) rocked NAB with major announcements and cheering crowds in a packed 2,000-plus press conference where they announced strategic alliances with Panasonic, Thomson Grass Valley and BBC Technology and new products including Final Cut Pro HD, Motion, Xsan, DVD Studio Pro 3 and Shake 3.5 as well as more powerful new PowerBook G4s.
"We really want to nail HD to the wall, said Rob Schoeben, Apple's vice president of applications marketing to the enthusiastic crowd. Apple's latest upgrade to their popular editing application now includes native support for uncompressed DVCPRO HD and allows previewing of SD and HD footage directly on an Apple Cinema Display. Final Cut Pro HD retail is $999 (US) and is available as a free downloadable upgrade for registered FCP 4 users.
The DVD Studio Pro 3 upgrade among other features now includes alpha transitions, a graphical view and the ability to encode HD projects directly to MPEG-2. DVD Studio Pro 2 users can upgrade for $199. Shake 3.5 incorporates shape-based morphing and warping tools for advanced compositing and better operations processing at 8-, 16-, and 32-bit floating color point bit-depth. Shake 3.5 will be available for suggested retail price of $2,999.
Motion is Apple's new motion graphics software with an interface that abandons keyframing and includes a particle engine integrated into the basic package for more intuitive designing and realtime previews. It integrates seamlessly with Final Cut Pro HD and DVD Studio Pro 3. Motion is available for available for $299.
And Xsan is a 64-bit cluster file system for Mac OS X Panther that allows up to 64 users concurrent file level read/write access to shared volumes at one third the price of comparable systems, said Schoeben. It ships this fall for $999.
Apple is also offering new PowerBook G4s. Available in the 12-inch model (with 1.33 Ghz, Nvidia GeForce FX Go5200 and 64MB of video memory, starting at $1,599), the 15-inch (up to 1.5Ghz, ATI Mobility Radeon 9700, with up to 128MB, starting at $1,999) and the 17-inch (with 1.5Ghz, ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 and up to 128MB, starting at $2,799). The new models offer 4x-speed SuperDrives. And each new PowerBook comes standard with both AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth.
Apple hopes that the incorporation of Panasonic's VariCam native DV-HD codec into Final Cut Pro HD will revolutionize the HD production pipeline. "The VariCam has taken the industry by storm," said Stuart English, vice president of marketing for Panasonic Broadcast USA. "Outside of Hollywood the VariCam has virtually taken over Super 16 production," he continued. English proudly held up to the crowd the world's smallest HD FireWire capable recorder the AJ-HD1200A DVCPRO HD VTR. The crowd cheered when English revealed the price point of $25,000 for the compact deck.
Strategic partner Thomson is integrating Final Cut Pro HD software into their popular Grass Valley Digital news production pipeline by incorporation of their Grass Valley Broadcast Plug-In and Grass Valley Professional Plug-In software modules and connectivity to their Grass Valley Open SAN system. The Apple and Thompson team up is targeting the fast paced world of TV news production a potential 400 million dollar market.
BBC Technology is integrating Final Cut Pro HD into their Colledia production system with the ultimate goal of becoming a fully tapeless facility in the future, said Paul Cheesbrough head of Technology for production, BBC. Cheesbrough cited Final Cut Pro HD's support of open standards such as XML and AAF as crucial to this decision. This workflow, he said, will enable greater creativity, the efficient sharing of content across multiple platforms and reduce costs.