Apple's Misstep Opens the Door for Avid

In late May, I wrote that Avid (Nasdaq: AVID  ) was no longer king of the mountain in the world of professional video editing, and that it had abdicated its throne to Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) by not meeting the threat of Final Cut Pro in a timely fashion. Essentially, Avid charged so much for its hardware and software that the company's systems were priced out of the college market. Unfortunately for Avid, those colleges stocked up on the much cheaper Final Cut Pro systems and used them to train the next generation of professional video makers.

Wrong, wrong, wrong
I also wrote: "Just about the only hope that Avid would have of regaining market share from Final Cut would be if Apple totally screwed it up. Possible but not likely."

I'm now eating my words. Apple has indeed screwed it up -- royally.

Apple has just released Final Cut Pro X (the last version was 7 -- where did 8 and 9 go?), a brand-new program redesigned from the ground up. And the complaints from the professional editing world have been overwhelming. On Apple's own App Store, there is just one negative review after another.

Besides completely changing the user interface -- the pinnacle of stupid moves as far as professional video editing is concerned -- some of the important features now missing from Final Cut Pro X are support for external video monitoring and videotape support. And, in what could turn out to be the last straw, there's no ability to open projects edited on older versions of Final Cut.

Careful what you wish for
Ironically, the under-the-hood features of Final Cut Pro X are what the editing community has been desiring for years: the ability to make use of all available memory, as well as support for multi-core processing -- which is what the 64-bit capability of the new program offers.

Apple appears to have made a coldly calculated decision here: Bring the once mostly professional video-editing  program into the price range of many more Apple consumers while jettisoning the relatively few professionals who gave the program its entry into the pro market. The program now costs $300, compared with the $1,000 price tag on the older programs. But this lower price is a bit misleading. It doesn't include Motion, the video compositing program, or Compressor. Those will be extra.

The door is open
Avid, are you listening? It's time to get back in the game. Why should professional editors stay with Final Cut when they're now seeing that they can't rely on Apple for the tools to ply their trade? If Avid takes advantage of this opening, maybe it can become a company with a future again. If not, maybe Adobe (Nasdaq: ADBE  ) , with its Premiere video-editing software, will.

Keep an eye on Avid by putting it on your Watchlist.

Fool contributor Dan Radovsky has no position in any of the companies mentioned.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and Adobe Systems, creating a diagonal call position in Adobe Systems, and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (12) | Recommend This Article (8)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2011, at 5:38 PM, all4this wrote:

    Don't eat those words just yet.

    Those complaints are NOT from real professional editors.

    Tapes? we use disks now! Dump to tape AFTER the edit.

    Video Monitoring? Ingest is now done automatic in the background (monitoring not needed), Output is monitored on the output card (AJA, etc).

    Older EDLs (Edit Decision Lists) don't transfer because the new FCPX doesn't pair with the flexable timeline of the older edit methods, this is what is so neat in the X version. Autoduck already has a beta plugin to satisfy editors that MUST have this feature.

    FCP X is only a few days old. give it a few months it will be THE hot suite once Editors drop their old ways of editing, And they will when they see how much faster they can work once they get used to it.

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2011, at 5:51 PM, jcarey256 wrote:

    all4this and all r apple?

    "Those complaints are NOT from real professional editors."

    Wish you were being sarcastic, but you're not. You are also not a 'real' professional editor. But I am and I call BS.

    Monitoring not needed? Tell that to your client. Autoduck is 500 bucks - you want to buy it for me - I don't need it now with either FCP or AVID.

    Sure EDL is old, but it is also tried and true and works. As does OMF, which is totally necessary to pass audio on for proper mixing. I have hundreds of projects archived and not a week goes by that I don't need to re-load them. I share projects with other editors - that's history too. The list is huge and it will NEVER be upgraded to the usefulness of FCP7 right now.

    FCPx might be 'neat' as you say, but it's not Final Cut and it is certainly not Pro.

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2011, at 7:10 PM, jafutral wrote:

    Let's look at this. This new version does not make the old version automatically stop working. So work flow on old projects are still in fine shape.

    I have been involved in digital audio and video for a long time. I don't know of any professional that would change software or hardware versions in the middle of a project if all the old hardware is doing what it is supposed to do. Even just updating software unless the update addresses an issue you are currently experiencing. That is just too risky.

    Let's look at price. $300! That's considerably less than the $1000 price tag of the old version. $300 is far less to get your feet wet with the new version than to change over to Avid. $300 is a fine price point to get used to the new interface.

    So the price point is fine to introduce to small projects and to get used to things. The old version is still better than anything else out there and will be productive for a long time to come. Certainly at least as the new version adds the wanted features.

    Remember, this is a ground up re-write to cover a lot of things those professionals have been clamoring for over the years. And ground up was probably far more efficient than trying to patch and hobble legacy code, and by now that is a lot of legacy code.

    This is similar to the transition from OS 9 to OS X, IMHO. OS X then is nothing like OS X now. And we don't even miss OS 9.

    Joe

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2011, at 7:23 PM, jafutral wrote:

    @jcarey256 " I share projects with other editors - that's history too."

    According to this at NYT (http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/23/professional-video...

    "Answer: Not true. You can share your project, your files, or both.

    If the other editors already have the raw video files, you can hand over the project file. The other editors can inspect the Project Library; on its Info panel, they can click “Modify Event References” to reconnect the project to their own copies of the media files.

    If the other editors don’t have the raw files, the various commands in the File menu let you move the project file, the media files, or both to another computer on the network, to another hard drive or whatever."

