Magazine article Metro Magazine

Final Cut Studio 2

Magazine article Metro Magazine

Final Cut Studio 2

Article excerpt


* Buy New $1698

* Upgrade from Final Cut Studio $649

* Upgrade from Final Cut Pro or Production Suite $899


IT'S NO LONGER POSSIBLE to buy Final Cut Pro as a stand-alone application; its most recent incarnation, Final Cut Pro 6, comes as part of Apple's Final Cut Studio 2. The package also includes Color, Motion 3, Compressor 3, Soundtrack Pro 2 and DVD Studio Pro 4. In theory, this is everything you need to edit and complete projects on your desktop.

Perhaps the greatest surprise is Color, which brings high-end colour correction to the desktop. Color is based on the Final Touch application, which was selling for over $20,000 just a few months ago before being purchased by Apple. Final Touch was always recognized as a major colour correction tool, but has suffered from bugs and workflow problems. Many of these were passed on to the initial release of Color. There are still minor problems, but most are being ironed out. For Mac users, the overall look and feel is unfamiliar, and Color feels like an add-on rather than a true piece of the suite. With Color being thrown into Final Cut Studio as a freebie, however, it has to be seen as a bargain.

It goes without saying that you need the skills of a professional colourist to get the most out of this package. If you do have those skills, Color provides you with a tremendous opportunity. It is now possible to fully grade a feature film at 2K on your desktop and provide your distributor with a digital intermediate for transfer to film. This means that filmmakers now have the opportunity to create and complete a project in-house. Cost savings can be enormous.

Although Color is a vast and complex application, the workflow is relatively straightforward and the learning curve isn't as steep as might be imagined. First you correct primaries, which makes all your takes have the same colour qualities, before the creative work begins. You then change secondary colours--changing the colour of an object or sky, for example. Color FX then adds a particular look to your shot. This is where most beginners will get it wrong, over-saturating or making everything look like The Matrix. Great care and skill are needed to create something that will look good in a film-out. Geometry/Pan & Scan enables you to reframe the shot in real time.

There are some interesting new features, such as a 3D histogram. People have a great deal of trouble reading histograms, and you'd think that adding another dimension would make it even more difficult. In fact, the 3D histogram makes it much easier to dive into colour correction, and see exactly what's happening to your shots.

Aspects of the workflow are node-based, which can be off-putting for some users, but offers a clean and clear way of processing footage. When it is used well, the results are exceptionally good. There's tight integration with Final Cut Pro 6, meaning you can edit to completion in Final Cut Pro, send your clips to Color, and then render out a final digital intermediate.

Final Cut Pro hasn't seen many major changes, but remains a powerful cutting tool. For several releases there has been little to say other than the fact that Final Cut Pro is stable, reliable and easy to use. There are some issues with media management for large projects, but those who work on large projects usually create a workflow that compensates for this. …

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