Video Essentials

Apple Final Cut Pro X: What to Expect


Final Cut Pro expert, trainer, and author Larry Jordan is looking forward to the June release of Final Cut Pro X, but not because of any one feature. He’s looking forward to the reimagined interface and the new way of working.

Image courtesy of Apple Inc.

“Few companies can redesign the interface of an existing product,” he says, noting that not many would want to. When a product has a dedicated fan base, the company behind it rarely tinkers with success. But Apple is signaling a major shift in video editing with this release.

“The thing I was most struck by was how they thought through what does it mean to be tapeless and how can we use all the power in our computers,” Jordan says.

In the days of recording to tape, the tape itself became the archive. The video editor labeled it, put it on a shelf, and knew the master footage was always there, safe and untouched. Now, we record to memory cards and erase those cards once the files have been transferred. It presents new issues for archiving and storing material.

While large companies will have archival systems in place, it’s the independent shooters who need to worry about long-term storage. Jordan hopes Apple’s new version of Final Cut Pro, which was rebuilt from the ground up, should help in this area.

Of the announced features, two seem especially useful to Jordan. He likes the upcoming ability to group several clips into a single clip.

“Apple has made nesting a whole lot slicker,“ he says.

He also likes the ability to permanently join an audio and video track. As it is now, he says, they’re two separate clips. In Final Cut Pro X, they can be joined as one clip. “You have to work really really hard to knock them out of sync,” Jordan notes. It’s possible to break the relationship, but not easy, which should help newcomers.

The magnetic timeline interests him, as well, and he likens it to the bus in the Harry Potter movies that barrels along at will, while the houses around it need to duck out of the way. With the magnetic timeline, editors won’t need to worry about how their clips relate; just grab and move your clip, and everything else will get out of its way.

“It means you’re spending less time worrying about your tracks and the media on the tracks, and more time worrying about the quality of your edit,” Jordan says.

After Apple offered the first public sneak peek at Final Cut Pro X at a Final Cut Pro users group meeting in Las Vegas, many have been wondering if Final Cut Pro X is still a professional tool. Its resemblance to iMovie and it’s $299 price tag scream “prosumer” to many. Jordan thinks that talk is early.

“Anybody wringing their hands positively or negatively is premature,” he says, noting that Apple only wanted to show off the new interface and some features. Wait for the full announcement, he says, before making a decision.

As for the price tag, he notes that when Final Cut Pro was first released, Avid cost $60,000. What the NewTek TriCaster can do used to take $2 million in equipment, plus a crew of people.

“Technology always gets cheaper and technology always opens up a market for people who have never had the ability to afford it before,” Jordan says.

What Jordan finds most tantalizing about the announcement, though, is what Apple left out. Where are the other programs in the suite?

In his blog post about the announcement, Jordan tells of speaking to Richard Townhill, Apple’s director of pro video product marketing, who said “The purpose of today is to focus exclusively on Final Cut Pro, highlight some of the new features, and give people a chance to see and comment on the new interface. We will have much more to say about both Final Cut and our other applications in the future.”

Does that mean there are other announcements coming? “I’m very very curious to see,” Jordan says.




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