[ Updated April 18, 2012, to clarify some wording after a second conversation with Apple. ]
I had an on-the-record meeting with Apple this morning in Las Vegas, the day before the start of the 2012 NAB Show — along with a preview of future FCP X features, which I’ll talk about at the end of this blog.
NOTE: We also covered some amazing third-party announcements coming at NAB this year. I’ll have more on that later this week, after the NDA expire at a variety of press conferences later today and tomorrow.
When Apple was preparing to launch FCP X, they told me that the new architecture of the software, combined with the flexibility of the Mac App Store would allow for much more rapid updates to the program. However, while the releases were planned well in advance, there is no significance to the alternation of feature (10.0.1 and 10.0.3) with, essentially, bug fix (10.0.2 and 10.0.4) releases. In other words, don’t read too much into this alternating pattern of features and bug fixes. However, do keep in mind that Apple has updated FCP X four times in less than a year since its initial release.
Apple stressed that FCP X is a long-term project and that they are fully committed to it. (In other words, because I asked, there is not a Final Cut Pro 8 waiting in the wings.) Apple views Final Cut X as the future of video editing.
Also, if you look at the features Apple has added since FCP X first released, Apple has almost exclusively focused on adding features for the professional market: Roles, Multicam, broadcast monitoring, etc.
I asked what the benefits were to using the Mac App Store for distribution of updates, and was told that the biggest benefit was that the Mac App Store license allows Apple to deliver both bug fixes and feature updates, unlike Software Update.
NOTE: The benefits of using the Mac App Store for updates to video editors are something I want to learn more about in a future conversation with Apple. I’ll have more to share with you then.
Apple also highlighted the workflow at Leverage which uses FCP X.
* The show shoots on RED in Portland, Oregon.
* Ships hard disks down to LA for editing.
* RED files are transcoded to ProRes Proxy for editing.
* The show is edited in FCP X
* X2Pro (from Marquis Broadcast) converts the files to ProTools for audio sweetening.
* XML exports from FCP X are sent to DaVinci Resolve for color grading
* Final conforming of audio and video is done in FCP X
* Final delivery is a ProRes file.
Apple also said the 10.0.4 update significantly improved broadcast monitoring performance, so they have removed the term “beta” when describing it. I specifically asked if 10.0.4 now has sufficient performance to support multicam monitoring and Apple said “Yes.”
THE GOOD STUFF
Then, Apple shared their plans for Final Cut Pro X features coming later this year (2012). Apple began providing “advanced looks” as part of the roll-out to the launch of FCP X and wanted to continue letting us know what’s coming. (I think this is a great idea, because it helps us plan.)
Here are the bullet points (none of this was demoed):
- Multichannel Audio Editing Tools
- Dual Viewers
- MXF Plug-in Support
- RED camera support
Audio mixing in FCP X is still weak. I’m looking forward to seeing what the new tools provide.
Dual Viewers is analogous to Source and Record monitors; though Apple stressed that when they implement a feature they try to do it better than it has been done before. A good example of this is their recent multicam addition. This feature would allow us to easily compare two clips.
FCP X has been able to read MXF files (think XDCAM EX), but not the native MXF wrapper that contains them. In the past, it needed to convert MXF to QuickTime. In the future, FCP X won’t need to make this conversion. Apple was quick to stress that this was not a move away from QuickTime, instead it was adding support for a common video format.
While Apple did not provide any details, I interpret “RED camera support” to mean that we would be able to edit R3D files natively, as opposed to editing R3D files as QuickTime proxies.
I asked when Apple would support retaining In and Out (Start / End) markers in clips in the Event Browser. They refused to comment, but stressed that while these were the four features they were announcing, these four would not be the only features released. Retaining Ins and Outs on clips is SO useful, I will continue to bang the drum for Apple to add these.
I asked if Apple would commit to WHEN these features would be available? They politely declined to speculate. (Sigh…)
It was an interesting meeting. Apple clearly wants it known that FCP X should be considered a professional application, that development is on-going, and that they are listening to comments from users.
I tried to get them to provide hints on upcoming hardware, but no hints were provided.
I also got a sense they are working on another application to join FCP X, Motion, and Compressor. (There are several that would be very useful, we shall have to see what develops. I don’t expect anything announced immediately.)
All-in-all, it is always fun to meet the FCP X team and get a sense of what’s coming. And I wanted to share what I learned with you.
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