Apple Doesn't Like Indie Filmmakers

Thumb In case you’re wondering, I didn’t want to get sued for trademark violation

Apple creates wonderful products for media consumers. But it doesn't care about you, the independent filmmaker - in some ways you're its enemy.

Apple groupies rhapsodize about how their iPhones/iPads/iMacs changed their lives, and how Steve Jobs' OCD and megalomania were boons to mankind.  Look, I'll say it: Apple makes great hardware and software.  It takes existing tools (laptops, tablets, smartphones, online stores, MP3 players, etc.) - and refines them into truly consumer-friendly devices.  The Palm Treo was okay; the iPhone is amazing.  The iPad is incredibly versatile.  For many, it's replaced their books, cash registers, maps, TVs, newspapers, and GPS devices.  But what about media creators? 

Well, some folks make films on their iPhones/iPads, and without question they're good for livestreaming, scouting, and reviewing work.  But I wouldn't want to shoot a feature on them, not when good cameras (Canon 7D or even 2Ti) are so affordable.  Editing large amounts of video on an iPad is too difficult.

The iTunes store?  Apple doesn't usually work with individual filmmakers (unless you're Spielberg).  You have to go through an aggregator.  These companies will get your film into all the digital VOD services (iTunes, Amazon, Hulu, etc.) - but they take a chunk of money.  Some charge for encoding.  And like Blockbuster, iTunes doesn't accept NC-17 material.

iMovie?  Not a good non-linear editor for anything serious.  Its consumer-friendly features get in the way of actually editing, and I've found it frustrating to do build longform pieces with.  Final Cut Pro, on the other hand, was a great NLE with solid color and effects programs bundled along (Color and Motion).  That was, until the steaming turd of Final Cut X came out.  Color and Motion look like they're going to be discontinued.

ProRes?  An awesome codec that will (hopefully) be with us for a while.  But try dealing with competing standards - Blu-Ray, AVCHD, Flash.  There are ways to author Blu-Rays or ingest AVCHD material into FCP, but they're not fun.

FileMaker Pro?  One of the best database development environments around.  I've built a lot of film-related tools with it.  But its developer, scripting and GUI tools need a serious overhaul.  Instead Apple pushes Bento, which is okay if your needs are very simple.

Xserve?  Killed.  Lion Server?  Not so hot.  That's too bad, because long-term video storage, and/or running a good-sized production office demands decent a real server OS.  iCloud can't replace a server for secure file, print, intranet and app services.

But the real problem with Apple is its closed universe.  Jobs' vision was to create devices that you could treat like appliances  - plug and play.  Most of us don't open up our stereos or TVs.  Likewise, all apps, films, and music go through Apple's approval process.  AppleTV is a closed-box device.  The thing is, artists LIKE to open things up and tinker.  They find new uses for tools.  Video artist Nam June Paik rewired television sets.  DSLRs were not originally designed for filmmaking.  Artistic innovation often leads to dead ends, but also to cultural and commercial successes.  John Cage's work led to Brian Eno's loop-based music, which led to GarageBand and other music software.  The people who "think different," in other words, push technology forward.  But they're increasingly left out of the Apple universe.  Ironically, they supported Mac back when others abandoned the platform.  Anyone building an Android-based NLE?