Apple Has You by the Cojones

There’s a lot of frustration over FCPX. I believe rightly so. I more than any embrace change. But this is too much change, too soon, with no warning. While Apple added a number of features editors have been asking for (features their competitors have had for years), they turned around and got rid of a bunch of basic stuff we’ve grown to know and love (and in many cases legitimately need). I like the way Chris Fenwick put it, it’s like Apple decided to redesign the car by putting the gas pedal on the left instead of the right. What was wrong with the right?

So, we could just boycott FCPX and stick with FCP7. But truth is, if Apple wants, they have us by the cajones. One of two things will happen if you want to continue editing on a Mac. Either you will comply and accept FCPX , or you will have to dump FCP altogether. And here’s how they’ll make that happen. iTunes. This is how it will play out…

Pissed-off Pro Editor decides to boycott FCPX and stick with FCP7. But, support on FCP7 will eventually be discontinued. Furthermore, future versions of the MacOS will no longer support FCP7. “No biggie,” you say, “I’ll just stick with my current version of MacOS.” Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong. At some point you will need to upgrade iTunes. Either you’ll do it without thinking when prompted, and later find out it no longer works unless you upgrade your OS, so you do so and realize now that FCP7 no longer works. Agggh! So you spend two afternoons downgrading everything back to legacy versions. You think to yourself “Phew!” That was a pain in the arse, but at least I’m back to all my old versions.

Then the new season of “Mad Men” comes out on iTunes and you’re dying to see what happens to Don Draper. You fork over $35 to download  it and can’t wait to watch the new episodes. But guess what, they don’t work with the old version of iTunes. In fact, no future songs or movies or TV shows you download work with it. But wait, it gets better. The current versions of your songs are no longer authorized on your other devices because the way they communicate with the iTunes servers is also changed. You can fix that by upgrading iTunes, which requires upgrading your OS which requires upgrading FCP. So, to stick with FCP7, you, the lover and connoisseur of all things film, either have to give up FCP 7, or give up watching your favorite shows and movies or listening to your favorite songs from iTunes. Ergo, they got you by the cajones.

You think I’m joking. Just wait and see.

I just love my love-hate relationship with Apple. 🙂

19 thoughts on “Apple Has You by the Cojones

  1. Great points, Ron. I, like you, did not run out and purchase FCPX the moment the digital ink was still wet in the Apple store. I am very glad I waited, I saved myself $300! What Apple has done, in my eyes, is no less than a betrayal of the professional users that took a chance on FCP when the market was saying that FCP was not a professional product, back around 8-10 years ago. Those users championed it, embraced it, and built businesses around it. Now they have been betrayed, and that’s not too strong of a word. So many critical pro features have been dropped that it cannot be really considered the same professional product it was before. Just the fact that it imports iMovie projects but not FCP projects speaks volumes. It goes beyond wondering “WTF” and coming to the realization that Apple does not want to continue support for real broadcast or film editing work. It would have been nice to tell us that instead of leading the industry on.

    Adobe Premiere and Avid are both in excellent positions to gain converts, myself included. I’m not going to wait for Apple to fix a product they already had over two years to improve and stay competitive with. Instead they gave us iMovie Plus. It’s been a great ride, but it’s definitely, 100% over for me.

    1. So many people feel like you feel Bill. I will give them a year before making a final decision. In the meantime I’ll be learning Premiere Pro and maybe even look at Avid. We shall see.

  2. I wait seemingly forever to update anything Apple. Even when I couldn’t access iTunes on my MacPro for months because it wanted me to upgrade to 9 and then 10, I could do everything I needed in iTunes through the laptop. I had iTunes 8 until I upgraded to Snow Leopard from Tiger this month. I still use FCP6 and don’t miss anything I might have had from FCP7 because I haven’t checked out its features. I’m definitely waiting until FCPX can do some important things like resetting scratch discs and multiclip… I switched to FCP from Premiere (4 years ago) when I found out it could do Multiclip so much easier than Premiere’s process for it. Also, way back when they had that huge Quicktime problem with one of the upgrades, I waited months to make sure they got it right. I have the mindset if everything is working right, and I’m making money, there is no reason to change anything unless the consensus is that newer workflows are worth the investment. I believe being patient with Apple has saved me a lot of frustration.

