APRIL 03, 2002
Final Cut Pro 3
New features make program even more valuable for editors
by Stephen Schleicher

Open a trade magazine to the Help Wanted section, industry job website, or just talk with professionals at a meeting or gathering, and the buzz on editing systems is that a very large majority want editors who know Appleís Final Cut Pro 3. It is not hard to see why, Final Cut Pro 3 is inexpensive, powerful, and, in this latest release, has more features for editors creating content for various media.

When I first got my hands on Final Cut Pro 2 a little over a year ago, I was blown away by how easy the program was to use, and how quickly a complex edit could be put together. After a year of working with the system, you discover the pitfalls and weaknesses, and are eager to see what the next release would offer. When Final Cut Pro 3 arrived, I was overjoyed, and as much as Iíve tried to contain my excitement and take a level headed approach to really trying to find the problem areas of the program, I still find myself running down the hallways of the DMN Central Division yelling, "Yippee!" [an error occurred while processing this directive] Real Time?
Before we get too far into this review, I should point out that there are several flavors of real time effects in Final Cut Pro 3. The first, and sometimes confusing, set of effects is the G4 Real Time Effects. These are effects that are only real time on the newer versions of the Mac where the software can detect at least one G4/500MHz processor. Okay, thatís not too bad, if you have a new system you are set, and even some users who have a higher end six month old Mac are doing alright as well.

Well, maybe you are doing okay.

G4 real time effects are preview only effects, meaning you can only view these effects on your computer, and not on a video monitor. Because most of the processing power is being used to create a preview version of your effect, there isnít enough power to also encode a DV signal (or other format). This could be a problem for those who insist on monitoring everything on their NTSC or PAL monitor. For me, the real time desktop preview is fine as it letís me time my effects and get a very good approximation of how the filters will look. Plus you can always park your play head on the timeline and view a still frame of the clip on a monitor if you are doing color adjustments.

If you are worried about not having a monitor, donít throw away or sell your RTMac card just yet. It is still a very valuable component to your Final Cut Pro system. If you do have an RTMac card installed, be aware that you arenít doubling your real time effects capabilities. As soon as Final Cut Pro 3 sees the RTMac card, it switches to the RTMac real time effects, and not the FCP ones.

The OS X version of Final Cut Pro 3 is identical to 9.x, however not all 3rd party plug-ins or capture cards are native to OS X just yet.

If you want/need more storage space, and you are not finishing your editing masterpiece, you might want to take advantage of the new OfflineRT option in Final Cut Pro 3. In the simplest terms, OfflineRT is a low-res format for those systems without a lot of power or storage space. The OfflineRT format is an enhanced version of the PhotoJPEG format, so you are encoding at 320 x 240 and a low compression ratio, but it does allow you to get over 40 minutes of footage per Gigabyte. This is perfect for those editors who might be editing a project on a G4 laptop, or those who may be editing a piece that had a huge shooting ratio (like a documentary).

OfflineRT keeps accurate timecode, so once the project is complete, you can trash all of the footage, and with the Media Manager, recapture the final sequence at the proper higher res format. If I were to compare this workflow to an Avid system (and I will in the very near future), it is like going from AVR3 to AVR75 in a single step.

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Source: Digital Media Online, Inc.
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