Industry insiders discuss Apple's controversial decision to redesign the video editing application Final Cut Pro. This documentary explores why the release of Final Cut Pro X upset video editors and how the software is being used today.
Video professionals and software developers weigh in on Apple's controversial decision to radically redesign their popular video editing application Final Cut Pro. With the release of Final Cut Pro X in 2011 many video editors chose to switch over to other more familiar systems rather than learn Apple's new editing application. In the aftermath of this exodus Apple continued to develop Final Cut Pro X and today it is being used by millions of content creators worldwide. This documentary explores the ideas that went into making Final Cut Pro X and how it is being used on everything from YouTube videos to Hollywood movies.
I watched Off The Tracks because I lived through the maelstrom of controversy after the release of Final Cut Pro X. Having edited in FCP ever since Apple purchased it from Macromedia, I was waiting for the big refresh from FCP7 to its next iteration. When it finally debuted as Final Cut Pro X, I initially felt like it was made for me. I crave innovation. I'm all for any tool that can make my workflow faster, easier, and more enjoyable.
Alas, due to many shortcomings in the early versions, it was not something I could use. Off The Tracks would have you believe that someone like me who tries FCPX and doesn't like it is stuck in the past because we don't like change; we want everything to work better without radical changes. We're not true storytellers, but we could be because using FCPX can make you one. Basically, the premise of the film is: if you don't like FCPX, it's because you're a Luddite, afraid, or you just don't get it, and you'll soon be eclipsed by all the cool kids who've seen the new light your decades of wisdom and experience blinds you to. The director believes we should all be using FCPX because it's Apple, and therefore somehow instantly superior to anything else, rather than comprehending that people might choose a different program based on their own individual preferences and requirements.
After realizing that FCPX wouldn't work for me, I immediately switched to Adobe Premiere Pro. Not only did the interface make sense to me, but all of the video and audio plug-ins I'd come to rely on magically appeared in Premiere. (None of them even showed up in FCPX.) Plus Premiere could edit multicam clips - a necessity in my workflow - and FCPX couldn't in early releases. I realized that if I wanted to keep delivering projects on-time and on-budget, neither FCP7 nor FCPX could do it, but Premiere could. I stuck with Premiere and it's been my go-to NLE ever since, not because I love it, but because it works for me.
Over time, FCPX started to get better. So I'd occasionally check in with two colleagues who use FCPX to show me the newest features. I'd ask, "Show me something you do every day that Premiere can't do." They'd show me things like the magnetic timeline which, while very innovative, didn't offer anything significantly better than ripple editing in FCP7 and Premiere. They could never show me the so-called magic that many FCPX users had been raving about vaguely. I kept hearing, 'It's so much better, it's faster, it does more,' yet no one I talked to could show me why.
When Off The Tracks was finally released, I was hoping the guests could enlighten me on what I might be missing. It's a well-done documentary, albeit with one major flaw. (More on that in a moment.) It's really interesting to hear from Randy Ubillos about how he conceptualized FCPX and how - after it's tumultuous release - Steve Jobs stood behind both him and the product. You'll also see the hubris of Apple's decision to release a half-baked product while simultaneously killing off its predecessor. That Apple attitude of 'my way or the highway' is something I've experienced many times as a user of their products. Still, Off The Tracks does reveal how far FCPX has come. Things like XML are very cool for cataloging clips, the magnetic timeline has been refined and offers some unique editing conventions, and there are many other refinements that have finally made it competent NLE.
I mentioned a flaw with Off The Tracks, so here it is: It's extremely one-sided. It feels like it's made by fanboys for fanboys. The only people you hear from are those who adopted FCPX on day-one and loved it, or from those who hated it at first, but now embrace it. They all come off with the attitude that anything Apple does is better, and that if you can't see that, then there's something wrong with you. Yes, Apple is a cult, and when you're in a cult, you never, EVER question the decisions of the leaders. Off The Tracks feels like a 77 minute-long advertisement. As a documentary, it was mostly enjoyable to watch. But it's very preachy, and it insults those who don't agree with its conclusion that FCPX is the best NLE on the market, and that you're crazy if you use anything different.
If you're editing in FCPX and you like it, more power to you. The same goes for those who use Premiere Pro, Media Composer, Vegas, or something else. But for a moment, let's pretend this documentary convinced me to go back to FCPX. For me, that would require a profound investment in the older technology Apple passes off as new computers because I gave up waiting for a new Mac Pro and switched to Windows-based computers. For all of its innovation and revolution, FCPX only runs on Apple computers. Most of the current Apple machines run on year-old (if not several-years-old) processors and are non-upgradeable, yet cost significantly more than bleeding edge Wintel machines with Nvidia-based GPUs. If FCPX offered something I couldn't live without, I'd make the jump back to Mac. But for me and many others, it doesn't.
I'm glad I watched Off The Tracks once, for it proved to me that I'd made the right decision for me and my clients back in 2011. You may have had a different experience and if so, I'm happy for you. I'm glad there are different tools for different workflows. I'd never tell an FCPX user that they were somehow mentally stunted for choosing a tool I don't use. I feel the team behind Off The Tracks could have justified their personal choices just as easily without denigrating those who - to coin an old refrain - think different.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this