Apple announces Final Cut Pro 4; major upgrade includes Cinema Tools

Apple today introduced Final Cut Pro 4, a major upgrade of Apple’s Emmy award-winning editing software for film, HD, SD and DV. Packed with more than 300 new features, Final Cut Pro 4 introduces RT Extreme, for real-time compositing and effects, powerful new interface customization tools, new high-quality 8- and 10-bit uncompressed formats and for the first time in an editing system costing less than $100,000, full 32-bit floating point per channel video processing. Final Cut Pro 4 also includes three completely new integrated applications-LiveType for advanced titling, Soundtrack for music creation and Compressor for full featured batch transcoding.

“Final Cut Pro has revolutionized professional video editing by making previously expensive and complex technology affordable and easier to use,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing in the press release. “With Final Cut Pro 4, we’re introducing more professional capabilities and broadening the market by offering a more accessible and affordable product with innovative features that far exceed the competition.”

The revolutionary RT Extreme is an enhanced software-based, real-time effects architecture that scales smoothly with processor speed to support an increased number of simultaneous real-time video streams and hundreds of real-time effects. RT Extreme allows software effects to be viewed in real time on an external broadcast monitor when connected via FireWire or an external breakout box. RT Extreme is codec independent and allows editors to preview their work in real time at maximum resolution for finishing quality preview or at maximum performance for increased simultaneous streams and effects.

Final Cut Pro 4 features high-quality, software-based 8- and 10-bit uncompressed formats and 32-bit floating point processing and is the only non-linear editing, compositing and effects package that scales smoothly from DV through SD, HD and film. Final Cut Pro 4 includes support for HDR render
technology providing the ability to generate film quality output, rendering all elements in 32-bit (per channel) floating point color.

LiveType, a unique new titling application available only in Final Cut Pro 4, enables users to create dynamic, animated titles quickly and easily. LiveType includes LiveFonts, a new approach to text animation in which every character of a font is a separate animated movie. With over 8GB of media
including LiveFonts, 150 pre-configured effects, customizable templates, backgrounds, animated textures and objects, LiveType enables Final Cut Pro 4 users to develop their own customized look, either from scratch or by modifying existing effects. With support for DV, SD and HD formats, LiveType allows users to quickly and easily create sophisticated, professional-quality
animated text and graphic effects.

Soundtrack, a breakthrough music creation tool also available only in Final Cut Pro 4, gives editors the power to easily create high-quality, royalty-free music scores for their projects. Soundtrack automatically matches audio loops regardless of tempo and key, providing real-time arranging and
mixing. Soundtrack is fully integrated within Final Cut Pro 4, supports Final Cut Pro 4’s new score markers for perfect synchronization, includes a library of thousands of music loops and sound effects and supports AIFF, WAV and ACID files.

Compressor, a new batch transcoding tool that comes bundled with both Final Cut Pro 4 and DVD Studio Pro 2, lets users batch and export directly to multiple formats including MPEG-2 for DVD, MPEG-4 for streaming media or any supported QuickTime format. Compressor includes watermarking, real-time preview and 30 high-quality filters and effects, providing an ideal platform
for high volume or repetitive encoding tasks. Compressor comes with a new world-class MPEG-2 software encoder, which provides professional controls for adjusting bit rate and selecting one- or two-pass VBR encoding. The MPEG-2 software encoder delivers pristine quality video rivaling the speed of hardware and software encoders costing thousands of dollars as standalone products.

Final Cut Pro 4 offers editors new customization options including over 600 tools and commands, a mappable keyboard, custom interface buttons, custom window layouts and enhanced screen layout options. Customized settings can be saved, exported and imported onto any Mac with Final Cut Pro, making it easy to preserve all the custom settings when switching from one Mac to another.

With its open architecture, Final Cut Pro 4 fits into virtually any production pipeline and provides incredible developer extensibility through a new XML interchange format and FireWire-based I/O framework. This new standards-based composition and metadata interchange format, combined with a new import/export plug-in API, allows developers to create tools that integrate Final Cut Pro 4 into a wide range of production workflows. In addition, the new FireWire-based I/O Framework allows third-party developers to build FireWire-based I/O devices for fully uncompressed 8- and 10-bit 4:2:2 broadcast video.

Additional features in Final Cut Pro 4 include:
– advanced trimming and timeline tools such as support for dynamic and asymmetrical trimming, master clips, merged clips and ganged playback controls
– enhanced media management
– full support for Unicode
– enhanced audio editing capabilities such as keyframe thinning, multi-track audio mixing, multi-channel audio output and real-time audio effects
– Cinema Tools, previously sold separately, now included with Final Cut Pro 4 with new support for change lists and ink numbers for filmmakers working with 35mm or 16mm film.

Final Cut Pro 4 will be available in June through The Apple Store (, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers for a suggested retail price of $999 (US). Registered Final Cut Pro users can upgrade to Final Cut Pro 4 for $399 (US). Full system requirements and more information on Final Cut Pro 4, including a list of certified, compatible hardware and software can be found at here.


  1. I wonder if FCP 4 is now a Cocoa application. It makes little difference to me but I did notice that DVD Studio Pro 2 is now Cocoa according to Apple.

    As for the new features, this looks like the best value Final Cut Pro ever. Including Cinema Tools will not affect most editors, except possibly those who paid for the last version. I think it should have remained as a separate product because its functionality is so niche. Anyway, the audio component of Final Cut seems much improved. The most exciting feature seems to be this software based uncompressed video support. I imagine that within a few months we will see FireWire based Analogue to Digital converters that can capture and play back uncompressed video at a lower price than PCI solutions. For anyone with a BetaCam player this would be an inexpensive way to edit broadcast quality video. Good one Apple!

    If there are any disappointments they are about what Apple did not release today. First I would have liked to see a brand new Apple branded audio-editing application to complement Final Cut Pro. Second, it would be great to have a cut-down version of Shake for DV compositing. Perhaps a Shake Express. Maybe next year.

  2. Awesome.
    Awesome, awesome, awesome.
    Speed and composite quality have been really the only drawbacks to FCP 3 that I’ve noticed. If the RTextreme and 4.2.2 DV work as advertised (hopefully, no generation loss going from 4.2.0 or 4.1.1 DV), then for DV work, this thing is the best ever. Adding the Video Type, the advanced MPEG 2 Render (save another $600 bucks), and all the Audio Advancements is just Icing. Lots of icing. This just reminds me of a “but wait, there’s more!” commmercial. Adding all the high-end bit depth, film grain and Cinema Tools takes FCP into a totally new market. And adding the XML support and the open architecture lets FCP fit into the existing work spaces. The keyboard remapping and better media asset management help Avid pros and the like (though I probably won’t change one key on the remapping–FCP is well thought out interface already).

    I can’t think of ever being this excited about a new software release. There won’t be any excuse for a Video Pro or Amateur out there to NOT own at least one copy of this app. Even high end shops can save money by doing EDLs (or doing the whole thing in FCP 4). Then add Shake and DVD 2–I could faint.

    You couldn’t touch this with less than $5,000 with any other combination of software.
    Video Type ~$300 – $600
    Professional MPEG 2 compressor ~$600
    Cinema Tools ~$900
    Film Grain ~$300
    Network Render & Load Balance ~$600
    State of the art DV ~$900 (compare to Avid at $1,400)
    The Included Audio tools ~$300
    RT Compositing and Effects (i.e., Render Card) ~$800
    A DV tool that is 32 bits per channel uncompressed= Priceless (OK, let’s say $800 for arguements sake).

    That’s about $5,000 right there. And it’s in one application.

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