Category Archives: Apple Pro Apps

Apple’s NAB announcements [updated]

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 2
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.
Soundtrack Pro
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.

More soon.

NAB, Rumors and business

Why does the Apple rumor mill get so frantic coming up to NAB? It’s not like we don’t all know to delay purchases until after NAB unless you can get a pay back in the months between now and then. So what is it that makes us frantically review rumor sites and set the forums and email groups buzzing when ThinkSecret purported to leak (yet again) from within Apple?

Nobody can confirm or refute the rumors until Sunday April 17th, and in reality the rumors don’t do much more than supposedly “confirm” what can reasonably be inferred from existing public announcements (HDV support in FCP “next version” is an announced feature); known intentions to meet customer desire (heck there was even an obscure reference to Multicam in the FCP 4 manual suggesting it was, at one time, proposed for that version); or reasonable inference (CoreVideo technology in the OS would enhance FCP’s real time). New applications for sure – that’s called progress and until Apple have a full and complete set of professional tools in the Pro Apps product lineup then they’ll keep announcing new tools.

Since I am only guessing and have no knowledge, I won’t be publishing my guesses here or on DV Guys but ask me privately and I’ll make my guesses. Even though I think I’m as good at guessing as the next person I still expect to be surprised and impressed come NAB.

But that’s not the point – lots of opportunity for rumor mongering all over the place. It doesn’t do any good, it doesn’t influence business or buying decisions so why is there this intense speculation about what Apple might be going to announce? And why mostly Apple? Avid haven’t pre-announced their NAB releases. There’s the same level of secrecy going on but not the speculation.

Is this some bizarre desire to be “on the inside”? A sort of technological one-upmanship? It’s not like knowing there’s a new version of Final Cut Pro coming sometime (probably) in the next 2-3 months makes editing any easier today, or eases the pain of any “undocumented features” currently existing.

Until this last year or so I was as keenly interested in listening to, and spreading, any rumors I could find and yet now I find myself strangely disinterested. Curious yes – I’ll go read the rumor and consider whether or not I think it’s reasonable – but I find myself not as interested in spreading the guesses and inference.

I wonder why that is? Is it finally maturity, or is it finally evidence that I am, officially, jaded? 🙂

Update March 1 – there’s just been a purported “leak” of Avid’s NAB announcements. While the leak is almost certainly bogus, this type of malicious leak can be very damaging. The supposed prices are way below what is reasonable for Avid (although if true, would be a real change of direction) and there are other key giveways for the educated reader, that this is not a real release. But now, whatever great announcements Avid had for NAB will be compared with a totally unrealistic, bogus release setting up expectations that were never reachable.

At least that’s my take. If not and Avid do announce $5000 Unity and open interoperability with AJA and Decklink on April 16, then that paragraph will have never happened 😉

HDV – Is it something or is it nothing?

I’ve just added a comprehensive briefing paper to the Pro Apps Hub on HDV called, as the title of this post suggests, “Is it something or is it nothing?” Bottom line, it’s something all right and it’s going to be the final factor that drives production inexorably to HD.

Here’s the introductory paragraph:

“It’s hard not to be caught up in the HDV hype but is this 19/25 Mbit High Definition format going to take the world by storm, or does the heavy compression make it unworkable? This briefing paper takes a look at:

  • the format and how they fit an HD signal on a DV tape,
  • how it looks in practice,
  • how HDV can be edited,
  • distribution HDV, and
  • how it is likely to fit into, and change, the production and post-production industries. Particular attention is paid to working with HDV with Apple’s editing applications.”

You can access the briefing paper by downloading the free Pro Apps Hub software and following the link to download. The Pro Apps Hub is the most up to date, no time-wasting news for Apple’s Pro Apps users, daily productivity tips, briefing papers, the only index to the best of what’s free on the Internet – tutorials, articles, resources, forums so you don’t waste time with what isn’t great, and an online catalog. (Did I mention that I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve created with the Pro Apps Hub?)

Check out the HDV article and follow the link at the end of the article back here to comment. This entry will load directly in the Hub.