Jun 11

Apple: revising the definition of Pro

If you haven't visited Apple's Creative Pro page for two years, you haven't missed a thing


VIDEO EDITOR returns home to find that his long-time companion has packed and left. His head swirls with multiple emotions, from anger to revenge.

That’s basically the scene that played out in the heads of the Pro crowd when Apple unveiled Final Cut Pro X.

I get the feeling that a deeper truth will be revealed in the scenes to come.

Because Apple isn’t actually abandoning the Pros. They’re simply redefining what the word Pro means. FCPX is only the most recent indicator.

For proof of Apple’s diminishing interest in the old definition, take a look at the Creative Pro page on apple.com. The most recent case study here is almost two years old. In technology years, that’s the equivalent of 1.4 eternities.

This page is so ignored by Apple, it still features Final Cut Studio as one of the Pro products, even though we’re all painfully aware of its death. (Interestingly, they updated the link but left the image. Wake up, fellas!)

As the definition of Pro has changed, so have Apple’s priorities. That’s why iMac is now faster than Mac Pro. That’s why Aperture has remained an also-ran to Adobe Lightroom. That’s why the upgrade to FCP7 took forever, and why FCPX turned out as it did.

In the world of Apple, a Pro product used to mean “designed for high-end professionals with needs far beyond those of mortal men.” Now it simply means “the high-performance model.”

Most people don’t want a MacBook Pro because they’re Pros. They want it because it’s more powerful than a MacBook. Most people won’t buy FCPX because they’re Pros. They’ll buy it because it’s powerful and intuitive — and way better than iMovie.

So basically, if you aspire to owning the faster/better/more advanced computer or software — congratulations, you’re a Pro.

I’m not criticizing this change, I’m simply observing it. This is a business decision by Apple, reflecting a point in the company’s evolution when they need to delight the millions, not the thousands.

That’s not to say that Apple won’t continue to create products that are very useful for the high-end pros. It just means we’ve all got some adjusting to do.


SUPER: Two years later.
Doorbell rings. VIDEO EDITOR opens the door to find his former companion, FCP. Warily, he invites FCP in. Things are different now. They’ve both changed. But despite their troubled relationship, somehow the spark is still there…

Tags: ,

  • rd

    Mac Pro’s haven’t been updated because
    Intel hasn’t updated the server version of
    their chips unlike the desktop and mobile version.
    It is not Apple’s fault.

    No one is complaining about Aperture.
    Do you hear about excessive delays to new camera
    support. I don’t.

    FCP Server was discountiued because it is written in Java.

    All these pros weren’t buying XServe.
    All the margins were eaten by Intel.

    Motion 5 is revolutionary. Yet it is drowned
    out by all the crying.

    Apple should serve millions of home users
    with FCPX then may be 20,000 pro editors.
    Pixar never used FCP that should tell you something.
    yet all their in-house tools are done in Cocoa.

    Only Apple has brought GCD, OpenCL, Thunderbolt.
    All to help Pro uses GPU and multiple Core
    otherwise you would be waiting on Adobe to update
    their apps to Cocoa.

  • James Katt

    It took Adobe 10 years to finally come out with 64-bit cocoa versions of its software for Mac OS X.

    That is how important “Pros” are to Adobe.

    Only a few thousand XServes were sold. It is NOT a successful product. Not many pros bought XServe.

    Aperture 3 is a fantastic product for pros that is accessible to consumers. There isn’t much Pro Photographer outcry about it. Aperture 3 and Adobe Lightroom demand different workflows. Thus they serve different sets of photographers. I love Aperture’s workflow. It is so much faster than using Lightroom. But it fits my workflow better. To each his/her own.

    Apple has NOT changed the definition of Pro.

    Apple has NEVER made custom software for a few “pros”. It makes software for the masses.

    Final Cut Pro became so popular because FILM STUDENTS bought it in droves. It was much less expensive and so much more easy to use than the tools of its time. Remember that at the time, the competition was AVID at $10,000 a pop. FCP was so much less expensive that FILM STUDENTS could afford it. WHEN the film students graduated, they took it to their jobs and used it professionally. But remember that FCP also did not have multi-camera capabilities until later versions.

