Final Cut Pro is a dog on modern multi-core MacPro's. I hate how its biggest bugs have been ignored for so many years. FCP still has no way of typing text directly onto the screen... it still truncates filenames randomly... it can't render in the background... I can go on. But that's in the past. I'm now convinced that FCP is getting a complete overhaul that will bring it to the top of creative apps again.
First, some background on why Final Cut is different:
The key reason for this is that most of the app was compiled with old tools that aren't really even supported by modern operating systems. FCP was originally created in the mid-90's by non-apple programmers. Apple has cleverly found ways over the years to make the app work with the newer machines, but each of these has been sort of a hack, and the hacks are stacked deeper and deeper with each version without fixing the original problem: the base code. The app is not designed from the ground up to access modern acceleration features of MacOS X or graphics processors and since Apple has not done this, it inherits new bugs with each "bandaid" patch. :banghead:
Hence, the rumor that Apple has finally chosen to completely recreate FCP and the other Final Cut Studio apps from the ground up. Rumors indicate that this process has taken several YEARS to do so properly, and the project has been wrought with problems and usability challenges. Apple's current Board of Directors don't seem to care about the Pro-Apps area the way the longtime Mac folks have and this causes issues with funding and talent resource allocation. There has apparently been a strong effort to integrate several apps like FCP, SoundTrack, Color, Shake, and Motion into a single modern user interface so your slip/roll tools that work in Final Cut would also work in Motion, Soundtrack, etc. This is difficult since longtime users of the different apps don't seem to want to learn a new, unified set of commands and techniques. I'm sure that Apple has been testing these privately for years now and if iMovie 11 is any indication, the apps will become more object-oriented. Think of a flow chart for your timeline, rather than a single horizontal line. That's just my guess since it makes sense if you are re-building an app to be more interactive-friendly and dynamic for the future. Traditional Timelines are not interactive or flexible, node-oriented flowcharts are. the folks that used to make Shake (now part of Apple) understand this way of working and I'll predict they are the ones that will make it happen. This should be good in the long run, but it would immediately some confused pro's that need to relearn the entire concept of a timeline, not to mention the way the tools work within the new type of timeline.
Also, remember that one of the key limitations of FCP also affects other apps: QuickTime. ProRes and other advanced CODEC's don't function in the new 64bit QuickTimeX architecture without having something like an emulator which allows older QuickTime 7 protocols to work alongside the new QTX API's. This hack is called QTKit7, and while it does allow backward compatibility, it makes things very difficult for apps that operate in 64bit space. QTKit7 limits many apps that depend on QuickTime for functionality since it essentially splits the app into 32-bit and 64-bit pieces. If you want to have QuickTime work with multi-core machines, you need to spawn several separate QuickTime processes, then have them merge their efforts into a finished clip. This bad in so many ways. Adobe CS5 Apps are limited in this way during exports, but not during playback because Adobe chose to use a different rendering engine for playback than QuickTime that allows 64bit code to function with footage. That Adobe rendering engine is also limited to certain CODEC's and will not give good performance if it has to pass non-supported formats over to QTkit as it does during export to quicktime.
Also, the popularity of Windows QuickTime due to the vast and unexpected user base of Windows iTunes has made it harder and harder for apple to abandon the limiting code that QuickTime uses. Every change they can achieve in MacOSX's proprietary QuickTimeX, they must bring to Windows too or risk losing 90% of their customers. This is particularly difficult with people still running Windows XP which still make up a huge base of iTunes users. Furthermore, there are now so many limits from lawsuits over video decoding and transport formats that any attempt to modernize QuickTime on abroad scale across many operating systems would invite a slew of legal challenges from 100's of psuedo-patent holders. Paul Allen is one of the worst examples of this. Shame on him. :naughty:
For these and other reasons, it is understandable why the Apple Board is not very interested in pursuing advancing the pro-apps aggressively at the risk of damaging the functionality of iTunes. As a result, it is possible, but not likely, that the new FCP may bypass QuickTime entirely, so they don't have to risk breaking it on other platforms. :crazy:
Just for fun now, let's share ideas on how the Final Cut Studio suite could be improved through coding or user interface:
- Apple Color: Obviously becomes a plugin. In 64bit space, this is possible and obvious. In 32bit, impossible since it would rob the "master" app of all its memory. Kill the timeline and odd GUI since it is now a plugin. Fix the minor interface issues and unify the way you select grades, values, etc. to be compatible with Aperture (more on this later).
Soundtrack Pro: 64bit would really help this app. I like it but it runs out of memory way too often (my machine has 24GB, but it only uses about 2GB of that). It should have ripple edit tools very similar to FCP. Perhaps the entire app could also be integrated into FCP with its key features treated as plugins. Add live waveforms that change as you adjust volume or add effects like in iMovie. Another advantage of this is that the process of building the Live Waveforms could also "freeze" tracks, making it easier for slower computers to playback complex filters. It should inherit Logic's time stretching engine and have a way of syncing changes in audio speed with changes in video speed (optical flow) so you can slow down dialog, and the video slows with it. Again, this makes sense if you are integrating SoundTrack into the actual FCP app since they would not need to sync separate data files. Add direct syncing and interoperability with Logic projects, but Soundtrack/FCP does not replace Logic. Soundtrack doesn't focus on Music creation over Midi, so Logic must remain separate, but interoperable. Ability to "parent/child" clips to other clips like you do in Motion, inheriting EQ, etc very quickly. Access to the Apple Content Store (see below) allows inexpensive access with "one click" purchasing and perhaps selling of stock music, loops, instruments, etc.
