Final Cut Pro

Still the Only Way to Go
By Adam Bertocci

We’ve heard enough about the way the digital revolution is changing the way films are made. The era of heavy machines and complicated film splices is over, now you can have a Hollywood-quality editing suite right on your home desktop. We’ve heard it.

So it’s not that Final Cut Pro will change the way you think about filmmaking, or the power of movie moguls being put in your hands, or what’s possible with a Mac and a dream these days. It’s just that until you’ve actually used it, you can’t quite appreciate how easy everything you’ve heard about really is.

Working with footage in Final Cut Pro feels like selecting and moving around text in a word processor or tossing cards back and forth in a game of Solitaire (although, to be fair, that’s the other platform’s default game, isn’t it?)-just select your clip, move back and forth within it using the mouse or keyboard, select your begin and end point, and drag your clip to the sequence. It’s intuitive, it’s simple, it’s something you can learn in ten seconds-in short, it’s Macintosh.

The drag-and-drop interface simplicity doesn’t end with the most basic tasks, either. Double-click a clip and it opens for you. Drag a filter or a transition to a spot on the timeline and in it goes, just as if you were dragging a file into a folder in the Macintosh interface. You couldn’t get those kinds of instant results on the old-fashioned Steenbecks with the smell of glue in the air, that’s certain.

Technology being what it is, the world of digital editing is changing all the time, and right now the hot-button issue for the at-home video editor is high-definition technology. The new Final Cut Pro ably rises to the challenge, and the day-to-day tasks of editing HD are no different than standard digital video. Apple strives to offer a consistent experience, and indeed at first glance, Final Cut Pro, now in its fifth version, seems practically unchanged since its early days. Working in Final Cut Pro is like coming home.

But don’t think ‘home’ has to mean a quaint family farm. This program packs a lot of power. Rendering effects such as color correction, desaturation or text in real time is a breeze even in HD, where as early as a version ago even the simplest effect required render time. You’ll hear that processor roar, to be certain; just think of it as a sports car’s engine revving. The analogy is apt.

But let’s not focus just on the sexy aspects. Final Cut Pro is ready to tackle hard, professional technical standards. So it’s not just the easy way to edit the video you shot at home with your friends, it works for multicamera television, feature films like “Cold Mountain” and “Intolerable Cruelty” and major media operations where footage needs to be shared across networks. If your eyes glazed over, that’s fine. Just be glad the power is there working for you.

The future is bright for Final Cut Pro. Macintosh fans the world over have said that once you go Mac, you never go back; it goes for video editing solutions either. Join the cult. We’re waiting for you.