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Final Cut Pro X update brings multicam back into the picture

Apple's brought back a much-requested feature to its Final Cut Pro X pro video editing software as part of a new update that comes with a handful of other tweaks.

Multicam editing as part of Apple's latest Final Cut Pro X software update.
Multicam editing as part of Apple's latest Final Cut Pro X software update. Apple

Apple is pushing out an update to its Final Cut Pro X software this morning that brings back a feature pros feel was left out in the company's remake of its high-end video editor.

Now among the video editing software's tricks is support for multicam editing, the feature--which as the name suggests--lets editors view, cut together, and synchronize footage from multiple cameras.

Multicam editing was present in previous versions of the Final Cut Pro suite, dating back to 2005 but was not included in this latest version of the editing suite. Under the new system, multicam works with up to 64 different camera angles and can do video or still clips at any resolution, format, and frame rate that's supported by the software.

Apple's bundling that with two new features aimed at production houses that use digital SLRs and other devices that shoot without a timecode: one that uses time of day (e.g. when a video is timestamped in its metadata) to sync up footage, and another that will analyze the audio waveform and assign it a time based on waveforms it has captured on other shots.

One other feature making its way into the update is new adjustment panel to the one click chroma key feature that was added in Final Cut Pro X.

According to Richard Townhill, Apple's senior director of applications product marketing, the company received feedback from pros who were using the chroma key feature (which is frequently used for transposing people and objects in front of green screens) and "needed more tweaking," specifically when shooting through glass or on a green screen that had uneven coloring. In a phone interview yesterday, Townhill said editors were leaving the app to go do that particular task in Apple's Motion companion software, which the company thinks the new option will alleviate.

Beyond those two features, Apple's including what it calls "beta" support for broadcast video monitors. The software now supports third-party monitors through PCI express and Thunderbolt. That includes hardware from Aja, Black Magic, and Matrox, which will work with new software once the companies have updated their drivers.

Also being added in 10.0.3:

  • Media relinking. Users can now manually reconnect new media to projects and events
  • XML 1.1 support. Users can now import and export color adjustments and audio waveform key frames
  • Support for layered Photoshop files, a feature that was in Motion and is now built in to Final Cut.

Alongside the update, third-party software maker Intelligent Assistance is releasing a $9.99 software tool called 7toX, which as the name would suggest, is the reverse of the company's $49.99 Xto7 software. It takes projects made in Apple's previous version of Final Cut Pro and makes them compatible with the newer version--something Apple's own software is unable to do.

What's next?
This marks the last time in recent months that Apple's offering a glimpse of future features to be added to Final Cut Pro X, which was an unusual habit for the usually quite secretive company. With previous updates to the software Apple made a habit of providing a to-do list of sorts, with tweaks and features that were on its update roadmap.

Townhill said users can still look forward to a "final" version of broadcast video monitoring feature as part of a future software update, but that the company was not dangling any other features in to-do list form. In the meantime, one thing some film fans can at least take off their wish lists are more tools for working with tape.

"We've made enough fuss about the fact that Final Cut Pro X is designed for modern digital workflows, however we know that some people still use tape, and for that once again we point to our third parties," Townhill said. "Both Aja and Black Magic have tape utilities, so you can create a project in Final Cut Pro, export the result, and use one of their utilities to offload that onto tape if that's still a part of your workflow."

Apple released Final Cut Pro X last June as a complete revamp of its pro video editing software, eschewing selling it as a suite of applications and instead combining some of the most commonly used features into a trio of apps on the Mac App Store.

As part of that change, many features did not make the cut from the previous generation of the software, leading some to abandon it and competitors to swoop in with discounts on competing editing suites. Apple reacted by promising to add a handful of features back as part of future software updates (which includes this one) and posting a frequently asked questions page for potential upgraders, which has since been taken down.

Final Cut Pro X makes up one of Apple's main three software tiers aimed at creative professionals. The company also targets photographers with its Aperture software and musicians with Logic Studio, the latter of which is rumored to be undergoing an overhaulsimilar to the one Final Cut received.

The update should arrive to Final Cut Pro X users in the Mac App Store this morning, as well as in the free trial version of the software the company rolled out in September.