Although no new applications were announced, Apple upgraded all the Pro Video Apps with new versions of Final Cut Pro, Soundtrack Pro, Compressor 2, Motion 2, LiveType 2, DVD Studio Pro 4 and Shake 4.
In their Sunday morning presentation at Paris, Las Vegas, Apple announced upgrades across the their Pro Video line, consolidating the tools in the $1299 Final Cut Pro Studio. With Final Cut Pro alone priced at $999, the Studio becomes the purchase option of choice if you want Final Cut Pro and any of the other applications. In depth articles will follow, but here’s the 20,000 ft view.
The suite features improved integration across the suite with automatic asset updating from application to application but no dramatic changes to workgroup editing.
Final Cut Pro 5
Key new features are Multicam, Multichannel audio input and support for HDV and P2 media natively. Multicam allows up to 128 angles to be switched in a Multiclip. 4, 9 or 16 angles can be displayed and switched at a time. Final Cut Pro 5 supports tapeless media from Panasonic’s P2 and native IMX support (and keep an eye out for Panasonic’s new camera – P2 media and DV tape for the best of both worlds). MXF media from XDCAM is supported with a 3rd party plug-in from Flip4Mac (Telestream). Final Cut Pro HD works seamless with almost any type of media. HDV media is supported natively. It’s not clear whether or not media can be mixed in a Sequence without rendering. Since it’s not featured, probably not.
RTExtreme has been extended with a new Dynamic RT architecture that adjusts the amount of real-time according to the processor and graphics card speeds – as speeds increase, more real-time will become available. During playback Dynamic RT looks ahead in the timeline and dynamically adapts rather than suddenly stopping playback. Real-time speed change with frame blending is new to version 5.
Final Cut Pro now allows simultaneous import of up to 24 channels of audio. Final Cut Pro audio can now be controlled on any control surface that supports the Mackie Control Protocol meaning that Final Cut Pro mixing can be done a hardware mixer.!
Motion had the most dramatic update with new features that bring the application up to a truly material application for motion graphic design. New interaction techniques – including controlling parameters with a MIDI controller (did anyone say VJ?) – and Replicator for building patterns of repeating objects like flocks of birds. Replicator gives more control than a particle generator and comes with 150 patters with controllable parameters.
Rendering depth has been beefed up to 16 and 32 bits per channel float for those who need it. 32 bit processing is done on the CPU. Motion on Tiger supports more than 4 GB of RAM.
Motion also gains the third dimension with a new 3D distortion filter that allows pseudo 3D with beautiful transparency and effects in real time. A new GPU accelerated architecture lets 3rd parties access the GPU acceleration so Boris, Zaxwerks and DV Garage plug-ins now display in real time.
Although it shares part of a name with Soundtrack, Soundtrack Pro is far more positioned for a "regular editor" replacement for Pro Tools than simply for scoring music for video. Soundtrack Pro retains the loop editing functionality of Soundtrack, but adds waveform editing, sound design (including a library of sound effects) and includes more than 50 effects from Logic.
Soundtrack Pro comes complete with "search and destroy" tools for most common audio flaws – clicks & pops, AC hum, DC offset, phase and Clipped signal, plus tools for ambient noise reduction and automatically fill gaps with natural sound.
DVD Studio Pro
With an upgrade to version 4, Shake is HD ready with built-in support for H.264 encoding (adopted by both Blu-ray and HD DVD camps) and direct encoding from HDV without intermediate format conversion. Distributed processing using Qmaster for encoding and built-in AC3 encoding (no need to use A.Pack) and enhanced transition support headline DVD Studio Pro’s new features.
On the technical side, DVD Studio Pro 4 supports VTS editing for greater playback performance by allocating menus throughout VTS folders to overcome 1GB menu limitations. GPRM partitioning enhances the scripting options for highly interactive DVDs, for example jumps to motion menu loops to avoid repeating introduction transitions.
LiveType remains part of the Final Cut Pro package and is at version 2. Visually the interface does not appear to have changed. Most of the changes are under the hood with changes to the LiveFont format to support Unicode and vector fonts.