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BlogFinal Cut Pro X: the Android of NLEsMonday, August 10 2015

The choice of which video editing application to use shouldn’t be based on market share. You should choose the tool that fits you best.

However some people find comfort in choosing popular tools – especially when it comes to hiring editing talent. On high-end jobs the ability to fire staff is important too, which you can only do if there are talented people to replace them.

As to what are the market shares of Media Composer, Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere might be, none of the NLE vendors regularly reports on sales, all anyone can do is make guesses.

Reading this article by Horace Dediu on smartphone switching prompted me to see some parallels in the NLE market:

Apple may have also lost a few users to Android but overall gained switchers from other platforms, mainly Android. This is what would support Tim Cook’s comments.

Thinking further ahead, as the markets mature globally, they may well evolve into the way the US market evolves today. Apple’s brand promise ensures loyalty while competing platforms slowly “leak” users. If this sounds eerily familiar then you’d be right. This is exactly how the PC market behaves today.

My first thought was that Final Cut Pro X is iOS in this story. However, this article is about those switching from and to iOS, Android, Windows Phone and not having a smartphone.

Perhaps Avid is like Blackberry, established users are sticking with it because of its business support and traditional business use. Windows Phone is like Final Cut Pro 8 – if Apple had brought out a more modern version of an established application.

Most established editors are probably switching to Adobe – as it offers an Apple-like walled garden of a complete solution but doesn’t require them to change too much.

Most Final Cut Pro X users are switching from not having edited before – just as most Android users are switching from not having had a smartphone before. Experienced editors might also consider X as the application that people who “who don’t know any better” would choose.

In case of these competing NLEs, which one is likely to ‘leak’ users? What makes a platform leaky?

Switching isn’t just down to price, it’s down to the whole experience. As it is inconvenient, there have to be very good reasons to switch. Those switching to iOS from Android find the Apple brand promise appealing.

I think Apple consider that video editing is an untapped market, whereas professional video editing isn’t. For an NLE to do well, they should go after both markets.

That means once the Final Cut Pro X users who were new to editing get comfortable, Adobe must entice them over to Creative Cloud.

Conversely Apple must also convince people who help Adobe Premiere ‘free’ with Adobe Photoshop to try a video editing tool they have to pay for, and that is less well integrated with the tools they use already.

I’m looking forward to those Adobe and Apple case studies.

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BlogWant to predict the TV graphics of tomorrow? Try the smartphone graphics of todayMonday, August 10 2015

If you are working on graphics to be used in TV shows and documentaries that you don’t want to go out of date too quickly, it is a good idea to keep up with TV graphic design trends.

Given the lead times of some documentaries can be months and years, it is best to be influenced by trends that TV follows instead of following TV itself.

Over the last 10 years, smartphones have become much more important in most of western culture. It’s no surprise that smartphone OS design is a major inspiration on TV graphics. Take the UK’s Sky News for example. If you visit tvnewsroom.org, you can see their branding seemed to change in 2008 in response to the launch of the iPhone. The graphics started looking like iPhone on-screen buttons.

In recent years the design of iOS and Android has flattened – Apple and Google no longer need as many UI cues to say that an object is interactive – that it can be tapped or dragged. Sky News has followed – their news graphics have become flatter.

Directions in iOS and Android design

Given this ‘TV follows mobile’ trend, if you want your documentaries not to look out of place over the next few years, I suggest you absorb Onur Oral’s Mobile:2015 UI/UX Trends:

Whether on an app screen, a web browser, or a wearable watch face, design is one of the most important drivers of consumer engagement. From flat design to Material design, I analysed what trends have evolved, and share a few of my insights with you — what are these trends? Why are they beneficial to the user? And how are they created?

On the other hand, if your audience will primarily be online, consider keeping up with trends instigated by Kickstarter videos and YouTubers!

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BlogThe 2015 ‘Media bubble’ – will it burst or deflate?Sunday, August 9 2015

Two stories this week point to a parallel between today’s media market and 2008’s credit market.

The LA Times reports that a statement from Disney in about a lack of subscribers for premium cable content caused media stocks to be sold off:

“One sentence from Disney and nearly $60 billion in market value gets wiped out,” Doug Creutz, media analyst with Cowen & Co., said Thursday. “Can you say panic?”

The Hollywood Reporter quoted FX Networks CEO John Landgraf:

“This is simply too much television. My sense is that 2015 or 2016 will represent peak TV in America, and that we’ll begin to see declines coming the year after that and beyond”

[…]

Still, the FX/FXX chief was careful to note that he doesn’t foresee the aforementioned bubble outright bursting, so much as slowly deflating in the years to come. What will become increasingly key, in his mind, are strong network brands, which he likens to a mission statement or promise to viewers. “Programmers without a defining brand identity and the scale to support that brand with great and plentiful programming and marketing are going to have a huge struggle as time goes on”

While those who fund content weather the storm over the next few years, maybe it would be a good idea for those who make content to develop alternate business models. Part of that might be involvement in developing brands that appeal to modern audiences. For creative people, it’s a matter of finding different routes to market. Gary Newman, chairman of (TV show makers) Fox Television Group as quoted by the LA Times:

“On the most simplistic level, our point of view is create content, we’ll figure out some way to get it into the homes and on the mobile devices of consumers,” Newman said. “We’ll be able to figure out a business model that will allow us to continue to do that.”

