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Ideas

In August 2010 (almost a year before the introduction of Final Cut Pro X) Apple applied for a user interface patent that is relevant to colour correcting video clips. They were awarded patent 8,468,465 today.

Although Apple has chosen a different UI for colour correction in Final Cut Pro, the UI shown in this new patent may turn up in future Apple applications.

Abstract

Some embodiments provide a computer program that provides a graphical user interface (GUI) for controlling an application. The GUI includes a contiguous two-dimensional sliding region for defining several values. The GUI also includes several sliders for moving within the sliding region. Each slider selects one or more values from the several values based on a position of the slider within the sliding region. The selected values are parameters for controlling one or more operations of the application.

Excerpt

2D-sliders_fig_16

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The main complaint many people have about the forthcoming Mac Pro is the lack of internal expandability. Post-production professionals have Mac Pros with PCIe cards for important functions, internal storage and disc burners. They’ve invested a lot of money in workflows that require this hardware.

I’ve come up with a product idea that might satisfy many people with this complaint: A PCI Express card that can be installed in an older Mac Pro that uses one or two Thunderbolt 2 cables to connect to a 2013 Mac Pro. This would turn the old Mac Pro into an expansion chassis for the new Mac Pro.

This solution would provide access to the other PCI Express cards in the old Mac plus internal storage and disc burners (by connecting internal cables to the card if access via the PCI bus is a problem).

Such a card is easier to engineer than a whole expansion chassis. The old Mac Pro provides everything needed but the interface.

You could even attach more than one old Mac Pro to a 2013 Mac Pro using this method…

A valid idea for Kickstarter? The pro][pro card for your new Mac Pro… and your old Mac Pro too.

pro2pro-promo

Apple’s new streaming service is called iTunes Radio. Not iMusic. What elements could be included that would justify such a name?

The current music streaming services offer very large music libraries to those that pay a subscription fee, or to accept listening to adverts. Although streaming services have features named ‘radio’, they don’t sound much like broadcast radio.

I think there is room for a streaming service that adds elements of radio: the shared experience, regular elements, a reliable schedule.

FutureRadio = Purchased music + Curated music + shared experiences

Imagine a service that combines purchased music, music that fits well with purchased music and shared audio experiences.

Curated music in this case starts with algorithmically chosen music that works well with the music you want to listen to. iTunes has a ‘Genius’ command that creates playlists of tracks from your library that fit the genre or mood of a chosen track. Spotify has a ‘Radio’ feature that creates playlists based on an artist, genre or time period.

Curation doesn’t only have to come from software algorithms: it could come from the playlist of a favourite radio station or radio show. Radio station playlists change periodically, some every week, some every few months. Radio show playlists could be based on the music played over the previous years, year, month or week. The playlist could be the exact tracks played on a recent show.

There is also a place for non-music content on a radio service.

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MacPro fans are waiting for Apple to announce an update to their favourite computer. Many hope that Monday’s Worldwide Developer Conference keynote speech will end their long wait.

This time last year an email purported to be from Tim Cook was posted to the MacRumors forums:

Thanks for your email. Our Pro customers like you are really important to us. Although we didn’t have a chance to talk about a new Mac Pro at today’s event, don’t worry as we’re working on something really great for later next year.

Those few words have been pored over since then. Some pointed out that Tim’s email didn’t say that there would be a new MacPro ‘later next’ year, just that Pro customers would get ‘something really great.’

More recently Drew Baird posted the following to the reduser.net forums:

For what it’s worth – a couple of months ago I received a call from Douglas Brooks, Apples project manager for the new Mac Pro to address my concerns about the new machine. Obviously he didn’t tell me anything about the new MP, but asked me what I wanted to see. I told him expandability for extra graphics cards support, and memory expansion were at the top of my list amongst other things. His reply was simple:

“You are going to be really glad that you waited [to buy a new tower]. We are doing something really different here and I think you’re going to be very excited when you see what we’ve been up to. I can’t wait to show this off”.

That conversation gave me enough confidence to wait for the new machine. I’m looking forward to the announcement. Hopefully the wait will be worth it.

If this is true, the MacPro replacement is unlikely to look like the current model in any way.

More recent MacPro rumours suggest that the new hardware may have more GPU power, but will not have FireWire, optical drives or internal expansion. Some suggest that the new pro computer will be the hardware that Apple is manufacturing in the U.S. as high-end customers are less likely to complain about the extra costs of home manufacturing.

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Four years ago, Apple applied for a patent that is relevant to animating parameters of clips and other content in a timeline. They were awarded patent 8,458,593 today.

