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BlogApple introduces a tiny hint of collaboration to iMovie for iOSWednesday, June 12 2019

Yesterday Apple updated iMovie for iOS and macOS. There’s one new feature in the iOS version which could set Apple’s video tools on the path to collaboration.

  • iOS version adds green screen keying from macOS version
  • Adjust the green screen effect with a 4-point mask and strength slider
  • iOS version adds 80 new soundtracks
  • Overlay still images with transparent backgrounds
  • Both versions tidy up video sharing on iCloud Photos
  • Collaboration-wise, ClassKit support lets students deliver video assignments to teachers using the Schoolwork app

ClassKit and collaboration

I don’t know how much of iMovie for iOS is ClassKit compatible, but ClassKit has interesting features for developers to integrate into iOS apps:

  • Define and Display Assignable Content “When a student taps an assigned activity in Schoolwork, they are taken directly to the corresponding content in your app.”
  • Report Student Progress “The progress information your app can report includes time spent, start and end timers, percentage of completion…”

ClassKit and Schoolwork are built with student privacy in mind. Schoolwork only receives and displays student progress data for activities a teacher explicitly assigns, and only when students use the Managed Apple ID that was created for them by their school on their device

Could the ‘Define and Display Assignable Content’ feature could help a feedback note show exactly the timecode it is referring to.

I wonder if Apple’s eventual workgroup collaboration features will involve using Managed AppleID for participants, and tools for a team member to administer membership of groups. Last week’s WWDC mentioned managed AppleID for business in a forthcoming update to Apple Business Manager. I’ll keep a look out for more information from Apple.

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Blog2019 Mac Pro: two ultimate configurationsWednesday, June 5 2019

As previewed at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference 2019, the 2019 Mac Pro has quite the technical specification. What is it’s ultimate configuration? Just how powerful can you make it? There are two ultimate configurations: the Professional configuration and the Hobbyist configuration. As months and years go by, I’ll keep this post up to date.

The hardware is all about overhead. A power supply that can handle the needs of multiple hungry PCI cards – those for sale today and those expected to go on the market in coming years. A cooling system that can handle more heat than hardware can produce today.

The ultimate Professional configuration – ‘Available Fall 2019’

CPU

28-core 2.5Ghz Intel Xeon W CPU with Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz.

Could be a version of the Xeon W-3275 modified to access more than 1TB of RAM. The W-3275 is available for $4,449.

Memory

Each of the 12 memory slots can take a 128GB DIMM, fully loaded that adds up to 1.5TB.

Apple sells memory kits for the Mac Pro of up to 64GB – made up of four 16GB DIMMs. Apple’s 128GB 2666MHz DDR4 ECC memory configuration for the iMac Pro costs $2,000. Other World Computing sell a wide range of RAM kits, their 256GB kit (64GB x 4) for the 2017 iMac Pro costs $2,279.

Graphics

Two AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo MPX modules + Afterburner ProRes and ProRes RAW accelerator card.

Storage

52TB:

4TB made up of two 2TB SSD storage modules. 4TB from Apple for the iMac Pro currently costs $2,400.

In exchange for one AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo MPX module, an additional 32TB of storage in a Promise Pegasus R4i MPX module.

Plus 16TB made up if a Pegasus J2i (which comes with an 8TB drive with space for an additional 8TB drive), which is fitted on a sled that can be placed next to the CPU heat sink.

I/O

Two Thunderbolt 3 ports on top of enclosure.

Two Thunderbolt 3 ports and two USB-A ports in the Apple I/O x4 PCI Express card.

Two 10Gb Ethernet ports. No 25Gb Ethernet or 40Gb Ethernet PCI cards yet announced for the 2019 Mac Pro.

Power supply

1.4 kilowatts – the maximum possible for use on US domestic power networks.

Aftercare

AppleCare+. For the 2013 MacPro this costs $249.

AppleCare OS Support Preferred costs $19,995 – for unlimited support with a two hour response time and custom post-production workflow design.

