Final Cut Studio 3

Final CutApple’s new production house in a box comes with whole new version of Final Cut Pro, Motion and Soundtrack, major updates to Color and Compressor and the most recent version of DVD Studio Pro.

The coolest new feature of Final Cut Pro is the iChat theatre. If your editor is across the world and you’re on location watching roughs while describing changes on the phone, he or she can make the change and you can be watching it in real time through your iChat client.

There’s also much more control for sequence markers, including the means to colour code them. That means you can apply a colour to markers that relate only to the soundtrack, another for the visual effects and another for grading, etc. It makes searching for the spot you want in your clip or film even easier, and you can export a list of them to Excel or a database to keep track of or share them.

There’s now a large floating Timecode window that you can move around and resize. It seems like it should have been included long ago, especially as it’s so easy to port your editing to a large (up to and including cinema-sized) screen for everyone rather than just the editor to watch as you work.

We’ve never been a fan of the single touch trackpad of recent MacBooks, but Final Cut Pro takes advantage of it in a very imaginative way by letting you navigate using unique touch gestures. For example, you can pinch to move horizontally along the timeline or swipe with three fingers to advance the playhead between edit points. It takes some getting used to, but as pro editors will more likely use a mouse and specialised keyboard it’s more a cute toy than anything.

Motion comes with a raft of greatly expanded tools to bring your animation to life, with several ways to give your image 3D shadows and reflection so you can show it moving through space seamlessly. You can also apply focus to near or far points throughout the image to give your image more depth. But the handiest feature Desktop found (perhaps giving our print design background away) is the ability to import a text file and turn it into scrolling credits in one click, even editing it midstream.

Color 1.5 has entered the digital cinema world in a big way, letting you grade and render at quality up to the 4K standard so you can use footage from the new crop of digital cameras such as the RED. New ProRes codecs give you more output standards so you can be sure your digital or film out master retains everything you want in it.

There are far too many new features, expanded features and improvements to each component of Final Cut Studio to even scratch the surface. We delved into it fairly deeply but didn’t find any bugs or bad ideas. They’re undoubtedly in there somewhere in a program so packed with capabilities, but our bet is that you’ll find so many tools that make life easier it won’t matter when you finally find a dud.