News broke yesterday that Apple is now selling Final Cut Studio 3 again on a limited basis through 1-800-MY-APPLE (full licenses and not updates). I have seen a number of twitter and blog posts talking about whether to purchase and keep using the old FCP or not since people can buy it again. But I want to pose this question to you before you drop that cash on a new license of Final Cut Studio, do you really want to put money into dead software?
I can understand production houses and companies that have multiple systems and have not gotten around to fully updating their edit suites, wanting to get them up-to-date, but frankly it is a waste of money. You would be much better off investing in software that is new and taking full advantage to the systems we are running these days.
I switched to Premiere as my main edit software about a year ago, before FCPX was released. The reason was that I didn’t see Final Cut going anywhere. It had not been updated since 2009 and even that update wasn’t really much aside for support for Snow Leopard (10.6). Sure there was a couple new bells and whistles, but at its core it was the same software it had been since almost version 1 back in 2001. It was time for something new that was going to take full advantage of my new computer I had just purchased.
I do a lot of After Effects work and what I found (at least for me and my workflow) was that it was light years over FCP when working with a project that was heavy After Effects. Dynamic linking saves so much render time as well as just straight up storage space. No need for render after render filling up that drive space every time you need a new version or make a tweak. Jump to After Effects, make the change, then jump right back to Premiere and the changes flip seamlessly. But what really sold me is that is just felt faster overall. With CS5′s release, the production suite went 64-bit for the Mac side and boy was it great. Don’t let anyone tell you that you need an NVIDIA CUDA card to take advantage of the benefits of Premiere either. Sure it can help improve render times as well as let you work better with RAW formats such as 4K RED files natively, but it is not required.
Adobe has a great blog post explaining what the mercury playback engine is and how your system uses all its parts. Link to Adobe blog post.
Now in full disclosure I have purchased FCPX to test out and see how it runs. I have not done any client project on it yet, but I would have to say i’m very interested to see its future. However, to say that it is not a “Pro” application is completely false and unless you are a large multi-system production house, I would judge for yourself whether it will work for you and not just strictly go off what the interwebs are saying. There are a lot of professionals out there new to video editing and feel Final Cut has a tough learning curve, and frankly it does (all editing software does, they are pretty much the same). FCPX tries to break that curve down, and that is a good thing. People can focus on their story and not how to use the software.
The point I am trying to make here is that change is not easy and all of us in the post-production world have our workflows that we have used for years, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a point you have to move forward and make changes. AVID is there, Adobe is there, Sony is there, and many others too. When it comes down to it they are all just a non-liner editor and deep down they are all the same. So go out and shake things up, learn some new software and move forward, its not worth living in the past.