The ultimate Hobbyist configuration – Less than $2,000?

The best sign that Apple think that the Mac Pro would suit hobbyists would be for them to supply a special configuration just for them.

Instead of choosing the minimum configuration and having to remove an SSD, a couple of PCI cards and RAM, it would be better to buy a configuration with none of these things. One where hobbyists can source the parts suited to their personal needs from Apple or elsewhere.

CPU

None – a heat sink.

It seems that the CPU is socketed.

Memory

None.

Other World Computing sell a wide range of RAM kits, their 256GB kit (64GB x 4) for the 2017 iMac Pro costs $2,279.

Graphics

None.

There are a wide range of PCI-based GPU cards. For those who want to use NVIDIA GPUs, they can use BootCamp to run Windows.

Storage

None.

I/O

Two Thunderbolt 3 ports on top of enclosure.

Two 10Gb Ethernet ports.

There is range of PCI-based I/O cards for Thunderbolt, USB, Ethernet, Fibrechannel, iSCSI, ADB…

Power supply

None.

For those who can guarantee the power they will supply their Mac Pro – for example if they can put it on a 50 Amp circuit.

Aftercare

None.

I would guess that Apple would not want to provide AppleCare+ for this configuration. It will be up to expert hobbyists and their suppliers to troubleshoot their configurations – with the aid of a section of the Apple Support forums.

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BlogWWDC 2019 notes for Apple’s Pro AppsMonday, June 3 2019

Today Apple announced their plans for their software, hardware and services for Apple TV, the Apple Watch, iPhones, iPads and Macs. Here’s a rundown of news relevant to Final Cut, Motion 5 and other ProApps.

The big news is that Apple did much more than give some hints about the forthcoming Mac Pro – they provided nearly all the information they would give if the computer was being released tomorrow. All of which is available on the Apple website today. Here are some interesting points on the Apple website…

Pro Apps

The Final Cut Pro product page says that in Autumn a new version of Final Cut will be released…

Accelerated performance with Metal
Metal dramatically accelerates graphics tasks like rendering, compositing, real-time effects playback, exporting, and more. When you’re working on a system with an eGPU attached, you can select which GPU to use — internal or external — for peak performance.

This is likely to mean that a significant proportion of Motion 5 that used to implement animation with OpenGL has been converted to use Metal. The part of Final Cut that does the rendering and animation is Motion.

The new Mac Pro achieved

Up to 3.2X faster ProRes transcode*

*Testing conducted by Apple in May 2019 using preproduction 2.5GHz 28-core Intel Xeon W-based Mac Pro systems with 384GB of RAM and dual AMD Radeon Pro Vega II graphics with Infinity Fabric Link and 32GB of HBM2 each; [and a] shipping 2.7GHz 12-core Intel Xeon E5-based Mac Pro systems with 64GB of RAM and dual AMD FirePro D700 graphics with 6GB of VRAM each. Mac Pro systems tested with an attached 5K display. Prerelease Final Cut Pro X tested using a 60-second project with 8K Apple ProRes RAW media, at 8192×4320 resolution and 29.97 frames per second, transcoded to Apple ProRes 422. Performance tests are conducted using specific computer systems and reflect the approximate performance of Mac Pro.

Up to 2.9X faster render†

†Testing conducted by Apple in May 2019 using preproduction 2.5GHz 28-core Intel Xeon W-based Mac Pro systems with 384GB of RAM and dual AMD Radeon Pro Vega II graphics with Infinity Fabric Link and 32GB of HBM2 each [and a] shipping 2.7GHz 12-core Intel Xeon E5-based Mac Pro systems with 64GB of RAM and dual AMD FirePro D700 graphics with 6GB of VRAM each. Mac Pro systems tested with an attached 5K display. Prerelease Final Cut Pro X tested using a complex 90-second project with a variety of media up to 8K resolution. Performance tests are conducted using specific computer systems and reflect the approximate performance of Mac Pro.

