That is my motto. Well, my motto in the production world. This is because to stay on the cutting edge…to buy things when they come out…just because it is the latest thing…is expensive. New computers hit the market every 6 months, so it is easy to left behind. New editing software updates…major ones, come about every 9 months to a year. And while the software upgrade itself might not be expensive the upgrade might require the newer hardware in order to use all of the major features it offers.
Case in point. Final Cut Pro Studio 2. GREAT update…major enhancements. Color, ProRes 422, multiple codecs in one timeline in RT, 3D space in Motion, Soundtrack Pro…the simple fact that the timeline in FCP conforms to the first clip you drop in it is major. No more making sure that you have the proper Easy Setup chosen, then deleting Sequence 1 and making a new sequence. MAN I hated that. ANYWAY…I am straying. This new update offers SO MANY COOL THINGS…but…BUT…you need an Intel Mac to take advantage of man of them. The multiple codecs in RT on one timeline has the dark green line (good resolution) on an Intel, but the light green line on older PPC Macs. Color works OK on an older Mac (although you need a DARN GOOD graphics card), but shines on an Intel Mac. ProRes…capturing to ProRes 422 without the AJA I/O HD requires an Intel Mac Pro.
So, this nice $499 upgrade won’t get me much of anything, unless I also upgrade my hardware. That means getting a Mac Pro, RAM, a new capture card (seeing that my Kona LH is PCI-X), and a new eSATA card…at least. This isn’t an inexpensive proposition…this means another $6000. No drop int he bucket. Yes, I cut network TV, but I ain’t made of money.
Lets take a quick look at the upgrade path for Premeire Pro. If you have Premiere Pro, and you want to get the latest version of Premeire Pro CS, you have to pay more than the upgrade cost of FCP. The UPGRADE cost of this suite is the RETAIL cost of FCP Studio 2. While Adobe Creative suite is $1699 for all the AMAZING apps it offers, the upgrade path from Premiere, or Photoshop, or Adobe After Effects…is $1299. Wow…chunk of change. Since I am not a Premiere guy, I am not sure about the hardware requirements. And I am too lazy to look.
And Avid upgrades are notoriously expensive, which is why may of the production companies I work at STILL HAVE and use Avid Meridian v11 on G4s running OS 9. Why? Well, it works. It still does what it needs to do. And since it cost upwards of $65,000…by god they are gonna use it until it works no more.
Which brings me to my point.
I have Final Cut Pro 5.1.4…I have a two year old Dual 2.0 G5…an AJA Kona LH…an assortment of firewire and eSATA drives. I edit DV, uncompressed SD on occasion and DVCPRO HD. The version of FCP that I have works with the workflows that I deal with. Everything I have…works. Heck, I went from FCP 3 to FCP 5.0…skipped FCP 4.5 entirely. Why? Didn’t have the need for it. Didn’t need what it offered at the time.
Now, this new version has all these nifty things. But, do I have a need to edit multiple codecs on the same timeline? Not yet. Not since my stint on BLOOD DIAMONDS. But when that need arises, I might make the leap. ProRes 422? I definately want that. Even though I can’t capture to it, I don’t need to. I capture native DVCPRO HD and edit that, and then transcode when it is time to online. Motion 3…now has true 3D. Do I need that? Use it? Not really. Although it might be fun to play with and FIND uses for it. Color. Need it? Not really, I have done fine without it. Will I get better results with it? HELL YEAH. But, I get good results with what I have…using Colorista with GREAT results.
The point is, while FCP Studio 2 offers a lot of advantages…a lot of great new things…do I NEED IT? Well…yes. I can get a better quality image by transcoding into ProRes and using Color. I can work on learning Motion 3. Will I upgrade my hardware? No. Well, not ALL of it. I can’t afford to, and have no need to, upgrade all of my hardware. I will, however, get a new graphics card. I’ll get the Nvidia x800 to replace my 9800 Pro. But this still is an expensive proposition. $499 for FCP, $499 for the graphics card…$998.
But seeing as my current project is winding down (one week left), and my future prospects for work mean working on edit systems provided by the production company, I really don’t have that money to invest into my system. So…what to do? Most likely I’ll get the graphics card before they sell out…but wait for FCP 6. This will be tough for me on the FCP forums as I won’t be able to answer as many questions, as it seems like EVERYONE is upgrading to FCP 6. But hey, I need the break anyway.
And as I said…”buy when you need.” Is Studio 2 cool? Yes. Advantages galore. Do I need it? No…not yet. So, I will wait.