After Editors' Demands, Apple Promises to "Help Support Your Film and TV Projects"

Apple also hints at new plans in place to "help address your important feature requests."

FCPX was once a staple of the editing world, on par with the likes of Avid. Now it's but a shadow of its former self, even though it still has a strong userbase that includes professionals and creatives alike.

As covered here on No Film School a bit back, a collection of video editors wrote an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook imploring the brand to be more proactive in updating its legacy NLE to help it compete with other similar software like Adobe Premiere Pro and Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve

Well, now we have our official response from Apple HQ.

In a direct response to the letter, Apple has promised to “help support your film and TV projects,” as well as hints at having “new plans in place to help address your important feature requests.” Yet... the response might still be lacking for some.

Let’s explore the full letter and what it might actually mean for loyal (or interested recent abandonees).

Open Letter to Tim Cook about Final Cut Pro

But first, let’s recap the initial open letter from editors to Apple—and more specifically, directly to Tim Cook—in regards to requesting much-needed support for Final Cut Pro X.

According to the official petition:

On Tuesday 19th April 2022, a group of over 100 people in TV and film production worldwide sent an open letter to Tim Cook of Apple about Final Cut Pro.

They used the letter [to] ask Apple to publicly stand by the use of Final Cut Pro - Apple’s video editing application for professionals—in TV and film industries worldwide.

The petition went on further:

It wasn’t a criticism of the Apple team developing and marketing Final Cut Pro. They have worked very hard for over a decade on making Final Cut Pro better and better. This open letter is aimed at the executives who set the priorities of the Final Cut Pro development team and the Apple managers whose policies limit the public marketing of Final Cut Pro to a couple of website updates a year and some mentions in Apple keynotes about how much faster Apple hardware is getting.

The letter’s signatories' aim was to encourage Apple to make a new commitment to the professional TV and filmmaking industry. They believe that would potentially benefit filmmakers the world over regardless of their personal NLE preferences.

Competition is a positive. Apple has demonstrated a willingness to swing big. The very fact that they are not exclusively tethered to our industry allows them to try things others likely can’t. We hope you’ll support us in encouraging one of the heaviest hitters in media and technology to more forcefully push the boundaries of all of our tools.

The petition goes on to include several personal comments directly from co-signers who outline their specific concerns for the future of Apple and Final Cut Pro in particular.

The final sign-off simply stated:

We hope you will encourage our industry to see Final Cut Pro as a professional choice for editors of future award-winning TV shows and movies, and for millions more editors all over the world.

What Was Apple’s Official Response?

From an outsider's perspective—as someone who has edited with Final Cut Pro occasionally over the years but has been drawn to other NLE options—it’s encouraging that Apple would respond to this letter at all. However, as you’ll see below, I’d personally say that it feels like the shortness (and non-descriptiveness) of the response does feel a bit lacking. It feels very corporate. 

Here’s the totality of Apple’s response:

To the authors of the recent open letter regarding Final Cut Pro in the TV and film industry: the creative community has always been so important to us at Apple, and we’re grateful for your feedback.

There have been many compelling projects created to date with Final Cut Pro—from Hollywood movies and high-profile commercials, to major television shows and impressive work by the biggest names in online content creation.

While we believe we have plans in place to help address your important feature requests, we also recognize the need to build on those efforts and work alongside you to help support your film and TV projects and keep you posted on important updates. This includes taking the following steps:

 - Launching new training products and Apple-authorized certifications for pro video starting this month with our partner Future Media Concepts.

- Establishing a panel of industry experts for regular consultations, starting this summer

- Expanding the content and frequency of Final Cut Pro workshops for major film and television productions.

We would love to work with you to help support your film and TV projects, and we will continue to explore opportunities that allow us to better connect and foster important dialogue with our devoted community of users going forward.

A mere four paragraphs and three bullet points sum up Apple’s response to some perfectly fair and leveled criticism.

Although it’s encouraging to hear directly from a brand (which arguably has many different departments and concerns), outside of establishing some panels and workshops, it doesn’t sound like anything substantive is to come from this criticism... at least not yet.