On the Motion 5 and Compressor pages:

HDR
Design motion graphics in stunning High Dynamic Range with Motion. View HDR images on any recent Mac that displays an extended range of brightness. Or heighten your experience with the new Pro Display XDR, which connects with a single Thunderbolt cable to reveal the stunning beauty of your HDR effects.

Mac Pro

The keynote video is on the Apple website. The Mac Pro launch starts at 1:17:20.

On the Mac Pro tech spec page:

  • Although the 12 memory slots can ‘only’ hold 1.5TB of RAM some of the CPUs (the 24- and 28-core) can address up to 2TB of RAM.
  • The two SSD slots can hold up a total of 4TB of T2-managed memory.
  • The new Mac Pro will be able to run on macOS 10.14 Mojave. Useful if you have a workflow that won’t work on macOS 10.15 Catalina.
  • From Apple’s Mac Pro intro video, it seems that the Intel CPU is not soldered on – maybe it will be able to be upgraded in future.
MPX modules

MPX modules are special packages for devices that need extra connections for Thunderbolt 3 and extra cooling that is integrated with the Mac Pro cooling system. The two MPX bays in which they go use up a double-wide slot for a PCI card and its neighbouring single-width slot.

Apple will be selling two MPX modules containing GPUs from AMD.

Promise will be making the Promise Pegasus R4i 32TB RAID MPX Module Kit. It allows you to install up to four 8TB 7,200RPM spinning hard disks.

  • Plug & Play inside the new Mac Pro
  • 4x swappable modules with 7200rpm SATA HDDs

They also plan to make a direct-attach drive kit with one 8TB drive and slot for an additional drive – it isn’t clear where this fits into the Mac Pro case.

  • Plug & Play inside the new Mac Pro
  • 1x 7200rpm SATA HDD, preformatted
  • Add a 2nd HDD

The implication is that these will be user-installed items – ‘Plug & Play inside the new Mac Pro’

Pro application makers and the new Mac Pro

Apple PR also has some quotes from makers of Pro Apps:

Jarred Land, president, RED Digital Cinema:

We are very excited to bring a Metal-optimized version of R3D in September.

Steven Warner, vice president of Digital Video and Audio, Adobe:

With the power offered by the new Mac Pro, editors will be able to work with 8K without the need for any proxy workflows in a future release of Premiere Pro

Jules Urbach, CEO and founder, OTOY:

Octane X will be leveraging this unprecedented performance to take interactive and production GPU rendering for film, TV, motion graphics and AR/VR to a whole new level. [Octane X] has been rewritten from the ground up in Metal for Mac Pro

Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design:

With the new Mac Pro and Afterburner, we’re seeing full-quality 8K performance in real time with color correction and effects, something we could never dream of doing before.

David McGavran, CEO, Maxon

The new Mac Pro graphics architecture is incredibly powerful and is the best system to run Cinema 4D.

macOS Catalina

The preview page tells us…

Dedicated system volume. macOS Catalina runs in its own read-only volume, so it’s separate from all other data on your Mac, and nothing can accidentally overwrite your system files.

Apps must now get your permission before directly accessing files in your Documents and Desktop folders, iCloud Drive, and external volumes, so you’re always in control of your data. And you’ll be prompted before any app can capture keyboard activity or a photo or video of your screen.

The following Macs can run macOS Catalina:

  • MacBook Air, iMac, MacBook Pro, Mac mini: 2012 and later
  • Mac Pro: 2013 and later
  • MacBook: 2015 and later

Accessibility features:

Zoom your second display
If you have two screens, you can keep one screen zoomed in close while the other remains at a standard resolution. It’s great for everyday work and giving a presentation.

Hover Text
Hover Text makes it easier to view text on your Mac display. Just hover over any text with your cursor and press Control. You’ll get a dedicated window with large, high-resolution text. You can even choose the fonts and colors.

Apple Watch approval:

Approve with Apple Watch
Double-click the side button of your Apple Watch to authenticate on your Mac. Unlock a locked note, approve app installations, and view your passwords in Safari preferences without having to enter one.