    Joe

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2011, at 7:37 PM, jcarey256 wrote:

    Kind of true, but mostly not Joe, as Apple supported the xtion from OS9 to OSX carefully, they didn't stop shipping or even acknowledging OS9 of the day of OSX release, as is the case of FCP7 to FCPx. Gfx cards in my two systems will not work with FCPx, so it not so simple to load the two systems and work both. Why would I spend even $300 (plus $500 for autoduck) for a system that won't work for me as shipped? Apple broke my heart, but made their investors happy, my bad for believing in them.

    BTW, I will probably buy FCPx for my laptop at home, as it will work well for those non-pro projects family and friends talk me into. Those I don't share with editors in LA and elsewhere (I'm in Vancouver). Those I don't need professional color grading, those I won't be needing pro sound design, sweetening and mixing. It will work just fine for those, and be a good value as well. So not all is lost.

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2011, at 10:56 PM, jafutral wrote:

    @jcarey256 "I will probably buy FCPx for my laptop at home"

    Which is exactly probably what you should do. Hey, I know guys who still have their old Amiga set-ups, I know an audio engineer who still runs Pro Tools on an OS 9 system. There are guys who are two version back on the curve. To these guys, if it isn't broken, don't fix it. You know as well as I do, it takes a lot to get many of these systems stable to deal reliably with mission critical projects.

    And when new products or major upgrades come along, I don't know too many professionals who would jump head first into an all new set-up, unless they are just at that point in their 5 year plan!

    I think Apple has been pretty vocal in their support of the Pro market and their desire to drive updates for FCPX as quickly as they can and still do it right. That is one of the reasons for the re-write, to address many of the pro's concerns through the years. (Heck, I remember the complaints when it went to v.5/HD.)

    As C.S Lewis used to say, if you've taken a wrong turn, going forward does not get you any nearer. I am fairly sure if Apple had done what the Pros have wanted all these years with the old code, it would have been unstable and even more unusable than the new version.

    Sometimes you just can't fix it in the mix or in post. It just needs to be shot right to begin with.

    Joe

  • Report this Comment On June 25, 2011, at 1:47 AM, all4this wrote:

    jcarey256

    Alright, I wasn't going to do this for a couple of weeks yet, but I got curious so I downloaded FCP X and the AJA Kona beta S/W drivers to an older Mac pro setting around.

    Everything seems to work as advertised so far, including commencing a new edit from scratch, and also reediting a session from last month.

    I use Nvidea quartro graphics, and the AJA Video cards in all our machines, so this is the only video ingest/burn cards I could test for now.

    "Final Cut Pro X and AJA

    June 21, 2011

    Final Cut Pro X is the latest update for Apple’s popular non-linear editing software. It features a new user interface and boasts new, exciting features for editors. However, the way editors interact with third party tools, like the AJA KONA cards, is different from the previous versions of Final Cut Pro. AJA has prepared a document that explains how editors can use AJA products with the latest version of Final Cut Pro. Please click here to download the PDF document.

    KONA X Beta drivers are available for KONA users running Final Cut Pro X with KONA 3G, KONA 3, or KONA LHi in our Support Area. Users running Final Cut Pro 7 should use our KONA version 9.0.1 drivers. Before installing KONA X Beta software, ensure you thoroughly read the PDF mentioned above." http://www.aja.com/news/index_article.php?id=147

    If you are using something else, I suggest you check with them.

  • Report this Comment On June 25, 2011, at 8:44 AM, DoctorTinkle wrote:

    God forbid you actually put some craft into your craft. We used to cut up bits of celluloid and light things properly. We had patience then. The features will come.

  • Report this Comment On June 25, 2011, at 10:07 AM, NotTellinYou wrote:

    Sorry Fool but you need to think like a business.

    Video postproduction services as a market are in terminal decline. Consolidation in the entertainment business where studios are moving more and more post-production in house.

    • Decline in revenue last decade: -24.9 percent.

    • Forecasted decline in revenue in the next decade: -10.7 percent.

    • Forecasted decline in the number of establishments next decade: -37.8 percent.

    In other words Apple sees the writing on the wall and is looking to expand the addressable market of Final Cut, read prosumer, rather than watch Final Cut sales decline along with the overall industry.

    I think Apple would be VERY happy to let Adobe ONCE AGAIN become the leader in yet another industry in decline. Avid will be right up there with InDesign! Outstanding strategy there!

  • Report this Comment On June 25, 2011, at 10:30 AM, DoctorTinkle wrote:

    Bingo!

  • Report this Comment On June 27, 2011, at 4:29 PM, gjmiller1 wrote:

    Sounds like and outsourced job.

  • Report this Comment On November 07, 2011, at 3:33 PM, applefan1 wrote:

    The only fool is the fool that wrote the article.

    Here is what the fool left out.

    Final Cut X is $300

    Motion 5 is $50

    Compressor is $50

    So, instead of charing $1,000 for Final Cut Pro, they are now charging $400 if you buy the motion and compressor add ons.

    In terms of the MacPro, apple has been spending time on updating the other products first because they make more profits on the other products, which is what the investment community looks at.

    the MacPro system, as much as it does need to be updated, I think apple is going to make a huge system change to make it even better. Rumors of a rack mounted system have been floating round, which for the professional market, makes sense. Time will tell. I don't think apple is abandoning the creative professional market, they just made final cut more affordable and include some more features and made motion and compressor add ons for a small amount of money for those that actually need them, smart move, if you ask me.

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