As FCP7 continues its long slow march into the sunset, I still find myself using it for one crucial task: creating HDCAM masters. I’ve been editing in FCPX, exporting master ProRes files, and dropping them into a Final Cut Pro 7 sequence (with color bars and countdown slates) for delivery to tape. It works, but it’s just one more hoop to jump through.
With the impending release of the new Mac Pro running Mavericks, I’ve been wondering just how well FCP7 will perform on it. Back in 2011 Apple promised support for 7 in Lion, but has not extended that support for Mountain Lion or Mavericks in the years since. It’s also worth noting that with OS X 10.9 Mavericks Apple has deprecated the QuickTime APIs that Final Cut Pro 7 relies on. What does it mean to be deprecated? Here’s Apple to explain:
From time to time, Apple adds deprecation macros to APIs to indicate that those APIs should no longer be used in active development. When a deprecation occurs, it is not an immediate end of life to the specified API. Instead, it is the beginning of a grace period for transitioning off that API and onto newer and more modern replacements.
As a developer, it is important that you avoid using deprecated APIs in your code as soon as possible. At a minimum, new code you write should never use deprecated APIs. And if you have existing code that uses deprecated APIs, you should update that code as soon as possible
So the writing is on the wall, but in the meantime there are plenty of editors who still need to deliver “legacy” videotape to their customers. Here are a few solutions I’ve been considering:
- Keep one legacy Mac on the network running 10.7 and FCP7, and feed final QuickTime files to it to go to tape.
- Use the third party app that ships with the capture card (or Thunderbolt box) I’m using for capture and output now. I’ve been testing Blackmagic’s Media Express and it’s pretty solid.
- Hope my clients stop asking for tapes.
I’m kidding about that last point, but only a little. Among my customers there’s really only one network that still asks for tape, and they are talking seriously about going all file-based delivery in 2014.
If you are looking for in-depth discussions about Final Cut Pro X in professional workflows, Chris Fenwick’s FCP Grill is well worth a listen.
As creative professionals in 2013 we often find ourselves bridging a divide, with Adobe’s products on one side and Apple’s on the other. I spend most of my time switching between Final Cut Pro X and After Effects (with Motion 5 thrown in for good measure). FCPX is by far my NLE of choice, and going back to FCP7 or Premiere feels like a trip back in time. Meanwhile, After Effects is still the reigning champ of the motion graphics world, so learning it is a must. But looking at these two applications side by side illustrates two very different philosophies when it comes to embracing change moving forward.
After Effects is an incredibly deep and useful piece of software with a history and code base that dates back over 20 years. Each successive release has added new features and workflow improvements while retaining practically everything that came before. It is in Adobe’s best interest to keep their customer base happy, and not rocking the boat seems to be their plan to achieve that (Creative Cloud subscription controversies notwithstanding).
The downside is that this strategy may ultimately hold Adobe back. Freelance editor and animator Lou Borella posted an interesting comparison video on Vimeo that highlights the performance differences between After Effects (CS6 and CC) and Apple’s Motion 5- it’s really worth a watch, and make sure you stick around to browse the comments. While both versions of AE struggle to play back a single HD video clip in his demonstration, Motion handles it effortlessly, even after he applies additional layers and filters during real time looping playback. His argument is that the legacy code in After Effects is preventing the program from fully embracing current hardware advances.
Apple, as we know, took a different route when Final Cut Pro was at a crossroads. FCP7 was stuck in 32-bit and could only address a fraction of the RAM installed in high end systems. Most material shot with newer cameras had to be transcoded to ProRes before editing could begin, which took many hours of productivity killing time. Apple responded with version X. Here are a few of my comments on the state of the transition back in September 2011:
I’ve said this before, but FCP X is not finished. It feels like a stable beta release, but one where many features are missing or incomplete. If I was forced to make a decision today to switch from FCP 7 to something else, the answer would be clear: X is not an option. But a year from now? Two years from now? Things could be entirely different. The question is whether or not the pro editing community can hold on that long.
It’s been two years, and things are indeed a lot different. Final Cut Pro has seen a steady march of point release updates (with a major revision coming next month alongside the new Mac Pro) and I’m using it for virtually every broadcast editing job that comes my way. Adobe Premiere and After Effects are great products and will continue to be the go-to tools for a large portion of the market. After Effects in particular is extremely powerful and I use it daily, although the lure of real time playback and a refined interface has me dipping more and more into Motion 5 lately.
I’m a big fan of Alex Gollner’s efforts to dig into Final Cut Pro X (and iMovie) to look for clues about upcoming versions. He’s also kept a close eye on Apple’s support site, and has noticed something interesting:
Although the most release note for Final Cut Server was archived in July, Apple are still making changes to FCS support documents. Hopefully to prepare for a December resurrection.
It’s a (very) long shot, but an intriguing one regardless. Alex has already found clues in iMovie 2013 that point to multi-user editing in FCP X 10.1. December can’t get here fast enough.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who succeeded founder Bill Gates as CEO, will retire within the next 12 months.
The world’s biggest software company did not name a successor.
Microsoft Corp.’s stock shot up 9 percent in premarket trading following the news.
It’s telling that Microsoft made this pre-announcement with no replacement CEO on deck. Microsoft is still wildly profitable thanks to Windows, Office, and Xbox, but they have gained very little traction in the growth market of mobile with the disastrous reception of Windows Phone and the Surface tablet. They need someone with strong experience and success in devices and services, and the CEO who oversaw the Zune, the Kin, and Windows Phone is not that guy.
Alan Stafford gives it a favorable review:
It’s not a ground-up overhaul, and it doesn’t incorporate hot new technologies. But these tweaks indicate that Premiere Pro has taken on some of the characteristics of a cloud application, adding features as they are developed, rather than making customers wait for monolithic annual releases.
I’ll be curious to see how this idea of “cloud applications” shakes out in terms of steady updates. Premiere (and the rest of the Creative Cloud suite) is not really in the cloud, but rather a standard download and install that logs into Adobe’s servers to make sure your subscription is paid up. Customers will no longer decide when is the right time to purchase a major upgrade; they’re purchasing it all the time. Hopefully Adobe will make good on their end of the deal.