Final Cut Pro X users roast Apple over 'Pro' tag

Apple seems to have created a bit of a storm with the release of the latest version of its video editing app, Final Cut Pro X.

The £180 package, previous incarnations of which have become the de-facto standard for professional film makers, has been accused of dumbing down to meet consumer demands and has received a mixed reception from those who have taken the plunge.

The application, which is only available through the company's Mac App Store, is currently showing a three star average rating with many users bemoaning the suite's lack of professional features.

Many of the negative reviews cite the software's inability to communicate with third party hardware like tape machines, specialised monitors and pro video cards, issues which Apple says will be addressed in future point releases.

It would seem that, in this case, the legendary secrecy in which Apple shrouds all software and hardware releases has bitten the company on the bum, but it's hardly unusual for software developers to release new titles lacking in third party support and drivers.

Apple is rabid about protecting its IP and innovations, and sending pre-release copies of software to every supplier of esoteric hardware on the planet would inevitably lead to leaks, so its little surprise that an application which purports to turn the way video editing is carried out on its head is experiencing some teething problems.

What's in a name?
Many of the users who are trashing the software both in official Apple reviews (which require commenter to have actually purchased the software) and outside forums (which don't) are simply bemoaning the fact that Final Cut Pro X has the word 'Pro' in its name, before many of the professional features included in previous iterations are added.

The nomenclature is one of the primary gripes cited in an online petition initiated by one Andrew Landini (someone of the same name edited a TV documentary about driving cars sideways called Drift, although at time of writing we haven't confirmed that they are one and the same).

Landini is quite obviously upset at Apple's decision to open up the world of video editing to a wider audience, those who can't afford to pay for than £800 for pro-level software for example, and goes as far as to suggest that companies which have poured millions of dollars into equipping their Final Cut-based facilities will potentially be put out of business by Apple's audacity.

He writes, "A large corporation such as Apple, Inc. should not make 'revolutionary' paradigm-shifting changes to software which can be referred to as 'industry-standard'. This is unfair to workers who rely on Final Cut Pro as a business tool and will devastate the Final Cut Pro community.

"Many editors have relied on the software since its first release and supported Apple through both the hard and easy times. Apple Inc. now has over $75 billion in assets and does not need to risk the livelihoods of its professional customers by silently discontinuing 'Final Cut Pro' instead of selling it to a company willing to support working film, tv, and advertising industry professionals."

Landini goes on to make some extraordinary demands on Apple, insisting that it should reinstate Final Cut Pro 7, despite the fact that Apple has openly suggested that pro users should continue to use the older software until support the plethora of pro-level third-party hardware can be added at a later date.

The petition also suggests that Final Cut Pro X should be "considered a part on the iMovie family or labelled a 'prosumer' product".

We get the feeling that Apple may well not take too much notice of Landini's protestations, not least because we suspect that many of the 2,548 signatures currently attached to the petition don't qualify as 'editors and affected film-makers who rely on Final Cut Pro as a crucial business tool'. We further suspect that many of them have never even used Final Cut Pro X and are simply part of that special breed of people who will sign any petition which derides any company to which they are not aligned.

You know the sort. 'My Xbox is better than your PS3'. 'Windows is better than OSX'. 'Bovril is tastier than Marmite'.

For those of you about to take up the crayon to accuse me of Apple fanboyism (guilty as charged), let me offer this:

The App Store listing for Final Cut Pro X currently has a total of 207 ratings, and 85 reviews. Of those reviews, 65 give five stars, 24 give four and 18 give three.

There are 18 two-star reviews and a worrying 82 one-star roastings. Worrying until, of course, you read them. The vast majority were posted within days of the software's release and bemoan a lack of support for the aforementioned third-party hardware.

There are of course some genuine gripes which Apple needs to address. The inability to import projects created in Final Cut Pro 7 is a common bugbear and one which will see many early punters heading back to Apple for a refund.

Most of those who have posted positive reviews, however (and let's not forget you're much less likely to bother expressing your opinion if you are happy with your new software) have nothing but praise for FCPX's simplicity, speed and ground-breaking price tag.

While it's true that many hard-core professional video editors will baulk at Apple's intention of opening the field to those of us without a degree in film making, the way we all consume video is changing. The Internet has democratised video in the same way punk rock forever changed music for the better, taking the creative tools out of the hands of the wealthy and allowing all of us to have a thrash.

Perhaps the 'Pro' bit of Final Cut Pro X is a little premature for the folks sitting in their multi-million dollar editing suites, but progress is driven by change.

And with updates and improvements promised by Apple in the near future, things can only get better.