Pre-claimer: I personally have never worked on Avid, so I am obviously biased between FCP and Premiere. I rarely work with post production companies and all my editing is done within FCP, so my experience is a bit limited besides the work I do for clients and myself. With that said, I am so glad I made the switch to FCP as I find my workflow speed has doubled.
I first began editing on FCP in 2006. At the time it was amazing for what I was doing which was cutting directors cuts of music videos and director reels. Shortly after that I saw Premiere making its way into the production studios (if not already married to Avid). I moved with the trend, continued to work in Premiere and became an avid Premiere editor (see what I did there?). The switch back to FCP was a tough one because the workflow was completely terrifying. I would open the software and instantly be stuck where to begin. One day I dove in with both feet and discovered the magic behind FCP. Below are some of my thoughts in response to blog post, “The Case Against Final Cut Pro” by Marcos.
XML: glad he mentioned his work arounds, if I ever need to do this in the future.
Dup detection and flattening multicam clips: Had no idea there was such a thing as dup detection in premiere so don’t miss it in FCP. I LOVE the multicam compound clip workflow in FCP, and found it very useful, with minimal learning curve.
Storage Space: This boggled me for the longest time until I youtubed basically “WTF FCP Storage Space” lol. Because I don’t always want my timeline rendered, this is a bit annoying, however knowing that when I finish a project I can shrink the file size for the final archive, that was a game changer.
Magnetic Timeline: YES YES YES. Totally agree with him, took time to get used but but I also believe this will be the new normal going forward.
Software Speed: FCP winds. I loved Premiere for most of my editing life but always remember figuring out what I’m going to do while I wait for export or rendering. With FCP, I don't have that luxury of ‘down time’ (render time).
Bin editors and Timeline Editors: Curious which one you are! I’m a timeline editor.
Speed Ramp: FCP has this basically integrated into the software whereas Premiere was such a finicky process. I do a lot of speed ramps for product videos, again another time saver.
Compound Clips: I LOVE Compound Clips! I used to Nest in Premiere and I remember this being a headache so I would stay away from nesting if possible. Therefor, I can barely remember its pros or cons, so I believe him when he says it has its limitations.
Auditions: Say what? I need to play with this and understand its uses.
Roles: Another one I did not know existed in the FCP software and will definitely be looking into this as well, sounds super helpful when working with particularly picky clients.
There is a small fear a client will ask me to work in Premiere, just because I’ve grown so accustomed to FCP again, but it's good that I know both softwares if need be.
Motion 5 is such a great application for creative motion graphics. Apple sells it as a toolkit maker for Final Cut. Which means that the vast majority of updates over the last 10+ years have been about adding features to Final Cut. At least Motion survives, because it has value to Apple. As an appendage to an application that can be used to promote new Apple hardware and OSes - Final Cut.
A pity, considering that Cavalry has taken many ideas from Motion and slapped on an ancient UI to make After Effects users happy. Shows how influential it could have been for the last 10-15 years if Apple had supported its development for motion graphics creation.
The fact that there has only been small incremental upgrades tells me all I need to know about the future of Final Cut Pro, when the "X" was removed from the name I was hopeful that version 'XI" might be on the way but now I'm not so hopeful. Dont get me wrong FCP is my primary edit tool, I love working with it, it's fast and stable and does almost everything I need. I'm just greedy! Apple raised the bar with FCPX (eventually) and i would have loved that innovation to continue.
I think a lot of the disappointment comes from the fact they did a lot of initial innovation in the early releases but eventually, the updates have become catchup features (even if implemented better) to other NLEs. Things like an audio mixer or scrolling timeline have been years in the asking. Perhaps good roto tools (at least for Motion). Perhaps clip connections to connected clips and secondary storylines would be an advancement on innovation. One can hope that by allowing the discussion of new features (dupe detection, voice isolation) they will consider breaking the silence more generally and give us hints at things to come. Maybe some amazing tools for collaboration that might excite facilities.
