Another Threat an FCPX-powered User Base Means to Small Pro Videographers

Mark Spencer, Alex Lindsay and Steve Martin (not shown) discuss FCPX on popular Pixel Corps show.

So last week I offered a “crazy” theory that the new Final Cut Pro X (aka FCPX) is aimed squarely at pro photographers. As I wrote in that post, based on the terminology, the paradigm shift, and the much larger market, I think this theory holds some water. But Mark Spencer of Ripple Training makes a point at the end of their 2-hour FCPX review video that suggests something that is actually in a way, more challenging: that FCPX is aimed at all those small businesses that realize the necessity of having video on their websites. These are small businesses that may not want to pay a local videographer $2,000 to $3,000 for a small promo, but instead spend $800 on an HD DSLR plus $300 on a powerful editing program (i.e. FCPX) and do it themselves. Take the low cost of equipment and software, combined with the deluge of educational content online, and you have a new landscape created. If you make a living producing video content for small to mid-sized businesses, take heed.

Same Old Story

In truth, this is the same story that has plagued all kinds of professional visual artists. It happened with photography as film gave way to more and more powerful digital cameras and editing programs like iPhoto. It happened in the graphic artist industry as desktop publishing became more powerful. Even the music industry has seen something similar. Where the barriers to entry are so low, people and small businesses are not necessarily starting video and photography companies, they’re doing their own video and photography projects sans professional. If this is the market Apple is going after with FCPX, you know they’ll be successful and reaching it. That means you need to start thinking NOW how you will be able to set yourself apart in such a way that makes it obvious to a potential client why they must hire you! Here are three areas where I see there are opportunities to stand out.

  • Idea and Story Creation. First and foremost, the companies with the best ideas will win. This is the main reason I changed my marketing to be more about the ideas and stories we at Dare Dreamer Media tell, vs. our equipment or the ability to shoot and edit. If you’re selling yourself based on all the cool equipment you have, be worried. Yeah, it’s great you shoot with a RED. But if more and more companies realize that a video shot on a 7D is just as good, and they can hire an intern to use their $300 FCPX, why pay you $3,000 a day for your RED package? But, ideas are not so easily sold. Apple can’t package those in a box with a nice and tidy bow (at least not yet). Do you have a portfolio of work that shows groundbreaking or memorable idea and story creation? Your ability to come up with kick a$$ ideas that helps set YOUR clients apart will make them more inclined to hire you, despite the fact they have an intern with a 7D and FCPX.
  • Motion Graphics. This is an area I wish I had more prowess in. Even with Motion 5, creating eye-popping motion graphic work is still pretty difficult to do. Yet, when executed effectively, they create results that get potential clients excited.
  • Education. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. That is, join the race to teach all these budding new DIYers how to do it themselves. Companies like Ripple Training, CreativeLIVE and professional educators like Larry Jordan are nicely poised to make good money off the coming wave of DIY filmmakers.

So. What is your plan to stay in the game?

Take a look at this excellent article by industry veteran Alex Lindsay. It supports both of my “crazy” theories.

12 thoughts on “Another Threat an FCPX-powered User Base Means to Small Pro Videographers

  1. Your insight on this has been sharp. The three things you pointed out is what people have to do to evolve regardless because change is never going to stop.

  2. Your pints are very valid but people still like to be served by experts. This is the same reason Starbucks is packed everyday mostly by people who already own coffee makers.

    1. Agreed. I’m not saying at all people will just stop using experts. Nowhere do I say that. I’m saying that if you currently serve this market, it will be more challenging to get that business because your clients will have more confidence doing jobs themselves. As far as Starbucks, they’re a good example of what I’m talking about. I don’t think people go to Starbucks because they’re expert at making coffee. Far from it. People go to Starbucks b/c of the experience. So, despite the fact that you pay $4 for an above average cup of coffee, you go. That’s a great lesson for us. What kind of experience can we provide that will yield clients coming to us, even if our work happens to be “just okay.”

  3. Ron,
    I think you may be right about the small businesses. I might suggest taking that one step farther. I have been shooting and editing news for a huge broadcasting company for many years now. We are using Adobe CS5 and it has worked pretty well. We currently have nine edit bays with six more planned. To pay for all this new hardware my company, as many have done, are slashing overtime and personnel hiring. What to do? I went out bought a new iMac, Sony NX5U camera and just installed FCPX. The purpose…wait for it…shoot economical videos for local businesses websites. I think the notion that this new software being aimed more at a consumer group is a bit premature.

    Bob Palmer

  4. Interesting that a couple days before FCPX was released, Yahoo cited post-production services as one of the top 10 doomed industries. (http://finance.yahoo.com/career-work/article/112946/doomed-industries-bnet).

    The doom seems to coincide with Apple’s intent and your blog fortifies that sentiment. Post-production pros need to be concerned. I’ve generally served indie, small biz and non-profits doing mostly production (sound or sound-and-video), with some post dabbled in. Often these entities are short-staffed with personnel already doing double-duty with no time for DIY.

    Hence, I surmise there’s a significant market for production & post for those willing to work on low-to-mid budgets. The big-bucks pros, unfortunately, might not be receptive of this concept. I know people who invested heavily into video production and post equipment that is already passe (hardware is short-lived), but were entrepreneurial enough to capitalize on it when it was in vogue.

    My video hardware investment is relatively small and scalable, but it too will be obsolete in a year, so I’m always trying to juggle expenditures with profits. I think each person in this industry needs to assess for themselves how to grapple with these changes.

  5. I think you may have hit the nail on the head. And this is really why video “pros” are scoffing at FCPX because it represents the sea change coming to video post production. It represents a threat to their livelihoods. Let’s face it.. if you can grab a DSLR, shoot and edit a decent product, and post directly to Vimeo or Youtube for consumption, why pay the extra bucks. I work in the broadcast industry and I can tell you the audience has a very high threshold for “quality” when it comes to product. Most people look at a product and say “wow, neat!” They don’t care the camera used or the edit platform. 99% of them could care less. I got this lesson quick when I first bought my own gear 11 years ago. A prospective client asked me if I could produce a video for his business. I said “Sure! I just bought….” and went on to explain my gear and what it could do. He looked at me glassy eyed and said “I don’t know what any of that is.. I just need a video..(so on and so forth). If you can shoot decent video you can hire a 15-year-old to work miracles in FCPX to give a wiz-bang end product. Post it to Vimeo.. link it to the client’s website. Done! That’s where this is rapidly all heading.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I agree we’re heading for a change with respect to businesses doing video on the cheap. But I don’t think that’s what has got professional editors pissed off. They’re mad because they have thousands (in some cases maybe tens of thousands) of dollars invested in equipment and labor in FCP and Apple just cut them off. But everything else you said is right on the money.

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