Once again Apple is updating their MacBook Pro range. Following on from two updates last year, they are once again improving their laptops. Despite the physical design hardly changing since late 2016, Apple act as if they still invested in the current MacBook Pro design.
The good news: This shows that Apple will improve the MacBook Pro when they can – without saving up improvements until the next major redesign.
Apple measured the performance of various pro applications. The degree to which these apps used the CPU vs. the GPU (which remain the same for now) is reflected in the speed increases. Apple describes the new configurations as being ‘up to twice as fast.’ Here’s how much faster they say professional applications are:
- Music producers can play back massive multi-track projects with up to two times more Alchemy plug-ins in Logic Pro X.
- 3D designers can render scenes up to two times faster in Maya Arnold.
- Photographers can apply complex edits and filters up to 75 percent faster in Photoshop.
- Developers can compile code up to 65 percent faster in Xcode.
- Scientists and researchers can compute complex fluid dynamics simulations up to 50 percent faster in TetrUSS.
- Video editors can edit up to 11 simultaneous multi-cam streams of 4K video in Final Cut Pro X.
In the case of Final Cut (according to FCP.co,) the 2018 MacBook Pro can edit 9 streams of multi-cam streams of 4K video simultaneously.
Although appreciated, I hope Apple turn to improving graphics performance next time – for the more modern professional applications that do most of their work in thee GPU.
Today’s news means there won’t be a MacBook Pro announcement at WWDC. This update might also signal that the next notebook architecture from Apple – which eventually allow for non-Intel CPUs – may first be introduced at the low end. Useful for developers who are optimising their applications for Apple’s A-series processors used in the most recent iPad Pro.
In a rare moment a feature film editor is given credit for their creative contributions. In a video in which the directors of various Marvel films – including the two most recent Avengers movies – the Russo brothers talks about Jeffrey Ford, one of their editors.
After describing how he came up with the last moment they filmed for the films towards the end of Endgame they say…
All credit to Jeff Ford, our editor. He edited every MCU movie we’ve done. He’s edited several others as well. He’s one of the creative cornerstones of the MCU. I think it’s very fitting that he would have come up with that that line that pays off the entire series so well.
There’s more in this video. Spoiler warning if you don’t want to know what happens at the end of Avengers: Endgame:
To find out more about the editing of the MCU films, read Steve Hullfish’s interviews with their editors: Jeffrey Ford, Michael Shawver (Black Panther), Craig Wood (Ant-Man and the Wasp), Fred Raskin (Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2), Sabrina Plisco, and Wyatt Smith (Doctor Strange).Read more
Soon after the previous version of the Mac Pro was launched in 2013, pro users were already hoping for Apple to release a perfect replacement. Over on Medium I’ve written a post on why their go-to-market strategy will be vital to its success:
How will 2019 Mac Pro hardware, software and services will be sold and supported? If they answer remains ‘Apple will do it,’ the new computer may have failed already.
Apple have stated that the forthcoming Mac Pro will have a ‘modular’ design. Modularity is seen as being a way of defining a ‘pro’ piece of hardware. Modularity applies to pro software and pro services too. The kind of flexibility that each professional industry category expects. For example, scientific researchers won’t invest in hardware tuned to the needs of high-end TV and film post-production industry.
The botched launch of Final Cut Pro X in 2011 was decried by many who had ‘bet their businesses’ on Final Cut Pro 7. There were many people who had spent a lot of money and time on delivering video, TV and film using Final Cut. The workflows they had developed, the video cards they had invested in and the time they had spent becoming experts was now associated with a system that had no future.
Many missed what also made the 2013 Mac Pro not suited for professionals: a lack of third-party ecosystem to support professionals using the hardware.
…but why one production company – Mystery Box – changed to Final Cut after 8 years with Adobe. Chris Workman writes…
Mystery Box started on Apple’s Final Cut 7 and changed to Adobe Premiere in 2011 as we found it was the closest match in tool set and UI to Final Cut 7. After 8 years of streamlining workflows and building muscle memory, last year Mystery Box made the decision to jump the Adobe ship and make FCPX our NLE of choice.
Acknowledging recently announced updates from Adobe, Avid and Blackmagic:
Every year companies make huge improvements in software development. At NAB 2019 both Avid and Blackmagic announced major changes to their NLEs, with some very promising features patterned after Final Cut X’s organization.
We have experienced the power of metadata media organization, and there is no going back. We can’t say what NLE we will be on in the years to come, but it will definitely have to compete with FCPX’s keyword workflow. Nothing else compares, at the moment.
Go over to the Mystery Box site to learn in detail what makes them stick with Final Cut Pro X.Read more
On Monday Avid announced their Q1 2019 results. Here are some tid-bits from their investor call – as transcribed by The Motley Fool.
Comments from Jeff Rosica, Avid’s CEO:
On how customers are moving from perpetual to subscription licenses:
As products age, there’s always churn because people stop using products 7 or 10 years later and they stop doing support, and so there’s always a bit of churn as products age out. So, there’s always going to be some of that within the noise of the numbers. And then there’s also move from perpetual to subscription, a lot more people, a lot of their perpetual revenues, where everything from individual creative professionals, all the way up to enterprises, who bought their software as a perpetual license and now they’re moving to subscription. So, you just see a lot of movement over to the subscription line from the perpetual licensing line.
