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Apple Previews Final Cut Pro X: New, Faster, and Cheaper

At the National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas last week, during the Final Cut Pro User Group Network SuperMeet, Apple previewed the next iteration of its professional-grade video-editing software. Final Cut Pro X starts from a brand new, 64-bit code base, sports a new interface, and is priced far lower than the current Final Cut Studio.

Because it is based on Apple’s Grand Central Dispatch framework, Final Cut X promises to work faster than its predecessors by better leveraging multiple cores simultaneously, an improvement sure to be appreciated in an industry where time is money.

The new version will include plenty of improvements to the editing process. Thanks to the introduction of what Apple calls a “magnetic timeline,” editors will be able to move clips without fear of losing synchronization between audio and video. A clip’s primary audio track is locked to it by default; secondary tracks can be linked as well. More editing now occurs in the main timeline; the Viewer window of old is now but a Final Cut memory. Best of all, perhaps, is that Final Cut X will include a popular feature of its consumer-focused cousin iMovie: background rendering.

Also improved in Final Cut X is color management and correction, with a new floating-point linear color system. The software will feature resolution-independent playback and includes automatic, non-destructive color balancing.

Other new features Apple unveiled include Compound Clips for video nesting, Smart Collections for organizing and tagging clips, automatic audio cleanup, and more keyboard shortcuts.

Apple says that Final Cut X will cost just $299, becoming available on the Mac App Store in June 2011. Currently, Final Cut Pro 7 is available as part of Final Cut Studio for $999, but that also includes Motion, Soundtrack Pro, Color, Compressor, and DVD Studio; it’s unknown if Final Cut Pro X will include these additional tools or if they may be sold separately in the Mac App Store too. Apple also said nothing about which of the new features in Final Cut Pro X might make their way into Final Cut Express, or even if a new version of that software is in the works.

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