Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What happens in Vegas...(FCP X preview)

One variant of the saying goes 'What happens in Vegas...stays in Vegas' (substitute 'on location', 'on the road', 'in the cutting room' as you like).   But this time what happened last night in Vegas will be spreading round the web as the world (or at least the FCP-aware part of it) awakes.   And why should this blog be any different?

The best account I've found so far is thanks to the ever-reliable (!) macrumors site.    Yes, US spelling of rumour.   Read it here.   

Welcome back.   By the way, did you spot anyone you know in the snaps?   I hope to have some first-hand reports from our agents in time for the next wefcpug meeting.   Of course, the next stage will be a bonfire of speculation, further rumour and spurious advice.   Again I say, why should this blog be any different?

So here goes:
- as widely expected, it'll be the full monty regarding Cocoa coding, 64-bit, use of all processor cores, internal workings reliant on core animation, 'Grand Central Dispatch' and other OS X thingies.  Background rendering (yay), background 'conversion' of footage during ingest.   Flash interface with new wizzy timeline (no-one mention iMovie, right?)

- some nice surprises in the handling of sync (in theory it'll all stay together 'magnetically' folks) and audio processing in the timeline.   Looks a bit Soundtrack-like:  it's very easy to add fade-ups and downs at the ends of clips in STPro by option dragging the edge.   I hope and expect they've added the other nice thing I like in STPro of automatically mixing between tracks if you deliberately extend one into the other.

- no mention of the future plans for the rest of the suite - though there is a hint here that there's more to come.

- the big news for me is the promised scalability of performance - the implication I read is that FCP X will use as many cores as it finds (or is allowed) and this will mean it's worth buying the big Mac Pro towers after all!

- I see a familiar looking top menu bar and timeline in some screen shots, so it's not going to be a start-from-scratch for any of us.

- I 'look forward' to seeing demos of the face recognition, automated filling in of metadata and sorting, and 'advanced precision timeline'.   Time will tell if these are help or hindrance.   Same thing goes for the helpful automatic syncing of footage.   An aside:   there's always an exception that will trip up automated processes.   Take the 'Ben Hur' theatre project I shot and edited last year.   The master takes had two sound tracks - direct feed from the theatre sound desk, and my own mic feed.   They weren't in sync with each other:  not a technical error, just a matter of physics.   Although the delayed feed to the house speakers didn't help either!   How would the automatics cope with that, I wonder?

Predictions I feel safe in making:   it'll need 'Lion' running on as powerful a Mac as you can afford, with much RAM as you can afford.  While you're at it, you might want to upgrade your internet connection too, since FCP X will be bought via the online Apps Store.   BTW the US price quoted is $299.   No mention of upgrade price - this seems to be the way Apps are priced on the store (see 'Aperture').  And there probably won't be much change from £299 either, once VAT is added - but that's speculation on my part.

What we don't know about.   Where to start?   The rest of the suite (see link above for a hint).   Interchangeability with older project files (bet that's one way).   Will legacy projects be analysed and 'improved' on the fly?   Is ProRes the one-size-fits-all setting?   Do we have the same runaround with settings and preferences as today?  How long until there's more to see on the Apple site?  

Your views, fears and hopes welcomed - at our next meeting if not beforehand.