I still believe that Apple blundered by instantly pulling FCP 7 from the shelves the day that X was released. Now there’s talk that Apple is quietly moving boxed copies of Final Cut Studio 3 on Amazon, and a quick peek over there this morning leads me to believe that this is true. To all those who felt jilted by not being able to add more seats of FCP 7 to your world, well, get ’em while they’re hot.
But let’s push that issue aside for the moment. Who are the early adopters of FCP X? The post houses by and large aren’t touching it. It’s not an emotional decision- they simply can’t. The software in its current 1.0 state is a bit like a roach motel. You can put stuff in, but you can’t easily get it out. No EDL. No XML. OMF only with a tool that costs more than X itself, and even then the task of arranging audio on specific tracks for a proper mix is a challenge.
The real 1.0, FCP 1.0 in 1999, didn’t have support for OMF export at all. Back then, I put a copy on my home system and put it through its paces while still cutting away on Media Composer at work. Avid had backed me and a lot of editors into a corner with pricing decisions they were making (namely, fleecing the loyal user base) so I was itching for an alternative. As soon as version 2 came out in 2001 (with proper OMF support) I took a deep breath, set up an FCP system in an all-Avid post environment and went for it. I think I had more of a taste for the bleeding edge back then, because my daily editing jobs were supplemented with beta testing, bug reporting, message board scouring, and tap dancing with the client to smooth out the rough edges that sometimes stopped me in my tracks.
As we know, things got better, and by versions 3 and 4 plenty of other editors were taking notice. Final Cut was finally emerging from its “hobbyist” stigma as Walter Murch stepped forward to say that he was cutting an actual Hollywood film on it.
As we circle back to the beginning with this new 1.0, similarities start to emerge. Small independent shops, people with less complicated deliverable requirements, and students are among the first ones to really push X around. Pros are peering in from the fringes, deciding if they’ll jump in at some point, and many of them have copies on their personal systems to get acquainted with the new concepts. The alternatives out there from Avid and Adobe are now compelling and cost effective for those unwilling to go down this new road.
Early adopters seemingly love that bleeding edge. For the rest of us, the only cure is time.