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Graphics & design software

Final Cut Pro X 10.0.3

Jan 31 05:30

Final Cut Pro X gets a new angle--64 of them, in fact

It’s been seven months since Apple released Final Cut Pro X amidst furor and bemusement; four months since the company released its first major update, with promised support for more pro-level features in the next year. That year is here, and with it, Apple brought its third major update to the platform, offering multicam editing, updates to Chroma Key, beta broadcast video monitoring, and an assortment of other improvements.

The iterative changes continue with Final Cut Pro X 10.0.3, released early Tuesday morning as a free update for current users on the Mac App Store. The big new features were teased last year: multicam editing and broadcast video monitoring. “All of these things are critical in a professional post-production environment,” said Apple’s senior director of applications marketing, Richard Townhill, in a conversation with Macworld, “and Final Cut Pro X has been built specifically with that in mind.”

Broadcast video monitoring comes attached with one of Apple’s new—and relatively rare—labels, “Beta.” According to Townhill, this is partially due to the limited number of third-party partners on launch. “We have a third-party dependency on this feature,” said Townhill, “[and] it’s going to get better as we see drivers from third-party partners, and continue to work with them to improve.”

Three firms have been working with Apple to implement monitoring via PCI Express cards: AJA Video Systems, Blackmagic Design, and Matrox. In addition, Final Cut Pro X will offer monitoring through the Thunderbolt port, allowing editors to check broadcast-quality video on-set through devices like AJA’s IoXT and a Mac laptop.

With regard to multicam editing, Townhill noted that Apple held off on offering the feature until it could bring something new to the field. As such, the company’s iteration of this tool offers a full 64 slots for source video, none of which need to share resolution, codecs, or framerate to cooperate. To organize the footage, users can add new camera angle metadata onto sources; in addition, syncing content no longer relies solely on timecode. Instead, clips can be synced using data and time, or Apple’s new Audio Analysis feature—unique to FCP X—which automatically matches scratch audio waveforms from simultaneous set footage.

Multicam editing in Final Cut Pro X supports up to 64 angles of video.

Improvements have also been made to Final Cut’s Chroma Key tool, which received new granular controls for complicated effects. This allows editors to stay in-program when attempting to key out tricky blue- or green-screen compositions, rather than banish them out to Motion or another external compositing program. Additionally, users can now re-link media and import layered PSD files, along with several other smaller improvements to the app.

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Third-party developers will be able to create new tools using the XML 1.1 standard, which version 10.0.3 supports. Quite a few plug-ins and apps are already available to supplement Final Cut Pro X; XML 1.1 should allow even more developers to hop on-board. In that vein, video software developer Intelligent Assistance has released an XML-based tool that allows users to convert their Final Cut Studio sequences into Final Cut Pro X projects; it too was made available Tuesday on the Mac App Store, for $10. (Earlier this month, Intelligent Assistance had released a $50 converter that downgraded FCP X projects to FCP 7 projects.)

Of course, some users are still holding steadfast for EDL exports, one of non-linear editing software's older tools. When asked about the likelihood of supporting the older EDL standard in a future update, however, Townhill noted that the format was originally designed to work for a single track of video, and while Apple appreciated its long history, the company’s focus is now on XML.

Current users can download the FCP X update from the Mac App Store for free; new users can purchase the software for $300 or take a 30-day test-drive by downloading the free trial from Apple’s Website.

Meantime, be sure to check out our first look at FCP X 10.0.3, as a longtime videographer takes this new version for a spin.

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Jan 31 05:30

7toX for Final Cut Pro converts legacy FCP projects

When Final Cut Pro X was first released, there were many gripes and grumbles about the application, but none so prominent as the lack of support for projects created in earlier versions of Final Cut Pro. Third-party developer Intelligent Assistance seeks to change that with its new 7toX for Final Cut Pro converter, available on the Mac App Store alongside the newly released Final Cut Pro X 10.0.3 update.

Developed by Intelligent Assistance president and longtime Final Cut Pro evangelist Philip Hodgetts, the app uses Apple’s XML 1.1 API to help users transfer their Final Cut Pro 7 projects to Final Cut Pro X. Due to the large structural changes present in Apple’s newest version of its professional non-linear editing software, “getting a perfect translation was going to be impossible,” according to Apple senior director of applications marketing, Richard Townhill. “But Philip focused on XML… [and has] done a phenomenal job.”

While all media must be online throughout the process, the converter proposes to handle the transition as smoothly as possible; according to Hodgett, “the process is seamless to the user.” The big stuff—bins and sequences—are translated to Keyword Collections and Compound Clips, respectively. The program will also attempt to match transitions, motion settings, composites, speed changes, and audio/video filters to versions supported by Final Cut Pro X. Additionally, 7toX for Final Cut Pro supports multicam project conversion.

Of course, transcoding a Final Cut Pro 7 project to FCP X won’t be flawless—users will most likely have to do some cleanup and transitional work—but 7toX provides a few nice buffers to ease the move: It marks any changes that occurred during conversion through To Do markers and checks for any media corruption; a detailed help section on Intelligent Assistance’s Website is also available. The app is available on the Mac App Store for $10; if this motivates you to give Final Cut Pro X a try, you can download a 30-day free trial from Apple’s Website.

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Jan 31 05:30

First Look: Final Cut Pro X 10.0.3 restores professional features; adds notable new ones

The June 2011 release of Apple’s new Final Cut Pro X set off a firestorm that reverberated across the globe—at least in video circles. The hotly anticipated new version of Apple's flagship video software was unexpectedly accompanied by the immediate removal of the previous version—Final Cut Pro 7—along with the company's Final Cut Server and Final Cut Express apps, from retail distribution. That alone had longtime users jumping ship from the only nonlinear video editor many of them had ever used.

But that wasn't the only bad news. The reviews of the new app were almost universally critical. To longtime videographers who had built careers around Final Cut workflows, the new FCP X lacked the pro-level power features they considered essential.

A new environment without connectivity to broadcast monitoring and networked storage, without the ability to assign audio outputs, and without the ability to open archives of previous FCP 7 projects, caused the industry to respond with shock and outrage. Apple’s competitors meanwhile, rejoiced in vitriolic glee at the prospect of gaining back years of market share they had lost as a result of the FCP’s dominance.

Then something astonishing happened: Cupertino backed down. Apple sent its product managers out into the editing community to reassure video pros that it and FCP X were indeed committed to supporting the product's working professional base, and that Apple would soon restore multicam editing, broadcast monitoring and output, the ability to assign audio tracks in a specific order, and the ability to import and export to and from their favorite third-party applications for audio, color correction, and finishing—as well as connect to Xsan or other networked storage volumes.

In short, Apple told its angry customers not to worry; they had their back.

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