recently had the opportunity to test Final Cut Pro, Apple's first
entry into the video editing software category and it knocked my
socks off. This $999 program can perform tasks -- fast, interactive
editing, direct proxy-free compositing, and a ton of great-looking
and easy-to-use special effects -- that used to require an expensive
non-linear editing systems such as those sold by Avid and Media
But the big
news is that everything you need to create high-quality video productions
-- Final Cut Pro, a Power Macintosh 300 MHz, a 17" Apple monitor,
a digital camcorder, a small NTSC (i.e. television) monitor, and
a VHS recording deck -- will run you as little as $6,000. And, of
course, if you already own some of the components, it could cost
you a lot less to become a full-blown video producer! An Avid or
Media 100-based solution with similar capabilities could cost you
anywhere from 2 to 10 times that amount.
So I put it
to the test. Using Final Cut Pro I created a high-quality 6 minute
video, complete with music, transitions, titles, and special effects,
in less than a day. Here's how I did it:
I brought my
trusty digital camcorder (a Canon Optura, around $1,300) on a recent
family vacation to Universal Studios and recorded almost an hour
of video footage and stills.
When I got
home, I dumped the footage from the camcorder to the Power Mac using
the included FireWire cable. Then I marked the sequences I liked
with Final Cut Pro's excellent logging features and "batch digitized."
In a few moments I had 5 gigabytes of digital video on my hard disk
and was ready to begin editing. This step took less than an hour.
Next I organized
my clips into the rough order I wanted them by dragging and dropping
them from Final Cut Pro's "bins" onto the "timeline." It was quite
easy and actually a lot of fun. I arranged and rearranged several
dozen short clips until they told the story I wanted to tell. This
step took roughly 90 minutes.
Now came the
fun part. I imported the song California Girls from a Beach Boys
CD and dragged it onto the timeline, to serve as my background music.
Then I added transitions between the scenes -- cuts, fades, dissolves,
3D cubes, and more -- sound effects, and opening and closing titles.
I spent about 5 hours on this step and would have finished sooner
if I hadn't been having so much fun.
Finally, I "printed"
my 6 minute video to tape. It looks great! This step took 6 minutes.
With Final Cut Pro I created, from scratch, a 6 minute video presentation
complete with titles, music, and transition effects in less than
8 hours. And had a blast doing it. If you're interested creating
pro-quality video with your Mac, Final Cut Pro is definitely worth
Final Cut Pro
Requires a 266-MHz Power Macintosh G3 computer (300 MHz required
for digital video), Mac OS 8.5 or later, 128MB of RAM, 6GB hard
disk (one or more separate Ultra2 LVD SCSI media drives recommended)
plus one of the following video capture systems (optional): A DV
digital video source connected to a computer equipped with an Apple
FireWire port (built in or on an Apple PCI card) or an analog video
source and a certified QuickTime-compatible video capture card or
Final Cut Pro.
Apple Computer, Cupertino, California
408-996-1010 or 800-795-1000.
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LeVitus is a leading authority on the Mac,
the author of 22 computer books, including
"Cheap & Easy Internet Access," "WebMaster Mac,"
and "System 7.5 for Dummies." Bob is also a contributing
editor and columnist for MacUser magazine. E-mail comments and suggestions
Dr. Mac / Bob LeVitus has a new "vanity" web site at http://www.boblevitus.com/.