Final Cut Pro

Why Apple built Final Cut Pro X

I worked on Final Cut Pro from 2002 to 2008. It was an amazing experience. The Final Cut Pro X project was just getting started when I left Apple. It was an ambitious and controversial move, but it made sense for Apple. Here’s why:

Apple doesn’t care about the pro space
The goal for every Apple software product is to sell more hardware. Even the Mac operating system is just trying to get people to buy more Mac computers.

The pro market is too small for Apple to care about it. Instead of trying to get hundreds or even thousands of video professionals to buy new Macs, they can nail the pro-sumer market and sell to hundreds of thousands of hobbyists like me.

Millions of people are buying phones and cameras that can shoot HD video, and many of them are looking for ways to edit. I know how to use Final Cut Pro because I worked on it for 6 years, but for most people it’s just too complex.

FCP X lets Apple move beyond the pro space, and sell to a much larger group looking for better tools.

Apple doesn’t compete on features
In the early days of Final Cut Pro, the product stood on its own. It was the first truly powerful, software based non linear editor.

Editors had two choices: spend $50k on an Avid system, or $1k on a Final Cut Pro license. You couldn’t compare the two on features because the experiences and price points were vastly different. Every seat FCP won away from Avid was a huge victory.

But things changed in 2006 and 2007. Serious competitors to Final Cut Pro came from Adobe, Pinnacle, Sony, and others. People were choosing their hardware and software based on format support, or specific features they needed.

That’s boring. Apple doesn’t play that game.

So it was time to reinvent the video editor. And Final Cut Pro X really delivers there. FCPX isn’t defined by a feature chart. It’s not trying to do more than its competitors, it’s doing it better.

And once again, Final Cut Pro stands on its own. And once again, Final Cut Pro will expand the market of video editors out there, and I’ll be one of them.

Final Cut Pro 1.0 didn’t win over every Avid user, and Final Cut Pro X won’t win over every Final Cut Pro user. But they’ve laid the foundation for something incredible, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

Congrats to all my friends on the Final Cut Pro team who shipped this incredible release!

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Congrats to my friends on the Final Cut Pro team on their monumental release!

Apple’s new Final Cut Pro X video editing software has been “rebuilt from the ground up” for the Mac OS X “Snow Leopard operating system and is “as revolutionary as the first version of Final Cut Pro was when introduced in 1999,” the company boasted Tuesday at an unveiling of the software suite in Las Vegas.

The latest version of Final Cut Pro is a 64-bit application that will have Apple rivals Adobe and Avid “in a race for second place,” said Peter Steinauer, Apple’s senior video applications engineer and the architect of Final Cut Pro X, according to sources at the NAB Show’s SuperMeet event.

I spent 6 years on Final Cut Pro. I know very few people who have stayed at one company for that long, let alone one product.

Why did I do it? I was working with the best. I loved the product, loved the people, and I was challenged every day with big engineering problems.

But the current team went a step further. They revolutionized video editing once again, 12 years after the first FCP release. They rebuilt the app from the ground up. Few teams get the opportunity to do that.

Congrats to all my friends over at Apple. I use Final Cut Pro more today than I did when I was an employee (other than development time). I can’t wait to use the new version.

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Live blog of the release event is here:

http://www.photographybay.com/2011/04/12/final-cut-pro-user-group-supermeet-l…

Update: Video of the release.

Fed up with out of sync videos

I worked on Final Cut Pro for six years. The quality control was over the top. I worked on the real-time playback and effects system, and every single frame had to be delivered on time. Our playback mechanism wasn’t used just for on screen previews, but even for realitime playback to recording devices, or live TV!

So the standards were high, the tolerances were low. Every single frame had to be delivered on time, along with the audio. If the video was one frame late, or the audio was one sample late (we liked to blame the audio guys!), shit hit the fan and we DID NOT SHIP THE PRODUCT.

Maybe this just goes back to my rant about beta software… But more specifically, Final Cut Pro had high standards for AV sync (aka, perfect), so when i was watching the world series today for 5 minutes, and then later watching a video on youtube, and noticed that both were out of sync, it drove me crazy.

Now, I agree that after 6 years of working on a video product where frame rate is god, my standards are high. But i’ll still hold that I think products like Youtube and CABLE TV have standards that are low. Incorrect AV sync is crazy and out of the question. If you specialize in video, the least you can do is do it right.

Six incredible years at Apple

It’s hard to believe I almost didn’t take my job on Final CutPro; I was strongly considering working for Amazon in Seattle. ButI chose Apple. I remember the last conversation I had with my firstmanager before accepting the job was when he told me ProApps wentto Vegas every year. Sign me up!
Not only did I stay at Apple for six years, but I stayed onFinal Cut Pro the whole time. Yes, it was that good. My time on FCPsaw it go from the application that was pulling ahead of Premierefor the first time, to becoming the de facto editor for everythingexcept film (we are in that market also, but not the leader).
The past six years included 4 large releases and countlessminor updates. There were six amazing trips to Las Vegas, some foras long as 10 days (not a good idea!). I worked with people who arenow some of my closest friends. We did a photo slideshow onThursday at my going away party. So many great memories.
Being on Final Cut Pro also allowed me to work remotely fromNew York, something that I probably wouldn’t have been able to doif I worked anywhere else. I thought I would explore New York for ayear and head back. But instead I found a city I fell in love withand where I really fit in. New York City makes me happy, and I owethat to Apple as well.
It’s definitely a weird feeling to not be an Apple employee.Apple has been such a huge part of my life, I’m sure many peoplenever thought I would leave the company. But there are biggerthings ahead! It’s sad to not be associated with this companyanymore. But even if I’m not an employee, I’ll always be a fan boy:).
I got a lot of shit from people for using a Mac through middleschool and high school. Apple never got any respect for what theydid, but I always stood behind the company. The way I evangelizeApple today, imagine how hard that was 10 years ago.
It’s been incredible to be at Apple the past six years and seethem on their way up. Since the iPod was announced in October 2001(I was in the audience in Town Hall where Steve announced thefirst iPod), Apple has become incredibly well respected for allthe products they produce. Mac market share is way up, Vista isthought to be dead, anyone buying a new computer who can afford aMac is considering it.
It really is a dream come true to see where Apple is today.Apple may not have even 20% market share yet, but that’s fine. Theway I see it, Apple has succeeded in becoming the BMW of computers.Not everyone wants one, and not everyone can afford one. Buteveryone respects them and sees them as high quality computers,with attention to detail, great software, great design. Everyoneaspires to be like Apple.
My last day at Apple felt very surreal. And it was a littlebittersweet. I don’t know what I expected, but at the end Icouldn’t believe it was over.
Thanks Steve. Thanks Final Cut Pro.