NEW YORK — As promised by Apple in June when they introduced Final Cut Pro X, the new release cycle for the product would be pretty consistent and frequent. With an update in September and a bug fix in November, Cupertino’s Apple recently made available on the Mac App Store Final Cut Pro X 10.0.3, with more tools targeted at the pro market, including multicam editing, syncing of footage for timecode via scratch audio, layered PSD files within FCP X and a third-party plug-in that allows files from FCP 7 to be brought into FCP X.
Here are some details.
A big request from pros has been multicam editing, and that has been added. Apple’s Richard Townhill, who was in NYC when the new version was releases, explains that these features weren’t just ported over from the last version, but greatly improved in 10.0.3. The multicam tools can handle 64 cameras, and allow users to mix and match resolutions, codecs and frame rates, regardless of what they are shooting on. “There is also a new interface called the Angle Editor, which allows you to get in there and adjust camera angles by changing the order of the camera angle, you can rename it, and even do fine tuning to the placement of the angles.”
He says users can also skim through the media very quickly — “you can skim through each angle individually or the whole lot as a collective,” he notes. “You can apply visual effects and take advantage of the realtime processing and background rendering on all of them or a selection of the camera angles. For example, if you have a camera angle you want to apply a special effect to, you can do that inside the new angle editor.”
Another new feature targets a problem pros have been having on current shoots — syncing up multiple cameras, especially those cameras that don’t record timecode. New to V.10.0.3 is an automatic syncing capability. “One of the most difficult parts of a multicam is getting all your cameras synced up. Modern shoots are using everything from Canon 5Ds to GoPros, and those devices don’t use timecode,” states Townhill. This newest version of Final Cut now has the ability to not only use timecode but also the time of day, which does require some manual adjustment on cameras to make sure they are synced up properly. “We’ve taken it one step further: Final Cut now allows you to use scratch audio to sync the video clips. You have a GoPro, Canon 5D, Arri Alexa, all of these guys are recording the same audio, even if it’s scratch audio. Final Cut can analyze the waveforms of those clips and compare waveforms and sync them up.”
ADVANCED CHROMA KEYING
When FCP X was introduced it had a one-click keyer, which was well-received and even used live on-air by Saturday Night Live and The Jimmy Fallon Show, but Apple got feedback from users who wanted to fine tune and adjust the key, which means going out of the NLE to another application. “We discovered many editors wanted to stay inside the editing app, so we enhanced controls for chroma key to allow you to use the one click as a basis of the adjustment but make fine-tuning adjustments inside of FCP X.”
In terms of openness, Townhill reports this version of FCP X’s APIs were “deeper and richer” than in FCP 7. Red Giant’s Magic Bullet and GenArts’ Sapphire Edge — popular VFX plug-ins in the pro community — will both introduce updates in conjunction with V.10.0.3
There is another plug-in designed to address the problem of getting files created in the older version of Final Cut into the new one. Intelligent Assistance has introduced 7toX, which converts the XML from one format to another to allow users to get projects from V.7 to FCP 10.
Townhill explains that one of the reasons Apple didn’t do project import was because “the whole structure of this in Final Cut Pro X is completely different — different effects processing engine, different effects stack, the magnetic timeline works completely differently, so it was never going to be possible for us to do perfect fidelity. But Phillip Hodgetts, who runs Intelligent Assistance, really understands metadata and XML. He had already written a 10 to 7 converter, so he naturally decided to do the opposite. He has impressed us with the stuff he has done.” 7toX is now available on the Mac App Store for $9.99
OTHER NEW FEATURES
There is Media Relink, which allows users to manually relink media. “So if you send stuff off for VFX shots, when you get that media back you can replace it underneath the content that is already in Final Cut, manually,” explains Townhill.
Another request was the ability to import and edit layered Photoshop graphics. “You can already do this in Motion, but in keeping with our philosophy of not making you leave the editor, you can now import the individual layered PSD files so you can animate inside Final Cut,” he says.
There is also XML 1.1 with support for exporting basic primary color grades and both importing and exporting effect parameters and audio keyframes. And, a beta version of broadcast monitoring with third-party PCIe and Thunderbolt I/O devices. (Thunderbolt devices allow broadcast monitoring in the field with MacBook Pro.)
Townhill and Apple promise they take feedback from the professional world very seriously. “We listen to the pros very carefully, and the App Store is a great place to leave immediate feedback. We are talking to as many of our professional customers as possible, and more updates are definitely coming.”