Apple’s Richard Townhill Talks Final Cut Pro X 10.0.3: Multicam, Broadcast Monitoring, and More
I just got off the phone with Apple’s Richard Townhill, senior director of applications marketing, who took the time to update me on the latest major update to Final Cut Pro X, ver. 10.0.3. Apple is delivering multicam support, broadcast monitoring via third-party cards and boxes (in beta), advanced chroma keying features, XML 1.1, the ability to import layered Photoshop graphics (PSD), and media relinking.
Apple has been listening to us and have introduced their second big FCP X update since the app “shipped” via the Mac App Store in late June 2011. We had the first update in September 2011 (which brought XML, media stems and more), a minor bug fix in November and now another major update for January 2012. I mention this first, because Apple usually released major updates to past versions of FCP every year or so. I believe FCP 7 only got two major updates and a minor one after it shipped in August 2009. So we’ve had just as many in seven months, and everything comes through quickly via the Mac App Store!
The big feature is Multicam, and as usual, Apple doesn’t just add in the feature to FCP X, but they make it better and easier to use. You can mix up to 64 different camera angles and sources, using mixed formats, codecs, frame rates and frame sizes, and also you can mix stills with the video. Syncing has always been tricky with multicamera editing, but FCP X makes it simple with their auto sync feature, which will sync up video and audio based on timecode (all cameras have to have matching timecode) or a time-and-date stamp (again, all cameras must match). You can also sync based on metadata, along with customizing that information. FCP X also goes a step further if you’re using the GoPro, HDSLRs or cameras that don’t match timecode or time-and-date. They use the audio from the cameras and match up the waveform and then sync the footage up that way. That’s pretty incredible! So if you’re shooting a three-camera production of an interview, FCP X will sync according to the audio waveforms of the person talking, or if you’re shooting a live event, like sports, it will find the similar audio waveforms and sync them up!
In beta right now is Broadcast Monitoring, which uses third-party PCI-e devices and cards, and Thunderbolt, which is still one of my favorite new features on pretty much all new Apple computers. AJA has already updated their drivers, and Matrox and BlackMagic are working on some cool Thunderbolt devices. You can also do on-set, in-the-field monitoring, as well! (By the way, I heard from my sources that Apple was working on 10-bit broadcast monitoring, last July.)
Apple also introduced more robust Chroma Keying controls, so it’s not only easy to do a quick key, you can also tweek it and perfect it, especially if your green- or bluescreen wasn’t lit well. No need to export to Motion or After Effects, plus you can view it in real-time, thanks to FCP X’s 64-bit architecture. Richard also mentioned that Jimmy Fallon and SNL use FCP X’s one-step chroma key feature, which is pretty cool.
Media Relink makes it easy to relink your footage, audio, etc., when you’re exporting or importing items from third-party software, such as color corrected footage, cleaned up audio, etc. It will also find footage that was transcoded, as well, which is great, since many of us prefer to use Apple ProRes and other codecs that are easy to cut with.
Richard told me that they have a tremendous number of third-party developers onboard with FCP X, who are putting out some great stuff for FCP X, including Red Giant Software, Nattress, GenArts’ Sapphire Edge, FxFactory, and many others.
Richard talked a bit about my friend Philip Hodgetts (and his partner Greg’s) 7toX app, which will allow you to bring Final Cut Pro 7 projects into Final Cut Pro X! That’s right, no more using two different FCP NLEs on old and new projects, just use the 7toX app and you’re ready to go. Make sure you read the information on the above link, because things obviously change when going from bins, etc., to FCP X. It’s only $9.99 and is already available on the Mac App Store.
7toX takes advantage of the new XML 1.1 feature, plus the update allows you to export to color correct in DaVinci Resolve and other third-party color correction apps. You can also “import and export audio keyframes and intrinsic effects parameters such as opacity and scale,” according to Apple.
While you could import and work with layered Photoshop graphics in Motion 5, you couldn’t in FCP X. The new 10.0.3 update allows you to do just that, which is a fantastic feature that many of us loved in FCP 7 and earlier.