When you find a creative tool that works for you, it’s always best to stick with it.

It takes a significant amount of time and effort to create the processes, workflows, and habits that enable you to be so productive with such tools. It really isn’t worth undoing all of that hard work just because something else has caught your eye – particularly if time is money.

That’s why I still use Final Cut Pro for video editing. It’s why I’ve never bothered to try out Adobe Premiere or sniff out the likes of LumaFusion on the iPad.

It’s just a shame that Final Cut Pro is so inherently flawed.

The pros have their say

To date, 461 people have signed an open letter to Tim Cook which asks Apple to “publicly stand by the use of Final Cut Pro” in TV and film industries across the world.

The letter urges Apple to promote Final Cut Pro better and add features that are required for more comprehensive industry adoption.

There appear to be two major concerns. The first is a lack of trust; professional film editors believe that Final Cut Pro simply isn’t up to the task of editing big-budget TV and film productions due to missing features and poor support from Apple. The second is a lack of integration within Hollywood’s existing framework, relating to data transfer issues and the inability to meet standards.

Working collaboratively is also cited as a problem. “Editing big productions needs collaboration,” explains Steven Sanders, the chief editor behind Fox TV series War of the Worlds. “Different users have to be able to access the same library at the same time. There is no way around this [in Final Cut Pro].”

None of these things affects me, because I make videos of myself talking to a camera about MacBooks and headphones. But my tales from the other end of the production scale reveal the breadth of problems surrounding Apple’s video editing suite.

Let’s get into it.

Library size

Final Cut Pro is incredibly cumbersome. In part, this is to be expected; video files, by their nature, are large. But Final Cut Pro feels about as light on its feet as an oil tanker.

There are several (arguably, too many) options when it comes to managing your library and raw files in Final Cut Pro. I detail the way I do it in my popular Skillshare class, but in essence, it involves keeping the Final Cut Pro library and my raw footage and audio separate.

Despite this, my library file still balloons in size as the video editing process matures. I have no idea why, either. As noted, all of the footage and audio files are kept safely in separate folders, yet Final Cut Pro appears intent on randomly copying stuff into the library without my permission and creating humungous render files.

This makes Final Cut Pro anything but portable. Sure, you can run everything from an external SSD as I do, but you’ll need terabytes and terabytes of space available if you don’t want to run into the dreaded ‘not enough space’ message during a render. That gets expensive and means the idea of cross-device syncing remains nothing but a dream.

That last point bothers me the most. I’ve made no secret about my desire to have a full-blown version of Final Cut Pro on the iPad, but until Apple sorts out the cumbersome file structure and dreadfully inefficient use of disk space, I can’t see how it’s ever going to be possible.

Questionable underpinnings

As fast as I can fly through an edit on Final Cut Pro, there’s one glitch that casts a shadow over the entire process.

Hit ‘play’ on your video and scroll through the timeline, and Final Cut Pro will refuse to redraw the audio waveform or clip preview on the timeline. As the video plays and you scroll, you’re essentially left with blank horizontal bars that don’t contain any form of useful information – until you hit ‘stop’. Then, Final Cut Pro drunkenly catches up by slowly revealing the clip previews and audio waveforms. It’s so bad that I’ve developed the muscle memory required to start and stop footage as I go about my editing duties.

From what I’m told, Adobe Premiere Pro doesn’t do this. And you can bet your bottom dollar that the likes of LumaFusion don’t, either.

There’s no excuse for it, and no amount of updating on Apple’s behalf appears to solve the issue. And these problems join a number of regular crashes I experience when attempting to export videos, create compound clips, and copy content from one library to another.

This leads me to the conclusion that there are some serious, inherent issues behind the scenes with Final Cut Pro. If Apple can’t make it do something as simple as redraw audio waveforms and clip previews on the timeline efficiently, then there must be a much deeper problem.

My suspicion is that Final Cut Pro is running on dated, butchered code that has been inefficiently developed since the controversial launch of the new-look version back in 2011, which was widely regarded as a dumbing-down of the platform.

I think it actually needs rebuilding from the ground up. And who knows – maybe that’s exactly what Apple is doing.

What I want

You’ll note that I haven’t bemoaned any of the features within Final Cut Pro. Indeed some of them – most notably the recent addition of Voice Isolation – are absolutely game-changing for me as an independent creator.

I’m not a Hollywood editor, therefore I don’t have the same needs as those who have signed that open letter to Tim Cook. I feel their pain, big time, but I simply want Apple to work on modernising the underpinnings of Final Cut Pro.

I want to be able to use Final Cut Pro on smaller SSDs. I’d love the ability to grab my iPad Pro and finish off an edit at the local coffee shop. I want that timeline to feel as buttery smooth as it should on my £3,500 MacBook Pro.

Come on, Tim. Enough is enough.

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