The Unkindest Cut of All
January 15, 2012 8:52 PM   Subscribe

Why the video pros are moving away from Apple
posted by Artw (111 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
I spent the last week cutting a project on FCPX, having done the previous one on FCP. I'm a veteran user of non-linear systems, going right back to working on the first AVID units in the UK back in the mid 90s.

FCPX does have problems, mostly with stability and the strange/shoddy implementation of save/autosave, but the new paradigm of the magnetic timeline and the orientation towards digital media solves a vast number of problems.

I don't doubt that there's a migration away from FCPX but if it's because the new interface model is unfamiliar, that's a huge shame because the concept behind it is excellent.

I'm also concerned about Apple's support (or lack thereof) for Mac Pros and even more concerned by the move away from the user explicitly interacting with the filesystem. The paradigm for new Apple apps seems to be iTunes/iPhoto, where the user is not supposed to worry their pretty little head about where the media is actually stored, or to want to use multiple apps to engage with the same file. Even in FCPX/Motion this is a problem -- you can no longer do a simple roundtrip with the SEND TO MOTION menu item. Instead, it's stupidly complicated to export a section of movie to Motion, process it, and return it to FCPX.

I strongly suspect that Apple no longer give a fuck about the Pro user, so I can also understand why jumping ship sooner rather than later is a smart tactical move. I already bailed from Logic to Presonus Studio One for just this reason: I'm looking forward to seeing what's in Logic X if it ever arrives but it's pretty obvious that Apple no longer have a big crew working on it, or rather that the crew who were working on it have been transferred over to port Garageband to iPhone etc.

So having said ALL that, I still love the new interface on FCPX. Most of the total deal breakers were removed with the .0.1 and .0.2 updates (except multicam) but like I say, migrating away probably makes tactical sense. I just hope the new paradigm doesn't die.

My biggest complaint about FXPX? You can't edit in non-standard frame sizes. For example, if you want to edit in 2.35:1 you have to letterbox 1080p or 720p. Which is a massive pain if you are not bringing in anamorphic footage but creating something from stills and generated FX.
posted by unSane at 9:06 PM on January 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


    "Alper also took special exception to repeated complaints that the new version of Final Cut Pro looks too much like iMovie, noting that he believes there's a certain level of "pro tools machismo" in the industry that opposes any kind of change that might make it seem easier to do their jobs. "It is a completely valid concern that a tool would be ‘dumbed down’ to make integration into pro workflows a problem or professional level functionality either removed or so deeply hidden as to be useless," he wrote on his blog. "It’s utterly laughable to be worried that a tool you learned with difficulty will now be easier for others to master.""
Its not laughable at all, its job security. If the tools you use are more difficult to learn how to use then you are harder to replace. That doesn't make it right, or in the interest of the employers who are in this case Apples customers, but highly skilled professionals do have in interest in the rarity of their abilities.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:08 PM on January 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have to say, as a long-time apple user, I share the filesystem concerns unSane describes above and am finding the new system insane. It's deeply awful. I hear all this talk about getting away from files and folders as silly antiquated ideas, but they're ideas we developed because they're fantastic ways to organize large amounts of stuff. Incredibly intuitive and of scalable complexity.
posted by neuromodulator at 9:13 PM on January 15, 2012 [31 favorites]


Its not laughable at all, its job security. If the tools you use are more difficult to learn how to use then you are harder to replace. That doesn't make it right, or in the interest of the employers who are in this case Apples customers, but highly skilled professionals do have in interest in the rarity of their abilities.

There's also the fact that, if you have a job to do, you don't have time to learn something new in order to do the same things you've always been doing.

The other thing is that there is something of a tradeoff between 'naive' ease of use, meaning how easy it is for someone how's never used the software before, and how long it takes to do something. For example, if you have a 100 buttons on the screen, it would take a long time to learn what they all do and find the one you need. On the other hand, if you have just a handful of buttons, with sub-menus and wizards that you have to click through, stuff like that - it can take a while to do the thing you want. With the 100 button thing, once you learn it, you just have to press the one button.

And the other thing is that if someone already knows how to do something, changing the way things work is, for them, not actually 'easier'
posted by delmoi at 9:15 PM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


This has been beaten deader than Jobs at this point, is there something new to talk about? Avid and Premiere remain on OS X for folks (with no interest in FCX) to use.

Perhaps he more interesting angle is the potential death of the Mac Pro itself. What if there's no "anti-pro-user" conspiracy to it at all? What if Apple is just keeping to their minimal product lines mantra by killing off their least profitable silo before launching television?
posted by trackofalljades at 9:19 PM on January 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I hear all this talk about getting away from files and folders as silly antiquated ideas, but they're ideas we developed because they're fantastic ways to organize large amounts of stuff. Incredibly intuitive and of scalable complexity.
I do think hierarchical file-systems are out of date, and we should be using databases where files have properties you can query - one of which would be "legacy path" for old software.

(So instead of just keeping everything in separate folders, you should be able to tag files with multiple tags, so by project, by sub-project, by date, whatever. You could have a file associated with multiple projects, instead of putting it in just one folder and maybe including a shortcut.)

But instead of that, what's happening is that software is being designed with existing hierarchical file-systems, and then just hiding that information from the user, which makes it a huge pain to do anything the authors didn't think of, or didn't care enough about, or didn't have room for in their "elegant" UI.
posted by delmoi at 9:21 PM on January 15, 2012 [29 favorites]


Avid and Premiere remain on OS X for folks (with no interest in FCX) to use.

Perhaps he more interesting angle is the potential death of the Mac Pro itself. What if there's no "anti-pro-user" conspiracy to it at all? What if Apple is just keeping to their minimal product lines mantra by killing off their least profitable silo before launching television?


The contrast between these two statements is a significant part of the story here, though. You can't do this work on a laptop. And if you can't do it on a Mac desktop either, then that means OS X loses its only productive claim.
posted by kafziel at 9:22 PM on January 15, 2012


So .... use the old version of the software?
posted by LoudMusic at 9:32 PM on January 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I do think hierarchical file-systems are out of date, and we should be using databases where files have properties you can query - one of which would be "legacy path" for old software.

People have been advocating things like this for decades now. After listening to smart people inveigh against the deficiencies of filesystems for literally the entire time that I have been using computers, I have come to the conclusion that they're actually not that bad as a least-common-denominator semantics, and that they aren't going anywhere any time soon (or at any rate that we'll probably have cause to regret it if they do).

Richer, more complex structures amenable to detailed queries are great, but as a baseline for storage, they have an unfortunate tendency to create lock-in and interface complexity.
posted by brennen at 9:35 PM on January 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


I just want to say that I upgraded to Lion a few weeks ago and happened to run Quicktime X today to edit a little video, and I almost had a fucking heart attack. It's like someone took my nifty little swiss army knife and turned it into a dull spoon made out of jello. It didn't even open videos in their correct dimensions - it's that bad.

No support for previous project files in FCP? How is that even possible? And no support for output to tape? I'm not sure if Apple's line is hey guys we're "biting the bullet" and making a better Final Cut for all of us and hey we threw in a new user interface and hey come on guys we're all on the same team sorry you that plugin doesnt work anymore, put on your big boy pants.. all that aside, this was vicious move in terms of workflow.

Nobody in Hollywood wants fucking change - especially not the total, fuck you, can't go back, overnight kind. As for the Mac Pro, kiss it goodbye. Exorbitant prices, two year cycles, Apple's already given up.
posted by phaedon at 9:36 PM on January 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mefi's own Phil Hodgetts makes a counterargument.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:44 PM on January 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Too soon!
posted by bstreep at 9:45 PM on January 15, 2012


Apple's strategy for its pro tools is even more opaque than their strategy for everything else. Are they going to keep them for the prestige, tech integration potential, and importance to the content creation end of their platform? Or is that just not worth enough money?

Anybody who claims to know the answer to that question, and then tells you what the answer is, is lying. Nobody who knows is telling.

