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Apple Introduces Final Cut Studio 2 to a Packed House

By Heath McKnight

Apple, Inc. Sunday announced to a packed house Final Cut Studio 2, with major upgrades including Final Cut Pro 6, Motion 3, SoundTrack 2 and Compressor 3.  Apple also introduced its own color grading and finishing software called, appropriately enough, Color.  However, there is no upgrade to DVD Studio Pro, which is still on version 4, released in 2005.

The company also introduced Final Cut Server, which is an application geared toward companies that have at least two people working on a project, all the way up to a television news station where producers, editors, writers and more need to be able to access, log, edit, etc., various projects.

Final Cut Studio
Final Cut Studio offers even more integration between all the apps, which can make things much easier for sending Final Cut Pro (FCP) projects to various other apps.  If Im ready to mix sound, I can easily send it to Soundtrack Pro 2; if I want to grade and finish the color, I send the project to Color and so on.

Some of the other new features include being able to mix various formats, resolutions, frame rates, etc., on an open format timeline.  Its also easier to create settings when you drag a clip to the timeline for the first time?itll ask if thats what you want (ie, HDV 1080i60, etc.).  No more Easy Set Up and such.

Standing room only at Apple's Sunday press conference

They talked about their partners with Sony and Panasonic, and mentioned the new Panasonic format, AVCIntra, which records to P2 cards.  Sounds like AVCHD on steroids!  They even had a video of the RED Digital Cinema team, which means theyre taking this new start-up camera company very seriously.

Final Cut Pro 6 offers a new codec called ProRes 422, which gives HD quality at SD file sizes.  The example they gave was a project in 10-bit uncompressed 4:2:2 HD that was 1TB large; in ProRes 4:2:2, that same project is only 170GB!  In some ways, this reminds me of using Apples Photo Jpeg at 75% quality (4:2:2; check out my article: http://blogs.digitalmediaonlineinc.com/hmcknight/entry/20070415), but thats only when youve finished editing and ready to output via QuickTime Movie.  Keep in mind, however, the Photo Jpeg method is only less compressed, not completely uncompressed.

ProRes 422 allows you to capture any HD format, including HDV, and edit in the 10-bit uncompressed format mentioned above.  For those of us who cant afford RAIDs but want to edit, say, HDV uncompressed, this is the best solution.  Im sure some will argue that with Cineform being ported over to the Mac that this is nothing new.  To me it is, and its very exciting to know that Apple is ready for the future.

SmoothCam can help smooth out any handheld shots (or shaky dolly, Steadicam, etc., shots) that are a bit too shaky.  Cinema Tools gets an update to version 4, giving users an easier interface and pdf and xml file outputs.

Motion 3 offers 3D graphics that look pretty cool; you can also use many of the plug-ins in FCP, which is very exciting.  One neat thing is, lets say you put in a specific graphic over several different shots, but then you (or your producer) gets a new idea to change the color.  You can simply open Motion 3, change the color, and all the instances changed in FCP, too.  And the 3D graphics and particles are very nice, too.


 


Soundtrack 2 offers 5.1 surround sound mixing, along with over 1,000 sound effects (in surround sound), music and more, all royalty-free.  They also have over 150 high-quality scores youd find in major motion pictures.  Again, completely royalty free. If youre doing any sort of ADR, you can put in the various takes of the re-looped audio and select the best one, or take bits from each clip and use it to create a new clip.  You can also clean up audio easier and with more power.

The new kid on the block is Color, a professional color grading and finishing app that, according to Apple, would cost thousands of dollars to purchase.  (Many speculated that Apple had something up their sleeve when they purchased Silicon Color, creator of Final Touch.

Color allows you to use a Primary, Secondary (up to eight secondaries per shot), Color Effects (over 40 FX, plus you can create your own customs), and custom geometry (work with different frame sizes, like 16x9, etc.).  You can do all this in SD, HD and 2k resolution.  There are also 3D scopes, to help out further.

Compressor 3 not only made outputting your video to various formats (including MPEG-2 for DVD; H.264 for web, AppleTV and other delivery formats), but it now includes a way to take advantage of all your Macs processors, especially if you have the new 8-Core monster.  The user interface changed and looks easier to use, plus a way of using FCPs chapter markers and adding clickable web links to a specific page on a clients site.  Watermarks and timecode generators courtesy of Motion.

Unfortunately, DVD Studio Pro 4 didnt receive a significant upgrade.  Looks like well have to wait to create HD DVDs and Blu-Ray discs a little longer.  My guess is well see it when Apple puts a Blu-Ray or HD DVD burner in the systems.
Its $1299 for the full version, $499 for an upgrade from Final Cut Studio 1, or $699 for an upgrade from any version of Final Cut Pro.  Fortunately, Final Cut Studio users wont have to wait long; itll be out May 2007.

Final Cut Server
Apple also introduced Final Cut Server, which is probably the most perfect application for companies that have multiple personnel working on one project.  For instance, a TV news station would love something like this (note: I used to be both a video editor and a Creative Services Writer/Producer at a news station).

There, editors, writers, producers, directors, camera men and women, the graphics department, and many more are all working on various news spots to make up a specific news show.  Now everyone has access to the content going on the air, which makes it so much easier than having to go into the edit bays, or track down the specific editor, artist, etc.  Time is everything in news.

Even if youre working in a small post house with two guys, with one editing on Final Cut Pro, and the other doing graphics in Motion, this is a great program to easily share files, etc.  And did I mention how truly integrated everything is in Final Cut Studio? Final Cut Server costs $999 for up to 10 users, $1999 for unlimited users.  All licensed of course.  This will be out summer 2007.

IoHD from AJA
Apple also introduced the IoHD breakout box at $3495 created exclusively for the Mac by AJA (www.aja.com).  You can use this to capture, say, Sony F900 footage in the field onto your MacBook Pro laptop via FireWire and using ProRes 422 to keep the file sizes small.  Did I mention the device captures 10-bit full resolution HD?  And over a FireWire?  But thats only just one solution you can use this device for.  This will be available July 2007.

One thing I thought was interesting?they went back to NAB 1999 and showed the first Final Cut Pro 1.0 box and talked about how NLEs cost $100,000 and Final Cut Pro took that price down, and also made it so you wouldnt have to pay through the nose for different versions for HD, etc., editing (like Avid).  They used that to introduced Color, saying that color grading and finishing software/hardware apps cost $100,000 and up.
     Looks like Apples done it again, providing more integration, professional color grading and finishing tools, amped up apps, the very cool ProRes 422 and more.  The only disappointment is the lack of a major DVD Studio Pro upgrade.


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Heath McKnight is a filmmaker and author who has produced and directed several independent feature and short films, including Hellevator, 9:04 AM and December. He is currently web content manager for doddleNEWS. Heath was also a contributor to VASST's best-selling book, "The FullHD," and has written for TopTenREVIEWS and Videomaker.


Related Keywords:final cut studio 2, final cut pro, fcp, video editing, NLE, video suite

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