Sidecar: Using iPad as an extra Mac display
  • Mirrored desktop: Mirror the screen on your Mac to have two screens displaying the same content, making it perfect for sharing with others.
  • Wired or wireless: Connect your iPad to your Mac using a cable to keep it charged, or use it wirelessly — within 10 meters — for greater mobility.
  • Gestures: Use the same Multi-Touch gestures you’re familiar with on iPad, along with all-new text editing gestures that let you cut, copy, paste, and undo without lifting your hands from the onscreen keyboard.
  • Sidebar: Get easy access to your most commonly used controls from the sidebar. Use modifier keys to enable shortcuts in pro apps, and access buttons that allow you to undo as well as display or hide the menu bar, Dock, and keyboard.
  • Touch Bar: For apps with Touch Bar support, the controls appear at the bottom of your iPad screen — even if your Mac doesn’t have a Touch Bar.

The current list of Sidecar-compatible Mac applications:

Adobe After Effects, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Premiere Pro, Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo, Cinema 4D, CorelDRAW, DaVinci Resolve, Final Cut Pro, Maya, Motion, Painter, Principle, Sketch, Substance Designer, Substance Painter, ZBrush

Looks like Apple made sure professional applications would be abe to use this feature.

HEVC with alpha

Safari 13 and macOS Catalina support displaying and compositing HEVC video with alpha channels. The updated versions of Motion, Compressor and Final Cut will be able to encode and display HEVC with alpha. Could this be the future codec for Final Cut proxy workflows across platforms – the web, iPhones and iPads?

As a side note Safari 13 will be able to do screen sharing using web technologies – without the need to install plugins. Useful for online collaboration.

Goodbye Quartz Composer

After years of no updates, Quartz Composer is now officially depreciated. Although it is supported in macOS Catalina, Apple does not guarantee it will be in versions of macOS after Catalina. Some powerful Final Cut plugins depend on quartz compositions generated using Quartz Composer.

Useful thoughts

Jon Chappell of Digital Rebellion brings up some useful points in his Thoughts on the 2019 Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR:

Apple is including a monster 1.4 kilowatt power supply in the system, capable of delivering 1280 watts of power continuously, however in reality you would only get this kind of power draw if you max out the specs, fill it up with graphics cards and set it churning away on a complex render.

In the US, most household circuits are 15 amps at 120 volts, meaning the maximum power draw for a single circuit is 1800W, with a continuous draw of around 1440W. This means that at 1280W there is a narrow overhead before the breaker trips, so you would need to be mindful of what else is plugged into the same circuit at the same time (note that a circuit may consist of multiple outlets). Most people probably won’t have to worry about this but it’s an important thing to think about if you’re planning to max out the specs.

Stu Maschwitz wrote an interesting Twitter thread about hobbyists vs. professionals reaction to the Mac Pro:

It’s fascinating watching the Apple community come to terms with the fact that Apple, by finally meeting nearly every one of their demands for a Mac Pro, has made a computer that is 100% not for them. I think a lot of the perceived demand for a “pro Mac” is really a desire for a “hobbyist Mac,” a Mac for people who like tinkering with computers…

Michael Pusateri’s Twitter thread is from the point of view of someone who ‘help[s] oversee 175+ Macs used for professional video editing, audio mixing, and graphics creation’ – read the whole thread for a twist at the end:

It looks like Apple has delivered. This computer is not for any hobbyist, enthusiast, and realistically most video editors. The Mac Mini can easily handle the majority of graphic & video work. The iMac Pro speeds everything up for renders and better playback. o why is this new Mac Pro good, if it’s not needed by many users? FLEXIBILITY!

[…]

the real change here are the delicious PCI expansion slots with are really what this whole computer is about. This will allow interfaces and upgrades to focus the Mac Pro into an optimal platform for individual groups.

WWDC Sessions

Platforms State of the Union

A new feature for the Vision machine learning framework is Image saliency:

…gives you a ‘heat map’ for an image, highlighting important objects and where users are likely to focus their attention. We use this today in Photos to intelligently crop images as part of the curation experience.

