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final cut pro x

In April 2011 Apple surprised the world of post production when they showed a sneak peek of Final Cut Pro X at the NAB Supermeet. It was obvious that the next version of Final Cut Pro after version 7 was going to be a completely rewritten application – thowing out all previous code and many of the concepts that had worked well for Apple over the previous 12 years.

iMovie Pro?

When Final Cut Pro X was launched in June 2011, there were many shocks in store which included an inability to open previous projects, no tracks, many missing features, strange colour correction tools, no ‘source monitor’ and hardly any connectivity with other post apps. After looking at screenshots – which seemed to show much less complexity in the UI, much less congurability and clips that looked like friendly rounded corner tiles – many people dubbed Final Cut Pro X as iMovie Pro.

Although Final Cut was launched with updates for Motion and Compressor, many pros were left in limbo when it came to how to interpret what this change in direction meant.

Was Apple still interested in people using their software to produce broadcast TV and feature films? Had they conceded that market to Avid and Adobe? Did it show that Apple was going to be happy with prosumers. The huge market of talented people with small businesses who sometime might need a very easy to use but capable video editing software, but not for those that support themselves primarily by editing videos, TV shows and feature films.

As 2011 went on, there were few clues from Apple. However much Apple used the word ‘professional’ when promoting Final Cut Pro X, there were many that were unconvinced. How could ‘professionals’ consider an application that doesn’t fit into established workflows? Apple never properly explained the problem they seemed to have with track-based editing.

Eventually Apple broke with convention and previewed some of the features that they were planning in the next major update. The implementation of Multicam turned out to be more powerful and simpler to use than any other editing app. The source viewer wasn’t as full featured as many would like, and the updated XML import and export was a disappointment to many third-party developers.

The rate at which Final Cut has been updated has reduced in 2013, but the fact that they previewed a new Mac Pro in May gave some people hope that Apple were still interested in making hardware for ‘professionals.’

GarageBand Pro?

The launch of Final Cut Pro X also worried the users of Apple’s professional music app: Logic Pro. Many thought that if Apple followed the ‘Final Cut’ strategy with Logic, they would end up with Garageband Pro X: an dumbed down app for prosumers – which would make life easier for people who only need to work on music very once in a while.

An alternative possibility was that Apple would let Logic Pro wither and die – the last major version of the app appeared in July 2009. Was Apple happy with people buying old MacPros, putting them in studio racks and using four year old software?

Logic Pro X and what it might mean for Final Cut Pro X

Last weeks’ Logic Pro update provides us with some  clues about the future of Final Cut Pro. Remember that although features appearing in Logic Pro X may show that Apple aren’t against them in principle, the same features may never appear in Final Cut Pro X.

1. The Final Cut Pro UI is for professionals

Given that the early reviews of Logic Pro X  say that the user interface may have been redesigned, but it still gives users access to all the power that was available in version 9.1.X and more – while being easier to use. Video editors and motion graphics designers will find Logic easier to use.

This clue tells us that as well as supporting prosumers, the ‘Pro X’ apps are designed to be easier to use by post professionals who don’t spend all their time editing video (Final Cut) or making music (Logic). Perhaps Apple doesn’t believe in making apps hard to use so that only established pros in a discipline will want to use them.

However Apple still needs to show how not having track-based video editing provides so many advantages that it makes sense for editors who have trained how to edit over the last 25 years to learn a new editing metaphor (I wrote a post on this last year: Final Cut Pro X: Apple’s bet against track-based editing)

old-UI-vs-new-UI

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Here’s another in my ‘a4d’ plugin series. This series is about making Apple Motion 5 features available in Final Cut Pro X.

The Light Rays a4d effect adds a smearing effect to video clips, stills and generators so they look as if a light is being shone from behind them.

Here is an example of what it can do

result-1

Here are the settings:

controls

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Apple have updated their music creation software. Today marks the launch of Logic Pro X.

Logic-Pro-X

Here’s the news for Final Cut Pro X users:

You can import Final Cut Pro X XML files into Logic Pro.

Use of XML to import Final Cut Pro sequences into Logic Pro allows you to exchange multiple audio tracks, with all positional region information, region names, and volume and pan automation data retained.

You can choose whether to keep the sample rates of the audio as they are in your Final Cut Pro project or have Logic Pro X convert them to a single sample rate.

You can export Logic Pro X projects as Final Cut Pro X XML files for import into Final Cut.

Software instrument tracks are always bounced to audio files. MIDI tracks are ignored. Bouncing will automatically switch to real-time mode, if necessary (such as when an I/O or External Instrument plug-in is used).

You can also choose whether you include the video that’s in Logic Pro X in the XML file. The Logic X project can also be exported so that it appears as a compound clip in an event as well as a Final Cut Pro X project.