I’m not reproducing this to start a debate on whether this sort of thing should be patentable. This patent shows how future Apple applications might show timelines of animatable values, and how more than one value can be changed at a time as well as controlling the shape of the graph joining two keyframes.

09

You can see from this drawing of an imaginary application interface, this patent applies to a media editing application that users can use to set keyframe values for clip parameters such as scale and position with editable graphs.

The example application shown in the patent looks like a version of Final Cut Pro that uses some elements from Motion, but not so many that editors are turned off. The editing temperament is somewhat different from that of motion graphic designers.

However bear in mind that this patent represents Apple’s thinking back in May 2009, in the intervening years, they may have moved on from these ideas.

The rest of this post is made up of most of the text and images from the new Apple patent

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On the latest episode of the Critical Path podcast Horace Dediu and Moisés Chiullan talked about the future of TV. Horace said that he thinks that the future of TV is in applying software engineering tools to story and interactivity development. Apple have some tools that could achieve some of this.

FCP.co has reported in detail on Apple’s new Methods, systems, and apparatus for collaborative media editing patent:

Methods, systems, and apparatus for collaborative media editing. In one aspect, a method includes presenting, to an originator, an originator interface including multiple media panes; establishing a connection with a collaborator; receiving from the originator a selection indicating an item of media content associated with at least one of the multiple media panes; transmitting to the collaborator the selected item of media content; and enabling inter-user communication relating to the selected item of media content in the originator interface with the collaborator. Further, a connection can be established with a second collaborator, the item of media content can be transmitted to the second collaborator, and communication can occur in the originator interface with the second collaborator.

The ‘method’ (patent parlance) they use as a example in the abstract is shows an editor sending media clips to collaborator A and having a window-based chat session about prospective changes. Collaborator A then goes on to share the task with a new collaborator, B, who gets the footage and who can appear in the chat window of the original editor.

Here’s the picture FCP.co used to illustrate the news:

They pointed out a possible code name for a collaborative media application is included in Apple’s mockup: ‘Light Table.’ In this case the role of the user on the project is ‘Assistant Director,’ the tasks listed are Storyboarding, Acquisition, Organising, Placing Media, Effects, Collaboration and Delivery.

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In which I explore the kinds of features that might be coming to Final Cut Pro X that competitors will find very hard to compete with.

Although some people think that Final Cut Pro X was released before it was ready, the features that have been introduced in updates have made it more appealing to experienced editors.

As editors look forward to updates, the features that appear can be divided into two categories: those that help Final Cut Pro X catch up with competitors and those that clearly supersede the rest of the market. At the moment the main competitor seems to be Final Cut Pro 7, or perhaps the imaginary ‘improved and more stable plus a few more features’ update to 7.

Apple have dealt with strong competitors during technology transitions before: in the case of MacOS X, Mac users wanted to stay with OS 9. In the case of iOS, Apple were competing initially with cheap non-smartphones and Blackberries.

The fact that the iPhone and its OS (which was eventually branded iOS) wasn’t quite ready at launch followed on from MacOS X. MacOS X 10.0 and the iPhone 1 were for pure Apple fans and developers. As the years went by, features were added to both platforms that caught up with and superseded competitors.

This post compares the major releases of iOS and Final Cut Pro X, and shows that the first few versions were more about the promise of a new platform and later versions started to deliver on that promise.

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Over the last few days there have been a couple of pieces of evidence that point to Apple launching a new version of the MacPro very soon – in time for their Worldwide Developer’s Conference next week.

What does this mean for Final Cut Pro X users, and users of other post-production software?

Many in the industry have accused Apple of giving up on professionals in order to go after the consumer dollar. The basis of this accusation is fact that the MacPro hasn’t been updated in almost two years and that Final Cut Pro X was launched without many features found in Final Cut Pro 7 and that it seemed to be designed for novice consumers.

My guesses as to why Final Cut Pro X was launched the way it was are for another time. My question is: What will it mean if Apple announces a new MacPro next week?

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Judging by the user interface of Final Cut Pro X and MacOS X Lion, it seems that Apple want to move us away from accessing complex file systems and letting us manage our projects from within full-screen applications.

If this so, the way that Final Cut works with effects and helper applications will have to change. For now Motion-created effects, titles, transitions and templates must be installed in special folders in the Movies folder in the home folder. If we need to import Final Cut Pro 7 timelines or export clips to Motion or After Effects, we have to run separate apps.

In the case of effects, transitions and titles, there are ways user interface could be improved.

Inside Final Cut Pro itself is the best place to manage effects.

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