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?
I agree with most all the suggestions. I think particularly useful would be built in transcription, with full search capability to the clip level / frame level without having to resort to Speedscriber etc It plays into FCPs meta data approach and means text driven editing and search for long interviews would be so much more powerful and faster.
If only there were reason to believe Apple is doing any of this. I'm fully sympathetic with the hard work and time it takes to do this work but I can't help but think their silence during this process is causing people to drift over to Resolve. Perhaps Apple's marketing and PR (or lack thereof) for FCP is its most damaging feature.
At the very least give us some tracking.
I suspect the heavy dependence on plugins may well be a detraction for collaborative workflows. Having the necessity for a team to all have the same plugins to perform tasks that should be built-in, can be a logistical problem.
Media trim & copy - A very important feature in the era of 4k and distributed collaboration. It sounds easy, but is difficult to do reliably. Example: this feature is fundamentally broken in the current version of Resolve Studio 17 for various "Long GOP" codecs. In my tests it frequently corrupts the trimmed destination clips. It's true Quicktime Player can do "no encode" trimming, but that's one clip at a time. The editor usually checks each clip.
By contrast an NLE media trim & copy feature could be executed across hundreds or thousands of clips using many different codecs, and few people would then play every clip to check them. The risk is days/weeks/months later you might find that 1% of the clips are damaged.
Built-in collaboration: Very important, esp. for small, distributed workgroups. Resolve handles this only for a co-located workgroup on a high speed LAN, and it requires a dedicated PostgreSQL server. It is very complex.
Ideally you want something like Google Sheets - works locally or via cloud, built-in chat, fine-grained concurrency (IOW the spreadsheet or page isn't locked, only individual cells), infinite history tracking of who made what change, infinite rollback of changes, no admin burden, color coding for who made what change, etc.
Rudimentary coarse-level "bin locking" is straightforward. Finer-grained concurrency with conflict resolution, no admin overhead and extreme reliability is very difficult. The SQLite database FCP uses is not a client/server product and isn't designed for multiuser access. It appears the entire product would require rearchitecting to achieve this.
Total rearchitecting is also needed due to changes in underlying software frameworks: FCP6/7 were developed with the "Carbon" framework, FCPX was a total rewrite in Objective-C using the "Cocoa" framework, which includes AppKit and CoreData.
Cocoa, Objective-C and AppKit were fine 10 years ago, but in the intervening period new frameworks have been developed. Also there is an increasing need for cross-platform *complex* apps which span from desktop to tablets. That is extremely difficult using Cocoa and AppKit.
In theory an app developed with Swift and using SwiftUI could decouple the core logic from the UI layer and be more readily moved between desktop and tablet. Programming constructs in Swift would also improve app reliability, e.g, out-of-bound references and stack overflows are prevented, datatypes are enforced at both compile time and runtime.
I have no inside info but I suspect one reason for the slow FCP feature updates is the development team may be working on a total redesign, not just from a feature standpoint, but also using newer, updated software frameworks.
Having worked on a similar project in the past, it's impossible (even for Apple or Microsoft) to concurrently develop a legacy product plus develop a major new product. It would take two separate development and test teams, and at the upper echelon, those people are just not available.
Great requests, particularly the audio ones. I would love a better roundtrip to After Effects. Clip Exporter showed great promise back in the day but never quite got there and then dissolved. I would also love to export a project with the just the media in it with a selectable amount of handles. Useful to pass to another editor or graphics designer.
I sure wish Apple would s*** or get off the pot. It's been way, way, way too long for an update. I agree with all your points here, Peter. Thanks for posting. Personally, I've given Apple until October to do something to prove there's a legitimate future in FCP, or I'm moving to Resolve for good. The fact that they've totally dropped pro app certifications and training, letting LearnQuest totally trash it and make it a joke, well, I'm losing confidence in the pro apps team as a whole, or at least in whoever is forcing them to be as crippled as they are.
I agree with most of these but I would also add the need for auto captioning. Having to farm out captions to third party companies is an unnecessary expense at this point and Premiere has this feature in beta.
Another idea would be to use AI for quality control. My poor assistant editor has to review episodes over and over again to ensure they are ready for launch it would be more efficient if there was a way to scan the timeline, put all of the potential errors in the timeline index and then choose which ones to fix. This would be a huge timesaver for my team.
