Apple Computer Inc. on Sunday kicked off the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas, NV with an invitation-only event to unveil three product updates and two brand new products for the professional video market. Apple demoed features and the integration of the new products to rousing applause from video professionals in the crowd of almost 2,000.
Headlining the event was a new product from Apple called Motion, the company’s new motion graphics design package. Motion allows the animation of text, graphics and video, instant previewing of multiple filters and particle effects, and “Behaviors” — natural movement of type and graphics with effects like gravity and wind, without depending on keyframes.
Apple sees places where people will use Motion as a standalone application, but it fills a void in the company’s high-end video applications that will close the circle for many of the company’s customers.
“Motion fits snuggly between Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro,” Rob Schoeben, Apple’s vice president of Applications Marketing, told MacCentral in an interview after the event. “Someone can use Motion alone, but it arrives on the scene as a member of a family that work really well together.”
Integration with all of Apple’s high-end product line was an ongoing theme at today’s event, as well as the company’s ability to produce high-end applications that are scalable and easy to use.
“It all comes together and allows the individual creative professional to have the tools they need and work in a familiar way, said Schoeben. “All the concepts are real-time; you just drag concepts on top of it and stuff just happens — it’s the way professionals want to work.”
Apple product managers did enthusiastic demos of the new products, showing off features that had some in the crowd cheering and whistling. During the demo of Motion, a beaming Dion Scoppettuolo, Motion product manager turned to the cheering crowd and said, “No, wait, there is so much more,” which only got them cheering louder.
During the event, Apple made their goal for Final Cut Pro very clear. “What we are committed to do today is nail HD to the wall,” said Schoeben. Apple called on several of its partners, including the BBC, Panasonic and Grass Valley to talk to the audience about their choice of Final Cut Pro for their business.
“Final cut pro has struck a cord in this industry,” said Schoeben. There are over a quarter of a million people editing with Final Cut Pro today.”
Besides the integration with other high-end products in its professional market, one thing that Apple emphasized about Final Cut Pro was its scalability.
“That’s the beauty of Final Cut Pro — and will be equally true for Motion — it scales,” said Schoeben. “With a Mac and Final Cut Pro you can do a range of things from a school project to a full featured motion picture. We built an application that can serve a variety of markets without forcing people to learn anything new as they progress.”
DVD Studio Pro 3 has become much easier to use, making it a better jumping point for the mid-range authoring professional than earlier versions. DVD Studio Pro 2, introduced last year at NAB, featured themes and easier navigation to give people that outgrew iDVD a place to go, while maintaining the high-end features for the professional authoring houses.
“It’s definitely based on feedback from the customers, but it’s also about using the Apple DNA in the best way possible,” said Schoeben. “We are able to develop very sophisticated technology that does amazing things, but we are also able to mask that and make it be intuitive and easy to use.”
One of the surprise announcements from Apple was Xsan, a Storage Area Network (SAN) file system aimed at users in video and other businesses looking for high-speed access to centralized, shared data. Apple priced Xsan at $999 per node, making it about a third of the cost of competing products, according to Apple.
Schoeben explained that Apple wanted to solve a problem for the customer and bring SAN to the masses, instead of selling a few expensive solutions.
Apple introduced many new features today that it says are directly related to customer and industry feedback to its products. Integration, scalability, ease of use and giving the market the creative tools they need were all high-points in the company’s presentation today.
“The computer is now too full of itself,” said Schoeben. “It needs to be about the end customer and the desire to make art or produce a project. We live in that community; we’ve served that community for a long time and we get it. We know that professionals want great technology, but they don’t want it to sit higher on the pedestal than them.”