That said, I defy anyone who's ever had their mother ask them "but where did it go?" to tell me with a straight face that the hierarchical file system is the best way to organize data on a computer for most people. The reality of life with a modern computer system is that "where did it go?" is an incredibly complicated question to answer, way more complicated than it should be, and ditching direct interaction with the file system is certainly a better way to approach the problem than our current approach, which seems to be to not bother trying to solve it at all, and fuck anyone who isn't comfortable with muddled and conflicting metaphors.

Not that the FCP kerfuffle has anything to do with your mom's inability to manage her file system.

She's okay, by the way. I fixed it for her.

posted by pts at 10:11 PM on January 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Outsider looking in, with no horse in the race, but I've already had the distinct feeling over the last few years that Apple has shifting focus from content creation to content consumption.

It makes sense to me - consumption is where the mass market and the real money is. The demands of consumption is also a better match with Apple's design strength/philosophy of figuring out and polishing a nice path for the user, in contrast to the demands of content creation which often want to follow their own tangents or seek custom, non-standardised solutions.

On the face of it, focusing on consumption seems like a no-brainer best way forward, but no doubt there it's far more nuanced and interconnected than that (such as consumers liking to emulate the equipment choices of artists they respect, etc.) And no doubt Apple has people who have studied these things in far more depth than my idle observations. But yeah, I concur that it looks like Apple switched focus quite some time ago, and with completely understandable reason.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:15 PM on January 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Outsider looking in, with no horse in the race, but I've already had the distinct feeling over the last few years that Apple has shifting focus from content creation to content consumption.

Is there a reason why it's not good business to excel in both?
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:18 PM on January 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


TV production company Bunim/Murray recently brought the issue back into the public consciousness by announcing that it was switching from Final Cut Pro to Avid, noting that the company needed "a partner who would understand our long-term needs."

Apple must be crushed the people that bring us Keeping Up With The Kardassians and Road Rules aren't using its product anymore.
posted by birdherder at 10:23 PM on January 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I would think someone at Apple would be capable of making the argument that prestige fields like film editing would be worth hanging onto for follow-on sales--essentially a marketing cost that allows people to feel like they're using, not just a good computer, but a computer that someone, somewhere else, is using for real creative work. Like a writer or filmmaker or musician.

Apple's benefited immensely over the years from being perceived as the choice of creative professionals. It helps with the aura of prestige. I have trouble believing they'll let that go.
posted by fatbird at 10:24 PM on January 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


I've already had the distinct feeling over the last few years that Apple has shifting focus from content creation to content consumption.

This! I agree with this deeply. It's why I'm dreading the upgrade to Lion. It's why I'm wondering if my next computer shouldn't be a Mac.
posted by gen at 10:25 PM on January 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Actually, content creation/consumption is itself an oversimplification, because amateur creation (youtube vids etc) are a huge driver in what I think of as the consumption market. I guess I'm dividing more by corporate vs amateur production.

Is there a reason why it's not good business to excel in both?

Maybe. Maybe not. I'm hardly an expert. But if you get the best return on the dollar by doing A, there is loss in putting your dollars in B. So there are certainly oversimplified hypotheticals where it's not good business to excel in both.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:26 PM on January 15, 2012


Is there a reason why it's not good business to excel in both?

For every serious creator, there must be many more consumers. If you have the resources to make one great product, you will have more potential customers if you make one great product for consumers. If you have unlimited resources, it is of course good to make a great product for every market niche and rule the world from top to bottom, but who has unlimited resources?
posted by pracowity at 10:28 PM on January 15, 2012


Apple's benefited immensely over the years from being perceived as the choice of creative professionals. It helps with the aura of prestige. I have trouble believing they'll let that go.

This is true. But part of my suspicion is that this aura of professional prestige has been eclipsed by the aura of fashion. The "I'm a PC, I'm a Mac" ads for example, appeal to fashion rather than industry. And they work.
It wouldn't surprise me if the aura of fashion was more powerful and cheaper to maintain.

(It also wouldn't surprise me if it wasn't :-) I'm not an insider, so I've only got speculation and hunch :-)

OTOH, Apple tries not to put its eggs in one basket...
posted by -harlequin- at 10:32 PM on January 15, 2012


Keeping up with the Kardassians?
posted by thewalrus at 10:34 PM on January 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


pts: "That said, I defy anyone who's ever had their mother ask them "but where did it go?" to tell me with a straight face that the hierarchical file system is the best way to organize data on a computer for most people."
"It's in your home directory, mom. The one that pops up whenever you launch Dolphin. Yep."

Her home folder, after a fresh install of the OS, has:
* Pictures: that's where all the pictures that get automatically sucked in off her camera go. When said action launches DigiKam for her, it automatically shows everything here.
* Documents where LibreOffice sticks everything by default.
* Videos, which remains empty because while my mother realizes her computer can rip DVDs and such, she much rather watch them on the big TV in the living room
* Music, where Amarok would dump all her music, but again that isn't her thing.
* Desktop, which is where she can put things that she wants to be able to see on her home screen
* Templates, which I delete right after the install because, honestly, she doesn't care
* Downloads, which is where Firefox sticks all the things you downloaded off the Internet. The idea that, if she wants to keep something that she should drag it from here to, say, Pictures or Documents, took all of 15 seconds for her to grasp because:

She understands what a folder is in real life and has a keen idea on how a filing cabinet stays organized. She's been doing it since the 1950s. She knows how to make a "taxes" folder under "Documents" because that's exactly what she'd do with paper documents. The fact that there's search functionality for her home directory is just icing on the cake.

As a regular user account, she's unable to write to almost any other directory on the computer.

So I say: use a hierarchical filesystem on an OS (and supporting application infrastructure) that's actually spent some time in the last ten years focusing on these sorts of questions and it's really quite good. People of all sorts just generally grasp it with minimal instruction. Now I'm not saying it's perfect, and dense, powerful interfaces like Gmail, iTunes, etc. can be particularly hard on low-technology people, but there are some really very good systems out there.
posted by introp at 10:38 PM on January 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


If you have unlimited resources, it is of course good to make a great product for every market niche and rule the world from top to bottom, but who has unlimited resources?

This makes sense, although I'd think setting a little aside to retain the good-will of an industry that helped make you might make good business sense, too. It might be a branding/marketing issue to paint yourself as loyal to a smaller industry. But then again, maybe they calculated whether that would pay off in the long run and decided against it.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:40 PM on January 15, 2012


I thought Apple stuff "just works?"

Anyway, in my experience, real hard-core producers of content usually have a box they've built themselves to leverage specialist hardware and software. Whether that's windows or a flavor of linux or a Mac OS depends on the professional.
posted by maxwelton at 10:51 PM on January 15, 2012


The contrast between these two statements is a significant part of the story here, though. You can't do this work on a laptop. And if you can't do it on a Mac desktop either, then that means OS X loses its only productive claim.

Presuming that "productive" here is referring only specifically to video editing, consider for a moment the extent to which modern all-digital-workflow editing needs can actually be met (for many folks, not everyone) with a notebook or all-in-one iMac style machine if it has Thunderbolt or something similar available. You can pretty much just manufacture a Mac Pro out of one using a breakout box with a bunch of PCIe cards inside. For many prosumers, though? That won't even be necessary. All most people will need is the higher end BTO graphics option, a lot of memory and a fast external hard drive or two.