Great article Peter. I hope FCP can survive the next 10 years as Resolve gains ground; Premiere Pro users often leaving to Resolve instead of giving FCP a go. I have a very long list of things I'd like to see in FCP. I'd like (long over due) batch syncing. I'd like simple reporting of alerts so I don't have to find out why an event has a missing element alert when nothing is actually missing. I'd like an LTC reader/converter. I'd really like the ability to keep some buttons (like retiming) over my storyline in dual screen mode (for viewers) rather than dragging my mouse over to the other screen. This is just to name a few. I don't need round tripping to Motion (which I use a lot). Though it'd be a welcome feature and I'd surely use it, it has to do with the archiving/resurrecting process. That's when it tends to be better to have those exported QuickTimes from Motion in the long run otherwise things are likely to. break. I definitely don't prefer a track-based NLE and so I do hope that Apple innovates more than adding 3D text because I do fear that in some years we'll still be fighting this uphill battle of proving/demonstrating how wonderful FCP is. However instead of Premier Pro, Resolve will take up more of that oxygen. I agree that AI will be instrumental.
The catch is that nearly all of these features are being specified from the point of view of a very minor part of the editing market: People working on TV shows and feature films. They just don't matter when it comes to the world of editing. The way they work isn't particularly useful for most editors to learn.
From from the point of view of development budget allocation.
The trick is to list all these features from the point of view of the majority of editors. For editing that uses Apple hardware and services too. That will help justify the change of priorities.
“I have a dream”, of collaboration to work in parallel, in tandem, many people at the same time, in the same library. Not have to worry about versioning, checking in or out, not having to have a special cloud for my library, it will stay in the shared storage system as always, can be opened alone or by many, first opener is the parent, others are children. Seamless, no management, just working together in the same library as we always wanted to do.
Here are some thoughts and concepts:
Guards (yes bring those back),
Three main levels = time locking, project locking and role level locking. (and maybe storyline locking as well)
What about compound lock ? Partial editing, lock of parts of the items used many places.
Time locking in general can be whole project, items or based on region.
Time locked timeline; as concept is to have a timeline locked for editing done on timing. This way you keep the primary storyline, and connection points intact, while doing other work. i.e. grading, subtitling, gfx, sound etc.
The point with locking is to keep something intact, while adding to it, but not subtracting.
A broadcast messaging system for broad edit could also been used, if you wanted to add stuff.
Who is this for:
Multiple editors working ON the same storage system (Xsan, Jellyfish etc), at the same time, (in the same building)
No check in check out, no relink, no versioning. All live open multiuser database. And we have all our assets outside the library, so working with others outside FCPX would also be fine.
Or just two to three size shop. One person logging, roles, sync. One doing editing. The last one, doing sound.... or have a 4th doing color... all at the same time... there are a lot of small size video companies that could benefit from this... Or even just a two person shop... both doing stuff on the same edit...
Internal library chat, can also link to items.
Collaboration with “parent swapping”.
Temporary time lock lifting:
Parent is doing a time based edit, commit to all, and force an update to all. Then back to time lock.
Could work on roles and project as well
Type of collaboration work;
Assistants do multi and sync clips, while main editor edits,
Markers can be added by others
Grading can be done simultaneously while editing
Subtitles (captioning, also burned in) to be added while grading
GFX adding while editing, lower thirds as well
Audio with invisible compound mode, for role base audio settings
All this can be done in parrallel
Nice article Peter but I'm not hopeful for the future of FCPX, Apple haven't abandoned it, but feature development seems to be quite glacial! I still use it as my primary NLE but I'm starting edits on Resolve Studio more and more. Hopefully the transition to Apple Silicon will spur a new phase of development
Lots of things there as requests but what mandatory things do I need on daily basis ?
- Roundtrip to Motion ! (What is Wes Plate doing of his days hahaha? Water sports ok, but besides ?)
- Internal tracking (even Avid has it for years)
- a better stabilisation
- an usable Fluid SlowMo , (Optical Flow was fun at start, like a basis ... years after what an crappy unusable joke)
- AAF export (an internal X2Pro fully working)
- a real "Consolidate" ( ala Avid) Worx4 X doesn't work with multicam and synchronised clips)
here is the basis, now for the "fiddly" ... I won't even start.
if we are lucky the next ten years will propose a shift from the present prosumer model to pro.