Final Cut Server, Apple’s solution for a centralized video workflow has been highly anticipated since the unveiling of the revamped Final Cut Studio 2. I’ve found an article on unflyingobject with several screenshots and information about the program, so I decided to share my thoughts on the graphical (icon / UI) side of the app with you. In case you want to know what Final Cut Server does and if it’s good at it, I recommend the linked article.
First of all, the icon. In my opinion, there’s a great set of new icons coming from Apple lately. Take a look at the icons for Apple’s Logic Studio 8, another recent ‘Pro-application’ software release; an impeccable line-up of ‘classic’ photorealistic icons with clever metaphors. I looked at icons in Leopard a post or two back; in general, a very positive development there as well.
Which is why the Apple’s Final Cut Studio icon struck me with so much disgust when I saw it.
It borders on Aqua, it borders on Lego, and it really is neither. I am not sure what effect or metaphor they were trying to achieve with this, but it most certainly fails to deliver. Apple; we’ve seen it in the Numbers icon before, stop with the overly odd-colored icons in a weird perspective. So much for that.
Apple also decided to go out on a limb and fight its own quotations of the WWDC Interface sessions this year (in particular, “Don’t use interface elements with over 75% black” echoes in my mind) with the completely custom interface for the software. A screenshot, courtesy of the unflyingobject blog;
“Now, this looks alright, appealing”, I hear you say, and I tend to agree, it is alright indeed. However, looking at Aperture and Logic Studio’s interfaces, it’s a grand deviation, and it is hard to think of a justification of the interface. Oh, wait, what was that? Adobe Bridge?
I think Final Cut Server’s interface looks a whole lot better, but it almost seems derived from the overly ‘dark’ style the Adobe CS3 apps have been using. There is a complete absence of gloss in the interface, which makes it stand out a lot from all other Pro applications and general aesthetic of OS X.
What also seems a bit out of place for an Apple interface, is the completely custom toolbar lacking any explanatory text. Almost all toolbars in OS X are of the standard flavour, with appropriate labels. It soon feels ‘un-Mac-like’ to ditch these labels and just put icons in a row, like Microsoft Office has been doing for years. Fortunately, it is just a small group of icons, and the application is aimed at professionals, but I still think it is surprising to see them create such a custom toolbar anyway.
Overall, I think Final Cut Server seems a very graphically alienating application. One might argue that this was perhaps intended, but I still think they could have paid a little bit more attention to the application’s look, in particular making sure it doesn’t stand out like a metal plate in a lineup of wooden planks.
That was it for the peek at Final Cut Server’s new interface and icon; drop your thoughts in the comments.