Avid vs./alongside FCPX: My Interim Judgements

Though I’m currently concentrating on learning Avid, I’m trying to get my head around available tools (NLEs and their “satellites” and “ecosystems”) and how best to make use of them.  My overall impressions so far, being only a beginner on Avid Media Composer having never used Apple FCPX, are:

  • It’s probably best to learn about but not use FCPX for a few “dots” (sub-version updates), as Larry (and others) always advise for any software.  In fact I won’t even install the trial.
  • From my experience so far of producing videos of numerous live events – mostly music and lectures, some corporates and exactly one (very successful but very time-consuming) wedding movie (two-hour, creative & live elements, multicam) – as well as absorbtions from lectures given by professional high-end wedding producers, I have acquired the following views:
    • FCPX would certainly increase productivity for lightweight and freestyle projects, such as single-editors working on post for largely unscripted /unscreenplayed / unpredictable live events and ad-hoc / avante-garde productions, be they “human” or “nature”,  and also for spontaneous home movies.  Its Skimming feature allows rapid identification/location of material you need, e.g. to carry the story between cuts (creative spatio-temporal continuity) or that you didn’t realise you could make use of (opportunistic spikes of creativity).
      • I don’t miss FCP7, so no axe to grind then, and when FCPX matures, it is definitely worth considering. But given Apple’s demonstrated lack of consideration for the existing FCP-pre-X user-base, and possible lack of appreciation of the difficulties they would cause by their “switch”, I cannot regard them as a reliable company.  Even before the “switch”, they demonstrated a lack of care about how compatible new versions of QuickTime would be with Final Cut.  One had to have an ear to the ground in the vicinity of suitable grapevines known only to the few…
    • Avid Media Composer is probably more productive on heavy-duty media-industrial projects, especially where there is significant distribution of effort within the workflow (e.g. teams & departments) or where the overall production is largely screenplayed / scripted or at least predictable.  It’s less clunky than it used to be (e.g.MC v3); it’s clunkiness is now under the threshold that I mostly care about.  I just wish its media management and browsing was swisher – the “media database” concept is great, no need to keep heving to re-name disk letters (on Windows), just bolt on a bunch of disks anyhow, or even migrate them to a RAID (say) and still have it “join-up”.
      • …Though at the same time I’m slightly concerned by stories I’ve read (on advice-giving forums) of people having to employ “hacks” like temporarily renaming Avid media folders or having to rely on automatic ducks 🙂 just to copy all media, including renders, to a different set of disks for a co-worker.  Not everybody uses InterPlay or network storage.  And, hopefully a passing phase, I hear that FCPX cannot store certain project files (?) to network storage, only local storage, limiting the possible kinds of practical Avid-FCPX collaboration physical workflow.
    • An example of a largely screenplayed project would be a high-production-value wedding.  On the other hand a wedding involving only basic event-planning (not incorporating a filming plan) will likely result in largely uncoordinated (e.g. opportunistic) camera work (possibly even by guests with pocket phones or camcorders).  Such a project may feature an “at-least predictable” core of master shots but overall would be chaotic in nature, favouring FCPX.  An engineering lecture with multiple cameras and ad-hoc  cutaway shots, e.g. audience reactions, could be regarded as mostly predictable but chaotic at the edge, making the decision (which NLE is best) less obvious.
    • One could imagine using the two tools together, the main project being in Avid as primary (solid, distributed workflow), with the (e.g. delegated) more lightweight job of identifying useful elements and configurations of the ad-hoc elements (including proposed in-post transformations e.g. mirroring), and possibly also some initial assemblies, being carried out in FCPX as secondary. The right tool for the right job-let…
      • And that way, if Apple on a whim tomorrow change everything to FCPY or ban yet another popular but non-Apple import or export format, it’s no show-stopper.
  • BUT I’m still trying toget my head around it all.  All the above is just the best I’ve come up with so far.
    • AND… I haven’t yet looked at Adobe.

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