choose not to copy the files to your Final Cut Events folder, FCPX adds symbolic links to the Final Cut Events folder that point back to these files.
Some people have been reporting that they relaunched FCPX to find all of their media offline. When they looked in the Final Cut Events folder, FCPX had either deleted the symbolic links or failed to save them in the first place.
You can reconnect them by going to File > Import > Files but this causes another bug to surface: the files will always be copied to your Final Cut Events folder even if you deselect the option to do so.
Some people are reporting that Undo is disabled for them. What makes this an especially big problem is that FCPX saves automatically and so any mistakes they make are immortalized forever if they can't undo them.
There are reports of projects disappearing from the project library.
If you experience problems with media, I would recommend updating to OS X 10.6.8 which "Fixes an issue when importing certain media files into Final Cut Pro." I don't yet know if it solves these particular issues though.
Apple recommends only running FCPX on machines with one graphics card.
This can be caused by templates from previous versions of Motion residing in the ~/Library/Application Support/Motion folder. To get around this, move the templates from this folder. More info here.
This can happen if certain folders exist on the drive. The poster in this forum thread says folders called "private" and possibly "backup" can cause this issue:
I'd be interested to hear if anyone finds any other folders that can cause the drive to disappear in FCPX.
More bugs will be listed as they surface.
Final Cut Pro X is finally here and I've been playing around with it this morning. I haven't used it for any projects yet, so don't consider this a formal review, but here are my first impressions.
As a software developer, I understand that a 1.0 release is difficult and not every feature can be added. However, I feel that Apple made some glaring omissions with FCPX that I will cover in the "ugly" section.
As you can see, there are some serious issues with FCPX. However, the biggest problem is that Final Cut Pro 7 support ends today. All of the above issues could be forgiven if Apple had allowed the two to co-exist until FCPX had matured enough to be a viable replacement. This is especially important considering the lack of support for importing Final Cut Pro 7 projects.
Unless you're using DSLRs to create content solely for the web, I would recommend having a more fully-featured NLE on your system in addition to Final Cut Pro X. Apple has made this difficult by discontinuing Final Cut Studio 3, so I would recommend Avid Media Composer or Adobe Premiere Pro. (Premiere Pro is probably easier for Final Cut Pro users to pick up.)