Apple has released Final Cut Pro X 10.0.3, with multicam, what looks like better chroma keying than FCP 7 ever had, better XML support (including moving primary color grades to third-party apps like Resolve) media relinking, layered PSD support, and beta support for broadcast monitoring via Thunderbolt and PCIe devices. This actually appears to put Apple ahead of schedule, as last year they promised multicam would come “in the next major release”, presumably (with FCP X apparently adopting OS X style versioning) 10.1.
The web is going to be full of comments today about how this new release represents Apple backtracking in the face of industry rejection, but I don’t buy it. The signs that Apple always intended FCP X to be a real “pro app” have been there from the beginning. They were simply doing precisely what I described last summer: shipping as soon as they had something that was useful to some people, with the full intention of iterating until they had something great. The 10.0.3 release is a big step in that direction. I don’t think they’re done yet, but we’re already starting to see the new engine pay significant dividends. For instance, from Gary Adcock’s overview in Macworld:
Apple did not stop there. Because FCP X contains the most powerful metadata engine of any NLE, users now have unprecedented control over multicam events, with the ability to access and sync tracks not only via time code, but with keywords, in or out points, or audio tracks.
Multicam functionality is intelligent enough via the underlying metadata structure to be able to dynamically identify multiple takes from the same camera and drop them sequentially onto a multicam track—something that is utterly amazing. Apple augmented FCP X’s audio syncing capacity by allowing the app to exploit audio metadata to sync multiple cameras with similar audio content when there is no matching timecode on the files.
It does not end there. The biggest surprise is that unlike any other NLE, FCP X allows multicam projects to handle cameras with different codecs, image rasters, and frame rates, without conversion. Think about handling a multicam project that includes footage from DSLRs and DV, HDV, and professional cameras, without having to pre-process the content first. You can change, add, or delete camera angles at any time and work with different codecs, frame sizes, and frame rates without conversion.
The technical foundations of FCP X (its heavily optimized high bit depth rendering engine, its extensive metadata support) were always extreme overkill for the market some people claimed it was targeting. Now we’re starting to see what can really be built on those foundations.
Apple plays a long game. I suppose it’s too much to hope for that people will remember this and not freak out the next time Apple ships an initial release of a new product with missing features?