News, , , , , , , , , , , — December 19, 2011 17:18 — 1 Comment

The Final Cut story: how Apple squeezed Adobe out of the picture

Final Cut, the popular video editing software, has endured a couple of rough takes of its own before achieving industry standard status. A new book traces its timeline and the role played by Steve Jobs at Apple


Today, Final Cut is the editing suite of choice for professional film editors, but how it became an Apple product and achieved its dominance is a fascinating story, which is told in a new book, Timeline: A History of Editing, by John Buck.

In what is effectively a second volume on the history of editing, Buck covers the digital age and the rise of Final Cut as the industry standard.

Final Cut actually started life as a Windows program written by Macromedia that Apple bought after it was rebuffed by Adobe over a Mac version of its video editing software Premiere.

Steve Jobs ensured Final Cut would be a Mac product

Tim Myers, Final Cut’s product manager, tells Buck about the uncertainty of those days.  “We were pretty unsure about whether a move to Apple at that time was going to be a good thing or a bad thing. It certainly wasn’t in its second wave of success, far from it and it was very questionable whether they were going to be able to pull it off. And a lot of us were thinking if Apple is struggling just selling computers right now why would they want to support and sell an editing product?”

This would have been around 1998, two years after Steve Jobs returned  to take back control of Apple after being ousted in a well-publicisedboardroomcoup in 1985.

Final Cut’s project manager Will Stein, says in the book, “we had moved to Macromedia from Apple, and now it seemed I was headed back there. I will be the first to admit that I was not crazy about the idea of going back. The Apple I left (under Gil Amelio) felt like it was going down fast. Apple under Steve (Jobs) felt like it had a chance, but the company had been severely damaged”.

Jobs had decided he wanted to make sure people could edit video on a Mac and he wanted them using QuickTime. “Serendipitously we had one of the best editing products in development and it was QuickTime based,” Isaac Babbs (an executive at the time at Macromedia) tells Buck.

One thing is pretty clear when reading the history of Final Cut; if Apple had not bought Final Cut it would not exist today. Jobs was smart enough to see the value in Final Cut, and he executed the desktopvideo-editingmodelto perfection. It was a another brilliant move by him.

The launch of the iMac in 1998 was a huge success and Final Cut proved to be an excellent fit and more and more film editors took note. Final Cut was also one of the first Mac ‘applications’.

To date, over 100 million apps have been downloaded from Apple’s desktop software marketplace Mac App Store in less than a year after its debut on 6 January, 2011.

Latest figures for Final Cut, from online content specialists IBC in autumn 2010, stated that the software had 1.8 million paid installations worldwide, correlating to a 51% share of the professionalnon-lineareditingmarket and Final Cut Pro is the current market leader in terms of units sold.

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About the author

Tony Myers has written 866 articles for Smart Movie Making

Fooling around with the iPhone since 2010. Taking it to the next web by writing about new media, new technology, new wave cinema and the digital revolution.

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