What to Expect from Final Cut Pro in the Future?

The real question will be, what does Apple actually plan to do with Final Cut Pro X? Is it taking the time to respond and set up some workshops simply to appease a crowd in which they’re no longer invested? Or are they buying time before they drop some actual updates which might put FCP back toward the front of the pack?

I find it interesting that the original letter to Cook seems to suggest that Apple has specifically shifted its focus away from professional film and TV editors to instead focus on YouTube content creators.

This isn’t a new qualm, but I haven’t seen it so publicly stated, nor responded to by Apple, albeit indirectly.

If Apple has decided to turn its back on film and TV editors, why even make the effort to respond at all? Or do they actually want to try to appease creators of all types?

My guess is that Apple has spent too much money and time over the years building Final Cut Pro into the legacy NLE that it is too completely abandoning such a loyal crowd. However, they’re also losing ground at an increasing rate to Adobe and Resolve.

Hopefully, this response is a signal to video editors of all ilk that Apple is working to make Final Cut Pro better, more competitive, and ultimately a driver of even greater innovation in this editing space which all video editors can get excited about once again.

But what do you make of this letter and response? Are you holding out hope for an FCP revival? Or are you looking to move on to something else?

Let us know in the comments!     

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2 Comments

Interesting article. However, I take exception to the first sentence. FCP X was NEVER a staple of the post production world... at least not the world I've worked in (North America, East & West Coast).

Final Cut Pro versions 1-7 were definitely a staple. In roughly a decade (2000-2010) Apple took huge market shares away from its competitors - most notably Avid (who has never really recovered, despite still being a powerhouse in movies and TV).

The introduction of Final Cut X, however, was a disaster. Initially, it could not read early versions of FCP. Also, it had no multicam features. If they had just built in some backward compatibility the landscape today could have been very different.

This is not to say that FCP X doesn't have some great features... I'm just saying it never became a standard tool in post anywhere I've worked.

One obvious cause for Apple's lack of commitment... relative to their other products, they just don't make much money designing and improving their video editing software.

June 2, 2022 at 2:20PM

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I think like many subcultures, people see the immediate world around them (including what they expose themselves to online) and make conclusions about what is common and what isn't.
For NLEs, some people see Avid as the only choice. Other environments, Final Cut and Premiere. It all depends on who's around you.
I work in the industry and on independent "art" films so I see multiple worlds. I sometimes have to use Avid (but hate it), sometimes use Premiere, mostly use Final Cut though. I find editors who have a choice and have had experience on all of the NLEs, choose Final Cut.
I'm currently working on a web series using Final Cut and it's such a nice experience because it's rare for something to go wrong, when it does it doesn't take long to fix it. You can get more done. Everything is so fast. Rarely crashes, never lose work when you do.

I think what Apple could do to be more used in commercial films and TV is to include internally what is now add-on third party things. AAF export, EDL export, collaboration, etc. All of these things are available so I understand Apple seeing how since relatively few people need them, those few can buy the third party add-ons. Makes sense on one level but when it comes time for a big company to buy a few hundred licenses, it adds up. When management doesn't understand that it'll save them time and money in the long run they'll just go with the lowest up front cost is and pick something else.

The launch could've been better. I think Apple was just too confident that they had a real gem on their hands that everyone is sure to love and that it would sell itself.
The folklore is that Randy Ubillos, the writer of Final Cut, was begging Steve Jobs to not cancel FCP 7 but instead include it with purchase of the FCPX. Steve wanted to cut all ties to the past. Too bad.
Glad the freak out is over mostly. It's been having a renaissance the past few years as people come back to it and are learning the magnetic timeline. Other NLEs are now trying to include some magnetic timeline aspects into their software.

I think like many things in this world, transportation, communication, etc. We will never be again at the place where there is only one NLE used by all. I think it will always be that we have several to choose from and professional editors will have to be able to switch from one to another, or more likely, the editor will just choose what they like and all NLEs will be able to collaborate with other software.

June 3, 2022 at 11:21AM

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