You can see Final Cut Pro X projects as movies in Logic Pro X’s media browser.

Logic Pro documents will also appear in Final Cut Pro’s media browser so you can use them in Final Cut events and projects.

Also announced today was Logic Remote, an application for multitouch control of Logic using an iPad.

Logic-Remote

As well as the faders and mixing desk controls, Logic Remote can also assign any menu command to an on-iPad button.

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In the past couple of years of using Final Cut Pro I’ve had few problems in rendering timelines in Final Cut Pro X, but have seen reports of other people facing this issue.

Yesterday I wanted to compare the speed of an old MacBook Pro with my slightly less old iMac. I set up a  timeline with one title generator and timed them both.

fcpx_progress_to100 Mid-2011 27″ iMac 2.5 GHz Core i7 – 23.5 seconds

Final-Cut-Pro---Background-Tasks-stall Mid-2009 17″ MacBook Pro 2.8 GHz Core Duo – 1 hour 19 minutes 15 seconds

Clearly something was up. Although the iMac has every possible advantage over the MacBook, this kind of difference looks like a bug. The most likely culprit is having a lower powered GPU with not enough memory.

It shows that if you do have access to a faster Mac, it is worth moving a problem project to a higher spec system. The speed difference may be orders of magnitude higher than you expect.

If you don’t have access to a faster computer…

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It’s Friday, it’s time for another free Final Cut Pro X plugin. This one makes the ‘Random Tile’ Apple Motion 5 filter available to editors in Final Cut.

Use the Random Tile a4d effect to select a part of a clip using the on screen control. The plugin  replaces the source clip with many copies of that part of the clip and positioned randomly.

Using this source clip…

random-tile-source

…with the centre moved over Matt Davis’ face produces:

random-tile-default

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Here’s another in my ‘a4d’ plugin series. This series is about making Apple Motion 5 features available in Final Cut Pro X.

The CMYK Halftone a4d effect makes video clips, stills and generators look like they were printed in a magazine or newspaper. In order to simulate a wide range of colours, printing usually uses a combination of four grids of colour – cyan, magenta, yellow and black. This is known as CMYK printing (K denotes black to avoid confusion with the blue of the red, green and blue combinations that are used in screen displays).

Here are four source clips:

source

Using the following settings…

settings-1-controls

…you get this result:

settings-1

Here are some more results using different settings: Read More

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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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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Today Apple was awarded an interesting patent. It was applied for in 2004, so developments over the intervening years may have superseded some of its concepts, however it shows how gestures can be used in non-multitouch enabled situations.

Here’s a long edited excerpt from Apple’s patent:

The first part explains why using gestures is a good idea:

The use of gestures to control a multimedia editing application provides a more efficient and easier to use interface paradigm over conventional keyboard and iconic interfaces.

First, since the gestures can replace individual icons, less screen space is required for displaying icons, and thereby more screen space is available to display the multimedia object itself. Indeed, the entire screen can be devoted to displaying the multimedia object (e.g., a full screen video), and yet the user can still control the application through the gestures.

Second, because the user effects the gestures with the existing pointing device, there is no need for the user to move one of his hands back and forth between the pointing device and keyboard as may be required with keystroke combinations. Rather, the user can fluidly input gestures with the pointing device in coordination with directly manipulating elements of the multimedia object by clicking and dragging. Nor is the user required to move the cursor to a particular portion of the screen in order to input the gestures, as is required with iconic input.

Third, the gestures provide a more intuitive connection between the form of the gesture and the associated function, as the shape of the gesture may be related to the meaning of the function.

Fourth, whereas there is a relatively limited number of available keystroke combinations–since many keystroke combination may already be assigned to the operating system, for example–there is a much larger set of available gestures that can be defined, and thus the user can control more of the application through gestures, then through keystrokes. 

8,448,083-01-02

FIG. 1: The user interface includes three primary regions, the canvas (102), the timing panel (106), and the file browser (110). The canvas is used to display the objects as they are being manipulated and created by the user, and may generally be characterized as a graphics window. In the example of FIG. 1, there are shown three multimedia objects (104), Square A, Circle C, and Star B, which will be referred to throughout as such this disclosure when necessary to reference a particular object. In the preferred embodiment, the multimedia application is a non-linear video editing application, and allows the creation of multimedia presentations, including videos. Accordingly, the objects displayed in the canvas at any given time represent the “current” time of the multimedia presentation. 

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Today Apple released its Final Cut Pro X 10.0.8 update. It is 60% about fixing bugs, there are a few new features too. Although the NAB professional trade show is just around the corner, this isn’t a industry-shaking update.

