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Old September 9th, 2006, 07:48 PM   #1
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FCP vs. Other Editing Systems...

Hello fellow HD-100 owners! I, like many of you I'd imagine, have been happily watching over posts about this fantastic camera, slowly building my knowledge base and finding more and more to love. I have been a member of DVinfo for awhile, but had all of my questions answered by previous posts and consequently had no reason to add my own thoughts or concerns to the mix. Finally, I have a question that I hope is worth asking:

I am a Mac user, so this question will pertain specifically to those of you like me out there. Now that Final Cut is finally releasing support for 24p editing, I've begun to wonder whether this is indeed the best editing system. I am especially interested in thoughts about other system's open timelines (like those offered in a range of AVID products). Does anyone else find this a valuable resource? Why might Apple be postponing the release of such an update to their much loved NLE? Are there any promising rumors of a new Final Cut suite on the near horizon?

I apologize if this question would be better suited on another forum. I simply couldn't wait to express my excitement to the news of a non-workaround solution to 24p editing with the HD-100 in Final Cut. I am also happy to finally voice my questions in the world of DVinfo and become a speaking member of a community whose insights and experiences I wholeheartedly adore and appreciate.

Many Thanks,
Matt Ecklund

P.S. I am a college student just starting a "filmmaker's guild" at my school. Our first meeting was this afternoon. I hope the pooling of resources (my HD-100 included) will bring forth some exciting future posts to this forum. Thanks in advance for your continued feedback and help!
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Old September 9th, 2006, 11:20 PM   #2
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That's a call to controversy.

Final Cut is great. Avid is great, Premier Pro is great, Edius is great, Liquid is great...... and so it goes.

Take a car, there's room for many different models and approaches to the driving experience. But, cars all have steering wheels and all are designed to basically do the same thing. None are helicopters or lawn mowers or window fans. Just as Final Cut is not Photoshop or even After Effects.

If you really feel the need, the next time you can, visit a couple of retailers that have different NLE systems set up. Just like cars you'll find different feels and different pluses & minuses. That's it. Final Cut has a significant portion of the market at the moment like Avid had it a decade ago, who knows what's next? But all the professional NLEs do one important thing nearly equal, they edit video. If you had to, you could edit with any one of them successfully.

Which one makes you the most comfortable and is the most efficient for the work you want to do? That's your answer in the end. Good Luck.

Oh, why is Apple doing one thing and another company is doing something else? Stick with these forums and you'll find as good an answer as I've found anywhere, sometimes a better answer.
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Old September 10th, 2006, 12:18 AM   #3
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That kind of reminds me of the question "who makes the best sub 10K HD camera"... only one answer, the one that fits your personal needs.

Thank you William. That's the best answer to a question like that. Besides, everyone carries a flag for the NLE they use.

Welcome to the forum Matt, glade you chose the JVC (NLE choice aside). ;)
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Old September 10th, 2006, 01:33 AM   #4
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I have four different NLEs loaded on my system, and each gets used for a different reason at different times. That is why I have stayed with PCs-- seems like I have more choices... but that isn't a dig, its just the reason I am on that platform.
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Old September 10th, 2006, 03:24 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos
I have four different NLEs loaded on my system, and each gets used for a different reason at different times. That is why I have stayed with PCs-- seems like I have more choices... but that isn't a dig, its just the reason I am on that platform.
What four do you use? Do they all run on the same system or do you have separate boot drives? What uses do you use the different NLEs for?
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Old September 10th, 2006, 03:30 AM   #6
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Hi Matt,

Welcome to dvinfo.net.

The question of NLE choice is obviously very subjective. I switch back and forth between FCP and Avid on a fairly regular basis depending on who I am freelancing for, but I have not invested any of my own money in Avid for over 6 years.

You mentioned Avid's "open timeline" as an advantage over FCP, but you should understand that FCP has always had an "open timeline." You can mix anything that can be played by Quicktime in a timeline and FCP will render it to the timeline's frame rate, codec and resolution. This was a big technological challenge for Avid for almost a decade because of their proprietary OMF codecs that couldn't even be mixed with each other.
They have now solved that problem, but the level of realtime abilities will be dependent on the product and hardware.

Here's a short history of the two systems from my perspective:
I have been a professional editor for a very long time and have worked on many many systems. I've been cutting with Avid since 1994 when I started on an Avid MC8000 running on a Quadra950 (33Mhz I think.) It was top-of-the-line at the time (cost $125,000 + $8000/yr for support,) and that system still works as well as it did back then. From feature film offline in 24fps to multi-cam offline/online for broadcast we could do anything within the realm of 640x480 pixels.

