In an open letter sent to Apple CEO Tim Cook on Tuesday, more than 100 film and TV professionals called on the company to publicly commit to building its video editing software Final Cut Pro into an industry-standard tool.
The group praised FCP as as “the biggest leap forward in editing technology since the move to digital” but complained it’s not living up to its potential.
The group noted, bitterly, that even the crew on CODA — the first streaming service release to win a Best Picture Oscar, and Apple’s own release — would probably not have chosen to edit it with FCP.
Open letter to Tim Cook urges Final Cut Pro integration into film and TV production
FCP first came out at the NAB show in Las Vegas in 1999. The non-linear editing system (NLE) became popular over the years in education and among YouTubers and small businesses. But 23 years after release, with the latest NAB show days away, a group of TV and film editors wants Apple to finally get serious about the software as an industry standard.
In the open letter, published on GoPetition, the frustrated filmmakers took Apple to task for failing to support FCP’s integration into professional film and TV production. The authors believe FCP is strong enough to compete with film editing tools like Avid. But it isn’t living up to its full potential for various reasons.
The letter states,“If Apple renewed its public commitment to the professional filmmaking industry and its visionary product, we believe an increasing number of editors would discover the joys of using Final Cut Pro.”
The letter also makes a number of specific observations and requests:
We’d love to see Apple publicly support and certify the suppliers of the third-party products and services we use to integrate Final Cut Pro into industry-standard workflows. We welcome your forthcoming brand-new FCP Certification exams. We need more experienced film and TV production crew members who also know how to use Final Cut Pro. [We] also hope to see Apple ensuring that improved Pro Apps support is widely available and that Final Cut Pro can also be bought through current industry suppliers. This is is essential for big productions to accept Final Cut Pro as legitimate.
Start a public beta program?
In a supporting statement, Galliano Olivier, editor on the French drama Marianne, noted that many professionals can’t even get permission to use FCP.
“In France, it is extremely difficult to get permission to edit TV with Final Cut Pro,” he said. “You can’t use it without fighting producers, directors, post-production supervisors, sound editors.”
Knut Hake, editor for Netflix exclusive Bloody Red Sky, agreed with that assessment. He suggested the creation of an FCP public beta program.
That “would make a big difference for workflow consultants, systems integrators and third-party developers … it would make it much easier for people to fit Final Cut into their plans for the future,” he said.
The letter’s co-signers also requested Apple introduce industry-specific features long missing from FCP. That would increase platform adoption and tempt new editors to try it out.
Still a long way to go
Despite a steady flow of updates over the years correcting issues that spooked Hollywood, Apple still faces significant challenges in making FCP an industry standard. Partly that’s a problem with how the software is perceived.
And this is despite proof that FCP is capable on a professional level. One prominent recent example of a Hollywood film edited with FCP is The Banker, starring Samuel L. Jackson. That’s an Apple TV+ release. But could Apple have promoted such use of FCP more in the industry? That sound like what the letter’s signers would have wanted.
Of course, the issues go beyond unfair perceptions. Steve Sanders, editor-in-chief for Fox’s War of the Worlds, points to lack of collaboration as a major problem with FCP’s adoption.
“Editing big productions needs collaboration. Different users have to be able to access the same library at the same time,” he said. “There is no way around this. Avid Media Composer does it and even DaVinci Resolve does it. Apple still targets the single user. They have to change that. That will change everything.”
Sanders also commented on perceptions.
“Many professionals do not know how Final Cut works,” he said. “They are afraid of it, even regard [it] as ‘iMovie Pro.’ I hear that all the time in my business. This perception really has to change.”
The open letter arrived just days after Apple released its latest version of Final Cut Pro (10.6.2) with various upgrades. But those incremental changes — voice isolation, duplicate detection and Mac Studio optimization — won’t be enough to make FCP the film and TV industry’s choice for editing.
And it remains to be seen if the open letter will make a difference.