I'm not defending Apple mind you, I don't argue the "wisdom" of any decision to move away from classic style desktop towers or not. I was only suggesting one rationale that could be behind their decision, that of keeping their product lines to a bare minimum (and the very likely impending launch of a new line).
posted by trackofalljades at 10:59 PM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm actually really looking forward to Logic Pro X, because I've never used the previous versions... hopefully they'll get the price down and simplify it a bit..
posted by empath at 11:27 PM on January 15, 2012


Considering that they aquired shake just when it was getting really popular, and becoming the industry standard, only to kill it off a few years later, I'm not at all surprised that professionals don't feel they can rely on apple.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:48 PM on January 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Richer, more complex structures amenable to detailed queries are great, but as a baseline for storage, they have an unfortunate tendency to create lock-in and interface complexity.
There are plenty of open source hierarchical filesystems. There are plenty of open source relational and non-relational databases that could be used. Obviously, you would want an open source solution.
That said, I defy anyone who's ever had their mother ask them "but where did it go?" to tell me with a straight face that the hierarchical file system is the best way to organize data on a computer for most people. The reality of life with a modern computer system is that "where did it go?" is an incredibly complicated question to answer, way more complicated than it should be, and ditching direct interaction with the file system is certainly a better way to approach the problem
Yes, but in this example the only answer would be "I don't know and I have no way of finding out" is not really a better answer, unless you just want an excuse to avoid helping them.
She understands what a folder is in real life and has a keen idea on how a filing cabinet stays organized. She's been doing it since the 1950s. She knows how to make a "taxes" folder under "Documents" because that's exactly what she'd do with paper documents. The fact that there's search functionality for her home directory is just icing on the cake.
With a database thing, she'd be able to put the same file in 'taxes', 'taxes 2011' and 'investments', but that's very different then just hiding the filesystem from the user.
--
On the face of it, focusing on consumption seems like a no-brainer best way forward, but no doubt there it's far more nuanced and interconnected than that (such as consumers liking to emulate the equipment choices of artists they respect, etc.) And no doubt Apple has people who have studied these things in far more depth than my idle observations. But yeah, I concur that it looks like Apple switched focus quite some time ago, and with completely understandable reason.
Why not spin off Final Cut and hand it off to people who will have the attention to focus on the customers who matter, and charge the price that real professionals can afford? I mean avid costs a fortune, right?
This makes sense, although I'd think setting a little aside to retain the good-will of an industry that helped make you might make good business sense, too. It might be a branding/marketing issue to paint yourself as loyal to a smaller industry. But then again, maybe they calculated whether that would pay off in the long run and decided against it.
I kind of doubt it. It sounds like the people who are really getting screwed are the hard-core professional video editing industry, which can't be that big. I think Apple can lose them without taking too big of a PR hit. Apple has $80 billion cash. It would take decades of mismanagement for them to get to the point where they would be dependent on a small market segment again, and by the people who loyally supported them will all be retired anyway. Coding stuff like FCP can't be cheap.

But like I said, it makes more sense to spin it off.
posted by delmoi at 12:06 AM on January 16, 2012


Actually, content creation/consumption is itself an oversimplification, because amateur creation (youtube vids etc) are a huge driver in what I think of as the consumption market. I guess I'm dividing more by corporate vs amateur production.


This is where their interface similarities to the "i" product line makes sense. Person starts out using iMovie or whatever, as they get older and more professional, they want to move up, and it makes sense when they see the "pro" app isn't a total different interface or way of working.

Considering that they aquired shake just when it was getting really popular, and becoming the industry standard, only to kill it off a few years later, I'm not at all surprised that professionals don't feel they can rely on apple.

When i was more into animation than photography, i picked up shake (4.1 i think it was) for a steal. It was right when they decided to stop it, and instead of several grand, i got for a couple hundred. I walked into an apple store, and when i asked for the specific version, the sales guy walked out with both boxes and looked so confused. I had to spend a little while explaining what was going on and that i wasn't trying to rip them off. While i do have a soft spot for shake, it's really made redundant at this point, with most if not all it can do integrated into final cut and motion. When i went looking for a replacement for shake, i was told to get Autodesk Smoke. When i saw the price, i shook my head and realized Apple was on the right track, 15 grand for Smoke. Even at it's old price, i could have gotten three licenses for Shake or so. :P

It should also be remembered that Apple doesn't like to reveal what it's up to until it's time to almost release the product. Aperture is a great example, people wonder what's going on, when a new version is being released, while adobe tosses out public betas, and then bam! Here is the next version, download now, and updates to fix what people find wrong pretty quickly. Apple could be working on the next version of all it's video apps, making them amazing and able to crush all the complaints about this version, but we won't know until it's time. (heck, i've heard rumors that Apple has a Photoshop replacement constantly being worked on, just in case Adobe decides to pull it)
posted by usagizero at 12:09 AM on January 16, 2012


Coding stuff like FCP can't be cheap.

This is a big part of the problem for a company like Apple. How can you invest in an (old school) video app that requires a team of at least 30 core people that all make $100K or more a year, when you could spend the same money to make several smaller iPhone/pod/pad apps that are shorter cycle and more likely to show income sooner, and contribute to the money making side of the house. If you are a manger or developer you probably want to work on those projects too.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:30 AM on January 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is where their interface similarities to the "i" product line makes sense. Person starts out using iMovie or whatever, as they get older and more professional, they want to move up, and it makes sense when they see the "pro" app isn't a total different interface or way of working.
Yeah but any real professional is just going to use whatever their employer buys, I would imagine. If they're totally independent then maybe that's true. They might also want to use the industry standard or whatever.
It should also be remembered that Apple doesn't like to reveal what it's up to until it's time to almost release the product. Aperture is a great example, people wonder what's going on, when a new version is being released, while adobe tosses out public betas, and then bam! Here is the next version, download now, and updates to fix what people find wrong pretty quickly.
That might be a great way to build hype for consumer products, but for people who need these tools for their jobs, it's not that helpful. You don't want to spend tens of thousands on equipment to find out that the new version won't support it
posted by delmoi at 12:34 AM on January 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Alper also took special exception to repeated complaints that the new version of Final Cut Pro looks too much like iMovie, noting that he believes there's a certain level of "pro tools machismo" in the industry that opposes any kind of change that might make it seem easier to do their jobs.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:50 AM on January 16, 2012


I've already had the distinct feeling over the last few years that Apple has shifting focus from content creation to content consumption.

Based on this?

So Apple spends millions of dollars and many many man-years developing FCPX and because of that you think it's shifting focus away from content creation?

What would they have to do to make you think otherwise?

Give me a break.
posted by schwa at 1:33 AM on January 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Based on this?

No, based on Apple. FCP is just a tempest in a teapot. I'm talking about the big picture.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:39 AM on January 16, 2012


One thing that I thing is true, based on Job's own criticism of Microsoft, is that Microsot gives zero fucks what you write for Microsoft platforms. The best and the worst, Microsoft doesn't care. Microsoft's zealotry for comaptibility psuhes them to bend over backwards to accommodate every half assed program out there.

I've got no dog in this hunt, If i had to write RoR apps on OS X tomorrow I would have no problem doing so. But there is no doublt in my mind modern Microsoft under Balmer is egalitarian to a fault.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:56 AM on January 16, 2012


Well half my comment was misspelled, but that doesn't discount my opinion as someone who makes a living off Microsoft technologies.

Let's say I spend 100K*10 on developing FCP. At this point I may have already made my money back. We do an analysis an decide the optimal business mix is 1FCP to 20 angry birds sold. Angy birds costs me 100*3. I am going to develop 3 angry birds insead of 1 FCP.

If 1 person buys a mac for FCP for every 10 that buy a mac for Angry Birds. I am going to fucking fire the FCP team, or turn them to making Angry Birds.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:18 AM on January 16, 2012


do think hierarchical file-systems are out of date, and we should be using databases where files have properties you can query - one of which would be "legacy path" for old software.

VMS, in other words.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:36 AM on January 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Taking away multicamera editing makes Apple's Final Cut a sub-professional application in one stroke. Who knows what they are thinking.

I'll be sad if the mac pro dies and the iphone cash flood makes the professional stability and robust performance that made me a loyal customer irrevelant.
posted by C.A.S. at 2:44 AM on January 16, 2012


The way I see it, Apple wants to sell many, many copies of the $300 FPCX vs. Avid which sells their software/hardware combos for 10X that price (usually much more.)
posted by gen at 2:59 AM on January 16, 2012


According to random Googling 78% of Apple's income is from iPods/Phones/Tabs/Tunes. So frankly, their Pro gear and apps are a tiny part of something that isn't even their main business anymore (traditional computers).

They make so much money on other stuff that they can keep making FCP and Pro-level Macs for as long as they feel like, but it's not like they actually need to. They can certainly afford to piss off some video pros if it shifts a bunch more copies of FCP to semi-pros.

