Well, it's official, Apple has not gone out of business, hasn't abandoned the Mac, hasn't abandoned Final Cut. This also in, the sun will rise tomorrow.
This past Tuesday, Apple gave a "sneak peek" of the upcoming version of Final Cut Pro X, to be released this June, at a price of only $300 from the App store. There's no mention, yet, of what's happening to the companion programs in the suite that's accompanied FCP for the last few years: Motion, SoundTrack Pro, DVD Studio Pro and Color.
FCP has been given a complete re-write and a totally new interface. The new version will be a true 64bit application, with background processing that leverages all the resources available, meaning extra memory, CPU and GPU as needed.
The new interface is slick. Real slick. Totally slick. The basic paradigm of the video editing timeline has been rethought and streamlined. The timeline is now resolution independent, so you should be able to mix any size, codec or frame rate up to 4k (which means that someone will now have to introduce a 6k or 8k camera so that other people can bitch and moan about why they can't edit it in FCP).
Clips are no longer anchored into tracks, and layers are built up in a much more fluid manner. Plus, the "magnetic" timeline helps to keep everything is sync as you move things around or insert new material. Cleverly, whoever thought of calling it "magnetic" realized that magnets don't just attract, they repel too, so material that's in the way gets moved elegantly out of it.
Clips are no longer nested into new sequences, they're now grouped into compound clips that can be more easily opened and collapsed than the nested clips we've become used to. Clips can also be connected to each other to maintain sync- I suspect that this will be the basis for multicamera and stereoscopic editing- but it's also useful for syncing your picture with sound effects, music cues, lower third graphics, travel mattes, etc, and keeping them in sync, no matter what you do!
Speaking of sync, there's now automatic syncing by matching either timecode or audio waveforms.
Trimming has been rethought in a very elegant and intuitive way, and the new implementation of "auditioning" shots and effects is a genius of a refinement.
Audio can now be edited and aligned down to the sample level, regardless of it's relation to video frames. And it looks as though they've refined the audio toolset in a very exciting way, allowing you to simply draw fades without keyframes and adjust the height of waveforms to match the output volume.
Color correction looks very elegant. There's now an automated shot matching feature that will cleverly cheat a lot of situations. The color corrector has a new look, in some ways more intuitive, in some ways less. You can still use keys to isolate secondary color correction, but there's now a built in variable shape vignette, as well.
So, what's missing? It's hard to tell. There's a lot of features that Apple hasn't mentioned, there's a lot that wasn't discussed.
Are there tools for roto-splines? Vector text and shapes? How do the tracking and stabilization tools work?
What about multi camera and stereoscopic editing? Audio mixing tools? Surround?
Can we finally use image sequences as clips? Can we ingest directly to image sequences?
How are the audio & video scopes implemented? And what about EDL and XML import and export? Will the offline to online process become more robust? Will we finally get the kind of bullet proof media management that Avid and Lighworks are famous for?
All these questions will simply have to wait until June before they can really be answered. I, for one, can't wait to find out for myself.