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Editors Petition: Apple, Please Make Final Cut Pro a Priority

Editors Petition: Apple, Please Make Final Cut Pro a Priority

Since the controversial introduction of – what was then still called – Final Cut Pro X 11 years ago, despite having made huge advancements, it appears many users and supporters are still feeling let down by the tech giant with their requests for further features and development falling on deaf ears. Cue Final Cut Pro. A Letter to Apple’s CEO.

The world of video editing has come leaps, bounds, and jump cuts in the last decade. Of course, NLEs “Non-Linear Editing Platforms” (a term for the cool kids out there) have been around with the likes of Avid and Adobe since the late 80s and early 90s. In 1999, Apple made a huge splash when they dipped their toe into the ‘holy’ post-production waters with the release of the original Final Cut Pro, which has been discontinued and replaced by Final Cut Pro X in 2011, which was a controversial, full reboot of the app.

Similar to the 2011/12 frustrations around the removal of legacy (and non-legacy) features in the release of Final Cut Pro X, supporters of the software are again banding together to unify their ongoing frustrations. Collectively, they feel that Apple continues to overlook and under-serve the “Pro Editing” side of the market, as more and more professionals wish to use FCP in a specialized industry setting. Have a read of the petition here.

Now, in a brief summary, in case you don’t want to read into the depths of the letter and its contributors, they’re basically saying: “Hey Apple, can you please pick your game up and make FCP and its users a priority like it used to be back in the glorious days of Final Cut Pro 7“. It is a positive, clear, and open letter of desire for more, stating;

PS: This letter is not intended as a criticism of the huge amount of hard work done by the Final Cut team over the years. We are asking Apple to change the policies that they work under.

Alex Gollner. Gopetition.com

A mammoth list of 100+ industry film and commercial editors have placed their hands in the ring of support with the likes of David Peterson (‘Bluey’) & Josh Beal, ACE (‘Counterpart’) TV Drama Series.

Two highly regarded shows that support the use of FCPx NLE
Production Editors that pledge their support for the FCPx platform . Image Credit: Bluey TV Animated Series. Counterpart TV Drama Series

So what’s the issue?

If I’m being honest, at first I didn’t see what the big deal is and why there is a need for a worldwide petition. But now, having read into what they are asking for, it’s really quite understandable. Those who are professional editors, or who have edited video at some point in life, will know how important having a safe and familiar place to edit is, program-wise. It encourages and supports creativity and ultimately allows you to tell the story that needs to be told. So, as a full-time editor myself, I completely understand what this group of professional users is fighting for.

If you are wondering if I myself edit in FCP and therefore have signed the petition: well, chances are I have a similar story to a lot of editors out there. I do not currently edit in FCP but I will still sign this petition. Why don’t I use FCP? This one requires some background story.

When I first cut my editing teeth as a young whippersnapper editor, the first program I ever purchased and used was one trusty Final Cut Pro, v5.0.

Final Cut Pro 5.0
Final Cut Pro 5.0. Image Credit: Sweetwater

Losing the pro market in 2011 by discontinuing the original Final Cut Pro

After many happy years full of long weekends away, candlelit dinners and expensive updates, we decided to go different directions around mid 2011, after Apple launched their new FCPx version and ceased supporting the FCP7 that I had come to know and love (but which, at the time, had already become dated and was not receiving needed performance updates). I was not alone with this departure. FCPx caused a big shakeup in the industry and many editors around the world felt frustrated with Apple’s reinvented interface and departure from fundamental features (like changing their timeline UI!). It felt far from the traditional editing interface, timeline, and features associated with standard NLEs.

Controversial: The Final Cut Pro (X) interface – a complete departure from the original Final Cut Pro. Image credit: Apple

Frequent updates enhance Final Cut Pro (X), not enough for Pros?