  • Jorge Carvalho

    I found this “read” realy interesting :

    “June 30, 2011
    Why Apple built Final Cut Pro XI worked on Final Cut Pro from 2002 to 2008. It was an amazing experience. The Final Cut Pro X project was just getting started when I left Apple. It was an ambitious and controversial move, but it made sense for Apple. Here’s why:

    Apple doesn’t care about the pro space
    The goal for every Apple software product is to sell more hardware. Even the Mac operating system is just trying to get people to buy more Mac computers.

    The pro market is too small for Apple to care about it. Instead of trying to get hundreds or even thousands of video professionals to buy new Macs, they can nail the pro-sumer market and sell to hundreds of thousands of hobbyists like me.

    Millions of people are buying phones and cameras that can shoot HD video, and many of them are looking for ways to edit. I know how to use Final Cut Pro because I worked on it for 6 years, but for most people it’s just too complex.

    Apple doesn’t compete on features
    In the early days of Final Cut Pro, the product stood on its own. It was the first truly powerful, software based non linear editor.

    Editors had two choices: spend $50k on an Avid system, or $1k on a Final Cut Pro license. You couldn’t compare the two on features because the experiences and price points were vastly different. Every seat FCP won away from Avid was a huge victory.

    But things changed in 2006 and 2007. Serious competitors to Final Cut Pro came from Adobe, Pinnacle, Sony, and others. People were choosing their hardware and software based on format support, or specific features they needed.

    That’s boring. Apple doesn’t play that game.

    So it was time to reinvent the video editor. And Final Cut Pro X really delivers there. FCPX isn’t defined by a feature chart. It’s not trying to do more than its competitors, it’s doing it better.

    And once again, Final Cut Pro stands on its own. And once again, Final Cut Pro will expand the market of video editors out there, and I’ll be one of them.

    Final Cut Pro 1.0 didn’t win over every Avid user, and Final Cut Pro X won’t win over every Final Cut Pro user. But they’ve laid the foundation for something incredible, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

    Congrats to all my friends on the Final Cut Pro team who shipped this incredible release!”

    Source : http://sachin.posterous.com/why-apple-built-final-cut-pro-x

    I bealive he’s right as is Ken :)

  • John

    i am enjoying your non hysterical observations. such writings are often hard to find when people panic.

  • Scott Waugh

    Excellent angle on how things seem to be changing and I think you’re totally right.

    I saw this from a guy at the top of Shake (both before and after Apple bought it), its a great read as well.


  • Hamranhansenhansen

    I think Final Cut Pro 7 users are making way, way too big a deal of this. They remind me of pro Mac OS users in 2000 losing their minds over Mac OS X. Well, they lost their minds until about 2002 when Jaguar shipped and they shut up entirely in 2003 when Panther shipped, and there is nobody who thinks we would be better off today on the old Mac OS. And meanwhile, there were Unix users (who from a GUI OS perspective are low-end users) who ran Mac OS X as their main OS even in 2000 during the Public Beta. It seemed like Apple had made Mac OS X for those guys, but they had not. It just takes a few years to put up a new skyscraper. Penthouse dwellers will have to be patient in their old digs for a bit longer. Yes, ironically, the basement apartments in the new building are ready today!

    I don’t think the definition of “Pro” has changed at Apple. I think it still means “you do this all day.” There is a training overhead to Final Cut, Aperture, Logic, and all of their accessories (cameras, audio interfaces, MIDI interfaces, musical instruments) that becomes too much if you are just going to make a 5 minute movie 3 times a year. The consumer products go way out of their way to be useful first-time, but if you are working 20 or more hours a week on video, photos, or music and audio then the rewards of moving to the pro product outweigh the training investment.

    What I think *has* changed is the pros themselves. Ten years ago, a pro was cutting movies for film or TV or DVD, but now there are many, many people cutting movies for the Web, or even for iOS apps or apps for other platforms. HD camcorders used to be high-end, now they are in people’s phones. There is more video than ever, so we need more video editors than ever. Both more consumer editors and more pro editors. Yes, there will be lower-end pros than we are used to. There will also be more high-end pros than we are used to. The whole thing is expanding. And we all need the cut video even faster than before, everything has to get bigger and faster and involve more people than it has previously. So all that is happening right now is Final Cut X is once again leading the way in democratizing pro video. Same thing it always did. The irony of a Final Cut user complaining about this is incredible!

