Rolling bags are a must to travel the show floor. I tell myself this every year, usually in the middle of the conference, and usually with a couple shoulder-strap bags pushing my spine out of alignment.
This year's NAB was packed with new workflows for stereoscopic, editing integration, and a wide array of vendors and products. To do it right is an all day endeavor, beginning with sessions, wondering the show floor, and going to all those after parties hosted by every company looking to get your attention. Including Panasonic's Leviathan, their new 152" 4K 3D TV. Which leads me to this year's Final Cut Super Meet.
The inter-webs were abuzz with the party I signed up for: the 10th annual Las Vegas Supermeet at Bally's Event Center; and as it turns out, the best parties in town. You see AVID (a major sponsor and main competitor to Apple's Final Cut) and Kevin Smith were booth suddenly relocated as Apple bought out the party right from under them! As usual, it was kept as secret as possible and there were only rumors of the main event: A sneak peek at Final cut X.
People who had gone to these events before mentioned that they had never seen people looking to buy tickets outside the door. Attendance probably doubled form years past, the raffle prizes were extravagant, the food was good, and the stage set. Mind you, even though many of us formed a line to get in that coiled itself about the ballroom floor, mob rule took over as the music started and we were led inside.
Once we found some seats, the music started, lights moved, and the apple logo appeared on screen to much applause. We were greeted by Peter Steinauer, the software's architect. He told us the rumors were true and this was an all new Final Cut and its biggest update since it's inception. the graphs showed us how Final Cut's following is orders of magnitude greater than their nearest competitors. And finally, the new interface.
It looks good, seems intuitive, and is clearly organized in three distinct areas: Video, Organization, and timeline. There was strong excitement in the air, but also palpable trepidation on the part of the thousands of hard-core Final cut users in the audience. The reason? In my opinion, not only does it change the approach to editing, but it also looks like they have made iMovie Pro in all but name (in a good way).
The video leverages all your system has to offer and is fast and intuitive. It seems to have aspects of color built in. There is no manual transcoding necessary as it is media independent. I can also use waveform analysis, face recognition, and scene detection to place an assistant editor at your fingertips. The biggest change though: The new timeline.
It combines Video and multiple tracks of audio to travel together with visible cues. As footage moves, other tracks and move out of the way and automatically add and remove tracks as you go. There is a new way to work on sub clips and shots can be swapped out with alternates using audition with a push of a button. Everyday operations have been empowered with the use of the Magnetic Timeline, whereby things split open and visually you can line up footage on multiple tracks with an ease that is hard to describe with text. Gone are the chunky looking edits and cluttered interface.
There was a palpable trepidation in the air as these hard core editors took in the latest bombshell from Apple: the price point. Gone is subscription pricing and things like Express and Studio. At $299, it has been placed in the range of a consumer product. In my opinion, they have taken everything Final cut could do, made it do much much more, in a simpler way, and undercut their competitors to great effect. This is now in such a range that the average person will get Final Cut as a default. It is my opinion that this will soon take it's place next to the other standard offerings from Apple in line with iTunes and Garage Band. Make no mistake, this has fundamentally changed our industry.
As interesting as all these developments are, so are all the things not mentioned. Where's Color and Compressor? Does it still lay to tape? What plugins will continue to work if any? And what is this going to do for prices, competition, and turnaround times in our industry? What about online video offerings from the every day person? One thing is for sure, if you've been skating by on minimal experience, your days may be numbered.
For a play-by-Play on my NAB wonderings including the super meet, please see my Twitter account.