Ilene Chaiken, an executive producer of ‘Empire,’ agreed.

“I would venture for most writers I know, none of that matters,” Chaiken said. “We’re all about the story. Wherever our work is being seen, whatever technology is distributing or producing it, we’re doing the same thing: We’re telling the very best story we can. And I think you can tell those stories on broadcast TV, on cable, on streaming services — just give me the opportunity to tell my stories.”

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BlogWhy is there an offline/online editing distinction in 2015?Saturday, August 8 2015

When I first started learning about computer-based non-linear editing, I understood that early NLEs were designed to replace part of the process where the work print is being prepared. The work print was the edit that would eventually act as a list of instructions for a negative cutter to combine the camera source footage into the final edit.

When computers were first introduced into post production, there was no chance that they would be powerful enough to work with original camera footage throughout the process. The term ‘offline’ in ‘offline editing’ comes from the world of technology meaning that the source media wasn’t being worked with.

Now that computers are powerful enough to work with source media throughout the process, why is the distinction made? the online/offline distinction is mentioned in a new Avid blog on assistant editor Tom Doggart and his work on Aardman animated features including ‘Shaun the Sheep Movie’:

The offline edit in feature film production is becoming less relevant, as software and increasing processing power is enabling editorial to be in control of their own DI, VFX and grading, right up to DCP creation.

Those who create workflows incorporating Adobe, Apple, RED and Blackmagic Design products over recent years would agree with that.

Now that Media Composer can directly handle modern source footage, Avid are starting to blur the offline-online distinction.

The distinction probably remains because the financial model for post production hasn’t kept up with technology. Post production houses still have expensive hardware and software to pay for. That means they need to market these ‘solutions’ to post-production supervisors.

That means a studio feature film edited using Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro X is thus ‘finished’ on Quantel hardware, when it could have been onlined with DaVinci Resolve on a Mac or PC.

Even when post budgets are under stress, people still trust process A that costs more than process B. Price is a signifier of how ‘professional’ the hardware, software and staff seem.

The danger for the post houses, high-end vendors and specialist freelancers is that the correlation made between process price and final results might vanish at any moment. All it takes is for one or two post supervisors to realise what is possible to do with truly modern tools, post houses and freelancers.

Already being said by editors around the world: “What do you mean ‘who’s doing the finish?’ I’ve just done it.”

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BlogGenerous Final Cut Pro X plugin maker goes commercialFriday, August 7 2015

Fox Mahony has been making Final Cut Pro X plugins since December 2011. There are over 150 available online. At the moment he makes some money from his YouTube demo videos – each video description includes a download link:

We offer free access to all of our templates and ask only that you watch (or let run) the entire video that accompanies the download information. That way, Google pays me and you don’t have to!

As well as accepting donations via PayPal at his template site, he has now set up a store at Creative Market.

If you’ve ever downloaded one of his free Final Cut tools, it’s only fair that you visit his new store to see his first commercial template and return often to see what else he offers.

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BlogApple’s video application prioritiesFriday, August 7 2015

As well as Apple’s product and service marketing materials, we can see have they think about their products by taking a look at two current software development job advertisements:

The iMovie for iOS team seeks an experienced software engineer to define and build custom technologies and features for visual storytellers.

[…]

This is an exciting opportunity to make visual storytelling easy, fun, and expressive for everyone. In this role you will guide other engineers as you design new features and maintain current features that help people tell their stories every day.

In another ad:

Apple’s Video Applications Team is an industry leader in applications and technology which delivers video to customers at all skill levels, on both Mac OS and iOS. We are looking for a Software Engineering Manager to drive the development of products in one of our key market segments. This individual will be responsible for leading multiple teams to ensure on time delivery of high quality products as well as setting the strategic direction for how these products delight the customers in this important market segment.

Key Qualifications

[…]

  • Demonstrated track record of delivering highly adopted consumer software products

[…]

You will be responsible for setting the direction of all products in a key market segment for the Video Applications Team. You will work with leadership, marketing, and end users to define product feature sets, help identify critical workflow issues, and then work with the engineering teams to schedule and deliver features which address these issues and, in many cases, deliver new functionality that the user didn’t even know they needed.

”Deliver what they don’t know they need”

Some points from these job descriptions:

  • iMovie for iOS is designed to make visual storytelling easy, fun, and expressive for everyone
  • The Video Applications Team wants to support customers at all skill levels
  • One of the jobs of the software engineering manager is to help identify critical workflow issues
  • The team expects to in many cases deliver new functionality that the user didn’t even know they needed
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