Leaving FCP and Moving Forward with Avid

Add us to the list of people boned by FCPX.

At the NYU Grad Film department at Tisch Asia, we used to teach FCP the first year, and Avid the second year. The third year students were allowed to use either program. We felt that knowing both programs was essential to getting hired in the feature film and broadcast industry.

It’s not necessarily an easy job, being in charge of a film school. Especially in a field that is changing as rapidly as video post-production. It’s hard enough right now to figure out which direction the industry is headed in, but we have to figure out where the industry is going to be three years from now and prepare our students to have those skills when they graduate.

I can tell you one thing, in three years, no one will be using FCP 7. Apple has stopped development of FCP Studio, in favor of FCPX, and in a field that changes this fast, if you stop, you’re dead.

I don’t have to rehash FCPX’s shortcomings here, as they’ve been exhaustively explored online. We teach feature film editing at NYU. That encompasses HD video, 16mm, and 35mm film; Audio Mixing with ProTools, Color Correction, mastering to tape, and printing to film. Even FCPX’s most ardent supporters would agree that FCPX is just not up to those tasks.

So for incoming students this year we’ve decided to drop FCP entirely, and teach only Avid. FCP7 is dead tech, and there’s no sense teaching something obsolete. FCPX is not, and likely never will be, a serious toolset for feature film editors. So we’re cutting Apple out now, to prepare our students for what we see, as an FCP-less future in pro post.

NYU has taught Avid since getting rid of the flatbeds, it’s a program we know well, and it’s one that I’m willing to bet will still be relevant in the professional post world three years from now. Avid systems can be finicky, but once set up properly, it’s a workhorse that gets out of your way and lets you just cut. The Avid trim tool is still best of class years later, and they truly seem to be innovating again (Script Sync is amazing), and the forthcoming Avid 6 is looking to be taking advantage of the newest technological advances in computing, while still giving us a familiar interface and backwards compatibility (exactly what we’d hoped FCPX would have been).

It’s also very comforting that they are communicating their road-map to their users, rather than thinking we’d rather be surprised by announcements. Also important is the Avid eco-system that has entrenched itself in other high-end post production equipment and workflows (I like getting ALE’s right out of the telecine).

They don’t make phones and tablets, they make professional production software. To be fair, they don’t always make it especially well, and they do seem to lose money every quarter. Is it hypocritical of me to buy Avid software and then invest the money I make with it into Apple stock?

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