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
[Page 3 of 4]

Nearly all of Final Cut Pro's effects can be keyframed, giving the editor control over every
aspect of the editing session. The effects you will find in Final Cut Pro are the same as
or similar to the effects you will find in other NLE applications.

In addition to still images, QuickTime movies can also be imported if they have been encoded with compatible CODECs. It is my experience and suggestion that any graphics or QuickTime movies you plan on importing are created using the same CODEC you are editing with. For example, if you plan on editing in DV format, make sure all QuickTimes are encoded using the DV CODEC. If you do not, you will have to render these imported files, and that eats up a great deal of time.

If you're one of those people who insist that the quality of Final Cut Pro 2.0 is not up to your "specs," the EDL can be exported to many different formats, including CMX 340, CMX 3600, Sony 5000, Sony 9100 and GVG 4 Plus.

Flaws and fixes
No review would be complete with out finding a few flaws in any product. If you do not have a real time card, all effects will have to be rendered. If your Mac is fast enough, then render times for transitions are pretty minimal. I would suggest using those render times to check out the manual. This is the best manual I have ever cracked open. At first I was curious as to why there was not "quick reference" card that listed all of the keyboard shortcuts for the software. I found out as there are close to 40 pages of keyboard shortcuts listed in the manual.

While keying DV is not impossible, the keying functionality in Final Cut Pro 2.0 is not quite there. Too many chroma keying errors and tweaks need to be performed in order to get a decent key. This can easily be solved, as Final Cut Pro 2.0 supports many third-party Adobe After Effects plugins, like Ultimatte.

The timeline in Final Cut Pro 2.

Another drawback is not really the fault of Final Cut Pro 2.0 itself but rather in how it interacts with other programs on your system. Occasionally during transitions and graphic overlays a luminance change will occur. This, of course, makes outputting the final results impossible, as no client in the world would accept these errors in their video. One solution that I found, which may work for you, is to uninstall or deactivate the RadDV CODECs. These CODECs may have been installed if you have Media Cleaner Pro 4 or Cleaner 5, or may have come preinstalled on your system. This was one solution; I have not seen any further discussion on any of the Final Cut Pro discussion forums that offers a different solution to this error.

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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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