I was prepared for a “small” release this time round, as I assumed that the Pro Apps Team would be working hard to convert to Cocoa and would have to release a smaller “interim” release, but Final Cut Pro 7 is definitely more than I was expecting.
Having iChat Theater built-in means no more workaround with remote collaboration using two Macs! It also suggests the Pro Apps folk “get” that remote collaboration is booming and they know they need to adapt to that world.
Likewise the new publishing palette is going to be great for a lot of editors who need to routinely provide progress updates and deliver them on the web. That it runs in the background while you continue working is even better. You could have saved a reference movie and sent that to Compressor and added an upload action to the preset, but this is just so much simpler, and gives direct access to the most popular sharing sites, and Mobile Me! MobileMe might be the best choice for many editors – files can be private and certainly not as public as YouTube!
My all-out favorite features, while a small one, is that Markers in a Sequence now move with the Sequence as clips are inserted or deleted. Colored Markers are great and I’ll use them a lot to identify a type of marker. For example, one color could mean “more work needed here” another color would be a locator just you jump quickly to part of the Sequence, and so on.
The technologist in me is very impressed with the new ProRes codecs. Those that work at the high end will love the ProRes 4444 codecs (and those that want an alpha channel will use it anyway). The Proxy version at 36 Mbit/sec parallels Avid’s own DNxHD offline codec and Apple needed something similar for HD offline. The most interesting codec is, however, the 100 Mbit LT version.
Clearly aimed at acquisition I expect we’ll see camcorders and other devices, like maybe the Ki Pro, supporting this data rate, which is co-incidentally the same as AVC-I at its highest setting. AVC-I up against ProRes 422 LT would be very, very similar in quality, both 4:2:2 and 10 bit and using similar compression strategies. It would be a perfect data rate for the Ki Pro if AJA want to support it. (I can’t help but wonder if the last-minute-delay of the Ki Pro wasn’t to wait for this announcement, but I’m just guessing.)
The Pro Apps team have thrown a “sop” at those who want Blu-ray authoring with the ability to create a Blu-ray compatible H.264/AVC file in Compressor that can be burnt to Blu-ray or standard DVD media. Nothing that Toast 10 hasn’t been able to do for some time now but nice to have it included in the lower-cost Final Cut Studio.
Many have interpreted the inclusion of this feature as an indication that Apple are going to get “more serious” about Blu-ray, but I’m not sure. I think it indicates the opposite. If there was going to be a big Blu-ray push the these features would be added to DVD SP, which received almost no update in this version. I think we’ve got Apple’s “solution” for Blu-ray in Final Cut Studio. Who know, only the future (and probably a Product Manger at Apple) will tell. (The PM won’t ever tell, that’s for sure!)
As to the loss of LiveType. It was probably inevitable as it was increasingly obvious that Motion was taking on many of the roles previously done by LiveType. By adding in the LiveType glyph animation features to Motion (adopted directly from LiveType) most of the functionality is now in Motion. My only concern is whether Motion now recolors LiveFonts correctly (i.e. the way LiveType did). I’ll test as soon as I have a copy in hand.
Finally, the price. Who can complain about Final Cut Studio being the same prices now as Final Cut Pro was alone for the first couple of generations.
Certainly, on the surface, it’s a good release.
On the timing – I notice that all Pro Apps products – Studio, Server and Logic (Pro Music) all came out together for the first time. Does it mean anything? It’s Apple, who knows and I’d rather not drive myself crazy trying to second guess them!