More likely is that FCPX is actually an improvement, the Pro's who need all the stuff it doesn't have will either stick to 7 or swap to something else, then in 3 years either all the stuff they left out either won't be used by most places, or will have finally been added in and they'll be back to where they were (see for example OSX). Shitty if you make your living using it, but that's what happens when your livlihood is a teeny market for a huge company.
posted by markr at 3:02 AM on January 16, 2012


This is news again? :( No Multicam, No (or is it now here and shitty?) Output to Tape, No Backwards Compatibility to FCP Projects. They already said goodbye, why are we still waving?

(Yes , the magnetic timeline is a cute idea).

Viva Consumer Apple, can't blame 'em for it, like gen said above, sell a lot more $300 FCPX to home enthusiasts. Win win.
posted by cavalier at 3:28 AM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


...if someone already knows how to do something, changing the way things work is, for them, not actually 'easier'...

I really, really wish software developers would remember and care about that. Apple doesn't. Adobe doesn't. The prime example, of course, is Microsoft, which acts as though it is actually hostile to the concept.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:34 AM on January 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Microsoft's zealotry for comaptibility psuhes them to bend over backwards to accommodate every half assed program out there."

The small business world absolutely RUNS on old weird versions of small, cheap or free half-assed programs from random contractors and tiny developer companies.... and Office and Windows. (The big business world runs on all that plus big professional systems... and Windows and Office too of course.)

Apple's market has never quite been so straightforward, I guess.
posted by thefool at 4:44 AM on January 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I really, really wish software developers would remember and care about that. Apple doesn't. Adobe doesn't. The prime example, of course, is Microsoft, which acts as though it is actually hostile to the concept.

If you've worked with enough development teams, you'll quickly discover that, indeed, there is an almost institutional loathing and contempt for the end user and their needs, coupled with an overarching "we know better than the user, they will have to learn to adapt" mindset.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:47 AM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is getting really tired. Why not continue using the old version until FCPX catches up with missing features? Prepare your migration plan if you are pessimistic.

A big problem with Microsoft is legacy residue from rarely (if ever) needed backwards compatibility, it results in bloat, performance issues and bugs. Apple are not afraid to ditch unwanted methods or technologies when they become obsolete.

The real reason for the whining is Apple bashing and people unwilling or unable to learn new methods (because amazingly the old version no longer works). Again, if you don't have time to learn then use the old version.
posted by epo at 4:49 AM on January 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Perhaps he more interesting angle is the potential death of the Mac Pro itself.

Apple, like all large Corporations, want control because they see control as a way to take a cut of the action.

Look at how well being a middle man has worked out for the credit card industries. All the better if you can get the users to pay a yearly fee.

Makes the users of the product no better than a share cropper with the estate owner getting their cut of your labor.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:52 AM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually, content creation/consumption is itself an oversimplification, because amateur creation (youtube vids etc) are a huge driver in what I think of as the consumption market. I guess I'm dividing more by corporate vs amateur production.

I think this is totally true. iLife basically bundled a set of content creation tools with all Macs, and now they have at least some of the programs for iOS as well. Normally pro software is made by niche companies to serve a niche market, so I think it's sort of an anomaly that Apple makes pro software.

Of course, when Apple had a tiny marketshare, the pro market was relatively more important to them. There was also the "Made on a Mac" thing, which was sort of aspirational marketing to get people to think, "If I had a Mac, I could do something like that." Now that lots more people have Macs, they don't need the pros so much, because someone is just going to notice that their friend's movie of their baby looks better than theirs and ask how their friend did it.
posted by snofoam at 4:59 AM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apple's strategy for its pro tools is even more opaque than their strategy for everything else.

Apple, like any large Corporation will just lie. The below are examples.

Statements about how the Apple ][ line was important during the days of the GS.
Developers, use NeXTSTEP. Look at this development plan. Yellowbox is the future, Bluebox to be backwards compatible, and Redbox will let you expand into Microsoft Windows painlessly.
The Newton is an important product to Apple - (told to people at a trade show days after Apple cancelled the product)

And back in the days of Spindler - he stated "We are committed to maximising shareholder value". This hasn't changed and how that will happen is to squeeze the consumers as hard as they can.

If Corporations are sociopathic and the way they interact with the public is via what used to be called Propaganda (now called Public Relations) how can it be any other way?
posted by rough ashlar at 5:10 AM on January 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


The problem with tag-based filesystems is exemplified by Spotlight and Apple's 'all my files' default view. To find a particular file you have to construct a search string AND hope that you tagged (or the file was autotagged) correctly. And then you have to arbitrate between the different versions of the file that the system throws up.

Plus, it's replacing a visual metaphor with a text-based one, which is regressive.

And lets not even speculate about the pain of trying to make such a system interoperable with other OSs on a network.
posted by unSane at 5:28 AM on January 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


One thing about the lack of Mac Pro updates: AFAIK Intel hasn't really made a processor faster than the 6-core Westmere that's in the current Mac Pro -- in the new 6-core "consumer" version, the new LGA 2011 is slower per-core than Westmere, and it's slower still in the 8-core server version (but ooooh the memory bandwidth).

But doing video editing on a laptop? With 4-cores and 16 GB of RAM? Seriously? There are some things where the lack of space(/heat/power) constraints of a desktop will keep mattering. Video editing is one of them.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:01 AM on January 16, 2012


A big problem with Microsoft is legacy residue from rarely (if ever) needed backwards compatibility, it results in bloat, performance issues and bugs.

This in no way accounts for the continuous mutation of established features in, for instance, MS Word. I knew how to use Word 5 to do everything I needed. Then I had to learn 6. Then 7. Then 2000. By that point, practically nothing beyond Ctrl-s and Ctrl-p worked the way it had done in 5. I wasted countless hours of my employers' time learning to do stuff I already knew how to do in the old program.

I have worked with enough developers to have encountered contempt for end users. Since end users are the people that I actually work for as a tech writer, the attitude does not endear those developers to me.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:02 AM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Plus, it's replacing a visual metaphor with a text-based one, which is regressive.

How so? Asking questions is a fundamental way humans retrieve information from other sources, and a keyboard is way faster at that.

The assumption you are making is that visual based metaphors are inherently and always superior.
posted by eriko at 7:10 AM on January 16, 2012


If Corporations are sociopathic and the way they interact with the public is via what used to be called Propaganda (now called Public Relations) how can it be any other way?

Just checking, but we're still talking about video editing software, correct?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:12 AM on January 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wasted countless hours of my employers' time learning to do stuff I already knew how to do in the old program.

Isn't this exactly the same thing that was discussed above, re: Final Cut? That you can change an app to make it easier for new users, and it's a legit improvement, but not for existing users because they need to retrain for any changes. It is a real obstacle to improving software, and I don't know any solution other than to occasionally say, sorry existing users, tough.
posted by smackfu at 7:14 AM on January 16, 2012


How so? Asking questions is a fundamental way humans retrieve information from other sources, and a keyboard is way faster at that.

The assumption you are making is that visual based metaphors are inherently and always superior.


The human visual cortex/visual memory is exquisitely good at picking out stuff. When you leave stuff lying around your house, you don't make a list of where you left it, you remember. When people do memory tricks, they do it using visualization. I use a hierarchical filing system for my files, which represents different levels of abstraction. So if I click on my 'work' folder, it opens up a list of subfolders - 'Screenwriting', 'Directing', 'Photography', 'Business' and so on.

Whereas if I click on a 'work' tag it brings up EVERY FUCKING DOCUMENT TAGGED WITH WORK, plus all their tags.

Of course, the next thing you do it try to implement some kind of hierarchical system with tags. Which if you've ever tried to to it is an exercise in mind-numbing futility.

If DB-driven, tag-based file systems were superior, people would adopt them lovingly instead of resisting them. I've tried over and over again to love them. My best friend has written a bunch of mac apps which basically implement a tag-based Finder. I want to love them, but I don't.

And seriously, I don't find files by typing in a search box when I already know where they are.
posted by unSane at 7:22 AM on January 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


The problem with FCP X isn't that they changed the software, but that they screwed up a lot of other stuff in the process. The radical changes are good, but that fact is obscured by the poor execution of the transition. The operation was successful, but the patient died. Something like that.
posted by unSane at 7:23 AM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


And seriously, I don't find files by typing in a search box when I already know where they are.

