Final Cut Pro X is a database management system

Given that Apple say that Final Cut Pro has been rewritten from the ground up, it is very likely that it stores its information in a database that will be available to other applications and users. It is likely that multiple users will have access to the database at the same time.

That means new collaboration opportunities.

Sound

Given that the new interface is much clearer at helping users establishing and changing sync between clips or all kinds, it makes it easier for sound editors to work on the same timelines as picture editors. They’ll be able to do a great deal of work on audio sweetening (including fixing sync on clips) while the picture editors continue to work. For audio specifically this would work better if the position of one audio clip – a voiceover for instance – could define where other clips dipped their levels.

Editing

Collaboration works best when each user can easily understand which parts of a project they can have a look at and modify.
A suggested user interface showing that a compound clip is unavailable for editing.

Perhaps collaboration between editors will be afforded by ‘checking out’ compound clips on a master timeline. ‘Checking out’ is a database term that means an individual record will be locked while a specific person makes changes, but it still can be looked at, and other parts of the database can still be changed. In the case of Final Cut Pro X, the primary editor would be able to see a compound clip is being worked on by an assistant while temporarily unable to edit it.

As well as being a repository of a signed off B-Roll sequence, compound clips could also contain the verse in a music video, a scene in a movie or an episode in a web series. While I work on the verse/scene/episode, another editor could be repositioning the compound clip in the movie or even splitting it into two.

The Audition feature allows a given compound clip to display different choices chosen using a coverflow-type display. Perhaps instead of choosing between individual shots, in future editors might choose between different edits in a compound clip. Senior editors could use this feature quickly compare old and new edits by an assistant.

External suppliers

Maybe we’ll be able to give external suppliers access to chosen parts of our FCP X projects:

    Transcribers and translators (Given access to specifically-tagged ranges within clips, to which they’ll be able to directly add subtitling/close-captioning/alternate soundtracks)
    Picture graders
    Visual effects houses

We might even be able to choose which elements of our project are backed up on iCloud.

Other applications

Fun fact: If the Mac or iOS device is the dongle for Final Cut, then Apple loses nothing by allowing developers to create applications that have peer access to FCP X project databases – Core Data databases can only be served by OS X and iOS devices. That means if there is a market for applications that can edit FCP X data using a 20th century old-style (Avid/Premiere/FCP 7) UI, then Apple will allow third parties to develop them. The more applications that can manipulate FCP X project databases, the more high-margin iMacs Apple will sell.

Legacy tape & digital formats

There is a commonly believed rumour that Final Cut Pro X won’t have any DV and HDV tape capture features.

If Apple want metadata-based workflows to become more popular (preparing the way for more solutions to replace Unity setups at TV stations), it is likely that they’ll want metadata to work well with all media.

That means that if you import an FCP 6-7 project into X and spend the time adding metadata tags to people, places, shots, takes and regions, it is unlikely that Apple would throw that work away if someone decided to do a batch recapture in an older version of FCP and reimport the QuickTime files.

If an FCP X project is a database it is likely that if tape capture isn’t built into X, there’ll be another tool that will be able to add or change the database for those with tape-based content.

Batch recapturing doesn’t apply to tapes alone…

Given the multi-format editing nature of FCP X, the digitising tool might also be able to ‘re-link’ tapeless source data to projects that were converted from FCP 6 and 7. It makes sense that if you’ve used a H.264 or Red to ProRes 422 LT workflow in FCP 7, you could open the project in X to continue work after linking the timeline to source Red or H.264 data.

Please note that this post shouldn’t be counted as a rumour, just speculation: now that Final Cut Pro has been rewritten, there could be new opportunities to improve its collaboration features.

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6 comments
  1. Yep, as I posted a couple of weeks ago, FCP X is based on a database. How open the SDK will be we simply don’t know.

    Small correction – the database functionality would be via CoreData while AV Foundation handles all the media functionality – a job previously done by QT. QV Foundation doesn’t do database so third last paragraph doesn’t make sense 🙂

    • Alex said:

      Thanks for that, I’ve deleted the reference. My original post had references to the AV Foundation and Core Data. As Core Data isn’t a database management system in itself I deleted all references to it.

  2. CoreData is an abstracted interface to a relationship database management system, so you were more right in your earlier version.

  3. My head hurts. Thanks for breaking it down and sharing. Looking forward to digging into the new version.

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