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Apple recasts movie-making software

Calling them the "new tools of the trade," the company announces a trio of revised editing and production titles for professional moviemakers.

Calling them the "new tools of the trade," Apple Computer has announced a trio of revised editing and production titles as the company tries to further its campaign into the professional movie-making software market.

Appearing Sunday at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, Apple unveiled Final Cut Pro 4, its high-end video-editing software; DVD Studio Pro 2, its high-end product for creating menus, chapter titles and other DVD features; and Shake 3, which adds visual effects.

Final Cut Pro, last updated in December 2001, is Apple's professional-grade product for video and film editing. The company bundles iMovie--a simpler application with fewer features--with its operating system.

Final Cut Pro 4 has 300 new features, Apple said, including RT Extreme, designed for adding effects, compositing and previewing them immediately. Compositing refers to superimposing one shot over another.

The software comes with three new applications: LiveType for titling, Soundtrack for adding music and sound effects, and Compressor for watermarking and exporting work. Supported export formats include MPEG-2 for DVD and MPEG-4 for streaming media or Apple's QuickTime digital media player.

Final Cut Pro 4 also comes with support for XML Link, an interchange format that lets people share work done in Final Cut Pro with people using competing applications.

"Final Cut Pro has revolutionized professional video-editing by making previously expensive and complex technology affordable and easier to use," Philip Schiller, Apple?s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, said in a release.

DVD Studio Pro 2, which comes with its own copy of Compressor, is "rebuilt from the ground up," Apple said. The software has a revised user interface, which includes a newly designed drag-and-drop tool for creating new DVD menus and a timeline-based track editor.

Apple also offers an entry-level DVD production title called iDVD.

Apple's Studio Pro update comes the same day that Adobe Systems, also appearing at the convention, offers its own DVD production software. But the two products won't compete head to head; Adobe's Encore will only work with the Windows operating system, at least for now. The software will cost $549 when it ships this summer.

The latest version of Shake, the compositing and effects software used in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, offers a new feature, Qmaster, which lets computers use Apple's Rendezvous technology to find other networked computers and share with them the processing burden of rendering special effects.

Apple plans to release the new Final Cut Pro and Shake titles in June. DVD Studio Pro is scheduled for an August release.

Final Cut Pro 4 is priced at $999, with upgrades at $399. People who bought Final Cut Pro 3 as of Sunday can update to Final Cut Pro 4 for $49.95.

DVD Studio Pro 2 will sell for $499. Apple cut the price of DVD Studio Pro 1.5, released a year ago to $499. The fee to trade up to version 2 from copies of version 1.5 bought as of Sunday, will be $29.95.

Shake 3 for Mac OS X will cost $4,950. Shake 3 for Linux and IRIX will cost $9,900, plus an annual fee of $1,485.