Final Cut Pro Handles Many Formats

Users of new version need learn the application only once

Apple's Final Cut Pro nonlinear editing package has managed to find a number of fans in the broadcast industry, including CNN and HDNet. And last Saturday, Apple released Final Cut Pro 4, giving users new features and non-users new reasons to use it.

"Scalability is a key unique feature of version 4," says Product Marketing Manager Paul Saccone. "The same application can be used to edit anything from off-line and DV, all the way up to uncompressed SD and HD or even feature films."

The difference in those formats is the type of audio/video capture device used and storage demands. The advantage of the approach taken by Apple is that editors don't need to relearn the same application when working on different types of content.

The new version includes a number of enhancements for the editor. Saccone says RT Extreme tops the list, providing a multistream, real-time architecture that supports a larger number of video streams and effects. In addition, advanced effects and trimming tools like asymmetric and dynamic trimming, are seamlessly integrated into the user interface.

"That will give the user unparalleled speed [when moving] between different editing functions," he says.

Apple also added in a new titling function, called LiveType. "It's a titler, not a character generator in the typical broadcast sense," says Saccone. "It's a design application used for creating motion titles, but it's not a real-time, down-stream keyer/character generator."

Audio has also been given new capabilities. Saccone says an application called Soundtrack will allow editors to create original music scores. The multi-track audio mixer supports 99 tracks that can be routed to 24 discreet outputs channels.

The needs of post-production facilities have also been addressed, he notes, with new uncompressed 8- and 10-bit 4:2:2 YUV codecs that can be used across various I/O board sets for standard-definition or high-definition. It also has 8- and 10-bit imaging, as well as new support for 32-bit float rendering on many operations for maximum image quality.

"Other features," adds Saccone, "include improved EDL support and XML interchange for integrating Final Cut Pro 4 into virtually any customized post-production pipeline or workflow."

And, as with previous version, the price remains very low, according to Saccone, $999 for the full version, $395 for an upgrade from earlier versions.