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final cut pro

Once post production work has to be done by more than one person at a time, the speed of the network becomes an important consideration. This is because it is much more efficient if editors, motion graphics artists and colour graders can get access to the same video source files and most up-to-date edits. This is done with shared storage connected to computers by a fast network.

Also for many years people have connected multiple computers together to perform complex tasks. In post production more and more computing is being done using advanced GPUs. Multiple computers combined to perform complex tasks together are known as render farms. The faster the connections between the computers, the better.

Current Mac Pros can have PCIe network cards installed, and those cards can be used with Thunderbolt-equipped Macs using an expansion chassis. However other Macs don’t have fast network connections built in and can’t use PCIe cards.

According to FAQ-MAC a feature of Apple’s forthcoming Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks might allow many more Macs be used in simple render farms: IP over Thunderbolt.

They showed a dialog box (which they may have mocked up) that shows Mavericks asking whether a newly attached Thunderbolt cable should be used as a network connection:

captura-pantalla-2013-06-12-s-125806_39540_640

Detected a new network interface:
   Thunderbolt Bridge
Check that it is configured correctly, and then click Apply to activate.

Internet Protocol over Thunderbolt means that you can connect Macs via Thunderbolt cables and use the Thunderbolt cable as a network connection. Thunderbolt 1 connections have a theoretical maximum transfer rate of 10 Gb/s – which is similar to the speed of 10 gigabit Ethernet, which is a popular post production networking standard.

I assume IP over Thunderbolt is less efficient than a dedicated Fibre Channel PCI Express card, but at least Thunderbolt is available on a wide range of Macs.

With a little distributed rendering, my 27” iMac connected to a pair of Thunderbolt equipped Macs will get through QuickTime encodes much more quickly

Also if I need to share 4K proxies with others, Thunderbolt over IP is good news.

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I know you could meet editors, post-production people, TV-show and movie makers from the UK and Europe. You’d see presentations on Final Cut Pro, Smoke for Mac OS X and Davinci Resolve 8.

There’s a chance Final Cut Pro X will have been launched by then, and this will be the first major event for us all to get together to talk about the implications.

But I’d rather you didn’t go. Michael Horton very kindly sent me a free ticket. I’m sorted. It’s not fair that you have to pay £20 for five hours plus of Final Cut and Mac post-production community building, education and inspiration.

The fact that if you don’t go, I’ve got a much better chance of winning a share of the £25,000+ raffle is nothing to do with it…

A few days ago, I blogged about Apple making a surprise appearance at a London video event where they were going to present their ‘latest range of video products’.

If you go to MacVideo.tv, the home page has been updated to say although the MacVideo Expo is going ahead on Thursday 9th June, Apple will not be attending:

Change of plan – Apple has a busy month with WWDC June 7- 11 and as such doesn’t plan to be at MacVideo Expo, June 9, 2011. With the upcoming release of Final Cut Pro X, June is shaping up to be a phenomenally busy month so expect the unexpected. Anything can happen in the next few weeks. The show goes on.

I’m sure the Expo had a large number of interesting stands and packed schedule before Apple got involved, so the event should still be well worth attending.

Although Apple never said they were going to be talking about Final Cut Pro X (or new Mac Pros or Lion), I wonder if there’s more to this change of plan than them being busy that month. I’m sure they thought they could present something at the event as of the beginning of last week. Now they cannot attend.

What could it mean?

Given that Apple have announced that Final Cut Pro will be available in June, will there be a special event to launch it, or will Apple once again use a third party event to make the official announcement?

At the MacVideo Expo on 9th June, Apple will ‘be showcasing their latest range of video products.’ Note that this event is happening at the same time as Apple’s Worldwide Developer conference, where it is expected that the launch date for the next version of Mac OS will be announced. They might also announce new MacPros at the WWDC.

The MacVideo Expo is in the form of a series of industry presentations, demos, software & hardware tips and raffle in a large room. Outside the room there are a range of stands showcasing video technology.

Note that a larger but similar event is happening two weeks later in the same city – the LFCPUG Network’s London SuperMeet on 23rd June. Given that both events probably had full schedules organised, it is interesting that Apple didn’t request to be involved in the SuperMeet (as far as we know).

Once we see the MacVideo Expo schedule, seeing how long Apple will be presenting might be a useful clue as to whether this is a cut-down version of the April sneak peek, or a full product announcement… including information on support for tape workflows, frame-accurate editing and three-point editing… The nine hour time difference between London and California might even be relevant.

If you take a very close look at the second part of Emmanuel Pampuri’s recording of Apple’s sneak peak of Final Cut Pro X, you’ll see a few frames hinting at integration with Motion – or a much more advanced titling system:

Click each frame for elements in context:

A few frames before the title marked ‘Audi Lower Third’

A white line, a thicker red line and a cross-hatched line appear.


More of the cross-hatched line is drawn.


A thicker white line is drawn.

A few frames later, the rest of a white rectangle is drawn with text added on top – possibly lined up with with tab stops.

The title fades – the fade must be built into the title as there is no sign of a fade in the UI.

In a few weeks this post will be out of date, but for now, this demonstrates that the titling in Final Cut Pro X is likely to be at least as good as version 7.

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.

As I’m doing a huge favour to the organisers of Tuesday’s MacVideo Expo in London, they’re doing me a favour in return. If you email me with your name and company name, you can save the full £10 entry fee. There are three tickets left as of Monday morning.

MacVideo Expo 2010 logo

MacVideo Expo takes place at The Royal Society of Medicine, London W1 on Tuesday October 19. It is organised in the same way as a Final Cut Pro Supermeet: an exhibitor showcase, presentations and a giveaway of £10,000-worth of products to audience members. The £10 entry fee also includes a free buffet.

You don’t have to have a Mac to benefit from the event. The exhibition and show includes Panasonic’s AVCCAM range, Avid’s Media Composer 5, a 45-minute lighting demonstration from Dedo Weigert, Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci colour correction products and Autodesk’s Smoke. You’ll also be able to make connections with UK editors, camerapeople and post-production experts.

The favour I’m doing the organisers? I’m appearing on stage in a panel – The great DSLR vs Video Camera debate.

If you have an idea for a plugin for Final Cut, find me during a break. I’d love to hear about it. I’ll tell you about my next free plugin too.

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