This needs to be tied to an infinite number of bricks and thrown through as many windows at Apple as possible, over and over again.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:40 AM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


A big problem with Microsoft is legacy residue from rarely (if ever) needed backwards compatibility, it results in bloat, performance issues and bugs. Apple are not afraid to ditch unwanted methods or technologies when they become obsolete.

This is the issue actually.

It turns out people do have substantial investments in equipment and standards that change on decade scales rather than annually. for example, my turn-over for equipment at work is nominally 8 years, in practice up to 12 if we can squeeze more working life out of it. I can't throw away "legacy, backwards" equipment because some vendor decides that I need a clean break. Training and workflow development time for new equipment would lose me months of staff productivity and I don't have the budget for that anyway.

"Brand new days" for software are fine for consumers where each device is more or less stand-alone and the time to a new device is 3 years or less anyway. It works less well when equipment has to pay out longer deprecations and work with multi-vendor, multi-format tool chains.
posted by bonehead at 7:58 AM on January 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


unSane: when you leave stuff lying around your house, you don't make a list of where you left it, you remember.

That's because "where" refers expressly to physical location, which is primarily indexed by visual reference as that's the dominant framework imposed in typical human brains for engaging with real world space.

Whereas in the folder paradigm, what you are primarily borrowing from the the office filing cabinet metaphor is a framework of hierarchical organization and singularity of location, rather than any strictly visually guided scheme. And those things necessarily obtain in actual cabinets because that's the physical reality of the paper placed in them, rather than the result of being the winner in some notional competition of organizational schemes. That constraint need not apply to organization in digital space.

There's no reason that legacy filesystem location can't be an attribute and a primary one at that. Even in a db, you would still need a unique token for each entry. A tag based system would expand upon the present methods by allowing further attributes. It doesn't have to exclude the possibility of viewing one's date in the current manner.
posted by Gyan at 8:05 AM on January 16, 2012


"There's no reason that legacy filesystem location can't be an attribute and a primary one at that. Even in a db, you would still need a unique token for each entry. A tag based system would expand upon the present methods by allowing further attributes. It doesn't have to exclude the possibility of viewing one's date in the current manner."

Right.

There are other reasons, though, why database file systems haven't really caught on. It's been years since I've paid attention to this, but back in the day my impression was that no one wanted to make the sacrifice in file system speed performance that is necessary. BeOS famously had a database file system. And—gosh, this is so long ago and I can't believe I'm unsure of this—it was XP or maybe Vista that was supposed to go to a db filesystem and they backed away from it.

CS-type people have wanted to move in this direction for a long, long time. It sure as hell makes more sense to me. I mean, really, what's pretty weird is how primitive the dominant desktop filesystems are relative to the technologies that have been developed and are available. Even on Linux there's been little movement toward the better filesystems which are available. (Here I'm talking about under-the-hood stuff.) All the dominant ones on the three major platforms are far too fragile. Still, I think a lot of what's holding things back is raw speed performance concerns.

Possibly with the move to solid-state file storage, we'll reach the point on the performance curve where everything is so fast that this stops being a concern for the end user, who just won't be able to tell the difference. As has already happened with processors and OSs in general. At that point, perhaps we'll switch to much more sophisticated file systems where the excess performance is consumed by the overhead necessary for them.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:17 AM on January 16, 2012


Whereas in the folder paradigm, what you are primarily borrowing from the the office filing cabinet metaphor is a framework of hierarchical organization and singularity of location, rather than any strictly visually guided scheme.

See, I think that's where a lot of OS developers get it wrong. The folder hierarchy might have been borrowed from the filing cabinet but that's not how users see it any more. They think 'the file is in the top folder of the projects folder' or 'it's on the top left of the desktop'. People interact with modern filesystems in visual ways.

It's the difference between sitting in your living room, and standing up and getting that book you're halfway through, or interacting with the room via a moronically literal robot dog.

"Dog, get me the book".

"Which book? There are a lot of books in the universe. Would you like a list of your most recently used books, or your favorite books, or your books in alphabetical order. Do you mean a physical book or a PDF or a notebook?"

"The book. The one on the table'.

"Which table? There are a lot of tables in the universe. Do you mean a kitchen table, dining table, coffee table, excel table or water table? Would you like a list of your favorite tables?"

"The book about Einstein that's on the table in this room".

"Sorry, there is no book matching that description".

"Dog, I can see it from here. Give me a list of books on the table."

"There is only one book on the table. It's called "The Notebooks of Albert Einstein".

"Isn't that about Einstein."

"No, it's about relativity. It's BY Albert Einstein".

"Dog, fetch me my gun and some shells".

"Which gun do you mean? What kind of shells? Shells that you might find on the seashore, armaments, Unix user interfaces...?"
posted by unSane at 8:26 AM on January 16, 2012 [15 favorites]


There are other reasons, though, why database file systems haven't really caught on.

The reason is simply that the user interface to these things is always a nightmare, even when it's well designed. It usually ends up being some kind of half-assed compromise between a genuinely flat system and a folder system, except now there's no unique representation for the folder system. So a file tagged 'foo' 'bar' and 'baz' appears in the 'folders' FOO, BAR and BAZ, and when you open BAZ, there are folders marked 'FOO' and 'BAR' and all of your wonderful visual/spatial cortex abilities are for naught.

iTunes and iMovie and iPhoto are already doing this. Each of them implements its own pathetic imitation of the Finder WITHIN THE APP. Talk about reinventing the wheel. Meanwhile they obscure completely what and where your actual files are. Ever tried to combine two iTunes libraries? *shudder*. Or pull all of the Jpegs out of a corrupted iPhoto library? *shudder*
posted by unSane at 8:33 AM on January 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


The issues with FCP X boil down to a few fundamentals. I've spent 20+ building, maintaining, upgrading, and baby sitting post technology. In other words, I've been through these cycles before.

Transition issues - I met with Apple's head of video apps pre-announcement about FCP X and was impressed by the features, but never would have guess you'd have no path to take older projects into FCP X. This was the biggest mistake that gave them a black eye on day one. Having to buy it through the Apple App Store was another. Most of the editing complaints are valid, but editors complain about every upgrade on every platform every chance they get. I once installed a new VPE CMX that utilized new floppy disc drives instead of the old papertape system and the editors had no end of complaints and explained that the papertape recording system was best.

Roadmap - Companies need to make plans and know their productive capacity. Without seeing roadmaps and worse, being surprised by changes is mind bendingly frustrating. I was as close as you could get to Apple's video app team, with private meeting and other double secret NDA level chats and even then we were repeatedly surprised. When Apple canceled the Server box, we had just ordered 40+ of them for a rendering farm. We had had discussions with them about our plans and they didn't mention a thing. Within months of purchase, we had a system that we could not expand or scale. These kind of thing is what makes companies fear Apple's commitment to professional endeavors.

The alternative of going back to Avid is not appealing. People left Avid in droves for their high costs, unmet promises, backward looking workflow design, and endless bugs and incompatibility. That hasn't changed but sometimes people hate new problems so much they forget aobut od problems,
posted by Argyle at 8:34 AM on January 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Right, if your best alternatives are Avid and Premiere, you are in a world of hurt.
posted by unSane at 8:36 AM on January 16, 2012


At that point, perhaps we'll switch to much more sophisticated file systems where the excess performance is consumed by the overhead necessary for them.

The issue for end-users isn't performance. Never has been. It's a simple matter of knowing/visualizing where their shit it. Current hierarchical systems get it pretty right on the real, human level. It relates to how people mentally organize, compartmentalize and visualize things. These grand "modern" db alternatives are all based on how machines do those tasks, and that's where devs go wrong. Machines aren't the end users.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:37 AM on January 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the audio DAW world, the slack has been taken up with some genuinely great and cost-effective software like Reaper and Presonus Studio One, which are delivering migration away from Logic and Protools (owned by Avid) and Cubase (owned by Yamaha these days I think). It would be nice to see something similar in Video, maybe taking on some of the FCPX metaphors and running with them.
posted by unSane at 8:39 AM on January 16, 2012


Your dialogue is evaded in the real world due to parsimony of reference (and lack of talking dogs), and it simply happens that your scenario deals with a task in physical space, so parsimony here relies on visual data. Although since a dog was involved, maybe you should have involved its sense of smell rather than vision. Anyway, parsimony can be emulated in a computer via predictive results, you know. So if you have been working in 'Screenwriting' recently, then a search for "samples" could first point to results related to screenwriting rather than photography. It would work just as well as in your dialogue, if in fact, there were multiple books in the room, except one was noticeably closer to you. Which is to say, usually correct but sometimes wrong.
posted by Gyan at 8:42 AM on January 16, 2012


Anyway, parsimony can be emulated in a computer via predictive results, you know.

