Well it’s been over a year since Final Cut Pro X was introduced and there doesn’t seem to be much resolution to the question of what will be the next “Industry Standard” non-linear editing system. Will Final Cut Pro X rise above the doubts and re-assert Apple’s dominance in the marketplace?  Or will some other platform cut through and become the next Final Cut Pro?

I guess the main reason I feel this way has to do with the obvious flaw in the original question, those words in quotation marks, Industry Standard.  There was a time when there were actual standards that governed the production and distribution of audio/video media.  There were, and still are, Broadcast Standards.  These are administered by the Government and have changed dramatically since the days of NTSC video as technology has changed.  But the extent to which someone needs to adhere to these standards has altered as the ways in which people consume content have changed dramatically over the years.  Ultimately, you don’t have to worry about broadcast standards if you’re not broadcasting your program.

So how would one apply the term “Industry Standard” to a piece of technology or a particular product?  I guess one would would start by looking at Market Share.  Certainly Apple has enjoyed a large percentage of the non-linear editing system Market Share with Final Cut Pro.  But that topped out at approximately 54%.  So will Avid, or Autodesk, or Adobe supplant Apple as the market share leader?  I feel the eventual answer to this question is yes, and not that one of them will supplant Apple, but they will combine, along with some other players in the space, to supplant Apple, while Apple will continue to be a significant player, just not the dominant one.  It seems only natural that as the tools we use to acquire images have broadened with no one company being the obvious holder of the “Industry Standard” title, that the tools we use to edit these images will broaden as well.

So while those who acquire the images that editors edit have had to learn how to use the myriad tools that are at their disposal, editors will have to continue to broaden the scope of their tool set, learning what tool is the best, or just the best available, for the job.  With each release, FCP X adds features that seem to be aimed at facilities that rely on collaboration among editors and edit suites.  I don’t think it is going to go away, and like it or not, FCP 7 eventually will.  FCP X is still the affordable alternative for students coming out of school who are looking to offer editing services.  Any new facility that comes online in the near future will have to consider FCP X as at least one alternative for the projects they work on.  But that’s not to diminish the impact that alternative NLEs continue to have on the industry.  Avid and Autodesk Smoke have created firm niches among professionals who view them as being a level above the others in the arena.  And while Adobe’s After Effects did for motion graphics what Final Cut did for non-linear editing, Premiere shouldn’t be ignored as a serviceable alternative especially for those who will be purchasing so many seats of Adobe’s bundled software even if to primarily purchase After Effects.

It’s no secret the role of an editor has changed dramatically over the years.  Editors have been asked to venture into the realms of audio and motion graphic design, where as in the past these were distinct roles filled by different people.  Likewise the editor’s arsenal will ultimately continue to expand and this notion of “Industry Standard” will be further re-defined.

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