A group of more than 100 people involved in worldwide television and movie production has sent an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook concerning Apple’s Final Cut Pro video editing software. The letter asks Apple to ‘publicly stand by the use of Final Cut Pro’ in professional television and film production. The letter is aimed at the executives ‘who set the priorities of the Final Cut Pro development team and the Apple managers whose policies limit the public marketing of Final Cut Pro to a couple of website updates a year and some mentions in Apple keynotes about how much faster Apple hardware is getting.’ On a basic level, the letter asks Apple to commit to the professional TV and filmmaking industry and ensure that video editors will be able to use Final Cut Pro as part of their work and better collaborate with their peers.
Many editors, amateurs and pros alike, love Final Cut Pro due to its speed and features. It remains a popular choice for many smaller creators. However, it isn’t widely adopted in the industry due to a lack of adherence to industry standards. An excerpt from the open letter reads:
We are professionals working in Hollywood and other high-profile movie and TV markets all over the world. We are excited by Final Cut Pro. We think that it is the biggest leap forward in editing technology since the move to digital. We think it’s incredible.
We also think it’s incredible that some of us still can’t choose it to do our work. Work that could easily include productions for your very own Apple TV+ service.
Final Cut Pro is a wonderful application used by many YouTubers, education and small business content creators worldwide. We know why it is successful. It is liberating, efficient and fun to work with. But, unfortunately in professional film and TV, editors who use Final Cut Pro are a tiny minority.
We ask Apple to promote Final Cut Pro publicly and add the few remaining features that our industry has consistently stated are needed.
Further, the signees request public support from Apple for professional use of Final Cut Pro, the integration of third-party products and solutions into Final Cut Pro and flexibility from Apple to fully adopt industry standards. Without these steps from Apple, many professional editors who wish to use Final Cut Pro in their work will continue to be unable to do so. The letter also states that Apple hasn’t done enough to promote Final Cut Pro for professional video production, although Apple’s upcoming new Final Cut Pro Certification exams may help. The letter adds, ‘We need more experienced film and TV production crew members who also know how to use Final Cut Pro.’ Steven Sanders, editor in chief of the FOX TV series, ‘War of the Worlds,’ noted that Final Cut Pro needs collaborative features if it’s to be adopted in industry. Sanders added that some of his peers refer to Final Cut as ‘iMovie Pro,’ pointing out that Apple needs to change the perception of its software.
The timing of this letter is interesting not only because it has been published ahead of the major 2022 NAB show in Las Vegas, but it’s also interesting because Apple has showed a significant renewed interest in professional hardware solutions with the advent of its M1-series of Apple silicon. The new Mac Studio computer is aimed at heavy-duty users and Apple has stated that it’s working on a new Mac Pro computer that will use Apple silicon.
In 2011, Apple rebooted Final Cut Pro as Final Cut Pro X. Film Industry Network called Final Cut Pro X ‘the most controversial release of 2011.’ The major software release was the subject of many complaints. The reboot occurred shortly before Apple came under significant fire for allegedly abandoning its professional users. It’s taken years for Apple to get back in the good graces of pros, and the M1 chips and return to more practical hardware design has been a large part of the Cupertino company’s resurgence. If the new open letter is any indication, professional video editors and others in the film industry hope to see Apple’s video editing software follow suit and return to its former glory.
‘As a TV editor, my job consists of being creative and being fast. Final Cut is the best NLE to achieve both of those goals,’ said Jeff Asher, editor of ‘Big Sky’ on ABC and Hulu. ‘Now we need Apple on board with a roadmap and open dialogue with Film and TV creators to restore confidence lost over ten years ago.’
Vanessa E. Brogna, assistant editor of the popular Netflix series, ‘Bridgerton,’ said, ‘Final Cut Pro is my favorite NLE. It’s an absolute powerhouse and I feel the most creative and productive. Doing one step in Final Cut is about 3-4 in other NLEs. However, the real magic of Final Cut is its free form style of editing. Editing on a magnetic timeline is streamlined and smooth so I can still be organized, but I’m able to spend more time experimenting in the edit creatively and finesse my work.’
It isn’t like the current version of Final Cut Pro lacks the chops, either. It was recently used to edit the Apple TV+ exclusive film, ‘The Banker,’ starring Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson. However, wider industry adoption requires more than compelling editing capabilities. It also requires flexibility, and, perhaps as importantly, recognition from more members of the video industry.