Apple’s positive future for pros

9to5Mac’s Michael Steeber looks back at Apple’s recent history with its pro customers:

To say that the initial release of Final Cut Pro X made waves in the creative community would be an understatement. Among full-time video editors, the shakeup is still spoken about with the same energy as it was seven years ago. Most users felt burned by the upgrade, and many bailed on Apple’s video tools altogether. Two years later, pros were wowed by the radically redesigned Mac Pro, only to be left in the cold without another meaningful update. It was a tough time to be a pro customer.

I launched this site way back in 2011, not long after the release of Final Cut Pro X 10.0, and I had some thoughts at the time. A lot has changed in the years since. Steeber recaps the just-completed FCPX Creative Summit:

This past weekend told a different story. After last year’s impressive announcements, video professionals gathered once again in Cupertino to hear about Final Cut Pro 10.4.4. After seven years of iteration, Final Cut Pro X is no longer the stripped down, controversial editing “toy” it was once perceived as.

New workflows have been developed. Features have returned. The industry is taking Final Cut seriously again. The question is no longer “are you still using Final Cut?” but rather “how are you using Final Cut?”

I can say that I share these sentiments. As I wrote earlier this week, Apple is taking the pro market seriously, and making significant gains in both hardware and software development. It’s an exciting time to be a creative professional.

2018 FCPX Creative Summit Recap

The 4th annual Creative Summit is in the history books. It was quite the experience. Apple hosted the show attendees in the Town Hall at 4 Infinite Loop and gave a keynote highlighting the new features of Final Cut Pro X, Motion, and Compressor.

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This venue has a storied history of famous events that include the debut of the original iPod and the “Antennagate” press conference.  After the presentation they opened up the hands on area where members of the FCPX development and marketing teams were available to answer questions and show off the new features.

The conversations I had with the FCPX folks were pretty fascinating. Most of them come from a post production background, and they are all committed to making Final Cut the best tool in the industry. I overheard other editors talking about specific features they would like to see or technical issues they had run across, and the Apple team was listening.

Days 2 and 3 of the event were focused on training sessions at the Juniper Hotel in Cupertino, and my presentation was in that first 9am slot. People walking by my hotel room the night before could probably hear me talking to myself as I ran through everything one last time.

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I was there to talk about how I used Final Cut Pro X to cut an entire promotional campaign for a broadcast television documentary series. It was a project that lasted for well over a year and was filled with lots of challenges and learning experiences that I shared with the group. The audience had great followup questions and (hopefully) were able to walk away with a new tip or two.

The other presenters did an amazing job covering a wide range of topics. I tried to soak in as much as I could on the long list of technical and creative training sessions that were offered. If only I could have cloned myself to see them all.

Apple’s presence was felt throughout the weekend. The FCPX team attended the presentations, hosted a Q&A session, and generally made themselves available for anyone who wanted to chat. I came away feeling very positive about the future of Apple’s Pro Apps.

UPDATED November 20 to include revised information about Apple’s Town Hall.

The iPad Pro and USB-C

A few days ago I opined that a power application like Final Cut Pro X would only make sense on the iPad Pro if Apple did away with the Lightning port in favor of USB-C. Well, that day has arrived, but we may not be quite there yet. Jason Snell at Six Colors loves the new iPad Pro, but he does raise this good point:

Which brings us to USB-C. The iPad Pro is the first iOS device to ditch Lightning for the port standard favored by computers. This is another sign that the iPad Pro is really embracing being a computer—but the sad fact is, it’s hamstrung by iOS itself. The hardware is willing, but the software is weak. iOS’s support for USB devices is sorely limited. It will import photos and videos from cameras and memory cards. You can hook up a keyboard or an Ethernet adapter or a microphone or audio mixer. And I assume the iPad Pro will be able to power a much wider array of devices than could have been powered by the USB 3 Lightning Adapter without a power assist.

