Apple Overhauls Final Cut Studio, Updates Final Cut Server

Apple on Thursday announced a new version of Final Cut Studio, its software suite for professional video editors. It costs $999, $300 less than the previous version. Upgrades are priced at $299.

Final Cut Studio comprises Final Cut Pro, the video editing software; Motion, which includes animation tools; Soundtrack Pro, an audio editing system; Color, color matching and grading software; and Compressor, which helps editors encode and deliver video in multiple formats. DVD Studio Pro, Apple's professional-quality DVD mastering software, is also included.

Highlights of the new Final Cut Studio include an expanded family of ProRes codecs, new collaboration tools and tighter integration between applications. The apps have been updated with new features, as well. All told, more than 100 new features have been added, according to Apple.s

The new Final Cut Studio includes Final Cut Pro 7, which adds new versions of Apple's ProRes codec, including ProRes Proxy, for offline and mobile editing; ProRes LT, for general purpose editing; and ProRes 4444, for editing at the highest quality possible. The "Easy Export" feature encodes in the background so you can still work, and "iChat Theater" shares Final Cut timelines or individual source clips with iChat users--even those who don't have Final Cut Pro installed. Final Cut Pro 7 also adds new speed tools, alpha transitions, and native AVC-Intra support (for use with Panasonic cameras).

Motion 4 has new customizable features that add point and spot lights to cast shadows or turn any shape into a reflective surface. You can also adjust depth of field within a 3D canvas.

Soundtrack Pro 3 adds new audio editing tools like Voice Level Match, which extracts volume info from the vocal content of one clip and matches it to another. The File Editor has been reworked to let you target frequencies without affecting dialogue, and a new Advanced Time Stretch feature stretches and compresses audio using new algorithms, including three designed by Apple and support for third-party plug-ins.

Color 1.5 works with a greater range of sequences and effects, according to Apple. New 4K support works natively with files from the RED ONE camera, and outputs to ProRes for HD or DPX for film. New format support includes AVC-Intra, XDCAM 422 and ProRes 4444.

Compressor 3.5 now sports an Easy Export template and a "droplet" on the desktop that lets you automate Compressor actions from the desktop. You can more easily publish to YouTube and Apple's MobileMe service, export to iPhone, iPod, Apple TV and mobile phones, and new menu templates and encoding presets have been added to help create Blu-ray discs.

Both Soundtrack Pro and Compressor are included with the new Logic Studio, which Apple also introduced on Thursday.

Final Cut Studio requires an Intel-based Mac with 1GB RAM, ATI or Nvidia graphics hardware, 1280 x 800 resolution, Mac OS X 10.5.6 or later, QuickTime 7.6 or later. Some applications have specific requirements, also.

Final Cut Server

Final Cut Server 1.5 was also introduced Thursday. Final Cut Server is the asset management and automation tool Apple developed for Final Cut Studio. New features in Final Cut Server 1.5 include offline editing support using ProRes Proxy, production hierarchies, and support for still sequences. Final Cut Server is available with an unlimited client client licenses for $999. Upgrades are $299.

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