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.

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.

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.

‘The Walking Dead’ shuffles on

Rob Bricken, reporting for io9:

Were you sort of dreading the season nine premiere of The Walking Dead? I was. The series has had increasing problems since the beginning of the boring, interminable Savior War, and the show’s declining ratings back that up. But I’m surprised—and happy!—to report that the season nine premiere really feels like a new beginning, and damned if it didn’t make me excited for the show all over again…mostly.

I still watch TWD, but I’m not quite sure why. As a narrative springboard there’s so much potential there, but the characters have felt increasingly wooden (the living ones, mind you) and the storylines have been well south of compelling.

Something certainly felt different right from the opening credits of season 9’s debut. Color. Crows scatter from a tree as its leaves burst into view, and a pitchforked skull on the ground is overtaken by blooming vines. Even the title itself shows a hint of life.

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I’ll stick it out and see if this goes anywhere. Pivoting the story in a new direction as Rick Grimes departs is a smart move. Let’s just hope they fill the void with something more than Negan’s latest antics.

The tech of Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad

Nathan Mattise at Ars Technica takes a look at the subtle but effective use of VFX in two of this century’s greatest shows:

On the surface, nothing about Better Call Saul appears particularly innovative. Crime and legal dramas stand as one of TV’s oldest formats, and this one happens to be set in the near-past. The show can’t even draw on the latest headlines where the bleeding edge of tech runs into law. On top of that, of course, Saul spun-off from the wildly successfully Breaking Bad, meaning a lot of this world’s largest narrative arcs have been spelled out already (to say nothing of the critical shadow Breaking Bad casts).

The included video is a great watch, but you may want to skip it if you haven’t finished Breaking Bad- there are series finale spoilers.

They used to be called “commercials”

Netflix has been testing out the playback of video promos that play in between episodes of a show you’re watching. No joke. Shannon Liao at The Verge:

Users who have spotted the test feature have taken to (since deleted) Reddit and Twitter to voice their annoyance at having their show-binging interrupted by an ad for other shows. A bug appeared for some users where they were unable to skip the promo and had to watch a certain amount — like with ads on YouTube — before they were able to get to the next episode of their show. Netflix told The Verge that the video promos are supposed to be skippable and that the feature is not permanent. “We are testing whether surfacing recommendations between episodes helps members discover stories they will enjoy faster.”

It’s not clear if this will ever get out of the testing phase, or what other shows Netflix would choose to promote in the middle of your couch-bound binge session. In theory they could sell that eyeball time the same way a traditional network sells advertising.

When cable television was new, the dream was that you’d pay a monthly fee in exchange for commercial free channels. This New York Times piece from 1981 is a perfect time capsule of that era:

Although cable television was never conceived of as television without commercial interruption, there has been a widespread impression – among the public, at least -that cable would be supported largely by viewers’ monthly subscription fees. These days, however, as cables are laid across the country and new programs constantly pop up to fill the gaping maw, cable experts are talking as glibly about the potential advertising revenues as they are about opportunities for programming.