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Apple Updates Final Cut Studio

Apple has updated Final Cut Studio, adding more than 100 new features while at the same time dropping its RRP, writes David Fox.

Apple has updated Final Cut Studio, adding more than 100 new features while at the same time dropping its RRP, writes David Fox.

New are: Final Cut Pro 7, Motion 4, Soundtrack Pro 3, Color 1.5 and Compressor 3.5 – and the fact that it will only now run on Intel-based Macs. However, the price is down (dropping _50 to _799 [$999 in the US]).

“With 1.4 million users and 50% of the market [according to independent research], Final Cut Pro is the number one professional video editing application,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior VP of worldwide product marketing. The new Final Cut Studio “dramatically expands Apple’s ProRes family of codecs so editors can work in the studio with the highest quality video or on location at low bandwidths.”

FCP hasn’t been upgraded for two years, while Adobe, Avid and Grass Valley have become more competitive.

New in FCP 7 are: additional ProRes codecs – 4444 for very high-end use (it includes an alpha channel), 422 LT for mainstream broadcast use, such as news (at around 100Mbps), and 422 Proxy for offline and mobile editing (about 48Mbps); Easy Export, which allows you to continue working on projects thanks to background encoding; iChat Theatre support allows realtime collaboration via iChat, even if whoever you are talking to doesn’t have FCP; new speed tools that allow you to change clip speed more easily, without losing audio synch; alpha transitions for moving mattes; and Native AVC-Intra support for the latest Panasonic broadcast cameras.

Compressor 3.5 takes care of FCP’s Easy Export functions for publishing to YouTube or MobileMe, or export to iPhone, iPod, Apple TV or mobile phones, although you can do most of this from inside FCP. It can also create Blu-ray discs – although DVD Studio Pro (which only gets a 0.0.1 upgrade) doesn’t support Blu-ray. Compressor has also been made easier and quicker to use.

Motion 4 has a few interesting new features, including the ability to adjust depth of field within a 3D canvas by selectively highlighting a single object or using multiple objects to create a racking focus effect. There is also a new tool that makes it quicker and simpler to create credit rolls and Motion’s 3D capabilities have been extended with the ability to add point and spot lights to cast realistic shadows or turn any shape, video plane or paint stroke into a reflective surface.

Color 1.5 works better with FCP, so that things like speed effects can round-trip between the two more reliably. It now has 4k support, working natively with files from cameras like the Red One, and outputs directly to ProRes for HD or DPX for film.

Soundtrack Pro 3 (which is also part of Logic Studio) adds new audio editing tools, such as Voice Level Match (which extracts volume information from the vocal content of one clip and applies it to another without altering any other audio content, so you can quickly match voice levels). It is also simpler to target and reduce specific frequencies, such as the rustling of a newspaper or a microphone being bumped, without affecting dialogue. There is also a new Advanced Time Stretch that stretches and compresses audio with “incredible precision” and without pitch changes.

Apple has also upgraded Final Cut Server (its asset management and automation system) to 1.5, which adds support for offline editing using ProRes Proxy, production hierarchies to organise media, and support for still sequences to easily view and manage image sequences for graphics and effects workflows. It has also more than halved in price to _799 (unlimited client licence – which was _1999 previously – the limited licence was _999) or a _249 upgrade.

Also getting a revamp is Apple’s professional audio recording suite, Logic Studio, with more than 200 new features. It includes Logic Pro 9, MainStage 2, Compressor 3.5 and Soundtrack Pro 3.