I've worked on all pro models of Avid since then and watched it "evolve" slightly with every model. However, the thing is that Avid created a great machine (running on proprietary hardware) that could do everything you needed except for high-end graphics work - which was left to 3rd party products. They were the industry leader. If you wanted business as an editing house in the 90's, you NEEDED an Avid. DVision, EMC2, Media 100, and especially Premiere didn't pull any weight with clients. The closest competitor was Lightworks.

Then a paradigm shift happened around 1999. Apple invented firewire, bought Final Cut Pro and released a piece of software for $1500 that approximated the ease of use of Avid ($100,000), but used "open" timelines that could mix frame rates, resolutions, codecs, had independently controlled keyframes, and Photoshop style transfer functions. FCP 1.2 wasn't anywhere near as powerful as Avid at the time and most of us "pros" considered it a toy suitable to cut demo reels on. Kind of a step up from Premiere with Avid-style logic.
But as Apple upgraded the software from year to year and added the ability to control professional decks, capture in quicktime with any codec or 3rd party card you wanted, proper media management, multi-cam, and the ability to program your custom keyboard, things changed. Post houses actually started investing in FCP systems. The "bang for your buck" factor could not be denied. This is around the time I started to seriously start working on a daily basis with FCP (v3 or 4.)

Since then Avid has attempted to compete with FCP by releasing products such as ExpressDV, but they have a difficultly in the marketplace because they can't match every feature of Final Cut Studio for $1500 or their professional customers wouldn't bother buying their high-end proprietary hardware solutions. It is a real "Catch-22" for Avid because they built their name and their business at a time in the 90's when professional non-linear editing was only done at professional post houses. Times have changes and that business model just doesn't work anymore.

Most of the editors I hire now work at home as much as possible... only showing up at the office for client screenings and to pick up hard drives. The logical choice for cooperative editing of a TV series is FCP, and every editor I know working in Toronto seems to own it. It is practically a pre-requisite now.

I would say that Apple has a distinct advantage over Avid right now - especially when it comes to product platform support. The smartest thing Avid did in the past year was to buy Liquid. This gave them instant support of HDV m2t files, but unfortunately the interface is very different from what most editors consider to be the defacto standard known as "AVID."
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Old September 10th, 2006, 06:05 AM   #7
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I second Tim's comments but I would like to add that here in the UK (and in much of Europe) the situation is a bit different and Avid most definitely still holds sway in the post houses and still has power over the minds of Production Managers and Producers in the broadcast and film world. This is a consideration for anyone based over here looking to outsource their online and ease the transition - and also for anyone looking to launch a well-paid editing career. The good staff jobs will usually require skills on Avid, DS, Quantel and possibly Smoke. FCP only figures in some of the smaller outfits although this situation is changing slowly. Apple have made much of the recent BBC factual coup but this is nowhere near as significant as they make out IMHO.

Personally, given a free choice as an editor hired for any serious edit job, I would opt for Avid. However, as a producer looking to buy kit for in-house use, I'd take FCP very seriously indeed. As Tim says, there is serious bang for buck there that cannot be ignored and FCP has improved massively since it was launced. It is also far more flexible. Furthermore, in my experience Avid systems are nowhere near as stable as they used to be as they try to compete with desktop rivals. Also, the much-vaunted Avid support is often pitiful so you're not getting the stability or expertise that you used to. You have to ask yourself whether it is worth it for your business/career/workflow to pay a premium for the Avid badge and what is essentiallly a closed, less flexible system. If you're a small outfit or a producer/director doing everything in-house and have no aim of building a career as an editor I suspect it is not.

I suppose a sensible approach would be to base any system on a Mac so that you keep your options open.

Coming from a post house background, I used to run Avid only. Now I use Avid and FCP. I also have Edius, which is less well developed but has the distinct advantage of supporting the HDV1 at 25fps right now - as does Liquid, of course.
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Old September 10th, 2006, 08:55 AM   #8
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As Always, I say match the NLE to the required workflow.

Our group here in Chicago includes my company and 3 others has 4 Liquid Pro stations, 1 Xpress Pro, 1 Media Composer Adrenalin, 4 FCP (1 Aja) stations, 1 Symphony Nitris, 1 Smoke, 1 Premiere Pro 1.5.

I am familiar with all of the systems listed. Liquid is the most direct method for ProHD of the systems listed above. So I consider it a perfect match. I would not consider it a perfect match for, say, a DVCProHD P2 workflow. It doesn't support it currently. I also would not pair Liquid with any 10 bit workflow, it doesn't support it currently.

