Software Fun Week Continues… with Final Cut Studio 2

Final Cut Studio 2 BoxWednesday was Final Cut Studio 2 day… Final Cut Pro is a very popular Apple video editing software, a part of “Final Cut Studio” which includes what you might consider to be companion products to Final Cut Pro.

It disappointed me to see how few women there were at the sessions. I’m sure there were less than 20 in the morning session, and not many more in the afternoon.

Now for an embarrassing moment: They were giving away WitzPros t-shirts, and my name was called. I get up to the front of the room, only to see that another girl is up there too. When they show us the page they pulled, it wasn’t mine! Oddly enough, this other girl had the same first name and a last name that sounds a LOT like the way people tend to butcher my last name. Ughhh. Turning a little red, I start walking back to my seat, when they start playing the ‘should we give her a shirt anyway’ game. Even more embarrassing. So, I ended up with a shirt. Score two t-shirts for two events this week. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

Onto the details…

Overall, it was a pretty cool overview. I’m really excited to try out Color, and some of the new features of Final Cut Pro. I might even start learning Soundtrack…



  • AVCHD Anyone? Not Apple: Apparently Apple, like Adobe, will not be supporting the AVCHD format any time soon. AVCHD is a proprietary format introduced by Sony and Panasonic. While a few editing packages are supporting this format, others are not at this time. Apple and Adobe both made similar claims that it might happen in the future, but not anytime soon.
  • AppleTV meets Youtube: You might be thinking what I’m thinking – Youtube quality is bad enough in that teeny window on my screen, I certainly don’t want to see how it would look on my TV! Fear not! Apparently Youtube will no longer be encoding everything in Flash… they’re going to start converting in H.264. This should result in better quality video, which Apple hopes will boost the sales of Apple TV.
  • Interesting example to check out: – “On Being” – a neat video project they highlighted at the show.

Final Cut Server (not a part of Final Cut Studio):
This looked really cool. Basically, it’s a server for storing and maintaining your library of media, projects that you’re working on, and includes things like workflow for collaborative projects. Here are some quick points I got:

  • works with both Mac and PC… interesting!
  • Java based
  • Proxy: allows you to create lower resolution files for editing, then substitute the higher resolution files when you’re ready to output. Great for it you’re taking the laptop to the cottage and want to work on your HD video project. (their example, not mine!)
  • Drag & Drop integration with Final Cut Studio
  • Check-in / Check-out capabilities (so people can’t open your files or assets while you are…)
  • Should be available this summer, with different rates for a 10-user license or unlimited users.

Final Cut Pro 6:
The focus was really on the new Apple Codec, Apple Pro Res 422. Basically, I’m getting the impression that most things are not compatible with this right now, but Apple has partnered with a few companies to offer cameras and things that will work with it.

  • uncompressed HD quality video at SD file sizes (example: 1TB of uncompressed HD = 170 GB using Pro Res 422… and they claim they’ll look the same! The example they showed was pretty convincing.)
  • 10-bt, 4:2:2, full raster, VBR
  • currently, this codec is supported by:
    • Red 4K camera – “digital cinema” (not video or film)
    • AJA IO HD – hardware support for ProRes codec

Some other FCP 6 features:

  • Open Format Timeline: mix formats, resolutions, frame rates all on the same timeline, without rendering. Bases the timeline on the first media type you place in the timeline, then conforms each subsequent clip to that format.
  • Smooth Cam: remove unwanted camera motion. The neat thing about this is that it reduces camera motion by moving the footage around!
  • Editable Motion Templates: Select & apply a Motion template to a Final Cut sequence and have the ability to edit the text areas, add images or video clips to drop zones, etc. Very cool!
  • some new filters

Motion 3:

  • Motion 3 is now a 3D Environment
  • Multiple Cameras and multiple light sources.
  • Vector-based paint:
    • Create brushes based on a colour, video, particles or pictures.
    • 3-D
  • Retiming Behaviours:
    • retime without keyframing
    • change speed
  • Match Moving:
    • follow the path or any animated object in a clip
    • suggests points for best results
  • Audio Behaviours:
    • animations respond to the soundtrack
    • control animations based on volume and/ frequency
    • assign to any parameter on any object
  • Shake Stabilization: looked pretty similar to the one in FCP… and seemed to work pretty well! Smooth and Track motion options were neat too.

Soundtrack 2:

  • Conform: synch changes between picture & sound
  • Surround Sound:
    • can record automation in surround pan (‘touch’ mode)
    • surround panner can be adjusted to blend/overlap the areas

This is a new application added to Final Cut Studio 2. Color is a colour grading tool that has been used by professionals for years. In fact, the version of the software that is now bundled with FCS 2 used to cost $25,000 on its own. The demonstration looked so cool that I really didn’t write anything down… Sorry, I was too busy drooling.

Final Cut Studio’s output program – takes your project and creates whatever kind of file you need (for DVD, for iPod, for web, etc.) Not too much to report here, aside from a sleek new interface (how will I find all of my options!?). They showed a watermarking feature that allows you to use Motion projects as a watermark — and the ability to output with timecode (so you don’t have to do it in FCP).

The most interesting thing here is the automatic detection of other computers on the network, which could be used for Clustering. It will ask if you want to use other computers on the network to help process the conversion… this can shave hours off of your processing time, depending on how many computers are available and how powerful they are.