When I was a kid there was this common ritual in the African American community called “bagging.” It’s when two kids would start making fun of each other with a back and forth volley of put-downs (e.g. You’re so fat, when you step on a scale it says “To be continued…”; You’re so ugly, when you were born, the doctor slapped your mother out of disgust; etc.) This would go on for a few minutes. Whenever someone ran out of creative or funny bags, they’d revert to just saying, “Oh yeah, well…um…yo’ momma.” Whenever all anyone could say was “Yo’ momma” you knew they lost the battle. (For the record, I’m not talking about “Yo’ momma” jokes. That’s a whole different ballgame.)
Okay Ron, what does ANY of this have to do with Final Cut Pro X? I’m getting to that.
Last Friday was not only the first day of summer, but it was the 2-year anniversary of the release of FCPX. And two years later, people are STILL debating about the program and it’s viability as a professional non-linear editor. I was reading a blog post by Gabe Chiefetz, founder and president of CrumplePop, a leading developer of FCPX plugins. He was reminiscing about his company’s decision to bet everything on FCPX, and the success they’ve had in making what at the time seemed like a highly questionable and risky decision, but in retrospect now appears to have been visionary. The comments on that blog post started coming in fast and furious (as of this writing there are 164). I noticed something very interesting. The overwhelming majority of negative comments about FCPX were baseless and/or seemed to be just emotional bemoaning. Critics were saying things like “It sucks,” “It’s iMovie Pro”, “It’s not for professionals.”,”No real professional would use it”, “FCPX is a pig”, etc. In other words, all the “bagging” on FCPX was the grade school equivalent of saying “Yo’ momma.” I can only think of one comment in the thread where the individual had some concrete and educated reasons why FCPX didn’t work for him.
Useful Discussion is Good for the Industry
First I want to say that I’m one of the biggest proponents of not fretting over the tools. “It’s the talent not the tools” is a mantra of mine. Whatever NLE you use, if you’re a talented editor, you can make great work with it. The same goes for cameras and other gear. That being said, ultimately people do need to make a purchase decision and there are real pros and cons to gear and software that may make one investment better than another for certain people. We are earning a living at this, and as such need to make informed decisions.
Whenever possible, you should try out whatever you’re considering buying. Rent the gear first. When it comes to software, download and use the trial versions. But in addition to that, feedback from professionals who’ve used it is also very helpful. But only to the extent that feedback is mature, respectful and EDUCATED. Saying “FCPX is a pig” does absolutely nothing to help a person make an informed decision. Saying “It’s not for professionals” with no corroborating justification, is just as bad (especially when it’s quite clear that so many professionals are using it). When professionals have mature and educated discussions about a product, it pushes the industry forward. It genuinely helps those who are in need of real advice.
So, if you actually know what you’re talking about; if you can provide real, tested, and accurate information about a piece of gear or software, by all means, share your advice and opinions. Engage in the conversation. Contribute to our industry. But if all you got is “Yo momma,” then it’s best to just watch from the sidelines.