    Another thing to consider is that today’s slowest Macs have more power than any Power Mac that ever existed. So even a lower-end pro today may have a lot of CPU and GPU power to apply to their work. It makes sense to bring powerful software to them. It makes sense for the pro product to have a core set of universal, easy-to-use features that every pro learns, and then offer high-end pro features on top of that.

    We also need to remember that digital audio video and photography is actually all in its infancy. We just got Thunderbolt and iPads and the Internet is just starting to do good quality video. We just got the first 300+ dpi screen on a consumer device, giving us our first print-quality screen. These 40 inch screens should be 4K at least. A lot of stuff needs to be built for the future, and a lot of old stuff is going to be obsolete. Final Cut Pro X is obviously just the beginning of next-generation pro (all-day) video editing. Like Mac OS X versus Mac OS, there is a transition in which only some users can move over. It’s just not that big a deal.

    The feature pros should really be asking for is iTunes Connect. A button in Final Cut Pro X that exports your final video as an iOS app and publishes it in App Store for worldwide distribution with you keeping the fat end of the 70:30 split.

  • Rafael

    Well written article.

  • ken segall

    Thanks for the well-articulated opinion. I agree with just about all of it. I also think your observation is compatible with mine — because if the Pro group has expanded as you describe, then Apple would obviously have to adjust the way it talks to Pros if it expects to win their hearts and minds.

    Please keep saying smart things so I can twist your words and take credit for them :)

  • Good Read.

    Outside of FCP, I always liked the Pro pages on Apple.com, I found the profiles of various creatives inspiring, even though I’m an amateur compared to them. Even with the evolving usage of “Pro” I hope they update and maintain that portion of their site, it’s a shame to see it collect dust.

  • de

    good article, quality comments!

  • Pingback: Fuel for the Fire – The Adventures of Systems Boy!()

  • Alastair

    Well Hamranhansenhansen-Dude is a APPL fanboy playing heavy defence.

    I’ll cut right thru your D with this:

    If Apple was still selling FCP7 and FCS3 today then yes you have made a pretty reasonable argument. They aren’t and so you have not.

    People who are saying Apple have behaved in a “Spiteful and arrogant manner” are hard to fault on that point because Apple’s loyal production house and independent film makers (ie. existing customers) have _no_ product to buy to use within their established (and costly) production workflow. All while they’re waiting for a _potential_ “penthouse” on what’s a muddy whole in the ground.

  • gjs

    Agree with your assessment of Apple’s strategy.

    Redefinition of terms is useful in battles of marketing and advertising (and propaganda.)

    It remains to be seen what long term effects will be. My guess is short term profitability and a long term recognition that a foot in the arts’ pro community is central to Apple’s brand — regardless of how small that user base may be.

  • Jasper Janssen

    One thing I gotta take issue with here, and that is the Mac Pro comment. The Mac Pro is currently a dual-socket-1366 platform. Apple offers that with some of the fastest processors available for that socket.

    The comparison you cite uses a Mac Pro specifically designed to be expensive but slow in that benchmark — without an SSD and the highest end upgrades for the slowest MP — versus the top of the line iMac *with* an SSD. In a test which is highly influenced by hard drive speed.

    Seriously, comparing a PC with and without SSD to each other is just fucking stupid.

    The Mac Pro currently goes up to dual, 6core Westmere-EP, 2.93 GHz. One faster DP processor is currently shipping, maybe — a 3.33 Westmere-EP. Pricing of that one is probably in the $2k5 a piece range, ie you should be thinking of a BTO upgrade (over and above the basic 2.93 BTO at $6200) of an extra 3 to 4 thousand dollars. Very few people buy that stuff.

    You can start chastising Apple for not upgrading the Mac Pro when the next generation of processors (which is already in the iMac and MBP, yes) comes out for the platform that the Mac Pro is.

  • Dude

    Shame on you Ken for falling for the framing trick of claiming this complaining are “pro”. They’re not, and as Alastair proves- by using the word fanboy– they are avid and adobe shills telling a bunch of lies to try and diminish apples accomplishment here with a massive improvement to video editing that adobe and avid cannot match.

    These so called “pro” complained aren’t familier with basic editing terms or even the actual features of final cut x- features that are obvious without using it, like multicam support which is in there.

    This is brilliant marketing- they framed it as if a major segment of apple users were complaining.

