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Apple Renews Video Focus with Streaming QT4 & Final Cut
by Jon Leland
Originally published in Videography Magazine, May 1999

Never afraid to "Think Different," Apple once again broke new ground with a trio of major announcements at NAB that make it the only computer hardware company with its own multimedia software architecture and its own professional-level video editing software.

QickTime 4At NAB, in long awaited announcements, Apple released a public beta of version 4.0 of QuickTime which included a streaming video server while they also released, Final Cut Pro, the non-linear video editing application.

Aside from a redesigned interface that includes visible timecode and audio EQ, the most dramatic new feature of QuickTime 4 is the QuickTime Streaming Server software. The biggest surprise in this announcement was that Apple took an Open Source approach to its new streaming architecture.

By making its new server software available under the Open Source model, Apple is taking a completely different approach from its main streaming competitors, RealNetworks and Microsoft. Neither is Apple planning to sell streaming servers like RealNetworks, nor is it licensing QuickTime servers within its server sales like Microsoft does with its NT servers. Rather, Apple wants to make streaming QuickTime as widely available as possible, and in as many forms as possible. (For more on this announcement, please see my Video Web column "The Best is Yet to Come.")

As a result, developers (who can download the streaming server source code at will be encouraged to customize the server according to their needs including porting it to other platforms. As part of the announcement, for example, Apple said that the QuickTime Streaming Server was already being embraced as a new component of IBM's new VideoCharger multimedia server and SGI's WebFORCE MediaBase media streaming system. The QuickTime Streaming Server is also available as a free upgrade to the Mac OS X Server.

At the same time, Apple demonstrated a further commitment to the video professionals who have frequently depended on its software (as well as its hardware) by releasing Final Cut Pro. A QuickTime-based, full-featured, professional-level application (SRP US $999.), Final Cut Pro includes three-point non-linear editing, match frames, unlimited layers of compositing, built-in text generators with automated kerning and leading, and customized special effects via an FXBuilder module. According to Apple's press release, Final Cut Pro is also enhanced by the Mac's "true plug and play support of FireWire" so that "video creators now have a complete, professional-quality, plug-and-play video editing system that costs less that US $5,000."

In defining Apple's renewed focus on the video market, iCEO, Steve Jobs added, "With our FireWire-savvy computers, we plan to bring easy to use desktop video creation to millions of new customers including television producers, ad agencies, graphics firms, web site designers, teachers, students and consumers."

Jon welcomes feedback and suggestions via e-mail at [email protected]

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