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Final Cut Pro - The Next Ten Years

When Final Cut Pro X was released back in June 2011, Apple said that there was a ten year road map in place for its development. Well, we are nearly at the end of that journey, so what about the next road map? What will the future bring to our favourite non-linear editor?

Let’s be honest, it has been a bit of a bumpy ride, but the last ten years has seen a large change in the way everyone edits video. We are now relying on the GPU for effects, SSDs for speed and the new M1 silicon has reset all our expectations of the amount of power you get from a chip.

We're also now taking for granted the innovations that FCP first delivered. The magnetic timeline, keywords, favourites, & roles are all features that we use everyday without thinking.

So looking forward, what could Final Cut Pro offer that would become the norm after the next 10 years' journey has been travelled?

Collaboration

Final Cut Pro is the only NLE out of the big four not to offer built-in collaboration. Postlab is excellent, but it doesn’t offer the ability for more than one user to work in the same container without unnecessary duplication of Libraries, Timelines, media or all three.

We would hope that Apple would build a collaborative workflow right in to FCP that would be as easy as working on a Pages document with a colleague. 

Machine Learning Metadata

We think this is going to be a huge bonus for editors in the next few years. By utilising a neural engine, media could be automatically keyworded and sorted. This was demonstrated by Apple last June at the online WWDC (About 14 minutes in) where they showed a very basic NLE running on Apple SOC silicon ‘auto tagging’ footage. Hopefully we will then be able to perform a Library wide search for ‘all shots that are outside and include Tim’ for example.

FCP neural engine objects

 

Automatic caption generation from speech surely has to be a top candidate for a new FCP feature. Being able to search for words or phrases within the app (without having to roundtrip through a third party) must be achievable for Apple seeing as they already have the technologies with the OS on Macs.

AI Based Plugins

There are many plugins in development that use artificial intelligence, you only have to look at what is happening with image processing applications and extrapolate that forwards. Colour correction is an obvious candidate for some automatic outside help, but what about colourising old footage, sky replacement, sharpening/upscaling, object removal/rotoscoping and digital makeup?

AI based colour correction Colorlab.AI isn't available for FCP yet

Thinking outside of the box, how about a style suggestion title generator? Instead of having to select the font, colour, size, tracking and all the other many different typographical controls, how about being able just to tap on a few parameters for say, modern, impressive, bold, and a selection of different good-looking text designs pop-up as choices. These would dynamically change as the selection parameters changed.

I really think we are at the tip of the iceberg (and imagination) when it comes to the possibilities of AI and video editing.

Audio Mixing

Possibly seen as Final Cut Pro’s Achilles' heel, we really could do with Apple giving the audio features a little bit of love.

fcp audio automationSome heavy audio automation level learning in Final Cut Pro 7

 

Top of our list is bringing back audio automation, the real-time ‘learning’ of audio levels on clips. This worked really well in FCP7, so well that Adobe copied it when they released their clip mixer tool after FCPX was released! Manually having to drag down effects or music underneath voice by marking a range first is just too slow and clumsy. Would a much requested Role mixer with audio automation be the answer?

Also worth noting that iMovie (which is a code subset of FCP) allows automatic ducking - would that feature make the cross over?

Whilst we are on sound, I waste minute upon minute having to edit to -23 LUFS. Could FCP work behind the scenes to calculate an overall loudness for the timeline and display that figure? A loudness graph stretched along the top of the timeline would be even better.

Media Management

We got a change in the way media is consolidated in the last update, but this still isn’t at the level of an FCP7 media trim & copy to a new location. Worx4 X has done a great job, but trimming unused media should really be an option in a 10 year old NLE by now.

Cloud Integration

Two possibilities here, both similar, but different. Could we see a tighter integration with camera to cloud workflows like Frame.io? Or maybe direct loading of footage into the browser from remote camera systems like LiveU and Dejero?

We are big fans of using proxies with Postlab Drive, the experience is truly liberating, being able to edit without any media residing on your machine or drives. This is where we see the big growth over the next few years and FCP is the ideal platform to take advantage of those technological advances.

Fiddly but Important Stuff

How about Motion roundtripping? How about increasing the size of the cursor playing a clip in the browser? How about being able to read the duration of a clip without squinting at the bottom of the GUI? How about hitting match frame twice to match frame to a clip within a multicam? (Premiere does this well).

The Wildcards

A few ideas to ponder over, all complete speculation, obviously! The support of other formats such as Blackmagic RAW without the need of a third-party converter. FCP running on an iPad and/or being used as a control surface. The virtualisation of Final Cut Pro so it can run in the cloud.

