Putting the “F” into FCP: Confessions of a Final Cut Pro Apologist

Neptune Salad by

At 5:30 am this past Tuesday, Apple blew the minds of editors around the world. And not in a good way.

Final Cut Pro, the professional nonlinear editing (NLE) suite released by Apple over a decade ago, never had it easy. When it first appeared on the scene, it had to compete with industry leader Avid (still its main competition), the also-ran editing system Media 100 – of which I counted myself a happy user at the time, and fringe-ey weird programs like Adobe Premiere or the Video Cube. When I hopped onboard the FCP-train, it was already on version 2, and like Media 100 (and unlike Avid, for me anyway) I found it to be an amazing, intuitive system that opened up creative possibilities I’d never had before.

And I was one step closer to that wish for all indie filmmakers – autonomy.

In the days before ubiquitous nonlinear desktop editing, it wasn’t unusual to pay upwards of $500/day for an editing system plus the cost of the operator. In 2000, I’d produced a project where we’d spent $2,000/week on an editing system (and again, the operator was not included in that price) and felt like we’d gotten away with art theft in The Louvre. If I wanted to cut something simple like my own directing reel, I could expect to pay handsomely or beg a friend for a HUGE favor. At the time this made sense; the cheapest Avid systems at the time ran about $30,000 and required a great deal of hardware acceleration just to do things like rotate an image or apply simple color correction. And when we were done editing, we had to take the project to a DIFFERENT Avid, the Symphony, to online at $500/hour plus the cost of the operator. read more...

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