A feature that would be very useful when auto-recomposing shots when changing a video aspect ratio in iMovie or Final Cut. Possibly relevant: the Apple Video Applications group makes the feature in Photos called Memories – that auto generates videos based on a group of photos.

The Vision machine learning framework will also gain a text recognition system in images and video.

The full Platforms State of the Union session video.

Other sessions

Sessions I’ll be keeping my eye on. I’ll watch the videos when they become available and add quotes and notes here if relevant to pro apps:

Create ML for Activity, Text, and Recommendations

Create ML for Object Detection and Sound Classification

Swift Playgrounds 3

Could there one day be a Swift Playground for making Final Cut plugins using Core Image?

What’s New in Machine Learning

Advances in Speech Recognition

Building Great Shortcuts

Designing Great Shortcuts

Introducing Parameters for Shortcuts

Currently the Shortcuts automation system is only on iOS, iPadOS and watchOS, but will probably come to macOS.

Text Recognition in Vision Framework

Training Object Detection Models in Create ML

Training Sound Classification Models in Create ML

Training Text Classifiers in Create ML

What’s New in File Management and Quick Look

For when pro applications run on iPadOS and collaboration applications run on iOS:

Your iOS app can now access files stored on external devices via USB and SMB. Understand best practices for creating a document-based app that reads, writes, and manages files on physical media or networked storage. Learn about enhancements to Quick Look on iOS and macOS that help you access and display file thumbnails.

Bringing OpenGL Apps to Metal

For almost 15 years, Motion has been about bringing the power of OpenGL to real-time animation.

Building AR Experiences with Reality Composer

Introducing RealityKit and Reality Composer

A good candidate for Apple’s next ProApp could be an AR authoring application.

Metal for Pro Apps

A session that seems to be specifically for the developers of applications that up until now use CUDA for fast rendering on NVIDIA GPUs:

Metal is the platform-optimized graphics and compute framework at the heart of GPU acceleration on Apple platforms. Learn key aspects of the Metal architecture that support the techniques for modern high-performance pro applications and workflows. Learn how to leverage Metal capabilities to optimize performance and maintain a steady frame rate in video editing pipelines.

Modern Rendering with Metal

Ray Tracing with Metal

AUv3 Extensions User Presets

Audio Unit app extensions gives users a convenient way to create or modify audio in any iOS or macOS app that uses sound, including music production apps such as GarageBand or Logic Pro X. And now, with iOS 13, you can store user presets for your extensions that are accessible across applications.

Introducing Multi-Camera Capture for iOS

Advances in Camera Capture & Photo Segmentation

New in iOS; the ability to capture footage from multiple cameras and microphones at once. Currently the front and back cameras and mics, but soon iOS devices are likely to have multiple cameras.

Powerful new features in the AVCapture API let you capture photos and video from multiple cameras simultaneously. Photos now benefit from semantic segmentation that allows you to isolate hair, skin, and teeth in a photo. Learn how these advances enable you to create great camera apps and easily achieve stunning photo effects.

Delivering Intuitive Media Playback with AVKit

Hopefully the basis of a new QuickTime Player for macOS Catalina that replaces both QuickTime Player 7 and QuickTime Player X:

AVKit is a high-level framework for building media user interfaces, complete with playback controls, chapter navigation, Picture-in-Picture, audio routing, support for subtitles and closed captioning, Siri and Now Playing integration, and support for keyboard, Touch Bar, and remote control.

HEVC Video with Alpha

With the addition of alpha channel support for HEVC video, you can now composite video over custom backgrounds in both your apps and on the web. Learn how to author compatible media, and the best practices for playback.

Introducing Photo Segmentation Mattes

Modernizing Your Audio App

Apple platforms provide a comprehensive set of audio frameworks and technologies that are essential to creating a rich app experience. Learn about which frameworks and APIs are recommended to ensure that your app is well positioned for the future.