 

So what do you think? Are you desperate for a feature in Final Cut Pro? If so, let us know in the comments below. Also a quick line to Apple always helps for feature requests, they really do read them all.

 

Did somebody mention dupe detection???

 

 


Written by
Top Blogger Thought Leader

I am the Editor-in-Chief of FCP.co and have run the website since its inception ten years ago.

I have also worked as a broadcast and corporate editor for over 30 years, starting on one inch tape, working through many formats, right up to today's NLEs.

Under the name Idustrial Revolution, I have written and sold plugins for Final Cut Pro for 13 years.

I was made a Freeman of Lichfield through The Worshipful Company of Smiths (established 1601). Though I haven't yet tried to herd a flock of sheep through the city centre!

Current Editing

great house giveaway 2020

2020 has been busy, the beginning of the year was finishing off a new property series (cut on FCP) for Channel 4 called The Great House Giveaway. I also designed and built the majority of the graphics as Motion templates. It has been a great success and the shows grabbed more viewers in the 4pm weekday slot than any previous strand. It has been recommissioned by C4 for 60 episodes, including prime-time versions and five themed programmes. The shows have also been nominated for a 2021 BAFTA.

Tour de france 2020
Although both were postponed to later in the year, I worked again on ITV's coverage of the Tour de France and La Vuelta. 2020 was my 25th year of editing the TdF and my 20th year as lead editor. The Tour was the first broadcast show to adopt FCPX working for multiple editors on shared storage.

 

BBC snooker the crucible

BBC's Snooker has played a big part in my life, I've been editing tournament coverage since 1997. I'm proud to be part of a very creative team that has pioneered many new ideas and workflows that are now industry standard in sports' production. This is currently an Adobe Premiere edit.

amazon kindle BF

Covid cancelled some of the regular corporate events that I edit such as trade shows & events. I was lucky however to edit, from home, on projects for Amazon Kindle, Amazon Black Friday, Mastercard and very proud to have helped local charitable trust Kendall & Wall secure lottery funding.

As for software, my weapon of choice is Final Cut Pro and Motion, but I also have a good knowledge and broadcast credits with Adobe Premiere Pro, MOGRT design and Photoshop.

Plugin Design & Development

I'm the creative force behind Idustrial Revolution, one of the oldest Final Cut Pro plugin developers. It hosts a range of commercial and free plugins on the site. One free plugin was downloaded over a thousand times within 24 hours of release.

I also take on custom work, whether it is adapting an existing plugin for a special use or designing new plugins for clients from scratch. Having a good knowledge of editing allows me to build-in flexibility and more importantly, usability.

FCP.co

Now in its 10th year and 4th redesign, running FCP.co has given me knowledge on how to run a large CMS- you are currently reading my bio from the database! Although it sounds corny, I am pretty well up on social media trends & techniques, especially in the video sector. The recent Covid restrictions has enabled live FCP.co shows online. This involves managing a Zoom Webinar through Restream.io to YouTube and Facebook. 

The Future

I'm always open to new ideas and opportunities, so please get in touch at editor (at) fcp.co. I've judged film competitions, presented workflow techniques to international audiences and come up with ideas for TV shows and software programs!

 

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nobbystylus's Avatar
nobbystylus replied the topic: #114447 12 May 2021 11:00
I agree with most all the suggestions. I think particularly useful would be built in transcription, with full search capability to the clip level / frame level without having to resort to Speedscriber etc It plays into FCPs meta data approach and means text driven editing and search for long interviews would be so much more powerful and faster.
cseeman's Avatar
cseeman replied the topic: #114448 12 May 2021 11:19
If only there were reason to believe Apple is doing any of this. I'm fully sympathetic with the hard work and time it takes to do this work but I can't help but think their silence during this process is causing people to drift over to Resolve. Perhaps Apple's marketing and PR (or lack thereof) for FCP is its most damaging feature.

At the very least give us some tracking.

I suspect the heavy dependence on plugins may well be a detraction for collaborative workflows. Having the necessity for a team to all have the same plugins to perform tasks that should be built-in, can be a logistical problem.
joema's Avatar
joema replied the topic: #114450 12 May 2021 12:38
Excellent article. A few comments:

Media trim & copy - A very important feature in the era of 4k and distributed collaboration. It sounds easy, but is difficult to do reliably. Example: this feature is fundamentally broken in the current version of Resolve Studio 17 for various "Long GOP" codecs. In my tests it frequently corrupts the trimmed destination clips. It's true Quicktime Player can do "no encode" trimming, but that's one clip at a time. The editor usually checks each clip.

