Final Cut Pro X Pile On?

I've spent a while working with Final Cut Pro X, because I'd been assuming that I'd need to work my way around the nuances of it so that I could then turn around and teach my students how to use it (see: various video tutorials at One From Zero). So what do I have to say to film students and faculty?

Run. Run fast, run far. Stay the hell away from Final Cut Pro X.

I want to like it, really I do. It's beautiful to look at. They've gotten away from the godawful strategy of forcing you to buy the whole Final Cut Studio or drop down to Final Cut Express. It's blazing fast, 64-bit, Cocoa based, and I love the magnetic timeline (I do almost all my editing in the timeline, which puts me in the minority, I guess).

But the rest of it. Dear merciful train wreck, what a mistake.

I drink a fair bit of Apple Kool-Aid, I admit. When they decide to reinvent something wholesale and force everyone to go along with it, often they are right in their analysis and are proven to be forward thinking. Ditch everything but USB? Sure. Optical drives going away? Probably. The entire music and mobile phone industry? Didn't see that coming, but yes indeedy.

This version of Final Cut Pro does that, but with video post. Apple has gone all-in and is saying "you're not going to need your decks, old projects, or media management at all." It seems like a natural extension of their larger engineering plans: look at iOS and OS X Lion and the way iCloud is positioned. At every turn, Apple suggests that the file system is archaic and to be avoided whenever possible. And in many cases I agree. The answer to "where is that file?" when I am using my iPhone, iPad, Xbox 360, Apple TV, etc is "exactly wherever I need it, whenever I need it." And there's complex engineering to determine where and when when that is. This is not a consumer vs. producer issue (as iPad haters will incorrectly try to malign the iPad as a device for consumers only), but a question of what is being done.

Video post is not at all like listening to music, processing photos, or, say, writing. It is 90% media management, a complex dance between mind and instrument, and it has been this way since cutting film. This is why the move from film to tape to digital non-linear editing really wasn't that big a deal: the process of mind did not change.

When there is a disruptive design, like Apple's iOS and iPhone, they are transformative because Apple says "we've noticed that your mind actually works this way and we designed this magical product that interfaces thus."

With Final Cut Pro X, Apple is saying "you should use your mind differently because we've got some crazy powerful hardware and engineering that can do make it oh so awesome."

On the upside, Compressor 4 is outstanding, because it what worked in Compressor (obsessive access to every last detail of video encoding) and refines it. What we need is Final Cut Pro X.1, like right now, that does that for video post.

(there's many more excellent blog posts picking this apart from Jeffery Harrell's site.) He's spot on about why FCPX fails for businesses.

Follow up: the Macworld review of FCPX is on crack cocaine. 3.5 stars, and lists "transparent media management" as a PLUS?! Zero media management is not transparent, it is zero. Get a pro to review pro apps.