If you haven’t already heard the news, Apple finally released the long awaited update to the Mac Pro – and this is great news for many, especially us FCP X users. The previous model was originally designed 10 years ago and while it was upgraded internally many times over the years, the past couple of years it has seen only the slightest improvements and never integrated new technology like thunderbolt or USB3, leaving professionals wondering if they were going to abandon the line all together.
Today, Tim Cook and the Apple team delivered on their promise of a new Mac Pro and while it won’t be out until later this year, the specs are absolutely amazing and the design is gorgeous. It takes a completely new approach to the desktop design with a cylinder shaped aluminum body that is a first for Apple.
Take a look at these shots I pulled off of The Verge of the Mac Pro opened up:
Here is a short list of just a few of the incredible specs on this machine:
- 12 Core
- Intel Xeon E5 processor
- 1,866MHz DDR3 RAM
- 60GB/s data tranmission
- PCIe-based flash storage
- Four USB 3.0 ports
- Six Thunderbolt (Lightning) 2.0 ports
- HDMI 1.4
- WiFi 802.11ac
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Dual AMD FirePro GPUs
- Support for 3 4K Displays
- 9.9″ by 6.6″ (1/8th the size of a current Mac Pro!)
The specs speak for themselves. Incredibly fast and efficient, in a size that could comfortably sit on your desk. The biggest complaint many will have with this design is that it is modular and will likely require expansion via thunderbolt rather than internally in the machine. For me personally, this is a non-issue as the few things that I do need to expand on (video output for example), can easily be done over thunderbolt and those specific devices can now be used on all of my machines with thunderbolt rather than living inside one. So for me, this is actually a good thing. I love the small size of it.
So obviously this machine is extremely powerful and will be adopted by many, but how exactly will it affect FCP X and its users?Â Based on the fact that in the keynote today, Apple specifically pointed out FCP X running on the new machine and made reference to The Foundry and Pixar currently using the computer, it’s clear that Apple is serious about video pros. And there is no doubt that new versions of FCP X (probably 10.1) will be completely optimized for this machine.
Specifically, FCP X will take advantage of the new processor and Dual AMD GPU’s, but it will also run extremely fast on the new flash storage which is several times faster than even current SSDs and 10 times faster than regular 7200rpm drives. Another huge plus will likely be the ability for native editing in 4K resolution. This will be made possible thanks to the speed of the computer and its ability to run 4K video in real time, but also the fact that this machine will be able to monitor 4K (on up to 3 monitors simultaneously!). This is pretty amazing. There are rumors of a 4K monitor from Apple and all sorts of other speculation, but the one thing we know for sure is that this will unquestionably be the fastest machine to run FCP X on.
Rather than speculate on what features may or may not be added to FCP X to take advantage of the new hardware, I would rather discuss the potential it has for FCP X as a whole, specifically the user base on a professional level.
Upon its release FCP X had a lot of backlash. We are all well aware of what transpired and how the launch of FCP X single handedly flipped the post production industry on its head, with many people wondering where to go next. Even at the launch though, I saw a lot of potential in FCP X despite its issues and am very happy I stuck with it from the beginning. Now, 2 years later, it has become an incredible, feature rich tool that in many cases can run circles around other NLE’s – especially in regards to organization and general ease of use.
I have noticed that in the last 6 months or so, more and more pro users have come around to FCP X. Many of them may still not be using it (nor did they even give the first version a chance), but the general feeling in the air seems more positive as of lately. I’m not sure why that is, but for whatever reason enough time seems to have passed without any other NLE really knocking it out of the park, for people to be considering giving FCP X another look. I would argue that one of the main reasons FCP X hasn’t gotten a second look from some pros was because of a lack of a new Mac Pro, which in itself was sort of a microcosm for where Apple’s focus was. But now with the release of an incredibly powerful new machine, many pros are surely going to have their faith restored in Apple again and this will inevitably lead to more FCP X adoption. This won’t be overnight, but I would guess that over the next few months, FCP X will see an increase in users and once the new Mac Pro is released, that will spike.
The new machine will run all software extremely well including of course Avid, Premiere and other NLE’s. However, FCP X will be the only one specifically designed to run on the new Mac Pro and the only one truly optimized for its hardware. I would assume that this alone is going to draw a lot of users back to FCP X as a result of two things: Faith in Apple as a pro company (new Mac Pro), unmatched NLE performance and functionality.
The other factor in the NLE war right now, is where are Avid and Adobe? Avid has a consistent (but very small) user base which is shrinking by they day, and Adobe was on the right course but just threw everyone a huge curveball with Creative Cloud. To touch on that for a moment, that isn’t something that I particularly am upset by (as I currently use the cloud), however many people are really put off by this and since Premiere is relatively new (at least in the professional world), I think their timing with Creative Cloud couldn’t have been worse. It has certainly taken the heat off of FCP X and made Apple look like the good guy again, with FCP X running beautifully and a shiny new computer on the horizon.
All in all, a very good day for Mac Pro users and FCP X users alike. For more of my experiences with FCP X, check out: Why I Am Editing My Feature Film In FCP X
Also be sure to check out Apple’s new page for the Mac Pro here.