Apple: Could Lightning be destined for the Mac?


Today I purchased the Apple Lightning SD Card Adapter to test using GH4 footage in iMovie for iOS (with the hopes to buy an iPad Pro for doing simple edits on the road – that’s the subject for another day).

Sitting here with my adapters and iOS devices a thought niggled at my mind. Lightning is a small connector, and anyone in the iOS ecosystem will have some amount of dongles or adapters. It stands to reason then, perhaps, that with the rumours of Apple dropping the headphone socket on the iPhone in favour of Bluetooth or Lightning headphones that maybe future Macs will begin to ship with Lightning on board.

Initially I dismissed this as too ludicrous and pointless. But thinking now, it is starting to appear logical. USB-C peripherals are still thin on the ground, but what if the ultra-thin MacBook had a Lightning instead of a headphone jack on the right hand side? Lightning could adapt to give it a USB 3 port, an SD card reader, a HDMI out or any of the other lightning peripherals that exist, as well as offering the ability to (via a lighting>lighting cable) to charge the Magic Mouse, Trackpad and Keyboard. The added bonus – all of these peripherals will work with your iPhone, your iPad or your iPod touch as well, and there’s a chance you already have some of these adapters living in drawers right now.

Whilst I’m not suggesting this is a good or even a smart move (Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C are both obviously better catch-all sockets), for Apple and their ecosystem (and the old Halo effect) the benefits of lightning are perhaps too logical to refute. If the new MacBook Pro sports 4 USB-C/TB3 and a single Lightning, it’s not exactly going to be intrusive. It could easily have two. The port is thin enough and small enough that on a laptop they’ll fit virtually anywhere. Plus Lightning adapters are cheap and fairly easy to come by, and they do the job they’re designed to do. Are there yet any USB-C SD card adapters? Or do you need to carry a USB-A dongle and a card reader?

This almost makes the idea of a Lightning>3.5″ dongle less offensive. If your laptop, iPhone and iPad all use the same socket, the dongle would never have to be disconnected. A bit of electrical tape and it’s virtually a permanent part of the hardware.

Whilst I’m a proponent of wireless headphones (if I can ever find my proprietary charge cable…grr) and I really REALLY hope Apple ship Bluetooth earbuds in the box with iPhone 7, the idea of Lightning finding its way into Macs could have a root in some sort of logic.

So I sit here with a Lightning SD adapter, Lightning HDMI adapter and Lightning USB adapter and think about how much more use these adapters would get if they could plug into my MacBook Pro, or my partner’s MacBook, and then I wonder if that’s not a possibility in the near future.

Editing in FCPX

It has been over twelve months since I started using FCPX. When it launched, it came with the tirade of hate and anger and frustration, but between the cracks there were people saying it wasn’t all bad. Based on faith in Phil Hodgetts assessment of the underlying infrastructure and its potential in the future, I made a challenge to myself: use FCPX exclusively for six months. If it ever got so bad I had to run back to FCP7 then I’d accept the facts and move on to Premier Pro or Avid.

Thankfully, it never came to that.

The first two days of editing were hellish. Projects and sequences didn’t work properly. Nothing was where it was supposed to be. The magnetic timeline was confusing and intimidating. Why did my stuff keep moving around automatically?? The file viewer was in the way. Dual screen support sucked. My full-res monitoring didn’t work. Also, heaps of stuff FCP7 could do, FCPX could not.
I persisted though, and after completing two very short projects I was faced with a project that seemed impossible. I had a DVD release coming up in a week. Most of the assets had been prepared and the DVD was virtually ready to go. However, during the run of the project we’d captured about a Terabyte of behind the scenes footage and I had hoped to build it into a package for the special features. I had started it some weeks earlier in FCP7, but editing one small section had taken far longer than I anticipated and it had looked like the project was going to be shelved.
Undeterred, I figured I could at least drop the footage into FCPX and see what I could make of it. The result was a five day edit that left me with a 96 minute documentary feature, and vastly better working knowledge of FCPX and its processes and pitfalls, and a new found confidence that my six-month challenge wasn’t such a difficult goal.

Since then, I haven’t looked back. I edit faster than I have in the past, and large projects are much easier to manage. Some niggles remain (which I anticipate will be fixed in the hopefully not-too-distant X.1 release) but I’m happy working day to day.


In real and relevant news, my email is working again (huzzah!), and I’m doing about five edits simultaneously and it’s pretty stressful. Better than having no work at all though, it all means I get to spend another month or two freelancing. One of these days I should get a proper job, though the attitude of a lot of people I’ve met who work in broadcast isn’t great. “Know as much as you need to know to get by” seems to be the mantra. It makes me sad.