Don't even get me started.
posted by unSane at 8:45 AM on January 16, 2012


OK.

Speaking of alternatives, how do editors size up Vegas Pro (ver 11, if it matters) vs Premiere?
posted by Gyan at 8:46 AM on January 16, 2012


iTunes and iMovie and iPhoto are already doing this. Each of them implements its own pathetic imitation of the Finder WITHIN THE APP. Talk about reinventing the wheel. Meanwhile they obscure completely what and where your actual files are. Ever tried to combine two iTunes libraries? *shudder*. Or pull all of the Jpegs out of a corrupted iPhoto library? *shudder*

I think iTunes and iPhoto prove the counterargument. Ever try to find a specific song, or that photo of your grandmother you took a few years ago with the Finder? *shudder*. Through iWhatever, I can find it in ten seconds.

I'll admit there are a couple of caveats:
1) These apps lock up your data, as you've noted. I've been struggling for a month to sync my photos with my new android phone without screwing up the iPhoto index.
2) Their utility is probably limited to files of similar type. It's easy to come up with an intelligent schema for music files (album, artist, song etc), or photos (date, location, faces), but trying to do that on a Finder-wide basis is madness. (You end up with an unnavigable mess of fields / tags, most of which are blank for any given file.)
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:18 AM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gyan asked:
...how do editors size up Vegas Pro... vs Premiere?

I'm using Vegas 10 and it's a very capable program, similar in functionality to Premiere (which I last used a couple of years ago) and FCP. My problem with it is simply that it's so underused that there's no infrastructure of tutorials, books, classes, etc. to help me get the most out of it. Even Sony's own tutorial DVDs focus on the differences between older versions and the newer iteration. Premiere wins for that reason alone, IMHO. Lots more self-education tools.

I'd be delighted to be proven wrong about this, by the way, if anyone knows of any decent Vegas learning tools. And I'm primarily a shooter, so judge the size of your grain of salt appropriately....
posted by Shotgun Shakespeare at 9:30 AM on January 16, 2012


To be clear, I'm not defending the Finder (which was due for a rewrite five years ago, at least, but now seems to be basically deprecated). As you say, ad hoc solutions for particular filetypes can be efficient for certain kinds of searches but the use-cases are very limited and you end up without a unified interface for search, so you have to learn a different interface for each file type.

The problem becomes evident when, for example, your images include several hundred 500Mb-1Gb layered Photoshop files. All the candidates for a non-folder view onto this collection fail miserably. Spotlight, Adobe Bridge, Lightroom, iPhoto (god forbid), Aperture -- none of them can handle anything like this. Spotlight also chokes on these files because it has a hard time previewing them on the fly.

So now you have to have TWO different approaches for storage of image files.

Same thing with music. iTunes wants to control all your MP3s but as soon as you start having to deal with AIFFs in quantity, or even different versions of MP3s with the same metadata (eg track/artist) all hell breaks loose. And the idea of using Spotlight to search AIFFs is just ludicrous.

This is why I'm driven back to hierarchical folders again and again, because I don't keep hitting edge cases, and because I'm not reliant on a particular app to be able to get a view onto my data.

The thing that makes 75% of use cases easier often makes the remaining 25% more difficult. For example: no 'Save as...' in Lion apps. Instead, you must duplicate and resave. If you 'save a version' you have to go into Time Machine to access it. So something as simple as saving landmark drafts of a work in progress becomes harder and more complex.
posted by unSane at 9:34 AM on January 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Monday, stony Monday is correct about Mac Pro updates.
posted by howling fantods at 10:08 AM on January 16, 2012


I'm not clear how that explains why they can't do a motherboard update that supports Thunderbolt. It says it's not supported by the Intel chipsets, but I didn't think that stopped Apple in the past, and the Thunderbolt chip is separate anyways.
posted by smackfu at 10:39 AM on January 16, 2012


A lot of people in corporate/structured environments are completely unable to purchase FCPX due to the fact that you can only get it through the app store. Surprised me.
posted by fake at 10:43 AM on January 16, 2012


"The reason is simply that the user interface to these things is always a nightmare, even when it's well designed."

No. Have you actually used a db filesystem such as BFS in BeOS?

As Gyan wrote, you can present to the user a conventional folder based filesytem on top of a db core and still provide both the much more robust core and a much more robust db metadata interface to the user where appropriate. Everybody wins. The reason why this isn't being done is the performance hit caused by the overhead. As well as inertia, of course.

The UI to the filesystem, the application and OS interface to the filesystem, and the filesystem architecture are all distinct but related. The problem with conventional flat folder filesystem architecture is that building metadata into that is a kludge and the architecture itself forces design constraints on both the API and the UI. A powerful db filesystem architecture can sit under an abstracted API and the UI can take whatever form is most appropriate to the task, including a flat folder representation. This design offers every possible advantage with the single but significant cost of a substantial performance hit. This precisely parallels the same issues and progressions we've seen in OS and application design and it's only the relative archaic nature of mechanical disk-based data storage that has made this progression lag behind the others.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:53 AM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is a bit tangential to the video editing question, but I think touches on some common elements -- Lion was the first ever Mac OS that seemed to make things more complicated for me than the previous version, largely due to the obfuscation of the filesystem in certain areas and shockingly poorly thought out iCloud integration with mac apps. Interested in using keynote and icloud? It's fine (if a bit clunky) if your only devices are iOS. But want to create/edit using your macbook (as I assume most people would prefer to if given the choice), and it becomes a colossal exercise in frustration. Any edits you make to a presentation require you to download the document from icloud, edit it on your mac, delete the original on icloud, then reupload the new version, even if all you want to change is a spelling mistake. Moreover, you can't have any folders on icloud, so every presentation you have ever made will reside in an ever scrolling list until you start deleting them. It's so poor I was flabbergasted and spent hours looking online trying to see if I was missing something obvious, to no avail. It offers absolutely no benefit over emailing a presentation to yourself through gmail.
posted by modernnomad at 10:56 AM on January 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm fairly convinced Peak Apple was the day Steve Jobs died. Sad to say. I'm actively looking for another platform. I hate to say it but I suspect a pro level Linux workstation distro is going to be the way ahead ultimately. I can't really see any other alternatives unless another BeOS/NeXT appears from somewhere.

One thing I would like to see is some kind of ersatz-singletasking. OS X has gone the way that Windows went years ago, with an uncountable number of daemons and resident apps with hooks into the OS, all phoning home and kludging up your machine. I have a top end Mac Pro and it still feels sticky in Lion, especially once Spotlight or Time Machine decide it's time to have a party. And let's not even talk about Safari. Wouldn't it be nice to have a minimalist machine which actually concentrated on the task-at-hand? iOS actually does this rather well.
posted by unSane at 11:06 AM on January 16, 2012


That's because "where" refers expressly to physical location, which is primarily indexed by visual reference as that's the dominant framework imposed in typical human brains for engaging with real world space.

And this is how FCPX has made a huge change in the experience for editors. They killed the stacked track open timeline that included a robust visual reference for audio and visual elements relationship to realtime. The open timeline let me decide where to put an event based on time. If I wanted to place a 2 frame clip at 00:59:58:00 I could just punch it in regardless if there was anything else in the timeline.

Editing is the sequencing of multiple events overtime. The open timeline is a representation of realtime and an editor was able to place an element and see a relationship to real time. They changed that. The magnetic timeline killed the open timeline and now the primary relationship for an event is another other event rather it's existence in realtime. Apple has changed the fundamental experience of editing away from the open timeline, you can still edit, but it has drastically changed the visual presentation of information and the experience of cutting.

