Apple releases Final Cut Express 4

Apple on Thursday updated its prosumer video editing application Final Cut Express, adding several high-end features and cutting the price by $100 from what the previous version cost.

“This is a very significant upgrade,” Kirk Paulsen, Apple’s Senior Director Applications Product Marketing, told Macworld. “We took some features that you would only expect to see in Final Cut Pro 6 and made them available in Final Cut Express 4.”

Some of those high-end features include the Open Format Timeline, which allows users to mix and match DV, HDV and AVCHD material in realtime. The application automatically performs the necessary scaling, cropping and frame rate adjustments, according to Apple.

When beginning a new project, Final Cut Express 4 automatically configures everything based on the first clip dropped on the Timeline.

One application missing from Final Cut Express 4 is Soundtrack, Apple’s audio editing and post production tool. Paulsen explained that virtually everything people need to do for audio editing can be done in GarageBand with its recent advances.

Final Cut Express 4 does come with LiveType 2, which provides an environment for creating dynamic animated titles and includes a library of animated fonts, textures, templates and effects.

In addition to including over 50 new FxPlug filters, including Soft Focus, Vignette and Light Rays, Final Cut Express also has enhanced audio controls, allowing you to automatically raise any clip to its maximum level without distortion using the new Soft Normalize and Gain controls.

Paulsen said that Apple is seeing two classes of customers buying Final Cut Express. iMovie users that have outgrown the consumer-based application and new users that want an affordable option to begin editing.

Even with some of its high-end features, there are still some significant differences between Express and Pro including Final Cut Pro’s ability to handle uncompressed video, Pro has 24 channels of audio compared to two channels for Express and Pro has multi-cam capabilities.

Paulsen said that Apple currently has just under 1 million Final Cut systems worldwide.

Final Cut Express costs $199 — owners of previous versions of Final Cut Express can upgrade to Final Cut Express 4 for $99.

Updated to add more information on the removal of Soundtrack and comments from Apple. 1:49 pm 11/15/07.

Updated to clarify who will be using Final Cut Express. 6:51 pm 11/15/07

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