Issue: Monday, April 16, 2007


LAS VEGAS - Apple ( made a number of announcements just prior to the kick off of the NAB show, including the introduction of a powerful color grading program that will be part of its upgraded Final Cut Studio package. The company reports that it now has 800,000 paid Final Cut Pro users worldwide and support for the application is strong with 100 worldwide training centers, numerous books, and a range of third party plug-ins.

One of its NAB announcements is the introduction of Final Cut Server, a digital asset management & workflow solution. The tool catalogs numerous file types, generates proxies, offers keyword search and provides sophisticated access to media. Workflow templates are included for post, broadcast and educational environments, all of which can be customized for specific needs. Final Cut Server has Apple's Compressor integrated into it and is available for $999 (10 licenses) or $1,999 (unlimited).

Final Cut Studio - now V.2 - sees its biggest upgrade to date and includes support for ProRes 422, a next generation, 10-bit 4:2:2 format that produces HD media at SD file sizes. AJA is simultaneously debuting IO HD at the show, a input/output card for transferring content in and out of the ProRes 422 format. The unit will ship in July for $3,495.

New in Final Cut Pro 6 is an open format timeline that allows editors to mix any format, resolution or frame rate. SmoothCam has been added to help remove unwanted camera motion, and the Motion app is now a part of FCP, including its templates.

Motion 3 now features enhanced 3D capabilities with the addition of cameras and light sources in an intuitive environment. A vector-based paint tool has also been added. A new match moving tool allows users to figure out motion paths of objects within a video, and a retiming function can change the time of a clip without using keyframes. Audio behaviors allow graphics to animated to the underlying soundtrack.

Soundtrack Pro has been upgraded to V.2 and now allows users to accurately align music and sound effects to specific frames. Dialogue replacement has also been made easier. Now, users can select sound segments from numerous dialogue takes to create one single composited track.

Surround mixing has been added too. Users can direct sound to 5.1 speaker arrangements using the mouse. One thousand royalty free 5.1 music tracks and sound effects elements are included with the tool. A new waveform editor has also been added for removing unwanted sounds from tracks.

The Compressor applications for encoding content is now in Version 3 release and is being used by Apple to encode all of the content on its iTunes store as well as for Apple TV.

Brand new and included as part of the Final Cut Studio 2 package is Color, a color grading applications that provides primary and secondary color grading capabilities, as well as pan & scan, and tracking functionality. Twenty preset looks are included with the app and users can create their own signature looks for working in SD, HD or 2K.

DVD Studio Pro 4 rounds out the Final Cut Studio 2 package, which maintains its $1,299 price. Users of the prior release can upgrade for $499 and editors running older versions can upgrade to the current release for $699.