  3. I thought about that too, Ron. BUT, which software (expect iTunes which we don’t use to earn money with, at least I don’t know who does…) was updated or replaced by Apple and no longer supported in terms of “You cannot install this software cause you don’t use the old crappy OSX any longer”.

    FCP7 is the last of the old Final Cuts, period. That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to use it! FCP7 was tested with Beta versions of Lion so it will of course work with the next Apple OS.

    What about Shake? it’s still possible to use it even if Apple bought it a million years ago. We’re still talking about Apple, not Windows guys!

    I’m pissed that Apple left a lot of features out I use almost daily, like multicam editing but I’m sure it will get better. I think in a few months, we’re not like “oh shit, we have to work with either FCPX or switch to Adobe”, instead we will give it a try and be happy to call our “projects” no longer “projects”… we will call it events or we will switch to Adobe or Avid NOW

    1. I hope you’re right Mario. That they will add what we want. I for one don’t like the fact they changed a lot of key commands I’m used to. That significantly increases my productivity. Having to learn a whole lot of new ones will be frustrating.

      1. you mean, shortcuts? I think you can apply every shortcut to your keyboard as you want. You could use your FCP Keyboard too. Just take the time and re-organize it. It’s annoying of course but it works.

        The shortcut I used the most in FCP7 (I mean, I used it excessively!!) is no longer necessary: cmd+s

        1. You’re right. It’s a total pain to have to go in and re-program all those shortcuts. Then what if I edit on my laptop. Or on someone else’s computer. It’s just really bad all the way across. IMHO.

  4. I imagine that Randy Ubillos, Steve Jobs, and Apple will rue the day the way they handled the FCPX launch. While I’ve been more positive about FCPX than some, I have to admit as I dive into it, some things really do leave me scratching my head.

    For instance, I’m frustrated that one of my routine tasks – importing multi-layered PSD files – doesn’t work. Multi-layered files are flattened when imported into FCPX. It’s not unusual for me to produce a several layered Photoshop file and import that into FCP7. Have stack of lower thirds in a PSD file? Alas, no more in FCPX. Now that baffles me. How did that fundamental flaw make it through the project management decision tree?

    I believe Adobe and Avid are in a good position to pounce – much to my dismay as I really do like Final Cut Studio and wanted to see it take a giant leap into the future. I just didn’t expect them to stumble so much in the post-production pro community and fall into the Chattahoochee. But seriously, 4 years is a long time to do a software rewrite. What would a few more months have hurt? I just hope they can recover from this quickly.

  5. Apple does all kinds of thinks that dont make sense how about that macbook pro that has 1 firewire input?

  6. I have a couple of thoughts on your iTunes theory Ron. If you are thinking of a one man band, editing on their home computer or single workstation then you may be right, but if that’s the case then the majority of FCPX’s failings for professional users won’t apply to that person as they are mainly to do with transferring work between departments. FCPx should suit their needs just fine. A few issues may still arise but they are minor and if its a one person operation then they’ll be more than a little familiar with finding creative workarounds anyway. Such as tape ingest and output could just as easily be handled by another piece of software, then FCPx could access that media. It’s a workaround, so not ideal, but not a deal breaker.

    On the other hand, if you are referring to post houses then the iTunes theory wouldn’t matter as if it is a professional outfit then their workstations will be used for work, an out of date iTunes won’t be a problem, and so neither would an older version of osx if it came to that.

    I run CS5.5 and FCS3, don’t see why not as they are both very affordable. I work professionally in both. Over the last few months I drifted from FCS3 towards CS5 more often, the speed and the Dynamic link workflow was making FCS3 look like amateur hour. Since upgrading to CS5.5 I haven’t used FCS3 for a single project, professional or otherwise. CS5.5 for now is definitely the number 1 choice out there. As of yesterday, after discovering that FCPx (and I suppose therefore, Apple) no longer support FCS3, I deleted it from my system entirely, I was only really holding on to it to see what changes FCPx would bring anyway.

