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Friday, June 24, 2011

Conan O'Brien Can't Stop Funnin' on Final Cut X

Reading Filmmaker Magazine's Scott Macaulay weekly editorial remains a highlight of opening my email inbox.

This week's commentary about Apple's newly update version of Final Cut X seemed very inside baseball...that is until I stumbled across this hilarious send-up by Conan.


With his new feature doc making the rounds, is Conan aiming to kick-up some indie cred...

Or is his staff really invested in the functionality of Apple editing software?

See Macaulay's complete commentary after the jump"

I’ve been thinking a bit about legacy issues. No, not what will be left behind when we’re dead, but the kinds of things businesses talk about when they use the phrase. “Legacy issues” has a succinct meaning when it refers to software. Wikipedia calls a legacy system “an old method, technology, computer system, or application program that continues to be used, typically because it still functions for the users' needs, even though newer technology or more efficient methods of performing a task are now available.” When it comes to businesses, “legacy issues” refers to products and services too, but also missions and goals. How much of what you did in the past are you going to continue to be guided by? How much are you going to cut loose? And how much can you cut off without fundamentally shifting your identity, thereby making your new competitors much younger folks who grew up doing naturally what you’re struggling to learn?

Apple — or, rather, some of its users — are dealing with legacy issues at the moment. As you may know, they released a new version of their professional editing software this week, Final Cut Pro X. But although “X” would imply that it’s the tenth fundamental iteration of FCP, that’s not the case. FCP only made it through seven versions, so Apple skipped a couple of generations. But more than that, they came out with an entirely rewritten program, a Version 1.0 that has jettisoned key elements of the past while embracing new paradigms. (Some of these key elements, editors hope, will be reinstated in updates.) At his Daring Fireball blog, John Gruber notes the uproar among many pro editors and writes, “This ground-up rewrite may well have been the right thing to do. Apple seems convinced that this is a better fundamental concept for video editing — and, really, storytelling in general. But it may prove risky not to offer a transition period.” Gruber links to our own David Leitner, who posted his own musings on FCP X on the blog this week. Leitner dives into this notion of paradigm change, writing, “Leaps in technology come at a cost... why shouldn’t metaphors evolve? In FCP X there are no more bins (evoking film editing). Clips are imported into Events, in the spirit of iPhoto and iMovie. I learned editing in the days of tape splicing and owned real bins for hanging real film clips. But that was eons ago. Sure, it helped us early on to grasp the principles of nonlinear editing on the original Media Composer, but many of today’s FCP users weren’t even born then. Why cling to this bit of sentimentality in a file-based era?”

How much of our indie film conventions are sentimentality? Do we need a transition period? Or are we in one already — a storied Interregnum? And what does it mean that some of the best independent films of recent memory, like Winter’s Bone, for example, contain the kind of near timeless storytelling that would have impressed at any time in independent film’s history?

To be continued, of course.... See you next week.

Best,
Scott Macaulay
Editor

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