Apple’s Cinema Tools 1.0 brings 24-frame-film-editing capabilities and high-definition (HD) support to Final Cut Pro, providing filmmakers with a different set of editing tools. This companion program has two parts: a stand-alone database application that handles a film project’s keykode and timecode relationships, and a set of Final Cut Pro plug-ins for outputting cut lists and handling 24-frame edit-decision lists (EDLs). Together, Cinema Tools and Final Cut Pro offer filmmakers postproduction editing power at an affordable price.
To edit film-based projects, you begin by importing the keykode and timecode data associated with the video media from telecine logs into Cinema Tools’ database. The program can import all of the industry-standard telecine logs, such as Flex, ALE, and Aaton, and it can handle both 16mm and 35mm film formats. Using this data, Cinema Tools can then export a batch-capture list that Final Cut Pro uses for digitization.
Once you’ve captured the clips in Final Cut Pro, Cinema Tools links the video media to its database. At this point, you have two editing methods to choose from: matchback and 24-frame. In both methods, Cinema Tools checks for duplicate shots, opticals, and missing elements. It can also track audio timecode information and output audio EDLs.
With the matchback method, you edit at the standard video rate of 29.97 fps, and your negative-conform list will be accurate within one film frame. In the 24-frame method, Cinema Tools converts all the footage back to its original 24-frame state through a process called reverse telecine. (Avid’s Xpress DV with the matchback-only FilmScribe option lacks this ability.) After conversion, you can edit the media in Final Cut Pro at 24 fps and produce an exact negative-cut list.
The program’s dual-pronged approach makes working with Cinema Tools a little complicated. The user manual and online white paper do little to clarify the workflow, glossing over tricky audio issues, particularly OMF (Open Media Framework) export and Lok-Box cassette creation (a tool for properly conforming the negative back to film). Cinema Tools is an OS X version of Focal Point Systems’ FilmLogic app (Apple acquired Focal Point in 2001), but Cinema Tools’ editing process is just as disjointed, and it’s still only peripherally integrated with Final Cut.
Cinema Tools also adds support for editing offline HD projects. You can edit with down-converted HD footage in Final Cut Pro at 29.97 fps and then have Cinema Tools convert the EDL to 23.98 fps for the HD online option. Alternatively, you can handle the down-converted HD material as you would a film project, by using the reverse telecine process on the footage and editing at 23.98 fps.
For Final Cut Pro users with high-definition capture cards, Cinema Tools offers a Final Cut Pro plug-in that makes possible the import of 23.98-fps EDLs for online work. Users of CineWave HD cards, however, will have to wait for OS X drivers before they can take advantage of this expanded HD support.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
Although the Cinema Tools-Final Cut Pro combination may take some time to master, it’s time well spent, given Cinema Tools’ features and price. We hope future versions of Cinema Tools are better integrated with Final Cut Pro and more intuitive to use.