Annual Madness Part 2.5

Since it’s probably a bit premature for some final concluding thoughts, let’s go with a .5 edition, as this seems a popular theme these days with software vendors, anyway – it makes you feel like the next version is always not as good or complete as it might have been if it were a whole new number, yet is distinct enough to warrant paid upgrades. So what has happened?

As I was hinting in my previous post, the big news is the new Final Cut Pro which unsurprisingly is met with a lot of skepticism, since in their usual manner Apple neglected to clarify a lot of questions and played the "we don’t talk to noone about nothing" game again. This may be a good way of building tension with unreleased consumer products, but does not go down too well with professionals who may not at all wish to commit themselves to a path that may cause them mayhem in their existing production pipeline. Now the price certainly won’t be an issue at a very affordable 299 USD or Euros, respectively, but it would be kinda important to many people to know how well existing projects behave, how support for video hardware is, what happens to plug-ins and all that and none of that was even touched upon. The other big question is the one about the fate of the whole Studio package. There must be quite a number of users who do not use FCP itself, but DVD Studio Pro and Compressor. Would be foolish to disappoint them and squander the opportunity to sell a few licenses….

So what about the program itself? It actually looks a lot more streamlined and less cluttered which is a good thing even if people criticize this as looking like a pimped iMovie. But where does it say that professional apps have to consist of lots of panels. If it works, why not? That’s especially true since a lot of features have been integrated directly into the timeline and you will not need redundant panels to control them anymore. In fact getting rid of some panels and consolidating them would look good on most Adobe apps. The same applies to all the stuff that they promise the program will do automatically in the background. On the other hand – where it began to look goofy for me were the automatically rearranging timeline and the less than impressive trim editor. If that cannot be turned off or they have better alternatives, then this would be a major hold back for professional users. Nobody wants to ruin a meticulously built edit by segments merrily moving themselves to other positions and anyone who has ever successfully created a multi-track, multi-sided trim on an Avid system will cherish the power of such complex features.

And what about the rest? It would appear that this year’s NAB is pretty free of real surprises in terms of offering us some exciting technological advances or really new apps that you didn’t know you would kill for. The world’s most versatile 3D tracking and matchmoving software, PFTrack, has received a major overhaul with new features and improved performance. Too bad it’s still too expensive for average Joe just to toy around. Speaking of cost, The Foundry have announced an end to their slightly unbalanced Nuke pricing for US customers. I guess the aftermath of the financial crisis and the resulting weakness of the British Pound and American Dollar take their toll…

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