So NAB is rapidly approaching and as par for the course, we know nothing about Apple's plans for the event. We know they don't have a booth planned but will they announce anything at all?
Last year we had a completely underwhelming (you might say embarrassing) presentation by Apple at the SuperMeet. What will we see / hear this year?
In particular I'm curious what is going to happen to Color. Apple has really done zero to promote this application since it was acquired. When it was purchased I felt strongly, and still do, that it was a mistake to roll a $25,000 application into the $1,000 price of Final Cut Studio. By doing that, it created a lot of confusion with the end users who:
1 - Complained it doesn't operate like other Apple products
2 - Didn't take the time to learn the proper workflows.
3 - Complained the application doesn't support all the codecs / workflows of FCP.
4 - Complained the application was too hard to use.
5 - Compared it to Davinci, Baselight, Scratch and others, many of whom could only say that the others were realtime while Color was not.
There are many more examples of what the over 1 million end users who suddenly had this $25,000 color grading application complained about. Not to mention a lot of Colorists who felt threatened that 1 million plus users suddenly had a very powerful color grading application dropped into their laps.
Add all of this together and what you end up with is a very negative net value for Apple Color. People didn't even want to try it because of all the negativity associated with what is a very easy application to use and works brilliantly so long as you follow the proper workflow.
If Apple had kept it a stand-alone product priced at $999 or even $499 the people who wanted to use it would have had to make an investment into the application. When you make an investment into an application, you generally take the time to learn it properly. When it's simply an add-on to a major editing system like Final Cut Pro, it's just a freebie throw-in that I'll open up and if it doesn't work in a few clicks, well then it's trash and I won't bother.
The silence from Apple on the future development of the overall Final Cut Studio Suite in 2010 was deafening and no more so than with Color. NAB 2011 will be the point at which I will have to make the decision for our company as to whether we continue with the Apple suite of products or transition over to either Avid or Adobe CS5. We're essentially using the same software that was released back in 2009 and the production world has changed greatly in those two years, particularly with tapeless workflows and codecs that are not supported natively in FCP.
One of the big reasons we stick with Studio Suite is because of Color and the ease of use in moving projects in and out of that application. We literally run hundreds of projects each year through that app. Yes we have Davinci Resolve now as well because it makes sense to have both with the new pricing, but Color is still our primary color grading app.
I'm very curious to see whether Apple intends to keep the development of Color moving along. When Apple purchased it, we were ready to start beta testing Final Touch 3.0 which was scheduled to have some really nice features that have yet to appear in renamed Apple Color. April 2011 will be a very interesting month.