Apple Color 1.5: A Requiem

From Merriam-Webster:


noun ˈre-kwē-əm also ˈrā- or ˈrē-

1: a mass for the dead

2a : a solemn chant (as a dirge) for the repose of the dead

Color 1.5 Is Dead

Last Call: Apple Color

Lost among the clamor over the past week of FCPx is that Final Cut Studio’s stand-alone color correction software, Color 1.5 – is now End-Of-Life.

There will be no more updates, no features added, and should some future Mac OS update break Color – Apple will not come to its rescue. In other words, the final, official stable release of Color is: Color v1.5.3 running on Mac OS X 10.6.7.

Is there a Color X?

Based on conversations I’ve had, reputable blog posts I’ve seen, and this ornery little tag line from the FCP X website:

“[FCPx is] Editing, sound and color. Together in one app.”

I’ve got to conclude that Apple is done with this market segment.

And my conclusion about Color X is based ENTIRELY on inference. There is no confirmation from Apple one way or another.

Here’s RED’s Jim Jannard’s statement, commenting generically, about the FCPx platform and product rollout:

Apple can fix this situation very easily… all they have to do is communicate what they are going to do with this app. If they don’t, many will jump ship. Once they do, it will be hard to get them back. I am the ultimate Apple fan. But this app signals a big change in philosophy. It doesn’t have to be that way… but somebody better say something pretty quickly.

Here’s what Graeme Nattress (the only plug-in developer for Apple Color) has posted on his homepage regarding support for his fantastic “Advanced Plug-Ins for Color”:

Apple have finally released their total re-write of FCP called FCPX. No Nattress plugin currently works with FCPX. When we know more, we’ll tell you. It also appears that Apple have abandoned their “Color” app – consequently, our Color Plugins are end of line.

UPDATE: I emailed Larry Jordan, who has had direct contact with Apple’s Pro Apps division (and people, he is absolutely, positively NOT an Apple employee). Here’s what he said:

I have not been explicitly told by Apple that Color is dead; I have no “smoking email.”  However, I have been implicitly led to believe that Color, as we know it, is not part of the future. Whether there is a “New Color” in Apple’s labs is something I don’t know.  What I said at the [London] SuperMeet was that Color was dead.  This is bit less nuanced, but gets to the same conclusion.

Why Color Mattered

Why should we care that Color is gone?

Normally, I’d mention how Apple Color (and before it, Final Touch) completely rejuvenated my career and my passion for working in this industry. But let’s disregard my emotional attachement to Apple Color.

Let’s also disregard how Apple Color is a FANTASTIC stepping stone for those who want to move their careers forward into tools like Resolve or Baselight (or even to deepen a person’s understanding of how to approach color grading in an NLE using filters and plug-ins).

Here is why Apple Color really truly mattered to those of us who make our livings color grading:

Apple Color, being bundled with Final Cut Pro, revealed to 2 million professional and prosumer content creators that color correction isn’t just a plug-in… color correction is a craft with its own unique toolset. And there exist artisans who practice it.

Or to put it in the lexicon of Apple, Inc.:

You mean there’s an app for that?

Yes people… there’s an app for color grading.

Final Cut Studio probably did more to raise the awareness of the craft of color grading than all the trade magazines and all the advertising campaigns by color correction vendors… combined.

That’s now gone. We are all going to have to carry that burden going forward if we want craftsman who can build and maintain a color grading career outside the handful of world-wide Hollywood-supported post-production conglomerates (not to say I wouldn’t mind working for one of them!).

Where Do Color Users Go From Here?

We move on.

This release of FCPx, as advanced as it is, clearly marks the main audience Apple is targeting. And they’re most emphatically NOT Apple Color users.

And I think it’s career suicide to optimistically hope that Apple will eventually ship Apple Color X.

My advice:

  1. If you’re already using Color. Keep using it – but flash your current install and keep it safe. As new OS updates roll out – and as long as Color stays stable -flash those installs as well. One day, Color will stop working and you’ll want to regress to that last stable configuration.
  2. Recognize that Apple Color was End – of -Life’d in 2007, when Apple initially released it. Other than RED support (which I understand was almost wholly developed by RED) and support for Tangent Wave, not a single new feature was rolled out for Apple Color… EVER. Want proof? When FCP went from v.6 to v.7, Color went from v1 to v1.5. If whole new features were added, Color would have gone to 2.0. What about those other ‘New Features’ touted by Apple in 2009? They were Studio-wide features – ProRes 4444 and 4k support. Sure, over the years Apple did a great job fixing problems, making interface tweaks, and did an amazing job on shoring up XML roundtrips… but major new features? Zip.
  3. For Apple Color users – in many ways, declaring Color 1.5 as End-of-Life is merely making official what many of us had inferred from Apple’s actions.
  4. It’s time to cross-train yourself: This is going to sound self-aggrandizing since The Tao Of Color will be offering Resolve 8 training in the next few weeks (and I’ve got a coupon code for the current training at the end of this post)… but if you’re using Apple Color today – you need to prepare yourself for the future. You could be learning Resolve 8 (a free, Resolve Lite version will be coming in July 2011), or waiting for the Baselight plug-in for FCP to be released and mastering that, or learning to use Color Finesse in After Effects, or becoming a color correction expert on Avid Media Composer, Symphony, DS, and then there’s the outstanding finishing tool (that has a good color grading toolset) AutoDesk Smoke. Whatever you ultimately decide, now’s the time to start thinking about it.
  5. Don’t do anything rash. Color works today as it did yesterday. You have time to decide on a game plan and then execute on it.
  6. Apple Color is STILL a GREAT tool to learn color grading. It’s a terrific platform from which to learn advanced skills that can be transferred to almost any other grading platform on the market (including Resolve 8). Use it while you can.
  7. Hmmm… Have I missed any other sage advice for Apple Color graders? Leave a comment below.

In Memoriam: Save $20 on Tao Of Color’s Training
To commemorate the untimely passing of a tool that did so much for me and many of my colleagues, I’ve just decided – literally, while writing this – to lower the price of Tao of Color’s “In Tent’s” MasterClass by offering anyone reading this with a $20 discount code:

$20 Off: Tao Of Color’s MasterClass Training with this coupon code:


This coupon expires Midnight Eastern, July 3, 2011.

The Sales and Ordering page is here:

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