Right now, it feels like a broken hammer rather than a new tool.
posted by jade east at 11:14 AM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I have a top end Mac Pro and it still feels sticky in Lion, especially once Spotlight or Time Machine decide it's time to have a party. "

If it feels that way, it's a UI design problem (at the architectural level), not an OS multitasking problem.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:15 AM on January 16, 2012


Speaking of alternatives, how do editors size up Vegas Pro (ver 11, if it matters) vs Premiere?

FCPX has a lot of Vegas Pro in it, including the supposedly revolutionary magnetic timeline. Vegas has superb audio functionality as well.

I've been following Biscardi's blog on looking for alternative to FCP. There are lots of posts about importing FCP 7 projects into Premiere, the differences, the gotchas, in the applications.

They've just announced that they are switching to Premiere Pro and Avid and are concerned about the Mac Pro line so they'll likely start using Windows workstations alongside their existing Macs.

More on the transition to Premiere Pro.
posted by juiceCake at 11:18 AM on January 16, 2012


I'm semi-sympathetic to Apple here because it's really hard to make much money in a niche market like editing professionals. Developers make a lot of money and you can only charge so much for software so the only way to make more is to open up the market which they've done by targeting consumers more than professionals.

That said, if they didn't want the professional market, they should have spun the FCP 7 off or sold it to Adobe so at least they didn't stiff their old user base.
posted by octothorpe at 11:38 AM on January 16, 2012


Given that, as mentioned earlier in the thread, the vast majority of Apple's revenue is now coming from iOS devices, I think it's safe to say that deep down this is Apple's take on the FCP criticism.
posted by mullingitover at 11:38 AM on January 16, 2012


This! I agree with this deeply. It's why I'm dreading the upgrade to Lion. It's why I'm wondering if my next computer shouldn't be a Mac.

Me too. Isolating the filesystem turns apps into silos from which work done inside can't be augmented in other apps, and can only escape at all to the extent the developer provides network protocol and infrastructure for getting things out. It's arguably defensible for some kinds of applications, and maybe even for a computing paradigm which prioritizes low complexity of interaction over everything else (like the iOS devices).

Not that traditional hierarchical file systems are that complex. I know, you and I both know people who struggle with them, but my observation is that we're actually just getting to the point where most of the population under 30 is conversant with the fundamental aspect of digital literacy and now some people think it's a grand idea to make them go away. They're really not that hard. Heck, my Mom who struggles with them today under OS X's long broken Finder actually did fairly well with them under the old System 6-9 Finder.

It's fine to try and accommodate those who struggle with them. It's a good idea to factor the filesystem out for some applications that would be unlikely to need them.

But any degree of trying to factor out this low-bar of complexity on a platform-wide basis for a traditional computing platform like OS X that's supposed to at least allow for power and flexibility is an indefensibly and inexcusably stupid act. If hiding the filesystem needs to be done *anywhere*, the right place for that decision is at the app level.

It's been a pretty nice coincidence that Apple has happened to make machines that fit my needs nearly perfectly for 12 years, but unless 10.8 shows signs of better thinking, Snow Leopard is the end of the road for me.
posted by weston at 11:38 AM on January 16, 2012


Bah, hiding the filesystem doesn't need to be done. It's fine on the iOS toys, but when you're actually trying to get real work done it's a non-starter. I think Apple will end up moving in a two worlds approach: iOS devices are the 'consumer' product, and Macs are the 'pro' pro which people use to make iOS apps. Can you imagine trying to create an iOS app on an iOS device? You can get away with tying the user down with the limitations of the data-trapped-in-apps scheme on iOS, because nobody expects it be truly useful, but do that on real workstations and the developers will leave. Then who will make those iOS apps?
posted by mullingitover at 11:51 AM on January 16, 2012


I've been struggling for a month to sync my photos with my new android phone without screwing up the iPhoto index.

I may have found your problem.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:51 AM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think Apple will end up moving in a two worlds approach: iOS devices are the 'consumer' product, and Macs are the 'pro' pro which people use to make iOS apps.

Nah, the bean counters control Apple now. It's gonna be all iOS all the time. The teams have been moved over. You can feel it. The Mac line will be reduced to increasingly iOS-like notebooks, iMacs which are notebooks with bigger screens, and (possibly) Mac Minis. Moreover, the Macs will migrate from Intel to ARM within the next couple of years and it would not surprise me if they became difficult or impossible to boot Linux or Windows 8 on.
posted by unSane at 12:02 PM on January 16, 2012


Nah, the bean counters control Apple now. It's gonna be all iOS all the time.

Oh baloney. They didn't invest a shit ton of money into Lion and FCPX because they only see money in Angry Birds apps. Give them a little credit - they seem smarter than that.

It seems pretty obvious that the iCloud integration of most Mac apps isn't complete - when they first advertised the concept they totally included syncing between Mac and iOS. I don't know why they haven't implemented it yet - it doesn't seem like it would be that complicated to do. But once it's really in full effect I'd be willing to judge it on the merits then.

That said, there's a lot of things I like about Lion and FCPX. Lion is actually kinda fun to use, thanks to the elements it borrows from iOS. But I don't think they'll ever give up on OSX completely. It's different tools for different needs. You do *still* have the same filesystem in Lion you've always had, you just have to think of it differently. Which is hard, admittedly, since so many of us are pre-programmed to hit "Save", not trusting the computer to do it for us.

Meanwhile, I don't think they're abandoning the pro market entirely either. FCPX is actually quite complex and feature-rich once you get into it. The shit they're taking is because they didn't keep the features that old workflows depend on. I mean, I certainly wouldn't recommend it for any huge projects right now -- it's practically 1.0 software, why would you trust something like that? But in a year or two it's going to have the other NLEs crying in a corner.

And besides, what's to complain about? It's $300! Logic Pro has been dropped to just $199! The entire suite of pro Apple apps right now can be had for less than $650! (Ten years ago an Avid would have cost you $80,000.) I mean, really - talk about "Everything's amazing and everyone's miserable."
posted by fungible at 1:11 PM on January 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


The open timeline let me decide where to put an event based on time. If I wanted to place a 2 frame clip at 00:59:58:00 I could just punch it in regardless if there was anything else in the timeline.

You can do this by the way. You just have to know which button to press. I remember when it first came out I kept reading that you couldn't right-click on anything or have any gaps in a sequence, which proved to be untrue as well.

There are many things I could complain about on the magnetic timeline, but a lot of the problems I suspect are just me trying to adjust my brain to a new paradigm.

On the other hand, I really like the idea of not having to switch track selectors every time I cut something into a sequence. Man does that save a lot of clicks.
posted by fungible at 1:16 PM on January 16, 2012


You just have to know which button to press.

Yep, P in fact.

Also, there's nothing stopping you from using an audio track or indeed a blank slug as your primary storyline. You're then free to place clips around it wherever you like just like in the old days.
posted by unSane at 2:05 PM on January 16, 2012


And besides, what's to complain about?

Logic is massively outdated and it's by no means clear if or when Logic X will be released. FCP X is, as I've said above, an innovative and engaging tool but it's by no means clear what Apple's level of support is going to be for pro apps moving forwards, and it suffers from some showstopping (for some people) problems, not least that it simply stops autosaving sometimes and there is NO WAY to manually save the project. All the indications are that the Mac Pro is not going to be replaced.

Apple is not used to getting a very public bloody nose on product intros like they did on FCP and it is quite possible they will decide the risk/reward ratio on this stuff is not worth it when they can redeploy the same teams on less critical consumer/prosumer apps.

Lion and iCloud introduce new filesystem paradigms which point in a troubling direction. Apple is set to take more control over userspace in March when all App store apps will be sandboxed and required to register the privileges they require from the system to operate.

Motion is no longer round-trip interoperable with FCP. Soundtrack is gone. Color is gone.

My point is I WANT to continue using Macs and Apple software to do my stuff but blind loyalty doesn't cut it. I've currently ditched Logic for Studio One. I wish there was as appealing an alternative for FCP. (I installed Premiere Pro a while back and after half an hour I wanted to slit my wrists).
posted by unSane at 2:17 PM on January 16, 2012


It seems pretty obvious that the iCloud integration of most Mac apps isn't complete - when they first advertised the concept they totally included syncing between Mac and iOS. I don't know why they haven't implemented it yet - it doesn't seem like it would be that complicated to do. But once it's really in full effect I'd be willing to judge it on the merits then.


