I sat down with Apple's Final Cut Studio team and some fellow videobloggers and web video editors/producers in a Los Angeles hotel yesterday, and checked out the new version of the popular video editing suite.
Bottom line: normally I wouldn't be so jazzed about an application update, but as someone who's spent the better part of the last two years working on web video production, this struck me and other web video grunts in the room as "workflow-changing" (some said "life-changing!") and a nice big leap forward.
One of the editor/producer/shooters in the room said he could see these improvements shaving "a total of three months" off of every work-year, in saved man-hours. That's one way to look at it, and another, from a somewhat more workaholic person in the room: "We'll be able to get so much more video produced."
A quick recap of significant feature changes, after the jump.
On Thursday, July 24, Apple announced the release of Final Cut Studio 3 which includes the following components: Final Cut Pro 7, Motion 4, Soundtrack Pro 3, Color 1.5 and Compressor 3.5. Here's what I found most significant during the demo:
* Exporting the finished product is much easier. You no longer have to output from FCP, then open and output again in Compressor before uploading to YouTube, Vimeo, or whatever web video hosting service you use (in Boing Boing Video's case, Episodic). A new "share" option within FCP includes pre-set export options for YouTube, Mobile Me, and iPods and iPhones, and you can easily add your own pre-sets from Compressor. You can even publish right to the web from FCP now. And...
* This is huge! While you're exporting, you can KEEP ON EDITING. Editors: say goodbye to those excuses for long smoking breaks during export.
* This is huge, too! iChat Theater support. So, let's say you've finished editing a rough cut of an episode, and you need to preview that with your supervising producer on the other side of the country, to get notes. Fire up iChat, and send your FCP video to iChat Theater, and you'll be able to watch the video with your two-way, person-to-person video chat inset in a small window in the lower right. I'm not sure what the limit on participant number is, but theoretically, you should be able to do this with up to 4 people iChatting in, if memory serves (and you have enough bandwidth).
* New versions of Apple's "ProRes" codec are offered, including one intended for higher-res digital motion picture output, and two at the lower end of the spectrum which could be particularly helpful for folks editing for broadcast or web on MacBook pros.
* You can color-code markers now. This is neat, and helpful if lots of different editors are touching a given project and you want to keep track of everyone's individual edits.
* There's a new floating, resizable timecode window. So if you're the editor, and you need to have a preview session with a client or producer or whatever, they can easily see the timecode progress while you preview a rough cut together.
* Multi-touch gesture support, which is nice if you're editing on a late-model MBP.
* The feature that elicited the most "OMGs" in the room was a new dialogue level matching option. Allows you to quickly, automatically, intelligently match levels on separate snippets of dialogue, without increasing the levels of noise or non-dialogue sound sources. You can save levels and use them as standards in future projects. This saves a TON of time on a frequent issue that crops up for low-budget web productions that can't afford to hire sound guys for every field shoot. This was a big deal for a lot of us.
* Cool new visual editing interface for fine-tuning audio.
* Helpful new improvements to the time-stretching abilities in Soundtrack Pro.
* We don't use these tools as heavily every day on Boing Boing Video as we do the aforementioned Final Cut Pro and Soundtrack Pro. But the bullet points from these demos that struck me as significant: powerful, less-intimidating 3D tools in Motion that allow you to create motion, shadow, and light effects; the ability to dump text files and create credit and title sequences more easily (I hate the old text editor!). And DVD Compressor now allows you to author blu-ray equivalent discs using the standard red-laser burners that come standard issue, and cheap standard 99-cent-per-blank-disc DVDs. Compressor includes a number of iterative improvements, but the thing I was most excited about was not having to actually open this damned app every day anymore.
Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: firstname.lastname@example.org.