When Final Cut Pro X was released back in June 2011, Apple said that there was a ten year road map in place for its development. Well, we are nearly at the end of that journey, so what about the next road map? What will the future bring to our favourite non-linear editor?
Let’s be honest, it has been a bit of a bumpy ride, but the last ten years has seen a large change in the way everyone edits video. We are now relying on the GPU for effects, SSDs for speed and the new M1 silicon has reset all our expectations of the amount of power you get from a chip.
We're also now taking for granted the innovations that FCP first delivered. The magnetic timeline, keywords, favourites, & roles are all features that we use everyday without thinking.
So looking forward, what could Final Cut Pro offer that would become the norm after the next 10 years' journey has been travelled?
Final Cut Pro is the only NLE out of the big four not to offer built-in collaboration. Postlab is excellent, but it doesn’t offer the ability for more than one user to work in the same container without unnecessary duplication of Libraries, Timelines, media or all three.
We would hope that Apple would build a collaborative workflow right in to FCP that would be as easy as working on a Pages document with a colleague.
Machine Learning Metadata
We think this is going to be a huge bonus for editors in the next few years. By utilising a neural engine, media could be automatically keyworded and sorted. This was demonstrated by Apple last June at the online WWDC (About 14 minutes in) where they showed a very basic NLE running on Apple SOC silicon ‘auto tagging’ footage. Hopefully we will then be able to perform a Library wide search for ‘all shots that are outside and include Tim’ for example.
Automatic caption generation from speech surely has to be a top candidate for a new FCP feature. Being able to search for words or phrases within the app (without having to roundtrip through a third party) must be achievable for Apple seeing as they already have the technologies with the OS on Macs.
AI Based Plugins
There are many plugins in development that use artificial intelligence, you only have to look at what is happening with image processing applications and extrapolate that forwards. Colour correction is an obvious candidate for some automatic outside help, but what about colourising old footage, sky replacement, sharpening/upscaling, object removal/rotoscoping and digital makeup?
Thinking outside of the box, how about a style suggestion title generator? Instead of having to select the font, colour, size, tracking and all the other many different typographical controls, how about being able just to tap on a few parameters for say, modern, impressive, bold, and a selection of different good-looking text designs pop-up as choices. These would dynamically change as the selection parameters changed.
I really think we are at the tip of the iceberg (and imagination) when it comes to the possibilities of AI and video editing.
Possibly seen as Final Cut Pro’s Achilles' heel, we really could do with Apple giving the audio features a little bit of love.
Top of our list is bringing back audio automation, the real-time ‘learning’ of audio levels on clips. This worked really well in FCP7, so well that Adobe copied it when they released their clip mixer tool after FCPX was released! Manually having to drag down effects or music underneath voice by marking a range first is just too slow and clumsy. Would a much requested Role mixer with audio automation be the answer?
Also worth noting that iMovie (which is a code subset of FCP) allows automatic ducking - would that feature make the cross over?
Whilst we are on sound, I waste minute upon minute having to edit to -23 LUFS. Could FCP work behind the scenes to calculate an overall loudness for the timeline and display that figure? A loudness graph stretched along the top of the timeline would be even better.
We got a change in the way media is consolidated in the last update, but this still isn’t at the level of an FCP7 media trim & copy to a new location. Worx4 X has done a great job, but trimming unused media should really be an option in a 10 year old NLE by now.
Two possibilities here, both similar, but different. Could we see a tighter integration with camera to cloud workflows like Frame.io? Or maybe direct loading of footage into the browser from remote camera systems like LiveU and Dejero?
We are big fans of using proxies with Postlab Drive, the experience is truly liberating, being able to edit without any media residing on your machine or drives. This is where we see the big growth over the next few years and FCP is the ideal platform to take advantage of those technological advances.
Fiddly but Important Stuff
How about Motion roundtripping? How about increasing the size of the cursor playing a clip in the browser? How about being able to read the duration of a clip without squinting at the bottom of the GUI? How about hitting match frame twice to match frame to a clip within a multicam? (Premiere does this well).
A few ideas to ponder over, all complete speculation, obviously! The support of other formats such as Blackmagic RAW without the need of a third-party converter. FCP running on an iPad and/or being used as a control surface. The virtualisation of Final Cut Pro so it can run in the cloud.
So what do you think? Are you desperate for a feature in Final Cut Pro? If so, let us know in the comments below. Also a quick line to Apple always helps for feature requests, they really do read them all.
Did somebody mention dupe detection???