I've found over the years the NLE really doesn't matter, but getting the right tool for the job really saves time. Liquid is already capable of 24, 25, 30, 50, 60fps MP@HL datastreams and render/fuse's in 2vuy (8 bit). This is the best you can possibly get for the data recorded to tape or DTE. 2vuy represents what was fed to the encoder from the CCD's (422 8bit). You can work directly with the compressed MP@HL (420 8bit) stream or you can uncompress it to the original 2vuy (422 8bit) without any effort on your part.

It's well known by now that 24p workflow to film is a snap with the Liquid system and the ProHD cut's just like DV without any sync issues and without any work arounds. So, where ProHD is concerned (in any frame rate) I use the Liquid system.

In the end, no matter what system is used, there are many many professional users online who share their methods.

Good luck and Keep shooting!
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Old September 10th, 2006, 09:46 AM   #9
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Stephen is absolutely right that Liquid is a better companion to ProHD than Avid or FCP right now. It's also very true that it's better to be flexible and use the right tool for the job - that's why we never seem to stop buying kit... However, the support situation for the HD100/HDV1/ProHD will change so if you can only afford to buy and run one system and you can't afford to have different tools for different jobs - and you're not in a hurry to cut material shot on HDV1 at 24 or 25 fps - I'd hold out for support in the system you think makes most sense to you overall. If, on balance, you think Avid is the way to go then don't rush into FCP because Avid will certainly support ProHD/HDV1 fully at some point and it will eventually do so on the Intel Macs so you can always add/switch to FCP later without breaking the bank. If you think FCP offers better value for money than Avid and you don't feel the need for the Avid interface then FCP would seem a sensible choice. As impressed as I am with Liquid (and to a lesser extent Edius) I would have to say that FCP and Avid make the most sense in the long-term for anyone trying to cover as many bases as possible and to learn a marketable skill-set. All IMHO, of course.
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Old September 10th, 2006, 11:22 AM   #10
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Well the controversy is going, but very politely which is a big relief.

Tim's post was a good reminder of my experiences in the 90's. I installed systems for clients as well as ran my own production company.

Avid was the big NLE and I installed or toubleshooted several of those systems. Nobody wanted a Media100 which is what I eventually purchased for myself. I used it mostly for a series that ran for a number of years on a regional sports network and a number of video press kits for jazz record companies. Avid ruled (and still rules in some ways) the off-line edit bay but they had a big problem getting their video quality up for real on-line and they insisted on propietary hard drives. The Media100 used off-the shelf drives and was capable of very high-quality video. Those were the days of BetaSP not DigiBeta. While the Avid interface was well set up for feature film editing, the Media100 was better set for quick editing and easier to look at as well. I also was working for an aborted animation series and the Media100 interfaced better with After Effects and other computer files than the Avid. Avid was so interested in getting the series that we were invited to their Manhattan offices for a demonstration attended by three Avid officials. The demo system promptly crashed when we asked for a simple chroma-key to be demonstrated. It never was able to re-boot properly. The drawback of the Media100? The blank stares of potential clients. Admittedly at times I white lied and called it "a version of an Avid". Then the client would go, "Oh, that's great!"

It took a few versions of Final Cut before I finally moved the Media100 work over to FCP. I still miss the Media100 interface. Anybody want a Media100 FireWire board?

I still install video systems and I try to steer people to Final Cut unless they insist on a PC system. Most of my clients need a simple hassle free NLE for DV and right now FCP fufills that niche very well. Over the years, most of my PC based clients have commended my choice of Final Cut after a few months of using the system. But they usually stick with their PCs for other work. My clients are professionals who need video support for their work but are not video production houses. Scientific reseach, psychological research, film producers editing at home, etc. I also recommend the editing system to be on a seperate computer apart from everyday computer work to prevent internet viruses and other system problems disrupting important video work. The last couple of months, however, I've been getting calls from clients who are very interested in the new Macs running Boot Camp.

The great thing about choice is that it keeps things moving. Nobody sits still when there's another company on their tail. The more companies the better. Apple saw the NLE migration from Mac to PC in the 90's and they addressed the problem directly by embracing FireWire and DV which was initially disdained by others. Now Final Cut is the standard that the other programs are measured by except in extreme high-end video production. And that's a good thing because it compells Apple to innovate in that direction. And it's compells Avid, Sony, Grass Valley, Adobe and others to challenge Apple. We have four great low cost HD cameras to choose from at the moment, we should have just as many or more great NLEs to choose from.