On converting ‘| First’ users to paid options:
Our paid conversion is, I would say, almost at best practice, industry standard, which is great because I don’t think we’re yet at best practice from a marketing standpoint. […] But it shows the passion of the customer base, that even with the efforts that we make today, that we’re able to get really top-industry averages for our conversions today. But there’s a big opportunity there that we already are going after and will be going after even more aggressively later this year and in next year.
On the speed of migration to cloud services:
It’s not going to be explosive. This industry will migrate gradually, and they will, I think, largely be a hybrid, multi-cloud approach for most of these customers. It will take time to migrate over, which, to be honest, is a good thing because if they went too fast, you could see too aggressive of a hit to the cash flows of the company. Because they are doing it gradually, you kind of avoid that kind of massive J curve kind of impact to the businesses’ cash flows. So, I think the industry will go hybrid and will go gradually. And for us, I’ll remind you, Orin, also, a lot of our early SaaS offerings, we’re looking to add on services not take away from stuff that we do today. Even though there are some ways you can deploy in the cloud different than we do on-prem. We’re really focused on, especially in the early days, adding complementary SaaS services to the business.
On how they will move on from relying on selling storage to cloud-based storage:
This was the strategy behind what we call Cloudspaces. The best way I could explain this, Michael, is Avid’s a collaborative storage tool, and it works in what they call workspaces. And so, you assign workspaces to groups and they do their work, and you give them bandwidth and you give them storage capacity, et cetera, you assign capability to them. We’re basically allowing that in a cloud so that what we’ve done with NEXIS Cloudspaces is that every customer who already bought a NEXIS, that’s why I mentioned the more than 2,500 customer installations we have to date, all those customers, when they download, because most storage customers have not, almost all run a maintenance plan, they get to download the software update as a part of their maintenance program. And that software update immediately lights up the Cloudspaces, which basically is additional workspaces in the Microsoft Azure environment and allows them to start to try the cloud for their storage expansion. And it’s meant for near line and archives. So, it is the first step for us as a company beyond the near line product we have available today to really show people how they can park and archive stuff in the cloud very easily and efficiently. And it literally lights up when they download the software, then they just decide what they want to do.
And with the help our partnership with Microsoft Azure team, they actually have given a free use of 2 terabytes of storage for people to get started in the first 90 days. So really, our strategy is to get people to try it and try it for free, love it, hopefully, and then start consuming the NEXIS Cloudspaces, which will give us an additional revenue stream for the archive piece.
You can take a look at the Q1 2009 Avid Technology results press release, presentation and listen to the conference call at ir.avid.com.Read more
Apple Motion 5 is a real-time motion graphics application. It could be used in workflows in a similar way to tools like Reallusion iClone 7.
In an article by Geoffrey James in Inc. he writes about how non-3D animators can quickly get results from animation systems that can produce results in real time:
With traditional computer animation, it can take hours, even days, to “render” (i.e., build) a single frame of finished film. Since there are at least 30 frames per second in finished video, it takes a lot of time and computer horsepower to do high-quality work.
With real-time animation, however, you can get draft-quality finished video as quickly as you can display it on a screen. Higher quality takes a bit longer, but render times are calculated in seconds per frame, rather than hours per frame.
While those back-end improvements are impressive, the biggest advances have been in the creation phase, which replaces highly wonky, difficult-to-use tools with scene builders and character creators that are as easy to use as word-processing programs.
As well as game engines, specialised tools are used for creating ‘quick and dirty’ animations while creativity is explored. With ever increasing GPU power, these real-time animations are getting less ‘dirty’.
In coming months and years these tools will be more prized for their ease of use than their features. A complex user interface will no longer be a barrier to creative people telling stories with animation.
Motion 5 is a 2D animation application. It can be used to make full quality real-time animations. I would suggest if Apple decides to start adding new features to Motion 5 that it concentrates on going in the direction of a 2D equivalent of iClone 7.
Right now Motion users can create animations that respond in real time to settings changes – even when the animation isn’t playing. Animators can play while they try things out – instead of setting values of various keyframes and waiting for the application to render each frame in less than real time. Once the interface of your production tool gets out of the way of your creativity, you can spend more of your time telling your story than operating your equipment.
Motion has a mode where settings values changed during playback are recorded as keyframes. That means an animator can ‘ride the faders’ like an audio engineer to change values in response to what happens on screen. This can be done again and again until they are satisfied with their animation ‘performance.’ If they have a MIDI device attached, its keys, sliders and switches can be used to set animation values during playback too. Perhaps Final Cut editors would also like this kind of animation control while using Motion 5-generated plugins during playback of their edit.
Adobe After Effects has become the ‘Avid Media Composer’ of motion graphics generation. It is the default choice of those who make money from 2D animation.
It is time Apple showed how Motion 5 is more of an ‘and’ choice than an ‘or’ choice when it comes to animation – especially as it is at its heart a real-time animation application.Read more