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2007 Credit where Credit is Due

This is not a 'best of' list or any kind of award, but rather a list of the most influential tools of 2007 By Mike Jones

I've long held the belief that the broad industry and community of media creators need to be proactive and dynamic in their criticism of creative software and hardware developers. Such developers become complacent and self-serving when their users are not clamouring for 'better' and demanding "more."

Every developer strives for the coveted 'brand loyalty' but such loyalty is nothing more than the deliberate crafting of user ignorance to ensure that customers aren't tempted to jump ship to a competing product when the product developers drop the ball. Brand Loyalty is nothing but a corporate directed insurance policy design to keep users singing the product's praises even when the product is ill deserving of praise.

Brand Loyalty does the industry no good; it does the tools we use no good. Brand Loyalty begets Blithe Acceptance and that hamstrings innovation and creative possibility. So its from this perspective that I take a very serious approach to reviewing creative tools and make no bones about being highly critical of almost all the major developers. Now, with that said, one must also take the 'Credit where Credit is Due' approach to ensure that when developers do good, they continue to do good.

Over the course of each year I'm in the privileged position of reviewing, using, and abusing an enormously wide variety of software and hardware. In 2008 this included magazine and on-line articles, evaluations, consultancy reports and testings of:

Final Cut Pro - Motion - Soundtrack Pro - Color - Vegas Pro - Premiere Pro - After Effects - Encore - Ultra - OnLocation - Photoshop - Illustrator - Celtx - Audition 3 - Soundforge 9 - Cineform Aspect and Neo HD - Cinema4D 10 - ToonBoom studio - Acid Pro 6 - AJA Xena SDI interface - Sony UX1 - Sony SR7 - Sony EX1 - Magic Bullet Look suite - Canon XLH1 - Canon XHG1 - FPS Creator - Lightroom - Haupagge X-Phones - Flock - Fraps - Device Central - Altris SVS - Earthsim - Reaper - Vista, Leopard, Stage6, BlipTV, YouTube, Adobe Media Player, Miro

So from this base I draw my Credit where Credit's Due list for 2007. This is not a 'best of' list or any kind of award, nor are they in any particular order, but rather simply a list of the most significant and positive products, progressions, formats, integrations and concepts that I think were good for the creative media industry, and creative media makers, as a whole in 2007.

Now, before you burst into either laughter and flame writing, lets consider what the Microsoft OS actually achieves that is undeniably of significance. I, like most, am no Microsoft fan (I doubt anyone has ever met a Microsoft fan who isn't a Microsoft employee) but I do, like most of the world, use computers that run on Windows. In all our grumbling and bitching and moaning, its easy to forget the extraordinary achievement at the heart of Windows.

Windows is an operating system used on 96% of the worlds computers and each of those computers involve thousands of individual components manufactured by thousands of manufacturers, assembled by hundreds of companies (big and small) in a virtually infinite array of combinations and configurations...! And, at the end of that, Windows, whilst not always perfect, is generally very reliable and very stable. Any way you slice it, the fact that Windows works at all, accounting for all those variables, is somewhat of a miracle of software engineering.

Apple has long claimed a superiority complex with its OS X, and as a long time Mac user, there is much I love about the core functionality of OS X. But the task of building an OS for the specifically dedicated, purpose built, and greatly restricted, hardware set that is the Mac, is not nearly as complex or as large an achievement as the task Microsoft has to perform with Windows.

The truth is that if Apple ever launched OSX as an open OS for generic hardware (as many including me would love to see it do) it would more than likely collapse in a heap of dysfunctionality and spinning 'rainbow wheel of death'. It's very much in Apple's best interest to remain a closed and insular system for dedicated hardware with less than 10% worldwide market share because to achieve what Windows does you need either massive development time and resources or, as is the case with Linux, an open-source army of contributors. Apple has neither.

So it is that, warts and all, there is much that the engineers at Microsoft should be praised for. Vista, once some of the more annoying elements are simply turned off, is a very good step forward from XP and the plethora of detractors are largely unwarranted. Vista, just like XP, will find its place as a reliable platform with an, as yet, unequalled flexibility. Its very far from perfect but it serves its purpose and certainly has its place; credit where credit is due.

Adobe (Macromedia)
Many were shocked when Adobe took over Macromedia and those that weren't shocked looked on with sceptical eyes at how such a massive integration could be achieved without overt pain and suffering for both developers and users.

I, among many others, get very worried when such an array of near ubiquitous creative tools are bundled under a singular massive corporation's control. Monopoly is never a good thing. But antitrust issues aside there was also much concern simply about how this array of highly complex software apps could be unified in a functional way?

Some way down the track now, where technologies such as Flash are deeply entrenched in the Adobe stable, its hard to even remember Macromedia as a separate entity. The unification of Adobe and Macromedia was arguably the most seamless and functional in software history and, credit where credit is due, the integration of Macromedia technologies into existing Adobe applications has been outstandingly functional and effective. Moreover, the process has not simply been one of re-badging products with unified logos, Adobe have pro-actively used the opportunity to show the future of inter-application integration and the creation of a true 'production suite' of unified tools. At the moment whilst Avid, Apple and Sony boast of 'integrated application suites' the truth is that none of them come even close to what Adobe has achieved in CS3 in terms of inter-connected software tools.

Apple (Bootcamp)
For too many years Apple played the spin doctoring game as they desperately tried to justify why Motorola and IBM-built CPUs were tragic under-performers. From the 'Megahertz Myth' to the absurdity of their 'worlds fastest desktop' advertisement campaign (which was legally ruled 'False Advertising' in the UK) Apple took hyperbole and corporate mis-information to whole new levels.

But finally, thank God, Apple saw the light, ditched the hardware isolationist policy, and embraced Intel. And it was the second best move Apple ever made. What was the Best move? Bootcamp. Not just the abstracted tech-head 'in theory' capability to run Windows on the Mac but a pro-active and beautifully simple software driven system, built right into OS X, to facilitate dual-boot by the non-technical layman. 

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Related Keywords:video editing, post production, filmmaking, web video, windows OS, apple bootcamp

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