Once the uncertainty of low cost HD formats is finally addressed by next year everything will settle down. P2 will work, the dozen flavors of HDV will work and whatever format advantage one program has over another will disappear and we'll be back to picking a NLE by interface preference.

My recommendation during times of transition is; If you have an important project that needs to be done now and you can afford to purchase that one system that can work your footage the way you need it, get it now. If there's no compelling reason to purchase, wait or rent for the job. I've done that a couple of times. Once it got a docmentary done and I didn't buy a VideoCube. Remember those? Great Mac controlled Unix based NLE system with a weird compression codec. You didn't get the blockiness of JPEG or MPEG but a generalized softness. It made the elderly subjects of the documentary very happy as their wrinkles were smoothed over. The VideoCube was the only real-time effect NLE at the time and I mean real-time DVE not a few wipes and dissolves. The Cube morphed into the Stratosphere, the company got bought out by a graphics firm and the system eventually disapeared. I sort of miss the Cube too.
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Old September 10th, 2006, 11:50 AM   #11
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Matt.

On top of the excellent comments by Tim and others I'd like to add one thing. Many editing solutions require the configuration of a special machine with specialized hardwarde. While this holds true for specific situation, for example when you need to acquire component/uncompressed signal, it's remarkable that today you can grab a MacBookPro, a copy of FCP and start editing out of the box. The out-of-the-box experience is a major achievement and I bet it's going to affect this industry even more. The fact that I can run real-time color correction for 720p or 1080i on a laptop, or that I can capture, on the same machine, footage from a Sony F-350, is a giant leap forward and one that is possible, among other things, by the fact that Apple has a solid foundation in building the hardware and the software together. There is simply nothing else in the industry. While support for a specific frame rate for the HD100 has been slow, the plusses of FCP are numerous. Add to this the fact that now Shake has been re-priced at the level of a plug-in and that Shake, non only is an amazing compositing software, but it integrates with FCP very well. The two solutiosn together create an editing-compositing environment that not only is powerful but a pleasure to work with.
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Old September 10th, 2006, 11:58 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by William Hohauser
My recommendation during times of transition is; If you have an important project that needs to be done now and you can afford to purchase that one system that can work your footage the way you need it, get it now. If there's no compelling reason to purchase, wait or rent for the job. I've done that a couple of times. Once it got a docmentary done and I didn't buy a VideoCube. Remember those? Great Mac controlled Unix based NLE system with a weird compression codec. You didn't get the blockiness of JPEG or MPEG but a generalized softness. It made the elderly subjects of the documentary very happy as their wrinkles were smoothed over. The VideoCube was the only real-time effect NLE at the time and I mean real-time DVE not a few wipes and dissolves. The Cube morphed into the Stratosphere, eventually the company got bought out by a graphics firm and the system eventually disapeared. I sort of miss the Cube too.
I think this is excellent advice. Btw, I still miss Lightworks, believe it or not!

I'm not sure there's controversy here. Personally, I don't disagree with anything on this thread so far. I certainly wouldn't wave the flag for one editing system over another without a detailed context - except maybe Lightworks. Please note: That's just nostalgia and has absolutely nothing to do with reason...
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Old September 10th, 2006, 12:11 PM   #13
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The day FCP was born (maybe)...

Here is a tale of arrogance, of retribution and of tidal change in the video industry...

I was at NAB with my friend Scott Snyder who worked at Avid at that time. This was the year that Avid Symphony came out on the PC only, Media Composer, less capable at that time, was on the Mac. Avid had a screening area the size of small movie theater for Symphony. MC had a little cubicle that would acommodate just a few people. Although a side point to this story, but to underscore Apple's frustration, Media 100 also appeared to be transitioning to the PC. Both companies were shifting toward PC ostensibly because the 3-slot Macs didn't offer the needed expansion, but there were workarounds for that so who knows.

Still in Vegas, I had dinner one night with Scott and a bunch of other Avid guys. They told me that Apple had asked all Avid employees to leave the Apple area and not come back, "thrown out" as the term they used. Someone said it wasn't just the Symphony issue, but that Avid had also dissed Quicktime which Apple wanted them to use somehow.

At that time With QuarkXPress, Photoshop and Illustrator running well on the PC, the animation houses beginning to favor the cost-effective PC platform even over the SGI gear let alone the Mac (even Pixar bought PCs for their render farm), Avid shifting to PC represented what could have been, but as time told wasn't, a tipping point toward the Mac losing its dominance in the creative space.

So it wasn't long after this NAB that Steve Jobs had Apple buy the Final Cut software from its original developer. Not knowing Steve Jobs, but having a sense of who he is, I can only imagine what he thought as he determined how to address Avid's shift to the PC, "Those &*#&*@&%*&, I'll show them."

