I, EDITOR

Cameras

Apparently some well-known software company launched a new product this week. Some people got annoyed. Others loved it. Twitter went nuts. In fact, most people went nuts, impulsively declaring they were jumping ship to Premiere, boom, that’s it, Edit Apocalypse.

Oh dear.

There’s been plenty of blogs written about FCPX and plenty of debate. Personally, I haven’t bothered downloading it, and I won’t be even considering it for a good long while yet. First generation software releases tend to be horrible facsimiles of the sophisticated toolsets they often become. Switching to MacOsX drove me absolutely insane, and it took a long time for it to win me over. I started editing with Final Cut Pro 1 and I loved it back then. I was using an iMac with a firewire cable to import DV footage and this was unbelievably revolutionary at the time. Avid editors laughed at it. Laughed long and hard. They thought it was a joke, that it wasn’t industry standard, that it was simply not worth anything. Avid systems cost about $15,000 at the time. I could be set up on Final Cut for around $2,500. I was the one laughing. Sort of. Nowadays, a proper studio Final Cut setup won’t cost you $15,000 but once you’ve factored in XSan, fibre cards, multi-license, graphics cards, not to mention a pimping Mac Pro it’s going to be expensive. But, as always, you can dip a toe, and run it on a laptop if you need.

This new release has split people because it represents such a huge departure from the norm it renders all the investment in systems by the pro market non future proof. Facilities houses built around FCP7 are screwed. At least for the moment. I laugh when I hear people advising me to switch to Premiere straight away, as if it’s that simple! If only they knew.

I’m a bit of a strange fish in production. I work as a multi-hyphenate and always have, directing, editing, doing motion GFX, camerawork, and much more besides. Over the last ten years I’ve worked hard on every side of my game to become as polished a multi-eventer as possible. Editing is actually my strongest suit. I have an agent and work all over London on a multitude of different clients for different clients. Everyone uses Final Cut Pro, from broadcast to corporate, to music videos. Everyone. None of my clients give a monkeys about FCPX. Not only is it of no use to me to learn premiere, it is of no use to me to learn FCPX. At least not yet. Of course I’m going to keep an eye on it but for the next 12 months at least it’ll be business as usual.

Apple are not stupid. They will have a strategy for the product, and I’m sure we’ll see some rapid developments addressing some of the bigger concerns currently flooding the #FCPX hashtag. The thing to remember is that, right now, Premiere enjoys a deserved esteem because it is a far more modern product, based on far more modern architecture, optimised for hardware and designed, let’s not forget, to hit the FCP market hard. I won’t lie, I’m being very mindful of Premiere because if clients begin switching to it then I’m going to need to have it in my arsenal. They generally have most of the other programmes in the suite so Premiere wouldn’t be a big ask to work into their setups.

Right now, I charge £300 a day for editing, just for turning up and cutting other people’s work. The reason I can charge that is because I’m very very very quick, I can edit in French and English, and I’m very experienced. I know FCP inside and out and can troubleshoot it in 99% of situations. Those skills have developed a sell-by-date overnight. Which is a shame, but they’re still good for a while.

Editing is a craft which is now deeply undervalued by most people. Good camerawork is going the same way. Both have been commoditised by cheap tools and ease of access. Plus ca change.

I couldn’t care less. I did my time, I’m constantly working and it’s hard work that got me there. Anyone with a strong work ethic will be able to do the same. So, stop whining about a stupid piece of software and get back to work!

Jared Abrams
Jared Abrams is a cinematographer based in Hollywood, California. After many years as a professional camera assistant he switched over to still photography. About two years ago a new Canon camera changed the way the world sees both motion and still photography. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
  • ejnl

    Hi Skid!
    Thanks for your post, I’m really identified with your opinions about craft and experience of filmmakers. It is a spoken truth, that the DSLR technology changed a lot, now even a family home video could look from stills as a low budget rommance. But in first few seconds you could recognise that there’s no film language used and it’s just a series of boring shots accompanied by “emotional” music. It’s about a year ago I’ve seen a short film by a videographer who specializes on wedding videos and looked epic. BUT It  was just another wedding video no matter how beatiful every frame was. But to my point – most of your latest articles were telling the same thing mentioned above. Why don’t just get back to normal writing man, instead of pointing out the well known fact that there are amateur filmmakers and pros?:) I’m a real fan of your blog. Cheers, Martin

  • http://twitter.com/jamesdrakefilms James Drake

    indeed.

  • http://www.brandonvincent.net Brandon

    Great points. You’re thinking logically, and in an ever-changing creative business, that’s a smart way to go about making a living. Keep your eyes open to what’s available and make thoroughly thought decisions. Don’t just pull the trigger on something and immediately blame the company for the product’s short-comings.

  • Kaj Kjellesvig

    Very well put good sir. I agree with your rationale. I however I am getting it as a gift so I’m going to start learning it now in case it picks up in the future. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/markkalan Mark Kalan

    I’m still pissed that when I upgraded to an Intel iMac, (Which I needed to run Hasselblad Phocus software) I could no longer run Photoshop CS2 and FCP4.5 which I have lots of $$$ invested in!

  • Darryl Gregory

    I am really trying not to say…”I told you so”
    But I have no choice, Adobe is on point with the latest DSLR codecs
    and the Red Color Science from the MX sensor,
    If there is a time to jump ship it is now, I’m editing a full feature in Pp cs5.5
    and loving it.

    I will not return to FCP unless they listen to the professional customer base that
    has made FCP what it is, and what it should be in the future.

    .