One thing became very clear to me at NAB this year, we no longer can or should base our entire careers around a single app or platform.
“I’m a Final Cut Editor”
I’ve been editing on non-linear systems for about 15 years. I started on Avid in 1998 and switched to Final Cut Pro in 2001 or so. I understand the trepidation many people have about switching from an app they’ve been using for a decade or more. Think about how long that is in terms of technology. Through most of these 15 years, these 2 apps were the only options for any serious editor. Premiere Pro has been around for awhile, but it was never really taken seriously by Adobe, which actually dropped Mac support for a few years. You could exist as a Final Cut editor and be perfectly fine. Most Avid editors also knew Final Cut Pro because it was pretty much the standard outside of large movies and TV shows, usually based on Avid Unity.
But last year, in its attempt to jump the competition, Apple alienated it’s core users and inadvertently shined a light on all the other options out there. And all the other options took advantage of Apple’s misstep and grew up extremely fast.
This you all know. We’ve gone from one dominant app to several. As an editor, your clients may have chosen different systems based on their needs. As a shop owner, you might choose different apps based on your workload, and you probably have a few different apps installed on the same system.
Editors, you now need to know how to use all these tools to stay competitive. Deep, single app knowledge is no good anymore.
“I work on an Avid”
This is a flub of grammar I noticed a lot at NAB. People still refer to computers running Media Composer or Symphony as “An Avid” or “The Avid”. Back when I first started non-linear editing, Avid software and hardware was really expensive, and was for a long time. At my school, any PC that had Avid installed was not allowed to connect to the internet or run any other program other than Avid. So it was referred to as a single thing: The Avid.
But this idea is dead for the same reason as above. The NLE is not your computer. The NLE is your app. You now need to run multiple NLEs on your computer to stay competitive. The greatest thing with Apple’s misstep, is that it forced the other NLEs, specifically Avid and Premiere Pro, to start working with Apple’s ecosystem of third party equipment. You can now use just about any third party device that worked with Final Cut Pro, with Avid or Premiere Pro. This wasn’t possible even a year ago. The nice thing is many shop owners can keep their hardware, and switch their software to Avid and Premiere Pro as necessary.
But another thing happened. Just about every app in the editor’s toolbox is now cross platform, except for Final Cut Pro. Final Cut Pro was the reason many shops had Macs in the first place. But in many cases these apps run better on the Windows side than on OS X. And here’s Apple stumbling again. It’s been over 600 days since the last Mac Pro refresh. People are getting antsy and questioning Apple’s motives. After getting burned with Final Cut X, many don’t trust Apple. If they’re no longer running Final Cut Pro, then they might not need Macs. You can get more bang for your buck hardware-wise on the PC side. And, most of the hardware such as capture cards will switch over too. Win win.
What you should do
If you’re a freelance editor, you should definitely buy Premiere Pro and Avid and start learning them. Even if all of your work now is Final Cut Pro 7, how much longer will that last? Just the increase in efficiency with Premiere Pro’s Mercury Engine should convince you to switch. If you know all 3 apps, then you can take just about any job thrown at you. And yes, there are clients that are only on Premiere Pro or Avid and they won’t take a Final Cut Pro editor no matter how good they are. Deal with it.
If you’re a shop owner, it’s a bit different. Walter Biscardi wrote a great post about switching to Avid because it’s what his company needs RIGHT NOW. He’s not waiting for an ideal later (as many people on Final Cut Pro 7 are). He has projects that need to be done now. He even argues that the cost of the new software is paid for after a single edit. Imagine that concept back in the early 2000s. He says he will then re-evaluate in a year. Yes, we’re now at a point in post production where we need to be re-evaluating our options on a yearly basis. Hell, it’s even worse on the shooting end with new cameras coming out every few weeks it seems.
It’s an exciting time right now, but it can be difficult if you’ve been using the same platform for 10 years. But if you want to survive, you have to learn the new tools now.
“How Do You Expect the Role of Editor to Change?” – from American Cinema Editors (ACE)
How is this change in software and the possible death of the Mac Pro impacting your business? Have you already made the switch? Join the discussion in the comments.