But plug in a hard drive or flash drive and you can’t view the files in the Files app. Plug in a USB webcam and I assume nothing happens? There’s more to be done here. On a standard computer we have an expectation of what happens when we plug in a USB device. iOS has holes. Maybe the existence of USB on iPad will finally prompt Apple to prioritize better USB device support in future versions of iOS.

I’m keeping the dream of touch-based FCPX alive for now. Connecting fast RAID storage to something as powerful as the new 12.9″ iPad Pro would truly blur the lines between Mac and iPad. iOS, for better or for worse, feels like the future of computing for most people.

Would Final Cut Pro X make sense on an iPad Pro?

If Apple unveils a redesigned iPad Pro at next week’s special event in Brooklyn, they will surely have some new software to show running on it. The cat is already out of the bag with Adobe’s upcoming iPad version of Photoshop. That’s huge news for both companies and I’m sure it will be a hit. What else would spark some sales?

How about Final Cut Pro X?

Video editing software has been around on the iPad almost as long as the iPad itself, and today’s offerings are pretty compelling. Just take a look at LumaFusion, a powerful and fun-to-use NLE from Luma Touch. I have it installed on my 2018 (non-Pro) iPad and I’m impressed by its ease of use and depth of features. It has support for cloud services (iCloud, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, etc.) so getting media onto your device is easier than it used to be. An upcoming release promises external video monitoring and XML support, showing that Luma Fusion is serious about making this a pro solution.

Final Cut Pro X on iPad wouldn’t be a huge technical leap, considering iMovie for iOS has been around for a while and they would presumably share large chunks of code. Currently you can start a project in iMovie and send it to FCPX on your Mac for finishing.

I think the issue boils down to storage and connectivity. The current iPad Pro tops out 512GB of built-in storage, and anyone who works with today’s camera media knows that you could fill that up with one single job. It’s also cumbersome to transfer large files to and from an iPad. The cloud services offered by LumaFusion make accessing files straightforward, but that material still needs to copy to your device to be used for editing.*

A clue that Apple might be looking to address this issue is the rumor that the high end iPad would adopt a USB-C port instead of Lightning. Suddenly a “closed” platform could support things like external storage and 4K video out. Applications like Final Cut Pro X start to make a little more sense.

I’m not completely sold on this concept, though. Is Apple going to release an iPad app that requires tethering your mobile device to a drive? Will 512GB (or 1TB in a future release) be enough storage for most users?

Hopefully we’ll know soon enough. Slicing through my footage with an Apple Pencil sounds fun.

*LumaFusion does have support for wireless storage that lets you preview source files, but shots you choose to put in your timeline still need to be copied.

Could it be Mac mini time?

Benjamin Mayo, reporting for 9to5Mac:

The Eurasian database has turned up hit after hit recently. Once more, ahead of Apple’s October 30 event, the Eurasian Economic Competition database has listed filings for new Mac models running macOS 10.14. Four of these model identifiers relate to as-yet-unannounced machines. As spotted by Consomac, the A1932 laptop model was seen in an earlier filing.

The three new Mac models likely relate to new versions of the Mac Mini and iMac. We are expecting a significant spec update to the Mac Mini, which has not seen any attention in 1469 days, and at least processor bumps to the rest of the Mac line.

1469 days ago Barack Obama was president, the iPhone 6 was all the rage, and Meghan Trainor was topping the charts with “All About That Bass.” Yeah, I think we’re due for a new mini.

2018 FCPX Creative Summit

I’m excited to be a part of this year’s FCPX Creative Summit in Cupertino November 16-18, where I’ll be talking about some of my editing workflows with Final Cut Pro X on large scale promotional campaigns.

I’ve been an editor for over 20 years, hopping platforms from linear tape, Avid Media Composer, Final Cut Pro “Classic”, to Final Cut Pro X, with side trips into Adobe Premiere Pro and Blackmagic Resolve.

Apple used 2017’s Summit to unveil FCPX 10.4 running on the new iMac Pro, so with any luck we’ll have some interesting news this time around.