‘Well positioned for the future’ is Apple-speak for ‘work with an unreleased device we plan to release in the next year.’

Understanding Images in Vision Framework

Learn all about the many advances in the Vision Framework including effortless image classification, image saliency, determining image similarity, and improvements in facial feature detection, and face capture quality scoring. This packed session will show you how easy it is to bring powerful computer vision techniques to your apps.

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BlogAtomos Neon: ProRes RAW on-set recorder + HDR monitor + Dolby VisionFriday, May 31 2019

Atomos have announced Neon – a new recorder that encodes ProRes RAW and also acts as an HDR display. It will be shown at the Cine Gear Expo in Los Angeles this weekend.

With a 1000nit display, including dynamic zone backlight technology for 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and 180 degree viewing, Neon gives you and your crew a crystal clear view of whatever’s in frame – so you can review footage in stunning clarity and lock down your shots with total confidence.

  • 17″ – 17:9 2048×1080 – 142 ppi
  • 24″ – 17:9 4096×2160 – 193 ppi
  • 31″ – 17:9 4096×2160 – 147 ppi
  • 55″ – 16:9 3840×2160 – 84 ppi
  • 4KDCI 180-degree perfect viewing
  • 10-bit DCI-P3 100% color coverage
  • 1,000,000:1 contrast
  • Real-time playout with Dolby Vision to test content on connected domestic TVs

They say it will be available in the second half of 2019.

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BlogFinal Cut Pro 10.6 hints at WWDC19Thursday, May 30 2019

As an Apple watcher, I am excited about the announcements at next week’s 2019 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference. Hardware news will affect editing and post production this year. Software news will be more about the Final Cut, Motion, iMovie and Compressor of 2020. To predict what will be possible in Final Cut/iMovie this year, it is better to look at what was announced last year at WWDC18.

Final Cut Pro X usually works on the current major version of macOS and the previous major version. This allows people who have bet their business on Final Cut to have the option remain on a tried and trusted version of macOS. Let braver folk help the community by testing the newest versions in production.  The Final Cut 10.4.x series runs on macOS Mojave (10.14) and High Sierra (10.13). If 10.5 arrives at the end of the year – to accompany the 2019 Mac Pro – it is likely it will run on macOS Mojave and the version of macOS announced next week* (10.15).

Final Cut Pro 10.5 and WWDC18

You can review the sessions from WWDC18 on the Apple site.

Here are some links to sessions covering features of macOS Mojave relevant to Final Cut were covered at WWDC18. Each link includes a video from the session, a searchable transcript and a PDF of the presentation shown.

Core Image: Performance, Prototyping, and Python

Core Image is the part of iOS and macOS that modifies images in photo and video applications. Often using small pieces of code known as CIKernels. This session describes a way to use the Python language to prototype combinations of Core Image filters before making custom CIKernels. There are over 200 CI filters – similar to the many filters, generators and transitions used as elements of Motion 5 projects and templates.

Long-standing developers would like clarity from Apple on the future of Quartz Composer, a venerable macOS developer tool that in recent years seems to have been abandoned. It combines OpenGL shaders in a node-based user interface to take graphics, sound or other kinds of inputs to generate graphics. QC produces .qtz files which are used to create real-time animation used in iOS and Mac user interfaces and visualisers. Some of the more  complex plugins for Final Cut have Quartz compositions at their core. As Apple has moved on to Metal from OpenGL, could they be developing ‘Quartz Composer X’ that generates Core Image-based .qtzx documents?

This session also shows how Machine Learning models can be applied to images for advanced effects. As well as Motion-hosted Core Image filters, Motion, Final Cut and iMovie could also come with ML models that process video. For example models that represent a kind of style to display video in – such as ‘Stained Glass,’ ‘Van Gogh’ or ‘Neon.”

Object Tracking in Vision

Vision is the part of iOS and macOS that provides computer vision services to apps and applications. This session mentions that macOS Mojave got an update to its face-recognition technology – recognising faces in all orientations (such as upside down). The session also includes how to implement object tracking for video, mentioning that the system can track up to 16 rectangular objects and 16 other kinds of objects at the same time.

