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Apple Final Cut Pro 7

There are plenty of great new features that make it worthwhile to upgrade By Heath McKnight

A little more than two years after Final Cut Pro 6 introduced the ProRes codec, Background Processes, Smooth Cam, and many other functions, Apple debuts Final Cut Pro 7 (FCP), part of the third version of Final Cut Studio. There are more ProRes options, export settings that can be done in the background without Compressor 3.5 open, iChat Theater support (an excellent collaboration tool), and much more. FCP is 10 years old this year, and they've been listening to us, the editors! Let's just dive in and take a look at all the new stuff.

Installation
Installing is very easy, and as you may already know, Apple has quietly discontinued LiveType (you can now use Motion 4). But if you want to keep using LiveType, when you install FCS version 3, it will update everything and leave LiveType on your system. If you want to uninstall any older apps from Final Cut Studio, check out Digital Rebellion's FCS Remover.
Also, if you have an older system that has built-in Intel graphics, you won't be able to install any of the FCS ver. 3 apps, or open them either. I have an old MacBook and my heart dropped when I went to install everything (and forget about PowerPC Macs). You'll need one of the newer Intel Macs with NVIDIA graphics.

Three New ProRes Options
Apple's ProRes 422 and ProRes 422 HQ codec options were a great way to capture and edit very high end video, like uncompressed HDCAM, without the large file size but still retaining the image quality of the original footage. They also built-in ProRes Readers into Mac and Windows versions of QuickTime, so others can view ProRes video. So it's no surprise Apple has worked on bringing us some new options. I believe Apple realizes many FCP editors are using laptops, so ProRes options are very welcome for us laptop users!

 

ProRes 4444
The first is ProRes 4444, which is perfect for visual effects artists to work with, without the encumbering size of uncompressed video footage. The extra "4" representing an alpha channel, making it easy for FX artists to work with. Of course, it's not just for FX artists--if you've shot a film on a 2K-resolution-capable Ultra HD camera (like the SI-2K or RED ONE), you won't be hindered by larger files. Same with if you're editing uncompressed HDCAM footage. The target Mbps (Megabits per second) rate is 330.

ProRes 422 LT

Next up is ProRes 422 LT, which reduces the size of clips but retains quality for broadcast, and it's perfect for TV news. As a former TV news editor who was delighted when my old shop went to FCP in early 2002, it's great to see this option. A lot of shops shoot on DVCPRO 50, HD, even BetaSP, and those files can be quite large to deal with. LT keeps things small and of high quality. It has a target of 100 Mbps. The last new option is ProRes 422 Proxy, which is a very compressed codec that is great for offline editing on a smaller, less powerful Mac, or an older Intel Mac (that's still compatible with FCP 7--see the Compatibility section near the end of this review). The target is 45 Mbps. 

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