When I summarized What I thought I knew about Final Cut Pro X, one item was that the Project format would change from being a Binary format to an XML-based format. Then I got a couple more data points that have led me to rethink that.
The primary data point happened last night when rewatching the Sneak Peek on YouTube and heard Peter Steinauer (Architect of Final Cut Pro) say about Smart Collections:
“The collection is based on Queries”
Queries mean databases in my mind.
Then I was playing in iMovie ’11 – because that’s the closest I can get to Final Cut Pro X right now (even though it’s only very superficially similar), and realized it has no “Save” command in the File menu. In Apple’s Address Book and iCal you don’t have to save changes, they’re just there! Those two applications are built using databases (Cocoa’s Core Data).
The only other NLE that had no Save command was Avid’s now defunct Liquid. The demo artist took great pleasure in pulling the plug on the computer mid demo. After a restart the project picked up exactly where it was when the plug was pulled. No work lost, because it was tracking every change in the background.
Since Apple seem to be adopting the best-of-breed for every major NLE feature, according to those many writers who wanted to show how Apple was “only playing catchup”, then why not a best-of-breed project format based on a database?
It’s a long shot call, based on too little information. I’m very aware of the risk of taking a single statement in a presentation and trying to read too much into it, but if I had to place a bet right now, it would be that the project format is in some way related to a database.
That makes sense, as it was already most likely they were using a combination of media-file based metadata and database for tracking media (very similar to Media Composer’s approach), so why not do it for the whole project, with the advantage that every move and change is stored automatically.
If that’s real, then a true history palette (or similar) would be possible.