By contrast an NLE media trim & copy feature could be executed across hundreds or thousands of clips using many different codecs, and few people would then play every clip to check them. The risk is days/weeks/months later you might find that 1% of the clips are damaged.

Built-in collaboration: Very important, esp. for small, distributed workgroups. Resolve handles this only for a co-located workgroup on a high speed LAN, and it requires a dedicated PostgreSQL server. It is very complex.
Ideally you want something like Google Sheets - works locally or via cloud, built-in chat, fine-grained concurrency (IOW the spreadsheet or page isn't locked, only individual cells), infinite history tracking of who made what change, infinite rollback of changes, no admin burden, color coding for who made what change, etc.

Rudimentary coarse-level "bin locking" is straightforward. Finer-grained concurrency with conflict resolution, no admin overhead and extreme reliability is very difficult. The SQLite database FCP uses is not a client/server product and isn't designed for multiuser access. It appears the entire product would require rearchitecting to achieve this.

Total rearchitecting is also needed due to changes in underlying software frameworks: FCP6/7 were developed with the "Carbon" framework, FCPX was a total rewrite in Objective-C using the "Cocoa"  framework, which includes AppKit and CoreData. 

Cocoa, Objective-C and AppKit were fine 10 years ago, but in the intervening period new frameworks have been developed. Also there is an increasing need for cross-platform *complex* apps which span from desktop to tablets. That is extremely difficult using Cocoa and AppKit.

In theory an app developed with Swift and using SwiftUI could decouple the core logic from the UI layer and be more readily moved between desktop and tablet. Programming constructs in Swift would also improve app reliability, e.g, out-of-bound references and stack overflows are prevented, datatypes are enforced at both compile time and runtime. 

I have no inside info but I suspect one reason for the slow FCP feature updates is the development team may be working on a total redesign, not just from a feature standpoint, but also using newer, updated software frameworks. 

Having worked on a similar project in the past, it's impossible (even for Apple or Microsoft) to concurrently develop a legacy product plus develop a major new product. It would take two separate development and test teams, and at the upper echelon, those people are just not available.
oldsoul's Avatar
oldsoul replied the topic: #114451 12 May 2021 13:37
Great requests, particularly the audio ones. I would love a better roundtrip to After Effects. Clip Exporter showed great promise back in the day but never quite got there and then dissolved. I would also love to export a project with the just the media in it with a selectable amount of handles. Useful to pass to another editor or graphics designer.
Ben Balser's Avatar
Ben Balser replied the topic: #114452 12 May 2021 14:41
I sure wish Apple would s*** or get off the pot. It's been way, way, way too long for an update. I agree with all your points here, Peter. Thanks for posting. Personally, I've given Apple until October to do something to prove there's a legitimate future in FCP, or I'm moving to Resolve for good.  The fact that they've totally dropped pro app certifications and training, letting LearnQuest totally trash it and make it a joke, well, I'm losing confidence in the pro apps team as a whole, or at least in whoever is forcing them to be as crippled as they are.
cinesterfilms's Avatar
cinesterfilms replied the topic: #114453 12 May 2021 15:41
I agree with most of these but I would also add the need for auto captioning. Having to farm out captions to third party companies is an unnecessary expense at this point and Premiere has this feature in beta.

Another idea would be to use AI for quality control. My poor assistant editor has to review episodes over and over again to ensure they are ready for launch it would be more efficient if there was a way to scan the timeline, put all of the potential errors in the timeline index and then choose which ones to fix. This would be a huge timesaver for my team.
PhilipHodgetts's Avatar
PhilipHodgetts replied the topic: #114454 12 May 2021 15:48
I don't believe Apple said that there was a road map for the next ten years. I was told it was "the foundation for the next 10 years", which is quite a different beast.

