No one likes unnecessary pain.
It must’ve seemed like unnecessary pain to many editors, having to learn a new piece of software when the old one works just fine. And no, I’m not talking about Final Cut Pro X (yet), but Final Cut Pro 7. Years ago, I saw a lot of hostility towards it from Avid guys, and I always thought that, frankly, they were just too lazy to learn a new bit of software.
That sentiment, though, has come back to haunt me as I’m being forced into the world of Adobe’s Premiere Pro for the first time. In my one day’s work with it, it hasn’t impressed me, but is that its problem or mine?
The thing is that when I started using Final Cut Pro 7, having been Avid-only for my first couple of years, I found its interface more natural in many ways than Avid’s. Sure, I was slower on it—I didn’t have all the keyboard shortcuts down pat (I still take some readjustment time when switching jobs done on different NLEs), and I still had to look for basic functions—but whenever I figured something out, there was, more often than not, a sort of ‘ah, that makes sense,’ moment. So I always knew that FCP7 and I would get along just fine.
Not so with others. Avid guys, forced against their will to work with FCP7, would scream, tear their hair out and shout about how ‘crap’ it was, how its way of doing things didn’t ‘make any sense,’ and how (yawn) it wasn’t for pros.
(Maybe this was just in Glasgow. Sorry if I’ve told this story before, but at some point in the noughties I was having a drink with an editor who’d recently relocated from London. He started slagging off FCP7, but when I defended it he said, “I know: it’s great. But since I’ve been here I’ve come to think that I’ll lose work unless I join in bad-mouthing it.”)
Anyway, just as that was dying down Apple pulled the infamous FCPX stunt and made a cat among pigeons look like a yoga class. As early as the announcement I could immediately see that I would love FCPX. Learning it was far, far more painful than the move from Avid to FCP7, of course, but it never seemed like unnecessary pain, and now I’ll cut on it if I have even the ghost of a choice.
Premiere Pro, though? I’m certainly not going to question its suitability for pro work, but do I really need to learn its ways? It may be magnificent (there’s no question it’s more fit for purpose than ole’ Final Cut Pro 7 these days); it just seems like a retrograde step learning a new app with that old track-based timeline that FCPX has done away with (to its benefit, in my opinion). Avid’s still there for that old paradigm, after all. It’s like learning how to work a new fax machine that’s much faster than the old kind: great, but we have internet now, yeah?
Sure, it’s another feather in the cap, string in the bow, NLE on the CV, you might say. But until now no one’s ever asked if I have this particular feather, that particular string. This is a job, though, I am pro (supposedly), and I am being asked.
This pain just got necessary. To be continued…