Final Cut Pro 2.0
at a Glance

Maker: Apple
Price: $999
Platforms: Macintosh
Demo Available: No

Overall Impression: Final Cut Pro 2.0 is an excellent editing tool, one that belongs at the core of any studio. It's powerful, intuitive and easy to use and shares all the best features of even the highest-end NLEs on the market today.

Key Benefits: Media management in Final Cut Pro 2.0 is outstanding, with the ability to nest sequences for practically unlimited video layers while always maintaining links to media files regardless of project. It supports all common file formats and CODECs, includes 75 effects filters and supports real-time effects (with a third-party card). It also handles resolutions up to 4,000 x 4,000 and can output EDLs in a number of common formats. The manual, at 1,435 pages, is comprehensive yet organized well enough to serve as a handy quick reference.

Disappointments: Render times can be long without a real-time card (or even with, in some cases). Keying is sloppy, but it does support keying plugins for After Effects, such as Ultimatte.

Recommendation: Must Buy


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REVIEW JUNE 13, 2001

Apple Final Cut Pro 2.0
Nonlinear editing system for Macintosh

by Stephen Schleicher
[email protected]

First off, by way of introduction, I should note that I'm not a Mac guy. I'm not prejudiced against the Mac, but I'm not going to praise a piece of software just because it runs only on the Macintosh. I've edited on the Mac and Windows in the past, and I've experienced systems ranging from Avid and DPS to Media 100 and Adobe Premiere in a professional capacity.

Currently I edit DMNTV, our weekly video magazine series here at Digital Media Net. Our studio's editing equipment consisted of four Media 100 i systems (Macintosh) and one Media 100 iFinish (Windows). But when Final Cut Pro 2.0 was released, we decided to give it a shot.

What I found from the very beginning was a system that included all of the best features of the highest-end NLEs on the market and that coupled these features with astonishing ease of use at a price point that's difficult to ignore—about $1,000. But don't let the low price fool you: This software package is easily powerful enough to hold its own against any other NLE out there.

I've been using Final Cut Pro 2.0 for about two months now—basically since the time of its release—and have found that it's fast, intuitive and easy to use. What's more, it does everything I want it to do. Every time I use Final Cut Pro 2.0 in an edit session, I ask, "I wonder if FCP can do this?" Invariably a few moments later I find myself saying, "Wow, it can do this too!" I know this may sound like I am overly enthusiastic about Final Cut Pro, but this seems to be the norm with this program; every time you think you've reached the limit, you discover something new that expands the abilities of the program. To date, I've never had to export my video to accomplish something I couldn't do in Final Cut Pro.

What I like about you …
One of the helpful things new to Final Cut Pro 2.0 is that, while the software itself isn't a real-time system, it has been integrated with some of the best editing and capture cards on the market, including Pinnacle CineWave, Aurora Igniter, the Digital Voodoo D1 Desktop line and the Matrox RTMac. Not do these cards enable FCP's real-time capabilities, they allow composite and component NTSC and PAL analog input and output and support resolutions up to 4,000 x 4,000 in compressed or uncompressed formats. We're currently using Final Cut Pro in conjunction with the Matrox RTMac, which we'll be reviewing separately in the near future.

With a real-time card, such as the Matrox RTMac, Final Cut Pro's
real-time filters appear in bold in the Effects menu.

In terms of the software's features, one exceptional capability that stand's out is Final Cut Pro 2.0's media management, especially the ability to nest sequences, which is a particular benefit to those who are working on episodic productions. You can open a sequence from an old project, add new video or audio and then add this modified sequence into a new program. When editing DMNTV, I start a new sequence; open a default show that contains all of the graphics, sequences and titles; and drag and drop those folders into the new program. The only thing I need to do is add new material and place the sequences in the correct order. If I did not have the ability to copy these folders and projects (and have Final Cut Pro keep the links to the media), editing would take five to 10 times longer than necessary.

With FCP 2.0's media management features, you can open a
sequence from an old project, add new video or audio and
then add this modified sequence into a new program.

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Post a message in the Creative Mac World Wide User Group.

Stephen Schleicher is the producer of DMNTV, Video Systems, Millimeter and Digital WebCast and is the host of the Video Systems, Millimeter and Digital WebCast forums at the World Wide User Groups. He has taught at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas, and at the American InterContinental University in Atlanta, Georgia, where he also ran his own animation company, Thunderhead Productions. Stephen also freelanced in the Atlanta area as a producer/editor for five years working on everything from training videos to live shows.
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