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NAB: Apple Announces Final Cut Pro 4

New version gets enhanced real-time engine, bundles with Cinema Tools By Dave Nagel
At the NAB convention in Las Vegas, Apple today introduced Final Cut Pro 4. According to Apple, the new version is "packed with more than 300 new features" and introduces several new technologies, including a new real-time engine, 8- and 10-bit floating uncompressed formats and full 32-bit floating-point per channel video processing. It will be available in June and will include Cinema Tools, which was previously sold separately. (The company has also announced DVD Studio Pro 2 and Shake 3. See separate news stories for details.)

Final Cut Pro 4's new real-time engine, called RT Extreme, is a software-based real-time effects architecture that scales with processor speed to support an increased number of simultaneous real-time video streams and "hundreds of real-time effects." Apple says RT Extreme allows software effects to be viewed in real time on an external broadcast monitor when connected via FireWire or an external breakout box.

The software also offers new 8- and 10-bit uncompressed formats and 32-bit floating point processing. And it includes support for HDR render technology for generating film-quality output with all elements rendered in 32-bit per channel floating point color. Other new features include:

  • LiveType, a new titling application for creating dynamic, animated titles. It uses a technology called "LiveFonts," in which every character of a font is a separate animated movie, according to Apple. It comes with more than 8 GB of media, including LiveFonts, pre-configured effects, customizable templates, backgrounds, animated textures and objects.
  • Soundtrack is a new music creation tool for creating royalty-free music scores. It automatically matches audio loops regardless of tempo and key and offers real-time arranging and mixing. Soundtrack is integrated within Final Cut Pro 4 and supports the program's new score markers and includes a library of thousands of music loops and sound effects.
  • It also includes Compressor, a batch transcoding tool that comes bundled with both Final Cut Pro 4 and DVD Studio Pro 2, which lets users batch and export directly to multiple formats, including MPEG-2 or any supported QuickTime format.
  • It offers new customization options, including more than 600 tools and commands, a mappable keyboard, custom interface buttons, custom window layouts and enhanced screen layout options.
  • It's extensible through a new XML interchange format and FireWire-based I/O framework.

The new software also includes new trimming and timeline tools; enhanced media management; full Unicode support; and Enhanced audio editing. And it includes Cinema Tools, which was previously sold separately. Cinema Tools is a collection of enhancements for working with film. It now offers new support for change lists and ink numbers for filmmakers working with 35mm or 16mm film.

Final Cut Pro 4 will be available in June for $999. Upgrades will run $399. For more information, visit

Contact the author: Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Mac OS, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications. You can reach him at

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