2016 saw Apple unveil FCPx 10.3 with a new interface, attempting to address users’ concerns. Four years later at the end of 2020, Apple dropped the ‘X’ and Final Cut Pro has reemerged with a more ‘professional’ interface and functions. But, has it earned back the following of its yesteryear supporters? This petition would suggest not. Perhaps this is an insight into Apple’s shifting customer market. Without reading too heavily into it, could this simply be a shift away from an industry-designed product toward a software, that caters to a different, more diverse market? After all, we all know the film industry has seen some major shifts over the last 5 years. Perhaps Apple is onto something we don’t know yet?  

Look, all speculations aside, I think this petition and letter to the CEO of Apple is an incredible, progressive, community-led initiative and a topic that should be greatly considered. I mean, they have all the resources, funds, and abilities to do so – which leaves me asking “why not?”, especially considering their current investments into content creation.

Apple TV and their 6.5 billion dollar content budget

I said billions of dollars right? Okay, without straying too far from the original beating heart of this article, I want to float something before I sign off. Call me crazy (and many have), but if I had a billion dollar company that was spending lots (and lots) of zeros on creating and producing its own original content, I might consider developing my own post-production software in a way that integrates and supports the industry professionals who are a fundamental part of creating that content, no?

Apple should look at how much of the content they have been producing and commissioning was actually edited on Final Cut Pro. Dare I say that the likelihood that any of it was edited in FCP is incredibly low?

Apple TV
Apple TV. Image credit: Apple

Many names on the petition have continued to stress and share their needs for only a handful more features to be added to FCP. These requests would ultimately see FCP once again accepted into the workflow and pipelines of larger studios and in turn allow editors to embrace it in their creative tool belts.

It appears the two big pain points within FCP currently are:

  1. The inability to project-share and collaborate with multiple users simultaneously.
  2. Its unconventional interface design and layout. Many editors are either unfamiliar with it, or do not like the current design.

If Apple could offer a solution that at least began to address the above two points, I would say Final Cut Pro fans would be rejoicing around the globe for what would soon await them creatively in their profession. But alas that just isn’t the case, or at least for the moment.

Here’s another thought (by Mark Toia)

We spoke to acclaimed Director & Editor Mark Toia on the topic and he had the following to say:

I’m fluent in Avid, Premier, Resolve as well as Final Cut Pro. The time savings in FCP overall is a lot quicker than any of them.  Collaboration is only thing that maybe missing, but it’s not hard to give proxy media to other people, let them clip, edit create timelines projects, add meta data tags, everything and anything you need, then just share an XML with everyone. Which reinstates in seconds on anyones computer anywhere in the world that has the proxy or raw media. Final Cut Pro is designed for the masses, because it’s 4x faster and extremely powerful when editing in real time using heavy raw codecs.  Catering for the masses, or catering for a few. I think FCP are on the right track. 

Mark Toia. Director & Editor

If you want to see first hand the power of FCP, check out the film “Monsters Of Man” he completed entirely within FCP (of course VFX and sound elements were completed separately and then brought back into FCP)

As they say, there are two sides to every story and this is Mark’s side, however, I’ll leave you to make your own conclusion on the matter!

Monsters Of Man promo image
Monsters Of Man Promo Image. Image Credit: Director Mark Toia.

WWDD. What Would Digby Do?

In summary, I think it’s clear that as a fellow Editor and advocate for all things creative, I stand behind my Apple petitioning friends in the battle they are embarking on. In saying that my heart is true to the Adobe Premiere Pro platform (bet you were guessing I was an AVID guy?).

However, if you want to try FCP for yourself, Apple has a great 90 day free trial which you can find here!

Tim Cook, the people have spoken. Will it fall on deaf ears or will action be taken?

Digby Hogan is a professional editor with his own post-production house based in Brisbane, Australia. We just launched his 25-hour pro editing course on Premiere Pro on MZed.com, which is available now.

Learn Everything in Premiere Pro with Digby Hogan Billboard
Click the Banner to get over 20% off on MZed Pro yearly membership!

Let us know your thoughts on FCP and what you think Apple should do in the comment section below!

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