Is the Final Cut Pro X magnetic timeline an Apple jet pack?

A common observation of how a new technology is received by the establishment over time:

  1. It is just a toy
  2. Ignore it
  3. Ignore it
  4. No
  5. I said ‘No’
  6. Oh no
  7. Oh f%ck

Adobe have introduced a rudimentary element of the Final Cut Pro X magnetic timeline to their NLEs in the form of Adobe Premiere Rush CC – their new cross-platform online video editing application. Maybe the Adobe position on trackless video editing goes like this:

  1. You can use it for online video
  2. Only online video – not video to be shown elsewhere
  3. Track-based editing will now be only available in a special compatibility mode in our newly updated version of ‘Adobe Premiere Rush CC 2022’

On the other hand, what if trackless video editing might be more of a ‘Jet Pack’ than a ‘Powered Human Fight’?

In a post on how to assess the potential of a proposed technology, Benedict Evans compared powered human flight in 1903 with jet packs in 1960.

Both technologies were pretty limited. The Wright brothers managed to fly one person for a few hundred metres. Jet packs could fly a single person for 21 seconds. Today air travel and transport has transformed the world. Jet packs can now fly for 30 seconds.

How could you tell which product had a future?

The question, then, is not whether something works now but whether it could work – whether you know how to change it. Saying ‘it doesn’t work, today’ has no value, but saying ‘yes, but everything didn’t work once’ also has no value. Rather, do you have a roadmap? Do you know what to do next?

  • The Wright Flyer looked like a toy but was in fact a breakthrough in flight with a clear roadmap that was easy to follow for it to become something huge almost immediately. Then we needed another breakthrough, around jets, to get to cheap mass air travel in the second half of the century.
  • Mobile phones in 1947 had no roadmap to become a mass-market product, but mobile phones in 1975 or 1980 absolutely had such a roadmap, with a path to make them cheap and universal.
  • Rocket packs have remained a toy and we have never had any roadmap for making them anything more.

In his post Benedict comes up with some ways to judge whether new technologies have a future. Ways that you can apply to the question ‘Does trackless Final Cut Pro X has more of a future than track-based Adobe Premiere Pro CC?’

At least Apple’s iMovie and Final Cut Pro X finally have some real competition in Adobe Premiere Rush CC. The closest thing to an application that will put some fire under the Apple Video Applications team.

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