June 21, 2011

Apple ships Final Cut Pro X

Apple has released Final Cut Pro X, "a revolutionary new version of the world’s most popular professional video editing software", at the lower price of £180/$300. There is no longer a Final Cut Studio, but Motion 5 and Compressor 4 have also been released (now just £30/$50 each at the Mac App Store).

So far only the English-language versions are available to download, but versions in other languages are expected this week. The existing version of FCP already has more than 50% of the broadcast market, and the new lower price should help it consolidate its position. However, there are questions about various aspects that previous FCP users have taken for granted, such as full support for tape i/o, EDLs, monitoring, etc.

For instance, there doesn't seem to be any AAF or OMF export for FCP X, so that you can exchange files with Pro Tools, for example, although this can be dealt with using a third party app like Pro Export FCP, from Automatic Duck, but it is expensive for something that should be available in FCP. Other third parties, such as AJA, are also announcing support for FCP X, so that Kona card users can cope with the lack of Log and Capture in FCP X (see the AJA pdf on Working with FCP X) - thanks to Final Cut master trainer Chris Roberts for his observations....

Apple claims that FCP X "completely reinvents video editing with a Magnetic Timeline that lets you edit on a flexible, trackless canvas; Content Auto-Analysis that categorises your content upon import by shot type, media and people; and background rendering that allows you to work without interruption."

For many users, the fact that it has moved to a modern 64-bit architecture, which should mean significant speed gains, will be reason enough to upgrade.

“Final Cut Pro X is the biggest advance in Pro video editing since the original Final Cut Pro,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior VP of Worldwide Product Marketing. “We have shown it to many of the world’s best Pro editors, and their jaws have dropped.”

“I’m blown away by what Apple has done with Final Cut Pro,” confirmed Academy Award-winning film editor Angus Wall. “Final Cut Pro X is incredibly modern and fast, but most importantly it lets you focus on telling your story in the most creative way, while it actively manages all of the technical details.”

The user interface appears to be heavily influenced Apple's consumer-focused iMovie, which inspired the Magnetic Timeline. It offers a trackless approach to editing, that lets you add and arrange clips wherever you want them, while other clips instantly slide out of the way.

There is also Clip Connections to link primary story clips to other elements like titles and sound effects, so they stay in perfect sync when you move them. Related story elements can also be combined into a Compound Clip that can be edited as a single clip. The "groundbreaking" new Auditions feature lets users swap between a collection of clips to instantly compare alternate takes, and could be a great time saver.

Content Auto-Analysis scans any media on import and tags content with useful information. FCP X then uses that information to dynamically organise clips into Smart Collections, consolidating clips by close up, medium and wide shots as well as media type and the number of people in the shot. Clips can be tagged with range-based keywords to add custom search criteria to the media.

Final Cut Pro X has been completely rebuilt from the ground up as a 64-bit application, to takes full advantage of the latest Mac hardware "so you never have to wait for the next edit, even if you’re working with 4K video." It uses multi-threaded processing and the graphics card's GPU for much faster background rendering and much improved real-time playback performance. Additionally, a ColorSync-managed colour pipeline ensures colour consistency from import to output.

Motion 5

It includes powerful tools for audio editing and colour correction, and is complemented by two companion apps, Motion 5 for professional motion graphics and Compressor 4 for advanced media encoding. All three are downloadable from the Mac App Store.

Compressor 4

FCP X will be on show at the London FCPUG Supermeet on Thursday.

The user manuals for Final Cut Pro X, Motion 5, Compressor 4 are available online.

[UPDATE: Philip Hodgetts' What are the Answers to the Unanswered Questions about Final Cut Pro X? gives a pretty comprehensive look at those things that aren't yet complete (and perhaps never will be....)]

[FURTHER UPDATE: Excellent look at all the new features and commands, etc., by Steve Martin at Ken Stone's Final Cut Pro web site]

Related posts: Apple reveals Final Cut Pro X + X-rated: Apple FCP X - an analysis

By David Fox

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