    I can only see myself using FCPx in the future though, it gets so many things right straight of the starting line, it has problems of course but not exactly fatal flaws when you consider that Apple have said they are releasing updates and they will be doing so at an accelerated pace due to the app store roll out, I fail to see what people are worrying for, or are so angry about. Use the software you have now, download FCPx, it’s so frikin cheap it’s silly to not download it really, learn the new system on personal projects while your pro work is as catered for as it’s always been with either FCS3 or CS5.5 (I don’t like AVID but if you must then I suppose you could use it). Then when/if FCPx is ready to suit your needs then switch, but at least you’ll have got a head start on learning the new system by running it on your personal stuff.

    Just as a side thought, I don’t like that it can’t import layered photoshop files, but I was wondering, can motion 5 do it? if so then problem solved, it would be good if someone could check that out and let us know.

    Final point, the real trick is to not tie yourself to software. and even for large post houses, if your editors are worth their salt they’ll be able to edit in whatever NLE is set before them anyway. They are so similar it’s trivial to make the change, plus they all support pretty much all the same technologies so existing facilities won’t be to badly effected either. So if FCPx really does turn out to be unsuitable then why would you give a shit? Just use something else.

  7. My only comment is that if you’re watching your movies on the same computer you edit from then you’re a home use that will love FCPx anyway. Pro studios isolate their products so that the edit machine is only for editing. So while you are probably right at one level (apple will continue to be Big Brother and control everything) the pro folks won’t care. They’ve been waiting for this too long.

    1. I think most of my readers fit into the small 1-2 man operations. My main point is that, there’s no way you can permanently stay on FCP 7 as some people are suggesting. Eventually you will need to bit the FCPX bullet, or jump ship to Avid or Premiere.

      1. Honestly, I don’t have a problem with “eventually” having to bite the FCPX bullet, but I don’t want to have to do it so I can upgrade to Lion next month. That would be devastating!

  8. I asked myself, what products will FCPX sell, to whom, for what reason. My answers: KIDS and imovie users. New editors who want to blend their cell phones, powershots, and rebels to wow their friends on youtube. Anyone who wants quality, traditional distribution, or theatrical projection will run for avid, premiere pro, or the bricks and mortar post houses with specialists. If I read read reviews correctly, audio is a great big hole. No dual monitor support. 5.1 surround sound default? No support for FCP7 projects? No multicam support? FCPX will make “everyone” a video editor. Just like digital made “everyone” a photographer. A world awash in crap images and clips.
    This will be a high volume, low price seller to consumers and will drive hardware and equipment sales to the masses. “pro?” now everyone is a “pro” And no one will understand the difference. FCPX will be the great divider between high cost, high end, and a ubiquitous crowd of consumer level users eager to participate in social networking.
    Bottom line: Apple sans Jobs. Sad really.

  9. Let’s hope you are wrong with you iTunes scenario Ron. By my estimations, Apple needs now, more than ever, to move forward with any updates very carefully. Anything resembling the scenario you detail will certainly have angry mobs with pitchforks and baseball bats forming outside Apple headquarters in nothing flat!

    I predict there’s going to be a similar uproar to the FCX disaster in the coming weeks when folks get their 1st opportunity to hit the ‘buy’ button in the App store and install Lion. All the specs and talk from developers clearly indicate more legacy support is going away in this latest OS release and if you don’t already have Snow Leopard installed, the only other way to get Lion is buy waiting for Apple to start shipping it on new hardware. Here again, Apple has in fact documented this is the case, but how many dyed-in-the-wool Apple geeks will heed this warning before they line up online at the app store and hit that ‘buy’ button? We’ll soon see I guess…

    So what happens if your system crashes or you replace the hard drive on your Lion system?

    Well, I hope you’ve got a backup of your system and a Snow Leopard install disk, because you will need them to get back online to the app store to get Lion. Yep, that’s right, you have to install two operating systems to restore your system. If you’ve purchased or installed apps that only support Lion, you’re really in a pickle. Apple’s walled- garden approach is soon to become a big deal.


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