That said, I don't disagree with your expectations.
Soundwise's Avatar
Soundwise replied the topic: #114455 12 May 2021 16:08
Amen!
tangierc's Avatar
tangierc replied the topic: #114456 12 May 2021 16:30
Great article Peter. I hope FCP can survive the next 10 years as Resolve gains ground; Premiere Pro users often leaving to Resolve instead of giving FCP a go. I have a very long list of things I'd like to see in FCP. I'd like (long over due) batch syncing. I'd like simple reporting of alerts so I don't have to find out why an event has a missing element alert when nothing is actually missing. I'd like an LTC reader/converter. I'd really like the ability to keep some buttons (like retiming) over my storyline in dual screen mode (for viewers) rather than dragging my mouse over to the other screen. This is just to name a few. I don't need round tripping to Motion (which I use a lot). Though it'd be a welcome feature and I'd surely use it, it has to do with the archiving/resurrecting process. That's when it tends to be better to have those exported QuickTimes from Motion in the long run otherwise things are likely to. break. I definitely don't prefer a track-based NLE and so I do hope that Apple innovates more than adding 3D text because I do fear that in some years we'll still be fighting this uphill battle of proving/demonstrating how wonderful FCP is. However instead of Premier Pro, Resolve will take up more of that oxygen. I agree that AI will be instrumental.
alex4D's Avatar
alex4D replied the topic: #114457 12 May 2021 16:52
The catch is that nearly all of these features are being specified from the point of view of a very minor part of the editing market: People working on TV shows and feature films. They just don't matter when it comes to the world of editing. The way they work isn't particularly useful for most editors to learn.

From from the point of view of development budget allocation.

The trick is to list all these features from the point of view of the majority of editors. For editing that uses Apple hardware and services too. That will help justify the change of priorities.
Oliver Peters's Avatar
Oliver Peters replied the topic: #114459 12 May 2021 17:30
I think you have to ask the most fundamental question. Does ProApps exist to make world-class software or does it exist to make software that showcases the capabilities of Apple hardware?
helge.tjelta's Avatar
helge.tjelta replied the topic: #114461 12 May 2021 18:52
“I have a dream”, of collaboration to work in parallel, in tandem, many people at the same time, in the same library. Not have to worry about versioning, checking in or out, not having to have a special cloud for my library, it will stay in the shared storage system as always, can be opened alone or by many, first opener is the parent, others are children. Seamless, no management, just working together in the same library as we always wanted to do.

Here are some thoughts and concepts:

Concept:
Guards (yes bring those back),
Three main levels = time locking, project locking and role level locking. (and maybe storyline locking as well)

What about compound lock ? Partial editing, lock of parts of the items used many places.
Time locking in general can be whole project, items or based on region.

Time locked timeline; as concept is to have a timeline locked for editing done on timing. This way you keep the primary storyline, and connection points intact, while doing other work. i.e. grading, subtitling, gfx, sound etc.

The point with locking is to keep something intact, while adding to it, but not subtracting.
A broadcast messaging system for broad edit could also been used, if you wanted to add stuff.


Who is this for:
Multiple editors working ON the same storage system (Xsan, Jellyfish etc), at the same time, (in the same building)
No check in check out, no relink, no versioning. All live open multiuser database. And we have all our assets outside the library, so working with others outside FCPX would also be fine.
Or just two to three size shop. One person logging, roles, sync. One doing editing. The last one, doing sound.... or have a 4th doing color... all at the same time... there are a lot of small size video companies that could benefit from this... Or even just a two person shop... both doing stuff on the same edit...

Chat:
Internal library chat, can also link to items.

Ownership:
Collaboration with “parent swapping”.

Temporary time lock lifting:
Parent is doing a time based edit, commit to all, and force an update to all. Then back to time lock.
Could work on roles and project as well

Type of collaboration work;
Assistants do multi and sync clips, while main editor edits,
Markers can be added by others
Grading can be done simultaneously while editing
Subtitles (captioning, also burned in) to be added while grading
GFX adding while editing, lower thirds as well
Audio with invisible compound mode, for role base audio settings
All this can be done in parrallel
rippleguy's Avatar
rippleguy replied the topic: #114463 12 May 2021 19:48
Great article Peter!
peteramwiggins's Avatar
peteramwiggins replied the topic: #114467 12 May 2021 20:24
Steve,

Thank you - Interesting I came across this when I was doing a bit of research.
How many did you get????  (from 2014)

sconnor99's Avatar
sconnor99 replied the topic: #114469 12 May 2021 20:31
Nice article Peter but I'm not hopeful for the future of FCPX, Apple haven't abandoned it, but feature development seems to be quite glacial! I still use it as my primary NLE but I'm starting edits on Resolve Studio more and more. Hopefully the transition to Apple Silicon will spur a new phase of development
micster's Avatar
micster replied the topic: #114476 12 May 2021 23:49
I think cloud based editing would be a great move. With everything thats happened in the past year, it'd be great to not have to download huge files of material before working.
MojoFix's Avatar
MojoFix replied the topic: #114482 13 May 2021 13:33
I’d like to be able to view my ultimate “Result” as Flame calls it when I’m 3 Compound Clips deep into an “Inception-esque”composite and I’m tweaking various elements.
Stu Wart's Avatar
Stu Wart replied the topic: #114487 13 May 2021 16:24
Lots of things there as requests but what mandatory things do I need on daily basis ?

