While I might have been skeptical about one “Steve Jobs” email, when there are multiple being published, it’s not so easy to think that Jobs is “off in the future already” and his “next year” is already 2012. But it doesn’t seem like that’s the case. There’s also activity around Cupertino that is more typical leading up to a new release, rather than many months away.
It’s possible that this activity is a consulting process to refine the planning, but overall I lean more toward something being released in 2011. Now, for all the reasons I’ve written about QuickTime and AV Foundation and OS X 10.7, I really doubt that a 2011 release could be 64 bit and have native support for MXF, RED and DSLR H.264. Because these have been such headline features for Adobe in Premiere Pro CS5 I really felt that Apple would be unlikely to release a version of Final Cut Pro that did not have them.
That is where I may well be wrong. For sure anything media related – 64 bit processing, native support and Mercury Engine-like performance – will almost certainly need to wait until after 10.7 is finalized (and released), but there’s a lot of other work they could do in Final Cut Pro that doesn’t necessarily revolve around those features.
Would a release of Final Cut Pro that did not have those three features help or hinder Apple? My assumption was that it would hinder, and I’m still inclined to believe that even as evidence gathers that there will be a 2011 release of Final Cut Studio. While Avid Media Composer is not (yet) 64 bit it does have native media format support via AMA. Media Composer’s current release also lacks anything akin to Adobe’s Mercury Engine, so it wouldn’t just be Apple with a lack in that area.
So what could Apple do in Final Cut Pro for a 2011 release that would excite us all and make it obvious to the worst naysayer that Apple are serious about the Pro Apps?
One thing for certain would be more rewritten code in Final Cut Pro. In Final Cut Pro 7 we got a completely rewritten Speed Control: evidence is the different look and feel, additional features and that if you feed it XML you get a slightly different result in Final Cut Pro 6 than in 7. Similarly my programming partner tells me that the XML writer/parser was very, very likely rewritten for Final Cut Pro 7. While the rewritten Final Cut Pro 7 XML import/export (and the features in that version) are great for developers like ourselves, they don’t generate a whole lot of customer excitement.
So, rewriting to Cocoa from Carbon has probably been progressing between releases. There’s nothing to prevent rewriting the Transition Editor or dozens of other parts of the application that aren’t media or media metadata related. I was thinking that the rudimentary image recognition features of iMovie ’11 – how many people are in a shot, is it W, M or CU? – would be a great addition to Final Cut Pro 7, but that could require work on the Bin/Browser interface, and I think Bin/Browser will require some tools for reading QuickTime Metadata that are Cocoa based rather than old Carbon code, but perhaps not.
Editing features, or perhaps even templates, could come over from iMovie ’11 without taking out any professional level features. This would be much like Aperture 3, which included iPhoto features without losing or dropping “professional features”.
What headline features Apple are likely to put into a 2011 Final Cut Pro release kind of eludes me, but I’m no longer prepared to say “No 2011 release” only that a 2011 release is unlikely to be the release that everyone is expecting, and I don’t know if that will help Apple (“See, we are still interested in Pro Apps!”) or give an opportunity for people to continue the “If Apple were serious we’d have 64 bit and native support, and better performance by now” meme.
As always, we will see when we see it. I fully admit that I have never run a marketing department even the size of the Pro Apps marketing, and I fully expect they know better than I!