Following from my post yesterday The Power Of Color – Now For Tom, Dick and Harry about the crash in the cost of professional colour grading and finishing tools, the news from Las Vegas is that the feature packed new Final Cut Pro will be given away at $299 from Apple’s app store.
My initial reaction was to let out a deep sigh at yet another barrier to entry dropping to the masses… but that’s really not the way it is. It never has been about that… it’s actually a very shallow way of looking at a situation which has been unfolding for years now.
It’s no surprise. Everybody loves movies… everybody… and most people have entertained the thought of writing and making one. It’s not a uncommon dream. For most, up to this point, at best all it could be is a dream. The barriers to anyone outside of the skilled, educated and /or experienced film industry elite were for the most part impenetrable.
That has changed irreversibly. Anyone can make a movie. Actually regardless of the industry, anyone these days can do almost anything they put their mind to because the tools are free, and if they aren’t you can steal them without anyone being able to do much about it. This doesn’t necessarily mean they can produce professional results with those tools or market themselves to offer a professional service.
I’m not going to go into the new Final Cut Pro now, I probably won’t write much about it at all on my blog… to me it’s non-news and you can go any number of places to find out the latest features.
I am a technologist and a creative. I’ve worked for a reputable post facility and built a reputation for excellence in my field. I’ve also lost formal employment to the pressures of the eroding barriers to entry in post production.
The point is, what I do… in terms of the physical act… is worth very little in this free market. Thanks to Apple, it just devalued another notch… in terms of the act of editing. It used to be that the tools were so expensive that just having the tools gave one license to charge extortionate rates for mediocre work.
However… it’s difficult to put a price on experience, expertise and reputation… and in post production, we are entering a space where what you charge is linked to your real value as an artist, not to the value of your toys. I think this is a much better state of affairs.
So if you are a post professional… don’t be disheartened… don’t be a hater. Make sure you give your best to your clients, let your work, your reputation set you apart… that’s what you need to build. Gear comes and goes, it is nothing.
To those on the lower end of the spectrum, who are getting into post, making a film and realising a dream… fantastic, there has never been a better time. To you, I say concentrate on story and forget about the tools. Gear comes and goes, it’s getting easier to use, it is nothing. Be a storyteller first and foremost.
The irony is that the only tools ever needed to master the most important aspect in all this is a pen and paper, or a typewriter, or a word processor… that has never changed.