From TV and film industry point of view, new features supporting ARRI ALEXA and Sony F5 and F55 cameras hint that Apple are interested in courting high-end full-time editors as well as the hundreds of thousands of creative people that use Final Cut Pro as part of a non-editing job.

Apple also added a pair of case studies to their Final Cut Pro X In Action page on their website. One shows how Final Cut is the right tool for journalists and reporters, the other covers an example of modern feature film workflow.

Bug fixes

The biggest news for the majority of Final Cut Pro users is that tricky graphics bug has been fixed.

A problem introduced by the 10.0.6 update was a fault that affected many important third-party plug-ins: random green and upside-down frames in renders. This was probably a side-effect of moving rendering from Mac CPUs to GPUs. This fault was not fixed in 10.0.7, but Apple says it is gone in 10.0.8.

Here are the rest of Apple’s release notes on the update with some commentary:

– Resolves performance issues that could occur with certain titles and effects
In 10.06 and 10.0.7 some effects worked best when rendered by CPUs, so they were slower until they were optimised for GPUs in 10.0.8.

– Mono audio files in a surround project export with correct volume levels

– Drop zones no longer reset to the first frame of video after application restart

– Fixes a performance issue which resulted from selecting multiple ranges on a single clip

– Fixes an issue where the Play Around function did not work properly on certain clips when viewed through external video devices

New features

– Ability to use key commands to adjust Clip Appearance settings in the timeline
Control-Option-up and down arrow cycles through the clip appearance controls, and each appearance is associated with numbers 1 to 6:

control-option-nums

– Support for Sony XAVC codec up to 4K resolution
To use Sony XAVC footage at up to 4K,
1. make sure you have the most up to date ProApps QuickTime codecs: choose Software Update from the Apple menu. If they need to be installed, they will appear as an item in the Software Update window. If the ProApps QuickTime codecs do not appear as an item in the Software Update window, they up to date, so you can skip this step.
2. Visit the Sony Creative Software Download page and download version 1.1 or newer of the XDCAM Plug-in for Final Cut Pro X. Read the release notes about Sony XAVC clips and camera support.

– Option to display ProRes Log C files from ARRI ALEXA cameras with standard Rec. 709 color and contrast levels (without extra rendering time).
This viewing mode only works with footage shot on ARRI cameras that have been updated using version 6.1 or later of the ALEXA Software Update Packet.

– Time reversed clips render in the background

– Ability to view reel number metadata located in the timecode track of video files

Additional minor changes

The metadata tag for file size has changed a little: In 10.0.7 and earlier File Size returned the size of the  file associated with a clip in bytes. In 10.0.8 the Size metadata tag stores the size of the file rounded up to the block size of the disk (the amount of space taken up by the file on the disk instead of the actual size of the file in bytes).

There is a new metadata tag to define whether a clip uses Log Processing.

The default keyboard shortcut for typing special characters (Command-option-T) has been removed. The command is still there, but if you want to use a keyboard shortcut to get quick access, you’ll have to add your own (Using the Commands… sub-menu of the Final Cut Pro application menu.

Small changes to the User Guide and online Help system

Manual-

The updated user guide is now available as a PDF. and the help system has been updated also.

Page 141 / Online help “Adjust Timeline clip appearance and height” keyboard shortcuts

Page 281 / Online help  How you can create an audition with a duplicate of a clip using the effects and attributes from another clip.

Page 369 / Online help  How to control ARRI Log C clip display.

Page 404 / Online help  A new note about how when duplicating projects with files imported as reference files (pointing to media outside the Final Cut Events folder), only the reference files are copied, not the source media.

Getting the update

To download it, go to the App Store on a Mac where you’ve signed in with the Apple ID that bought your copy of Final Cut. Click the Updates button in the tool bar to see the updates list. It works on OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8 and newer, Lion 10.7.5 and newer, Mountain Lion 10.8.3 and newer.

If you’ve bought Motion 5 or Compressor 4, you’ll see they’ve been updated to 5.0.7 and 4.0.7 respectively.  Apple haven’t announced any new features in these updates, they are maintenance releases.

If you are in the middle of a project, its best not to update Final Cut Pro until you’ve finished. In all the Final Cut updates apart from 10.0.6, no major bugs were introduced in new versions (unlike in the updates to pre X versions of Final Cut Pro), but it’s best to let others test 10.0.8 before you risk your work. Richard Taylor has written a useful article on best practices for upgrading Final Cut Pro.

If you want to update Motion without updating Final Cut, plug-ins edited in Motion 5.0.7 work in the last two versions of Final Cut Pro – 10.0.6 and 10.0.7. For more on plug-in backwards compatibility, visit my ‘Is your version of Final Cut Pro X new enough’ post.

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