You ask, "so why aren’t professional film editors using it?" The simple answer is the UI. You mentioned that you were a timeline and bin editor, well, to put it simply, I cannot imagine organizing a 1hr 30min feature on FCPx because of it's lack of true bins (you do short form stuff, commercials, etc, try organizing an entire film, with acts, scenes, shots, multiple takes, etc, being able to keyword IS NOT the same as organization). I'm sure some are doing it, but the simple fact is that, regardless of whether you agree with this or not, the trackless (storyline paradigm), mostly binless, unified iMovie interface of FCPx is what's holding it back with pros or on major productions. The UI is an abomination, and Resolve is what FCPx could be if Apple hadn't decided to go the iMovie on steroids route with FCPx. Fix the UI. That's the answer to this question.
OK, I’ll take the bait. I have to respectfully disagree with your assessment. I’ve cut and/or onlined feature films on all the current and past main contenders. There are plenty of success stories with FCP being used in feature film post. Just read my interviews here for “Blood Red Sky” and “The Banker” for a start.
The “bin” argument is a bit bogus. An FCP event is more or less the same as an Avid bin. Both function in a similar fashion and both carry data. OTOH, the Premiere and Resolve bins are merely folders within the UI and their function is different from a programming standpoint.
That’s not to say there aren’t personal preferences that come into play. I would break that down between editors who like to organize in the event using metadata, like keywords, versus editors who like to organize in the timeline - select reels, KEM rolls, string outs, etc. If you fit into the latter camp, then Premiere is probably the best tool for you even more so than Media Composer.
As far as adoption in the film industry, I think it boils down to whether you are working within the “industry” (Hollywood film editors, broadcast network editors, etc) or not. If you are a smaller, indie editor working with a small (or no) team, then you can pick and choose what you like to work with. Nearly any NLE today is a viable option.
If you fit into the former group (Hollywood studio system, but also other large film markets), then you DO NOT get to choose the tools you want to edit with. This can happen on occasion, but ONLY if the director has the clout to stand behind the editor(s)’ choice or has a strong preference him or herself. David Fincher, for example.
On most large feature productions, the gear (including software) is supplied by a vendor and some exec is going to want a standard workflow - meaning an Avid editing workflow and Pro Tools audio post. Full stop. The reason is that when you are off the film, project files have to be turned over and this fits neatly into the system.
In addition, if the editor gets fired from the gig, they want to be able to plug someone in who already has the skillset. Example - Walter Murch has plenty of awards, is a gifted editor, and has cut on FCP (legacy) and Premiere of late. Yet when he cut on “Wolfman” and “Tomorrowland” he cut on Avid, because that’s what was dictated by the studio.
This is a bit of a vicious cycle. If you are an Avid editor in a major market, you have more employment opportunities and will likely earn more money. Therefore, film schools teach Avid so their students have those skills. Thus, there’s a ready talent pool. The tactic I’ve generally heard from schools is that we teach Avid, but students are free to learn and use any other software, since those are easy to learn on your own time.
Avid also has a number of features that some film editors swear by and are not replicated in any other software - ScriptSync (script based editing) and PhraseFind (phonetic word search).
Please don’t offer up Resolve as what FCP should be. I recently graded and onlined a film in Resolve that had been cut by another editor in Resolve. It was not a pleasant experience and at this point, I would rate Resolve as the worst choice from the standpoint of editing. No matter what BMD markets, their approach to collaboration looks pretty shaky.
Quite frankly, you should read some of Ronny Courtens articles about large media company installations of FCP. I’d venture to guess that there are many more and larger teams “collaborating” with FCP than are doing so with Resolve. That’s in spite of the fact that FCP doesn’t have a true, internal collaboration feature.
Not to mention that VFX artists won’t abandon After Effects, Flame, or Nuke for Fusion and sound designers/mixers won’t drop Pro Tools for Fairlight. Both were secondary products in the market when BMD acquired those assets and nothing has changed since the integration into Resolve.
I think you have to accept FCP for what it is. Apple has built as much a platform as an application for pros. It’s a tool that hits a broad market and is designed in a way that it can be augmented for specialty workflows. I’m pretty sure FCP (X onward) has far outsold FCP 1-7 across all market brackets. Are there features that would be great additions? Absolutely. “Fixing the UI” ain’t gonna happen.