Drew Turney finds out if the video editing component of Apple’s industry-leading movie studio in a box is still in front after stiff competition from the consumer level.
There’s a Roxio product on the market right now you can use to manage, mix and repurpose your entire digital media collection including videos, photos and music and then burn it to disk, share it online or myriad other delivery methods.
Costing $179, it’s obviously not in Final Cut Pro’s league, but it’s one possible reason the entire Final Cut Studio costs as little as it does for what you get — there’s just so much competition in this age of ubiquitous digital media.
Now part of Final Cut Studio and not sold separately, what’s astounding about Final Cut Pro is that Apple keeps adding more functionality and makes it even easier to use for what seems like a steal in monetary terms.
The big addition is the format support. Previously you’d have to encode or resave your clips or assets in order to add them to the timeline and see them in action. Part of the Apple ethos has always been to shield you from the technical details and let you do the creative stuff, and the format support is a big step in that direction. The first clip added to the timeline sets a de facto standard for format, frame rate and other attributes, and each asset you add from then on adjusts to the same specs.
There’s no need to encode (or re-encode) clips, just put them all together as if they were from the same source and start editing in real time. It didn’t work perfectly all the time, but one wonders how much control Apple has over the amount of formats, codecs and standards in the world. It’d be interesting to see what happens under the hood — if Final Cut pro has pre-emptive programming for every possible frame rate or format Apple could think of it’ll never be up to date.
Much trumpeting has been done about the new codec (Apple Pro-res 422) that lets you produce High Definition video at standard def file sizes. There’s a lot of nerdy tech stuff behind it but in layman’s terms it means you can work the way you’re used to, sourcing from and producing the same file sizes you always have, but it can all be upscaled to HD quality with no extra processing and no loss of speed or productivity.
The other big deal is how tightly stitched it is to other members of the Final Cut Studio family. An example is SmoothCam, a sort of plug-in of the Optical Flow technology from Shake (Apple’s image compositing tool) that’s part of Final Cut Pro. A utility to stabilise the effects of a shaky image, it’s not as customisable as having Shake in front of you as you can’t select how much of your shot you want to render — it works on the whole thing, making you wait every time.
The Avid suite of products are still the first choice for pros, but Final Cut proved long ago it could do the same job, and with so many good features both new and old, Final Cut Pro 6 edges Apple one step closer to dominating yet another field.
Value for Money 9/10
We liked: It builds on past functionality and adds a lot more besides.
Disliked: Interminable installation time — leave a good hour all up.
Contact: Apple Computer