By now you know that Apple has launched an update to Final Cut Studio. I got an early look last week. The new version will cost $999, a reduction in price of $300. If you own any previous version of Final Cut Pro—even version 1, insisted the product manager in our meeting—you can upgrade to the new Final Cut Studio for $299. From my tests, editors will find the upgrade price worth it. Note, however, that the new version, which is available now, will only run on Intel-based Macs and not older PowerPC-based systems.
Figure 1. Final Cut Pro’s new Share function.
Apple upgraded every suite component except for DVD Studio Pro, but in this article, I’m going to focus on Final Cut Pro and Compressor. There’s plenty of cool new stuff in Motion, Soundtrack Pro, and Color, but time and space have prevented me from delving into these programs for this story. Ditto for Final Cut Server, which is sold separately, but now costs $999 for unlimited users.
One disclosure: As part of the review process, I attended an Apple briefing where the product manager walked me through the new product features, and I received the software the next day. Unfortunately, scheduling issues prevented me from spending as much time testing as I normally would before writing a full review, so this article is more like an advanced preview. I poked here and there, but I can’t say that I fully tested all the new features; plenty of time for that over the next few weeks.
Let’s start with Final Cut Pro.
New Share command
From my perspective, the most significant new feature in the Final Cut Pro 7 is a new Share command that lets you export a sequence directly from the timeline to a range of output options, including any Compressor preset, while the software is rendering in the background. You access the function by clicking File > Share, which opens the new Share menu (Figure 1). From there, you can add an unlimited number of export options—including, as mentioned, Compressor settings. As with Compressor, you can send the encoding task to a single computer or multicomputer cluster (see bottom right of the screenshot), choose a destination folder for your output, and even send the job to Compressor to start the project there (bottom left).
Figure 2. It looks like Final Cut Pro is locked up, but it’s not. Close the window and keep on editing.
Once you click Export, a new Share window opens, which makes you think that Final Cut Pro is locked up, as with previous versions when exporting to Compressor (Figure 2). However, you can close the Share window and just keep on working in Final Cut Pro. You can’t, however, export another project via the Share export while one is rendering, so if you’re producing a number of short projects, you might prefer the old QuickTime-reference-movie-to-Compressor workflow.