Lion has been on the market for half a year now - a pretty substantial period of time in the tech world. I think it's entirely fair to judge it on its merits right now, not at some hypothetical point in the future where Apple has solved its glaring weaknesses. if iCloud wasn't fully ready to go at launch, then either Apple should have postponed it or at least marketed it as something far more limited.

The experience of iCloud coupled with the many MobileMe debacles makes me wonder if the cloud is just going to be a perpetual blindspot for Apple, in the same way that 'social' seems to be for Google, or 'search' was (and perhaps still is) for MS.
posted by modernnomad at 6:29 AM on January 17, 2012


there is NO WAY to manually save the project

Is that true?! That's...that's not even software, man.
posted by echo target at 6:41 AM on January 17, 2012


Is that true?!

The only workaround is to duplicate the project from within FCPX... however the catch is that if your autosaves have not been written to disk already, duplicating the project simply duplicates the SAVED project, not the one in memory that you are currently working on.

There is no Save command, nor Save as... nor Save a version... nor Duplicate. The Apple forums are full of people who have lost three to six hours work.

The only clue that autosaving has stopped is that 'Undo' becomes unavailable, but of course by the time you notice that you're usually down the rabbit hole.

There is speculation that the bug has something to do with the maximum number of open files being exceeded, presumably because the number of autosaved versions has gotten to large and FCP is not doing its housekeeping properly.

The motivation is of course that you don't have to save because the project is always saved at every step. Which is fine of course, until it isn't. It's a classic example of Apple taking the steering wheel away from the driver, and we are going to see a LOT more of it.
posted by unSane at 7:06 AM on January 17, 2012


there is NO WAY to manually save the project

What is the philosophy behind that? Too difficult?

One thread on this subject says it's still an issue. Of course there's always one person who says it's the user's fault...
posted by juiceCake at 9:35 AM on January 17, 2012


> With a database thing, she'd be able to put the same file in 'taxes', 'taxes 2011' and 'investments',

We should have that right now today on Windows machines because NTFS supports hard links. But, oops, Explorer doesn't understand them. It reports each of, say, 3 hard links to one disk file as three separate files, and deducts the file size three times from what it reports as available storage space. So close, but no cigar.
posted by jfuller at 10:07 AM on January 17, 2012


"We should have that right now today on Windows machines because NTFS supports hard links. But, oops, Explorer doesn't understand them. It reports each of, say, 3 hard links to one disk file as three separate files, and deducts the file size three times from what it reports as available storage space. So close, but no cigar."

I'm not sure why that matters. Granted that the Windows UI doesn't implement several useful features of NTFS (hard links, streams, etc) but I bet that whatever Explorer reports, that's not in the end going to keep you from using that disk space. But, even if it did, who these days runs out of disk space? I've got terabytes of unused hard drives in my desk drawer.

Anyway, for anyone who cares, personally I've found Hermann Schinagl's "Link Shell Extension" utility to be pretty handy. It handles "hardlinks, junctions, volume mountpoints, and Windows7's symbolic links." I've particularly found it useful to create folder junctions across separate drives, making a folder tree available transparently on another drive.

It's interesting how little the various capabilities of the contemporary Windows drive manager and file system are utilized. I doubt that many people use dynamic drives at all, much less any of the things they make possible. And then there's DFS. I assume that more stuff is used at the enterprise level, but then again, probably not that much there, either. There's really a lot of inertia with these things.

For that matter, who utilizes the almost absurdly fine-grained permissions available on NTFS? I appreciate that they're available, but it's really sort of insane how on the one hand there's this hugely overpowered permissions model in NTFS, and then on the other hand, an OS design that is still oriented toward single-user use. Jesus, it's only now that I'm seeing apps installing to user space instead of Program Files. But then, NT's history is really weird. Cutler designed a pretty sweet desktop OS (especially for its day), and then it was pretty much downhill from there as 95 was grafted onto it making it some sort of weird Frankenstein's monster.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:31 AM on January 17, 2012


What is the philosophy behind that? Too difficult?

Theoretically, it saves literally everything single thing you do, so you should never need to save it. And if you have time machine, it's automatically backed up.
posted by empath at 11:57 AM on January 17, 2012


I think Apple wants to get rid of the file system, because every time the engineers look at Finder, they throw up their hands and say "Fuck it, too much work".
posted by empath at 11:58 AM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


> But, even if it did, who these days runs out of disk space?

People who bought snazzy new laptops on which the entire C: drive is flash memory in the interest of fast booting, and hence unexpandable. (*) Who, if they're on Vista or 7, now see their winsxs directory structure filling their C: drive right up because it's full of multiple hard links, which Explorer (and presumably the Win API itself) sees as multiple copies of the file, each one occupying disk space.

Thanks for the link to the Schinagl utility, I'll look at it with great interest!

(*) FWIW, Microsoft continues to say no, you can't move ~\winsxs off C: and no, mounting another drive on some mount point on C: won't help winsxs, even if you remember how to do that from the command line.
posted by jfuller at 12:19 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is no Save command, nor Save as... nor Save a version... nor Duplicate.

that just broke my brain
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:43 PM on January 17, 2012


Theoretically, it saves literally everything single thing you do, so you should never need to save it. And if you have time machine, it's automatically backed up.

Wonderful. It no longer just works, now it just theoretically works.
posted by juiceCake at 5:48 PM on January 17, 2012


I strongly suspect the absence of 'Save' and its friends and relations is not a philosophical decision but something that was forced on the designers by the way that the whole new CoreDate based app design paradigm works. If you've ever fucked around with CoreData you'll know that it makes a lot of things easy at the expense of making other things extraordinarily hard, especially anything that doesn't use an easily serialized Cocoa datatype. And bumping into the limits of that is ALL OVER FCPX.
posted by unSane at 6:02 PM on January 17, 2012


I'm semi-sympathetic to Apple here because it's really hard to make much money in a niche market like editing professionals.

Apple did not develop the initial software - Apple went out and bought it.

Are you claiming that Apple had no idea of the software's market when they bought it?
posted by rough ashlar at 5:13 AM on January 18, 2012


Apple's market position has changed entirely. They've never tried to make (much) money out of selling software -- the software has generally been a way of encouraging people to buy the hardware.

So having a suite of pro apps was a great way to sell high end Macs, and there was a strong trickledown effect into the domestic market too (anyone who used Macs at work tended to buy them for self, spouse, kids and drone on about them endlessly to anyone who would listen -- I know, I was that man).

But now the Mac division is becoming a less and less significant portion of Apple's revenues, and the performance distinction between the pro line and the top end of the iMac line is eroding. Simply put, they don't need pro apps to sell hardware any more, since the halo from iPhone/iPad is all the marketing they need.

So for the new Apple it makes MUCH more sense to focus programming teams on iOS. The next CEO of Apple after Tim Cook will almost certainly be the guy who runs the iOS project right now.

I do think the writing is on the wall for the Mac pro app user. They're just not that into us any more.
posted by unSane at 5:44 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Are you claiming that Apple had no idea of the software's market when they bought it?

They bought it 13 years ago; the markets have change more than a little since then. There wasn't much of a consumer market for video editing software since decent cameras cost so much, now that any idiot can get an HD camera, that market is much bigger.

Software is expensive to produce and if you only have thousands of professionals to sell to, it's hard for management to justify the salaries of the engineers doing the work. If you have millions of consumers to sell to, its a lot easier to keep your project funded.
posted by octothorpe at 7:02 AM on January 19, 2012


Why Hypercard Had to Die
posted by Artw at 9:51 AM on January 23, 2012


Forrester: Apple makes strides into enterprises, users iWork hard for the money
posted by Artw at 7:25 AM on January 28, 2012


Apple releases updated Final Cut Pro X, brings multicam support, broadcast monitoring love
posted by Artw at 12:39 PM on January 31, 2012


Does it fix the autosave?
posted by juiceCake at 2:55 PM on January 31, 2012


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