Final Cut Pro: new timeline paradigm, more like Motion with Parent/Child relationships in outline form. Child objects inherit Parent relationships like edit points, plugins, speed, etc. Project View is now part of Aperture's Project interface, with lift and stamp for metadata, color settings, and other properties. Flow chart view, with the ability to perform edits by simply pointing the flowchart arrows differently, or even via some kind of auto scripting (this would be a hit with prosumers that use iMovie). Such auto scripting of the flowchart is already being used in iMovie's Magic Movie Trailer feature and it works. Voice and Face recognition to help with match frame editing. RAW file support (via new QuickTime update or bypassing it). Multicore optimized with selective GPU acceleration in the absence of massive number of cores. Multi-user aware, allowing a cloud-based file that manages multiple users on a single project simultaneously. Access to the "Apple Content Store." (see below) for purchasing of plugins, stock footage, photos, music, talent auditions, whatever else. No more Import function and very limited access to MacOSX Finder since all content is managed directly via database in [gasp] Aperture!
Aperture (yes Aperture as part of the package!): Becomes the library for keeping, meta-tagging, sorting and organizing all Final Cut Studio projects alongside Photos and PDFs from other apps. On-lining and off-lining of footage is managed from this app. Allows Apple Color Color (now a plugin) corrections to be lifted and stamped to footage automatically and quickly. Same Lift and Stamp approach to audio and metadata. Metadata can be modified by a scripting language that is AJAX/PHP friendly. All exports, mobile me, youtube, etc processes done from here and ONLY from here. THere is limited Finder access because the more you manually copy files around, the more you mess things up. Aperture allows users much of the functionality of Final Cut Server, but with a subscription service for advanced review/approval features. Still works as-is with still photos, PDF's and other media, but gains CMYK support for photos (for those dinosaurs out there that just won't go away). Features a background renderer which can access FCP's plugins, settings, etc and render your timelines in the background while FCP works in foreground. This solves one of the most complicated coding challenges in Final Cut Pro. All imports and exports from camera, media card, tape take place in Aperture, and all import features are removed from Final Cut Pro to keep things fully database manageable. Aperture becomes something more like Bridge wherein it is always running and is accessed by all the apps, but is still a separate app. Aperture also gains the ability to access the "Apple Content Store"(see below) for licensing and selling stock footage, photos, music, sounds, even scripts. All content from the store downloads directly to Aperture and each item's usage is tracked by Aperture since it is the only way in or out for media from all the apps. Your local Aperture database is live synchronized with a cloud-based server and licensing and selling is done through your Apple ID for a fee and subscription. Due to the wide range of services the app provides, Aperture would likely get a new name.
Motion: Apple removes the clutter from the interface. Project View and Timeline could merge to one view. Livefonts sent to the grave along with many of the redundant features of the current app. Media management and collecting, etc. run by Aperture. Somehow, it would be great that if Final Cut Pro is mostly built on the Motion interface, perhaps the app itself is no longer needed separately. Most the functions are moved to Plugins. I personally hate sending to Motion because it locks in my edits. By merely keeping Motion as plugin, my FCP edits points would remain flexible and unconverted.
Plugins: Allow 3rd parties to sell plugins for the platform and use plugins in their own apps to access the platform's content via Aperture. Adobe, etc can access the "Apple Content Store" (see below) through Aperture if they write plugins for their apps to do so. Others can do the same.
Apple App Store: This is where you buy the new app for your Mac. Instead of coming with 40GB of junk that few users will ever touch, the downloadable Final Cut Studio is just the core app, without all the livefonts, sound fx, plugins. Because of this, the price is low. You buy additional plugins as you need them just as you do with the iOS: one click. All apps are tied to your Apple ID, so you don't need serial numbers. In fact, all apps have your ID embedded in them in many ways, which would significantly reduce piracy (allowing for lower base price).
"Apple Content Store": OK, there is one more thing.... I like this idea so I saved it for last. It is merely an extension of the upcoming Mac App Store, but features user-created content for sell or license. Videographers can sell and buy footage, Directors can view and contact actors or other people via portfolios and auditions (with Facetime integration), photographers can sell photos, find and audition models. The possibilities are quite broad, but the interface remains very similar to the App Store for iOS. It takes just seconds to get a clip, graphic, sound or audition. Most clips are relatively inexpensive and your usage of them is tracked by Aperture or the cloud-based itunes licensing servers. This would replace shutterstock and istockphoto instantly since pricing could be quite low (with a simplified one-click checkout) and services like shutterstock could add their content for extra exposure. Apple computer has the cash to buy several, or even all of these companies if they wish to launch the service with a splash. Apple takes a flat rate percent of all purchases like they do with the App Store, but free content is encouraged by having no Apple fee. This is where you buy your plugins too, each priced very reasonably making it easy to just buy them ala carte. If you don't use the Clock Wipe, why pay for it? This makes the base apps very affordable, and you build on them if you are pro ala carte. All Apple apps can access the Content Store, including Aperture, FCP, Logic and even Keynote and Pages. If you have footage you want to sell or license, just upload it fill out a form within your Metadata presets of Aperture. Animators can build creative elements and presets that use the FCP dynamic flow chart system like the new iMovie does with the movie preview creator. You can sell these to everybody, including Keynote users in a traditional stock usage, or obtain contracts to create unique work via the auditions system. Apple opens up access to it from 3rd party apps, allowing InDesign, Flash and anyone else to use the Store through a plugin, assuming that these apps check in with the licensing server to prevent usage violations. Clearly it needs to be named something besides "Apple Content Store", but the concept here is very sound. It could be the biggest idea in our industry's history if done well, and I know no other company capable of this than Apple at the moment.
I'm sure there are thoughts on my thoughts, but there are probably 100's of other ideas out there. Please share your ideas before it's too late. :cheers: