If news broke that Apple was finally going to attend the annual Final Cut Pro User Group SuperMeet
to announce a brand new version of Final Cut Pro, you might think it would be cause for celebration. Apple has periodically attended past SuperMeets, held for the last ten years during NAB. But except for an appearance last year, the company hasn’t had much of a presence or sponsorship for some time. As a result, you might assume every SuperMeet attendee would welcome the news that the very secretive Apple, which rarely shows previews or announces products before they ship, will show up. Well, you’d be wrong.
For weeks now the official SuperMeet website has been headlined by logos from companies like Avid and AJA, some of its main sponsors. Those logos have now mysteriously disappeared. For weeks on the site the presentation lineup listed people like Philip Bloom doing his Canon DSLR thing, Alexis Van Hurkman talking color grading, Autodesk talking Smoke for Mac and Avid bringing Kevin Smith to the stage. Those have been replaced by, and I quote, a “surprise sneak peek at something very special.”
For weeks there had been no second half of the agenda listed, only that an announcement would be coming soon.
The ball dropped on Tuesday when a rumor began going around
that Apple had demanded organizers of the SuperMeet turn the event over to them. While we don’t know for sure, I think it’s safe to say Apple wants to use the SuperMeet to announce/demo/pimp the new Final Cut Pro that was shown to a small handful of folks in late February. That in itself should be fantastic news to all FCP 7 users suffering under the weight of the now outdated software. It seemed ideal that Apple might take the entire second half of the SuperMeet show, leaving the planned program in place.
But the latest rumor, encouraged by the disappearing logos, is that Apple has done something decidedly less cool by kicking all the other presenters—presenters who have planned, promoted and spent money on this event—off the stage entirely to take the spotlight for themselves. I want to call this what it is: a really jerk move by a company that thinks they can do as they please, to whomever they please, because of who they are. If Apple is confident in the awesome, jaw-dropping, stunning product it has produced then it should want
to present during the second half of the show and let the new product stand on its own against the competition.
The Apple fan-boys out there will say that Apple was right to do this as it’s a Final Cut Pro user group
after all. But truth be told, Apple hasn’t really supported these events in quite some time while companies like Avid, Adobe, AJA, Autodesk and others that don’t even begin with an A have. These companies recognized that it’s not necessarily about the singular tool anymore but how their products can integrate into a bigger post-production community. It’s these non-Apple A and B and C companies that have kept SuperMeet alive and thriving year after year. Without these sponsors over the years donating time, money and especially prizes for the “world famous raffle” there would be no SuperMeet. Unless there’s some hidden underwriting we don’t know about, it’s fair to say that it is really every company and person other
than Apple who has made recent SuperMeets possible.
The fact that the SuperMeets moved away from being Final Cut Pro-specific has benefited the post community as a whole. There are a lot of tools and challenges out there that Final Cut Studio just can’t handle as well. We can all read Internet reviews and watch YouTube video demos until we’re blue in the face but seeing professionals demo a lot of these non-Apple tools up on the SuperMeet stage has always been a nice outside-the-Apple-bubble perspective on filmmaking and post production. While these presentations are usually always sales pitches of some kind they at least often featured real users using the tools. We don’t know what Apple has in store but if it’s anything more than a 90-minute, carefully planned reality distortion field, I’ll be amazed.
This decision to cancel many of these already announced presenters and sponsors must have put SuperMeet organizers in an impossible
position. They are now damned if they do, damned if they don’t—damned by the FCP fanboys if they turned Apple down due to the last-minute nature of their request but now damned by the rest of us who think they should have stood up to Apple and stuck to the commitments (and possibly contracts) they previously made. Ultimately, Apple shows a total lack of respect for the Final Cut Pro user group as a whole to put it in this position. The user group is made up of tireless people who have dedicated years of their lives to making the SuperMeet a reality. It’s sad to see them cave to the big 800-pound gorilla in the room.
There are still a lot of folks out there who believe Apple can do no wrong, be it product, policy or action. To them, this move might not make a bit of difference.
We’ll have to wait until next Tuesday night to see why the folks at Apple, when they finally show Final Cut Pro X, didn’t want to follow anyone else .
But I’m already sorry we’ll all miss Avid’s previously scheduled presentation featuring filmmaker Kevin Smith. He would have been the most successful filmmaker (that I’m aware of) to ever present at the SuperMeet. Plus, he happens to be a very entertaining speaker. Avid still has Smith scheduled at its NAB booth during the week
but the SuperMeet would have put him in front of a big, targeted audience truly interested in his filmmaking process. Avid’s now thinking of giving him a stage elsewhere. You can follow that and even share your voice on Avid’s Give Kevin Smith a Stage at NAB blog post
. My only hope is that Avid doesn’t counter program an event against SuperMeet; attendance would be way too low. Most have already purchased SuperMeet tickets and many others want to win the DaVinci Resolve panel up for raffle. While we love Kevin Smith, he doesn’t help us earn a living the way FCP does.
So as the rumors fly, we can only guess what will actually happen Tuesday night. Will Apple re-invite a lot of the same presenters to talk about how they can integrate their tools with FCP X? Will the company issue an apology to those who have been screwed over? Maybe Apple will make it all better, as some smart person suggested on Twitter, by giving a free copy of FCP X to every SuperMeet attendee in the audience, Oprah-style.