Former Shake Product Designer: Apple Doesn't Care About Pro Market

Former Shake product designer Ron Brinkmann weighs in on Apple's Final Cut Pro X release. The latest release of Apple's video editing software has received much criticism from professionals due to absent features. Brinkmann was on the original team that developed Shake image compositing software prior to Apple's acquisition of the parent company. Brinkmann continued to work at Apple from 2002 until 2007 as Shake Product Designer.

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As Brinkmann explains, Shake was "entrenched in the top end of the visual effects industry" with most major motion pictures of the era using Shake in some fashion. After Apple acquired Shake in 2002 there was concern about the company not willing to cater to the market, and sure enough the entire software was end of life'd a few years later. Brinkmann bluntly sums up Apple's attitude towards professionals:

And back then the same questions were being asked as now – “Doesn’t Apple care about the professional market?”

In a word, no. Not really. Not enough to focus on it as a primary business.

Brinkman goes on to explain that there are maybe 10,000 "high-end" editors in the world while the market for an easier to use more casual product is "at least an order of magnitude larger". The market size, however, isn't necessarily the only reason. Brinkmann offers an interesting anecdote about how the high end market tends to be 90% driven by product requests from the big customers. Apple doesn't work that way:

After the acquisition I remember sitting in a roomful of Hollywood VFX pros where Steve told everybody point-blank that we/Apple were going to focus on giving them powerful tools that were far more cost-effective than what they were accustomed to… but that the relationship between them and Apple wasn’t going to be something where they’d be driving product direction anymore. Didn’t go over particularly well, incidentally, but I don’t think that concerned Steve overmuch… :-)

Apple's hierarchy is also described as one in which easily demo-able features tend to be easier to promote within the organization. He goes on to say that in the case of FCP, Apple would rather introduce more easy to use features for the broader audience even if it means pushing out some items for high end editors.

Still, he is complimentary of Apple's products and describes them as an "incredible bargain in terms of price-performance", but that "if you’re really a professional you shouldn’t want to be reliant on software from a company like Apple." In the end, he says "your heart will be broken. Because they’re not reliant on you."

Top Rated Comments

arn Avatar
128 months ago
Arn lol I didn't read the article, to be honest, I just saw another FCX headline, and just ranted on....

Wouldn't you agree that the "Pros" should just innovate with the tools they have? meaning just give FCPX a shoot, starting from scratch... I think the pro market needs to THINK DIFFERENT this time around, Not Apple.

I'm no video editor. But the main problem isn't that people aren't willing to learn a new system. It's that they've excluded necessary features for certain high end pros.

Like support for multiple camera angles. I don't think simply going to one single camera is a solution for most TV/Broadcast/Film.

arn
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
wonderspark Avatar
128 months ago
In the end, he says "your heart will be broken. Because they're not reliant on you."

That's all that needs to be said.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
RebootD Avatar
128 months ago
Arn lol I didn't read the article, to be honest, I just saw another FCX headline, and just ranted on....

Wouldn't you agree that the "Pros" should just innovate with the tools they have? meaning just give FCPX a shoot, starting from scratch... I think the pro market needs to THINK DIFFERENT this time around, Not Apple.

You have no idea what you're talking about obviously. Pro studios can no longer add seats if they don't have extra licenses around for the older Final Cut Pro/Studio because Apple, foolishly, EOL'd it when they released iMovie Pro. If you have 15-20 editors all working on projects together, that cannot be imported into iMovie Pro, then they are screwed.

Let the 90% have their 'suped up prosumer app but at least make FCS available for real pro's until they can afford to switch everyone over to AVID or Premiere.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macsrcool1234 Avatar
128 months ago
Arn lol I didn't read the article, to be honest, I just saw another FCX headline, and just ranted on....

Wouldn't you agree that the "Pros" should just innovate with the tools they have? meaning just give FCPX a shoot, starting from scratch... I think the pro market needs to THINK DIFFERENT this time around, Not Apple.

This is probably one of the worst posts i've seen on this board.

Editors have a job to do, that is to make a target video look a certain way...

No amount of "thinking different" is going to add features or capabilities that the software doesn't have.

Terrible post from somebody who clearly has never edited video before.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
w00t951 Avatar
128 months ago
I really don't don't see why Apple screwed up so badly. They could have kept Final Cut Pro "Pro," and dumbed down Final Cut Express or maybe created a lite version of Final Cut Pro for the masses... This is a huge mistake.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
RebootD Avatar
128 months ago
In the end, he says "your heart will be broken. Because they're not reliant on you."

That's all that needs to be said.

Been feeling that since they ditched matte screens in 2007. Lion just reiterates his point by making OSX more "consumery".

I can foresee many professional creatives migrating back to windows within the next year or two once it's painfully obvious (and somehow it isn't yet) that Apple has moved on quite some time ago.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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