- Roundtrip to Motion ! (What is Wes Plate doing of his days hahaha? Water sports  ok,  but besides ?)

- Internal tracking (even Avid has it for years)
- a better stabilisation
- an usable Fluid SlowMo , (Optical Flow was fun at start, like a basis ... years after what an crappy unusable joke)
- AAF export (an internal X2Pro fully working)
- a real "Consolidate" ( ala Avid) Worx4 X doesn't work with multicam and synchronised clips)

here is the basis, now for the "fiddly" ... I won't even start.

if we are lucky the next ten years will propose a shift from the present prosumer model to pro.
finalcolor's Avatar
finalcolor replied the topic: #114495 14 May 2021 03:54
fcp update too slowly than Davinci Resolve, Resolve is Top 1.
Ben Balser's Avatar
Ben Balser replied the topic: #114500 14 May 2021 13:04
I've given FCP until October, and if I'm still not confident in its future, I am moving my personal studio, and our whole TV station to DaVinci Resolve and Fusion.
helge.tjelta's Avatar
helge.tjelta replied the topic: #114503 14 May 2021 13:12
Why october ? just wondering....
PaulG's Avatar
PaulG replied the topic: #114505 14 May 2021 18:14
As much as I love FCPX (or should I just drop the X, once and for all?), Resolve is a better tool for VFX workflows involving feature level color management especially with log and linear transforms, LUTs and exotic file formats. But FCP is still my go-to for straight editing. I much prefer the favoriting, keywording and magnetic timeline of FCP to Resolve's awkward Cut page or warmed-over FCP7-style Edit page. I often use FCP for less complex compositing instead of AE or Motion, but it could still use some love in that area. That said, the few things I really wish FCP would implement:

• Native BRAW support for BMD cameras
• Image sequence support (PNG, DPX, CR2 etc.) for time-lapse and animation workflows
• More robust key framing interface
• Motion tracking (both planar and 3D)
• Support for vector file formats like SVG, PDF, AI with continuous rasterization (there's a Motion hack, but it's a PIA)
• Better mixing tools and LUFS support
• Native AAF support for export to ProTools
• An inquisitive Paper Clip character who sits on your screen and offers editing suggestions (just kidding!)
Ben Balser's Avatar
Ben Balser replied the topic: #114508 14 May 2021 23:21

helge.tjelta wrote: Why october ? just wondering....


It is significant to some major overhauls going on at the TV station I run production for.  Plus, it marks a very significant amount of time that FCP will have been unacceptably stagnant.
jim@jimcutler.com's Avatar
jim@jimcutler.com replied the topic: #114512 15 May 2021 14:16
Audio mixing. I can do it in FCPX but it would prefer getting back some of that we had in FC7 for audio; Recording level changes in real time. As an audio mixer for 40 years my personal wish would be audio level control from external hardware faders. So many audio/video editors allow that. Coupled with memorizing level changes on the fly would be great. Just my personal wish.
ltf3's Avatar
ltf3 replied the topic: #114513 15 May 2021 15:55
Of course I agree with all the suggestions but I can’t help but feel the race for ‘industry acceptance’ is lost. 
Our workplace allows editors use what they want. 4 years ago we had almost everyone using FCP. But they’ve all drifted back to Premier for 2 reasons.
First, After Effects round tripping. FCP needs to do this to even be in the game at this point… but they won’t even allow it to Motion! And if they relent and add round tripping to Motion it won’t  make a lick of difference. AE is ‘it’ for better or worse. There are utilities and engineered workarounds … but no editor wants the extra steps or fiddling required when Premiere just does it.
Second, Audio handling. Trackless audio is great when editing but a PIA when mixing and processing. I can get editors to assign Roles with a lot of cajoling but after that having them deal with the Role/AU role display options, then compounding to get buss/track control … then sometimes compounding again… and then having to backtrack through these structures to make changes? Lol. 
I think there should be some kind of Roles to Tracks modal switch to make final mixing more accessible. I’ve worked hard to integrate  the FCP method into my workflow but it’s a kludge at best. When I sometimes move a mix to A DAW there’s always a sense of relief…. ‘Ah, I can see what’s going on now’.
Without those 2 things FCP will be great idea that people use on their way to an inferior product that at least has less friction in a couple of critical places. Trouble is it’s been TEN years. It’s not going to happen is it?