Although Motion has had tracking for over 10 years, these kind of trackers are much more advanced. The current Motion motion tracker can’t be used to make titles or effect plugins for Final Cut that track objects in video. Perhaps the next versions of Motion 5 and Final Cut Pro X will have tracking built in.

Creating Photo and Video Effects Using Depth

This was an iOS session on how to access the depth information being generated by both the front and rear camera systems on iOS devices. Although not available on macOS yet, it is likely that these techniques will come to Mac applications once volumetric capture comes to more standalone cameras. The most straightforward use of depth maps will mean that no keying or greenscreens will be needed to separate objects from backgrounds. Graphics, titles and footage will be able to be rendered so they seem at to be any distance from the camera – including between people in the foreground and backgrounds shot on location.

Engineering Subcriptions

It seems that the majority of Final Cut users don’t want Apple to move to a subscription model for the main application. It is likely however that the Apple higher-ups have sent out a memo to everyone to ask how each team will fit into the new Apple services narrative. One possible answer for the Video Applications group is to offer subscription features for third-party developers. That would mean plugin developers like me, tools vendors and post production service providers would be able to use Apple Store subscriptions to add features and to their Final Cut/Motion/iMovie products and services.

A quiet year

Last year I planned to write a post with information on Final Cut-related sessions, but as there were so few, I didn’t. There were more post production-related sessions back in 2017 and 2016.

WWDC19

Although its is unlikely that iMovie and Final Cut will be able to take advantages of features in macOS 10.15, next week could see some announcements relevant to editing and post production – and to Final Cut Pro 10.6, or whatever versions are released in 2020.

Marzipan

Apple’s Marzipan project is about making it much easier for the hundreds of thousands of iOS developers to covert their iPhone and iPad apps into Mac applications, or use iOS skills to make new Mac applications. It is likely that Apple will demonstrate examples of their iOS apps being converted to also work on the Mac. This includes new versions of Messages, Reminders and Mail for Mac based on the iOS versions. It is also possible that they will show one of the Apple video applications for iOS running on the Mac.

There is no need to make iMovie for iOS work on the Mac. It already exists as the current version of Final Cut Pro X with a consumer UI. A more interesting application for those in post production would be a Mac version of Clips – Apple’s social media video application. Final Cut users would find Clips useful for an important feature: its ability to use Siri transcription to convert speech into text for subtitles and titling. Many editors would like to use this feature with footage in iMovie and Final Cut Pro.

Although Final Cut may be able to run on macOS Mojave, there is a chance that some features will only work on macOS 10.15. As Clips for iOS uses Siri transcription titles engineered in a version of Motion 5, once Siri for Mac is updated in macOS 10.15, could speech transcription come to Final Cut?

iPads as external Mac displays

A feature that would benefit Final Cut, Motion and iMovie users is widely expected: the ability to use recent iPads as external displays for Macs. Some expect iPads to act as a generic extra monitor attached to a Mac – with touch input being sent as trackpad input to applications. There is a chance that Apple won’t want their high-end iPad Pros to be ‘mere displays,’ so they may opt for iPads being available for specific uses on an app by app basis. In thee case of post production, iPad Pros have a 120Hz refresh rate and consistent high gamut displays – useful for broadcast monitor simulation – a useful new feature for Compressor and Motion 5.

Replacing QuickTime Player 7.0

Like many editors, I still use QuickTime Player 7.0 for simple editing options. It has many useful little features. Features available in other applications, but like Preview for pictures and TextEdit for text, QT7 remains useful for me. Apple has announced that 32-bit applications like these will not run on macOS beyond last year’s Mojave. Next week we also might see if Apple will replace QuickTime Player 7.0 with a whole new application, update QuickTime Player X with professional features, or do nothing. QT7 is powered by features of the highly evolved QuickTime OS toolkit. Its replacement is AV Foundation – which is the video toolkit used by Final Cut. Sessions on an AV Foundation update next week is relevant to video playback utilities and applications on macOS, iOS and tvOS.