    Talk about framing the issue! And you fell for it-sucker!

  • ken segall

    No question Mac Pro is more “pro” than iMac, and it will certainly be way faster than iMac when it gets its next upgrade. But I don’t believe a current iMac has beaten a current Mac Pro in the history of Apple. iMac is now an extremely common sight in production companies, and is widely used by high-end independent creative pros as well.

    Sorry, but there are an awful lot of genuine Final Cut-based pros who are justifiably unhappy with FCPX. I’ve worked with enough video editors to understand some of their basic needs. If multicam support is something your work requires, FCPX simply isn’t an option. (Apple says there is no multicam support in its FAQ.) There’s not much getting around the fact that Apple alienated some people by handling the intro of FCPX as it did. The pros are not imagining that it’s missing some features they or their clients depend on.

  • Matt

    Ummm…. really I though a “Pro” was short for professional and meant someone who produced knowledge based content or experiencse for clients in return for payment.

    You see any of Apples presentations now or in the past they seem to agree fully with that definition and understand their role is to help you with your task, trying not to let the tool also get in your way.

    What we have seen since this start of the PC-era is that the duties of Pros have had to expand in to a degree of computer engineering as well. So much so that we now have computer engineers so specialised they look like the Professionals they help.

    What has happened is recently is that Apple have gotten to a tipping point of being able to remove a significant amount of the computer engineering we’ve needed to do our jobs. At the same time they are trying to make platforms for that computer engineer expertise not to be lost but indeed become a market in it’s own right.

    Nothing has changed about who is a Pro, but what kind of Pro they are may shift. The hardware will shift to suit.

  • A very good read. Great article and very good comments. I was starting to grow tired of reading all the un-intelligent debate going on…
    I agree totally with all your observations and Hamranhansenhansen’s too

  • Dude

    “If multicam support is something your work requires, FCPX simply isn’t an option. (Apple says there is no multicam support in its FAQ.)”

    The above is a factually untrue statement. Apple didn’t say that multi-cam support was not present in its FAQ, it said that it was adding FCP 7 style multicam in the future.

    Multicam is, in fact, present in FCP X, it just works differently than before. They even added a feature to automatically sync based on audio track.

    Here’s the real problem– you don’t know shit about video editing. A bunch of dishonest people tell a bunch of lies to bash Apple– and you fall for it.

    So, then, when someone who is using FCP X to edit multicam footage RIGHT NOW, comes along and tells you that the feature is there… you don’t learn. You don’t read the Pogue piece on it, where he talks about it, you don’t believe the genuine pro who is trying to educate you.

    You defend the Apple Bashers by telling a bald faced lie, even making a trivially verifiable lie about what Apple says in the FAQ!

    Thus, you have no integrity and no honor, and there is no fucking point in arguing with you, because you believe the Apple bashers because that’s what you want to believe. You’re beyond reason, so go fuck yourself you piece of shit.

  • Dude

    Lets just think about how asinine and profoundly stupid this “no multicam” claim is.

    To prevent people from editing footage from multiple cameras, Apple would have to come up with some sort of technology that could tie footage to a specific camera, and then go out of their way to prevent mixing footage from multple cameras in a project.

    You see how absurd that is?

    Every video about FCP X or screenshot about the product that shows the main video with another camera’s shot above it, is showing editing multicam footage.

    It doesn’t matter if one camera is shooting an interior interview and the external camera is shooting an audi on a track. Both cameras could be shooting the same interview from different angles– and you’d cut them together the same way.

    Except, FCP X’s multi-cam feature automatically syncs the footage when they are shooting the same thing, and it supports a single key press to cut between them.

    The main final cut page, the first image, shows footage intercut from multiple cameras, with continuous footage above the edit track, cutting back and forth.

    Right fucking here:

    OMG, I’m no longer amazed that people are stupid, but that even explaining it you can’t get them to think.

    Ken, you want to believe Apple fucked up, and so you’re defending that thesis, despite the facts, because it fits some sort of “redefining professional” perspective you have.

    Well, at the end of the day, honor and integrity are really all you have…. and you sold yours out damn cheap.


