High definition (HD) was on everyone's lips at this year's National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference in Las Vegas. Joining a cadre of manufacturers showcasing software with an HD bent, Apple unveiled Final Cut Pro HD, the latest version of the company's popular nonlinear video-editing software.
Upside: The big news here is that you can now import, edit, and export HD video over FireWire--no additional hardware required. There's no messing with media conversion: the program scales from DV to SD, HD, and film. With RT Extreme HD, an updated version of Offline RT, you can toggle between full-resolution, high-quality playback or preview mode--further freeing up editors to work off the cuff from their G4s or G5s.
Downside: This version supports the professional DVCPro HD format but not &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ehdv%2Dinfo%2Eorg%2F">HDV, a consumer-targeted high-def format that five of the major camcorder manufacturers have agreed to use. According to the &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eapple%2Ecom%2Ffinalcutpro%2F">Apple Web site, the company plans to add support for the format in future versions of the software, but this means that Mac users still aren't compatible with the HD mode. Competing video-editing programs, such as Adobe Premiere Pro and Ulead Media Studio Pro, already support HDV.
Outlook: Although this update cuts both the cost and the time involved in HD-video postproduction, the fact is that high-def video is still out of reach for nonpros. The program is available now for $999. If you use Final Cut Pro 4.0, you can download an update from the Apple Web site. Use an older version? The upgrade price is $399.