Hardware

Many expect that Apple will at least preview the 2019 Mac Pro and new Apple display. Although Apple usually use Final Cut as their high-end Mac screenshots, remember that WWDC is a third-party developer conference. That means that Apple think that third-party developers appearing on stage will act as inspiration to attendees. That is why Adobe are regular guests at Apple keynotes, showing how quickly they managed to adapt After Effects and Illustrator to use Metal or what Photoshop for iPad will be like.

In practice less than 1% of even high-end post production jobs are too much for a fully-equipped iMac Pro. Facilities houses may appreciate that the iMac Pro comes in Space Grey, but they will find it much easier to justify clients not having their own in-house kit when they can show investment in multiple 6K Apple displays and 2019 Mac Pros.

The 2019 Mac Pro is a way for Apple to gain a little more trust back from professionals – that Apple gets what they need (as well as what they want). Luckily Final Cut is likely to be along for the ride: one of the few uses of high-end Macs that most journalists and investors understand without much explanation.

There’s a good chance that the Mac Pro will include a PCI 4.0 expansion bus. The question remains as to how Apple’s move away from Intel to their ‘A-series’ CPUs will be accommodated by the new form factor. The ‘cheesegrater’ PowerMac G5 was superseded by the Mac Pro with no external change to the computer. The 2019 design will need to accommodate Apple’s plans for the 2020, 2021 and 2022 ‘Ax’ Mac Pros. The ‘modularity’ of Macs is partially based on the expansion bus – which is dependent on the processor architecture. Even on MacBook Pros, the total bandwidth available to connected devices is defined by the PCI bus and the connection pins on Intel CPUs.

A more radical way of introducing modularity to the Mac Pro would be for Apple to adopt a new open source bus architecture. One that works for current Intel and AMD CPUs and one which works for other CPU technology. The advantage of making it open source is that those who make their own PCs to run Linux and Windows (and those who make motherboards to seed them) would have an alternate option.

One of the main differences could be a new way to handle temperature control. At the moment powerful PCI cards handle their own cooling using a variety of technologies. These must work in PCs and Macs with a variety of internal arrangements. These cooling strategies sometimes interfere with each other. Maybe bus expansion specifications should include providing temperature information back to the host computer, so it can change the cooling settings for the whole computer. Apple is one of the few computer companies that could come up with a new way. The advantage of making the standard open source is that card makers would have more incentive to support it – a larger potential market of professionals.

For more on the 2019 Mac Pro, visit my article on the most vital feature it should have at launch.

Final Cut 2020

To see what new abilities of macOS and iOS might support new features of next year’s Final Cut Pro, you can watch WWDC19 sessions from next week onwards. Some will be streamed live. Nearly all of them will be available for streaming and download soon after.

The fun starts on Monday with the Apple Keynote event.

At the moment the schedule isn’t public. Once it is I will post a list of post production-related sessions and update it with tid-bits relevant to Final Cut users later next week.

*Some expect that 10.15 will have a name associated with Mojave, just as Lion was followed by Mountain Lion and Sierra by High Sierra. Possible names in around the Mojave Desert include: macOS Providence, Rainbow, Chase, Baker, Death Valley and macOS Zzyzx.

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BlogApple continues regular speed bump policy for Pro notebook MacsTuesday, May 21 2019

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.

July 2018:

  • 8th-generation Intel Core processors: 6-core on the 15-inch, quad-core on the 13-inch
  • Up to 32GB RAM
  • True Tone display
  • Improved keyboard

November 2018:

  • Radeon Pro Vega 16 / Vega 20 GPU options for 15-inch

May 2019:

  • 8th and 9th-generation Intel Core processors: 8-core on the 15-inch

The good news: This shows that Apple will improve the MacBook Pro when they can – without saving up improvements until the next major redesign.

CPU improvement, GPU next?

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.

 

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