Post Production: Apple’s Kindest Cut and More
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Post Production: Apple's Kindest Cut and More

By Jim Fisher

Did you shoot that project using five different cameras with mixed resolution and frame rates? Well, the days of watching that little render bar crawl across the screen may be history.

Apple used NAB to unveil Final Cut Studio 2 ($1,298.95), a major upgrade to the video production suite software, Final Cut Studio. The program expands the palette of creative tools available to video editors including the addition of a true professional color grading application that ensures consistency called Color.

Final Cut Studio 2 contains Final Cut Pro 6, which introduces Apple's ProRes 422 format for uncompressed HD quality at file sizes closer to SD footage and support for mixed video formats and frame rates in a single open-format timeline.

But Final Cut Pro didn't get all of Apple's attention. The Motion 3 module now creates motion graphics in both 2D and 3D workspaces. Soundtrack Pro sports a new interface and features tighter integration with the rest of the suite. Compressor 3, Apple's encoding tool, extends support for standard codecs such as MPEG-2 and H.264 to include new drag-and drop presets for delivery to broadcast TV, the Web, iPod, Apple TV, mobile phone, and DVD as well as high-definition video for delivery on Blu-ray or HD DVD. And speaking of DVD, you'll be able to author them in DVD Studio Pro 4. Only the authoring program didn't receive a noticeable facelift with this release.

The New Apple Color

Incidentally, the new kid in town, Color, joins the suite by way of corporate acquisition. Apple purchased Silicon Color, makers of the industry-standard FinalTouch grading suite, last October. Color is based on their FinalTouch 2K product, which sold for about the price of a decent mid-sized sedan ($24,995 if you're keeping track), making its inclusion in the moped-priced Final Cut Studio quite the bargain.

HD on the go!!!

Meanwhile, AJA introduced the Io HD, a portable capture device with a handle co-developed with Apple for use with Final Cut Studio 2. The ProRes 422 codec is built into the hardware, making it feasible to edit 10-bit HD video in the field on a MacBook Pro.

Aja Io HD Rear Panel

The Io HD has all the inputs and outputs you would expect from such a high-end device. These include BNC for component and composite video, S-Video, XLR for balanced audio, RCA for unbalanced audio, HDMI for digital audio and video, and RS-422 for deck control. It connects to the host computer via FireWire-800. The IO Hd ($3,495.00) will be available in July. Check the B&H site for availability.

Blackmagic Intensity

Blackmagic Design introduced a new PCI Express capture card, the Intensity Pro ($331.55). The card is the “big brother” to the Intensity, which offers HDMI input and output for Windows and Mac OS X. This Pro version adds analog audio and video input and output via an included breakout cable.

Avid Xpress Pro Multicam Interface

Finally, Avid offered a minor upgrade for Xpress Pro. Intel Mac users should contact Avid to purchase the upgrade from v5.5 or v5.6 to v5.7 ($49.95). The upgrade makes Avid a Universal Binary application that can be run on both PowerPC and Intel Macs at native speeds.

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