  • Pingback: On The Radio » Blog Archive » Daily Links for July()

  • Jorge Carvalho

    @ Dude

    Directly from Apple Faq :

    Does Final Cut Pro X support multicam editing?
    Not yet, but it will.
    Multicam editing is an important and popular feature, and we will provide great multicam support in the next major release. Until then, Final Cut Pro X offers some basic support with automatic clip synchronization, which allows you to sync multiple video and audio clips using audio waveforms, creating a Compound Clip that can be used for simple multicam workflows.

  • Jasper Janssen

    @Ken: My point is, it hasn’t today either. They have managed to concoct a scenario that combines illogical choices for configurations with a benchmark that is highly influenced by a particular factor, and have managed to get the Mac Pro to score a lower benchmark score than the current iMac. This isn’t new at all — an equivalent scenario would be for instance to find a benchmark that is heavily dependent on memory size in some way, and pit a 2008 MP with 2 GB against a 2008 iMac with 8GB.

    When they equip the MP with the same SSD as in the iMac and *then* manage to get it to score higher (which it won’t) is when it is remotely a good point.

    Fact remains that both of these platforms use the processors that Intel makes available — the MP the highest end that is available, and the iMac near the highest end that is available for it. Any disparity — even if it was real — would be a sign of *Intel*’s priorities. Not Apple’s.

  • ken segall

    Your hostility issues aside, I’d be happy to rebut your points.

    You said it is “factually untrue” that FCPX doesn’t have multicam support. As Jorge just commented, Apple’s own FAQ clearly states that multicam editing is not yet a part of FCPX. Unlike you, Apple distinguishes true multicam support from the “simple multicam workflow” one can create on FCPX today.

    You offer up Pogue’s piece and say I don’t believe the “genuine pro” who is trying to educate me. Pogue is hardly a video editing pro, but I did read his piece. And he says exactly what Apple’s FAQ says. No multicam support, but they’re working on it, and there is now a “stopgap facsimile of multicam editing.” I don’t know any pros willing to bet their livelihood on a stopgap facsimile.

    If you’re looking for someone with real technical knowledge, you might read John Gruber, who quoted both of my FCPX articles. He agreed with my take that Apple is redefining the meaning of “pro,” and that it would have made more sense if Apple released FCPX as the new Final Cut Express.

    In your personal attacks, you make some totally wrong assumptions. I’ve used FCP since the beginning, I’ve spend countless all-nighters with FCP editors in my advertising life, plus I had my own video production company for two years. I was both shooter and editor, and — I used two cameras.

    You, on the other hand, sound like you don’t understand how professional multicam editing works. It’s a bit more than two clips stacked in a timeline. It also sounds like you haven’t read the reviews and comments on the pro video blogs. The complaints about FCPX are hardly imagined.

    Far from an Apple-hater, I am in fact an Apple admirer. I’ve devoted over half my professional career to working on behalf of Apple and NeXT. Much to the frustration of my broker, I am so far over-invested in Apple, I’ll be sleeping on a park bench if Apple goes south.

    If I’d really sold out my honest and integrity, I’d be blindly lavishing praise on Apple. What I do here is praise the good and question the bad. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, and I welcome others’ opinions.

    I’ve never even thought about censoring comments. But I’ll be happy to make an exception for you if can’t make your future comments less rabid.

  • Carlos D

    (For the record I’m an Apple enthusiast and not someone with any kind of a grudge against the company and where its going.)

    I think all the talk about missing features is actually really misleading.

    The biggest problem with switching to FCP X is that its actually really difficult. The UI is alien and doing basic things requires a fundamental re-learning process. Most plug-ins don’t work and the benefits of switching are mostly speed related for now.

    Switching to Premiere CS5.5 is stupidly easy. It even boots up FCP7 files for you. The benefits of include using video file formats natively, increased speed and getting to use After Effects natively.

    I have loved FCP for many years but I’m a one-man video guy that needs to produce the best looking content I can.

    In terms of what my final product will look like, it’s hard to say that the time I have to learn new software isn’t better spent on the After Effects/Premiere combo.

    If Apple wants to win back the loyalty of its 2 million FCP users (and the many more pirated users who still have to buy Mac hardware to run it), I think it should start with a ‘classic mode’ UI skin.

  • Pingback: Apuntes sobre el iPad Pro | Juan Andrés Milleiro()

  • Justin

    The pro page had been updated

  • ksegall

    Uh… I certainly hope so. This article is now over a year old!