Of course Apple could have been contemplating the purchase already, knowing the situation and NAB may have been merely the tip of the iceberg. But it was the highly visible manifestation of Apple's frustration. And bear in mind that Apple hadn't hadn't challenged Photoshop, Illustrator, Quark and so forth which had been ported to the PC but whose makers had NOT released superior PC-only versions. So the software challenge to Avid was unique at that time, although yes, it did also happen to impact Premiere which was displaced from the Mac marketplace to the point of Adobe dropping the Mac version.

So Jobs bought FCP, and let's face it, Apple was a much bigger company than Avid. They had far more financial reserves, way more marketing clout, the advantages of intimately knowing their own hardware and operating system, but most importantly, they had the incredible leadership and mythic petulance of Steve Jobs.

But you could argue that Jobs really didn't have to stick it to Avid. The Avid editors of the world who were more than a little Mac-centric did that quite on their own. They raised a huge ruckus about the "abandonment" of the Mac and the pressure was great enough such that Avid had to make a course correction anyway back toward the Mac. But by this time, the die was cast and Apple was off to the races with FCP.

That's my urban legend for the day, some speculation, but at least some of it is first hand.

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Old September 10th, 2006, 12:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Dashwood
Most of the editors I hire now work at home as much as possible... only showing up at the office for client screenings and to pick up hard drives. The logical choice for cooperative editing of a TV series is FCP, and every editor I know working in Toronto seems to own it. It is practically a pre-requisite now.
I'd like to echo Tim's statement here. In Los Angeles, there is only Avid MC/Symphony rigs, and then there's FCP. Anybody with a squeezed budget (and that's a lot of real, legit work out there) is using FCP.

There's a zillion projects in Los Angeles, all living on portable hard drives and they get passed from editor to editor. Producers know that if their editor is competent and the project is set up correctly, the job can be worked on by the guy across town on his quad G5, and also on the receptionist's iMac if worst came to worst. Hell, even the receptionist has FCP on her iMac at home (it's most likely pirated, her ex-bf was an "editor"). It's ubiquitous; as common as women shopping for jeans on Melrose.

There's a large cottage industry of post companies doing business of ingest and output of high-end formats for people using FCP. If you need to bring in HDCAM and DVCAM, you can find a post house to bring your drive into and get digitized in FCP. Then you cut at home, and bring the project back to output to Digibeta or HDCAM.

I sometimes wonder what I'm missing in products like Liquid and Premiere Pro. It's been years since I've gone exploring to see what's out there. I'm sure the competition has some real cool things going on...I know I could use an open timeline (without rendering) really bad right about now.

But life with FCP is overall, very good. I can ONLY get it to crash using the multicam feature. It generally does what I ask of it, when I want it. I edit 1080p24 HD at home, or on my laptop, with a fair amount of RT capability. I'm able to monitor to an HD CRT at full res.

You can do a lot worse than to choose/work in FCP. But depending on your specific situation, sometimes you can do a bit better.
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Old September 10th, 2006, 01:38 PM   #15
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Tip.

Just wanted to add my $0.02 to the Apple conspiracy :)

I have a limited experience in the Hollywood arena, but it's pretty self-evident that the Mac is a really popular platform among people in the industry, and I don't talk about editors. In general I find a very high percentage of creative individuals prefering the Mac. This is probably the result of the recent, last 5 years, resurgeance of Apple and their loyal fan base from the early years of excellence. It's a great testament to the drive and vision of Jobs to see how the company that invented the Personal Computer went downspiraling in the years of Sculley and became the powerhouse that is today when Jobs regained control of Apple.
In my view it's demostration that quality is the key to success in this market. Say what you want about Steve Jobs, his attention to details, to quality and to the overall user experience, is legendary. NeXT was so ahead of the time to be a favorite among researchers and it was in fact on a NeXTStation that the Web was invented.
On top of having a modern architecture, FCP has an open one too. I don't know how it is on other NLEs but you can export an FCP project to XML and then write your own utilites to work on the clips. You could write batch transformations in Perl without having to reverse-engineer the format. It's pretty neat that Apple has decided to keep such an open architecture.

A last note. I was recently at the Adobe/Macromedia headquarters in SFO, for the celebration of 10 years of Flash, and their use of Macs is very evident, their support for the Mac platform is very strong. If they had some sort of conflicts with Apple in the past it doesn't seem to be an issue today. Notice the fact that Lightroom came out for Mac before they releeased the Widows version.
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