The Macalope Daily: A mover, a shaker, and a heartbreaker

Someone asked the Macalope to chime in on this Final Cut Pro X imbroglio and the Macalope thought, “The Macalope knows nothing about Final Cut Pro or video editing. He’d just be talking out of his butt.” Fortunately, we’re in luck: Instead of listening to the Macalope’s uninformed butt, we can listen to the butts of some video professionals.

Like Adam Lisagor. Lisagor is a smart guy who’s keyed over 2000 words on the subject that are so heady the Macalope doesn’t even understand some of it.

Before Lisagor even published the post, the Macalope thought he would contact him and arrange an interview and, possibly, a colonoscopy, because he had kind of let this “butt” metaphor get away from him. Turns out Lisagor’s already been booked by some other gentlemen who apparently talk about Apple (the Macalope has surely never heard of them before), so if you enjoy the podcasts the kids are so into these days, you might listen to that, although the horny one takes no responsibility for the quality.

But let us return to Lisagor’s post, because there’s a lot to unpack here.

First, to address the most direct question which is based on an assumption that this has indeed gone badly: Why did Apple screw A) up so badly and B) over so many of their devoted users? When Apple makes a move like this, it’s always a mistake to assume it was poorly thought-out.

It’s true that it’s a mistake to think the product was poorly thought out, but it’s less true to think the delivery was. But he’s getting there.

Has Apple done this because they wanted to dominate the pro editing market? Why would they do that? Well, to sell hardware, I guess. But why else? How’s this: to sell content. I will speculate that Final Cut Pro has just ceased to be about the craft of editing because Apple has little interest in the craft of editing. I will argue that Apple has a giant interest in the craft of distributing, of publishing.

Indeed. That sounds like the Apple of the last eight years. Apple’s going where the money is.

When Apple pushed FCP to the industry pros five or six years ago, they did some hardcore outreach. They brought out Walter Murch, for God’s sake. The man cut Cold Mountain on it for God’s sake. They evangelized by showing what had been done, not by what could be done. But this time out, there is no evangelizing.

The great thing about Apple is, unlike Microsoft for example, it has little compunction about starting over. This is good, because it keeps the company from having to maintain Byzantine technologies. This is bad, because it can really screw up some of their customers’ processes.

Last month, when Michael E. Cohen lamented being told to “get over” Apple killing Rosetta, the Macalope rolled his eyes. But he couldn’t bring himself to let Cohen have it, because he wasn’t saying that Apple should continue to lug Rosetta around like a stinky albatross, he was just saying “Don’t tell me not to be mad about this.” And people have every right to be mad. Apple isn’t perfect, but most of us think it’s better than the weight of the alternative.

Nobody wants to make the best home movie ever. It’s just not an aspirational thing anymore, the way it was in the early days of hub computing, when the Mac was aspirationally this centered hub of creation. We don’t want to do that anymore, our eyes are bigger. We all want to think we can make The Social Network now. So show me Fincher cutting The Social Network on FCP X and you’ll have me on board.

Well, the Macalope doesn’t want to make The Social Network, because he’d rather get vaccinated for hoof and mouth than talk about Facebook, but he gets the point. When Apple introduced iMovie, industry pundits moaned about the Web being flooded with third-grade dance recitals, but what Apple saw was the democratization of video production.

Lisagor believes Apple has a solid vision for the future of Final Cut Pro X, a transformative vision, but he’s unequivocal about Apple’s execution here.

It was bold, careless and ham-fisted.

Ron Brinkman—reflecting on when Apple bought his company, which produced Shake—has some advice for professional video editors:

And back then the same questions were being asked as now – “Doesn’t Apple care about the professional market?”

In a word, no. Not really. Not enough to focus on it as a primary business.

As he points out, it’s just not that big a market.

I mean what’s the real value of a package that’s sold only to high-end guys? Prestige? Does Apple really need more of that?

Not these days.

Brinkman doesn’t have hopeful words for the future of Final Cut Pro X, as Lisagor does. He suggests that professionals stop relying on Apple because “your heart will be broken.”

Apple’s just not that interested in niche markets anymore, even if they’re high-end. Which is a good thing if you’re a fan of the company; it’s just not such a good thing if your job is in a niche market.

[Editors’ Note: In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]

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