Apple's 'Magnetic Timeline' Final Cut Pro X patent

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

This week Apple was awarded a patent related to the Final Cut Pro X timeline. It is available as text and 95 page PDF. It was applied for on June 6, 2011. Most of the abstract covers only part of the patent:

A media-editing application of some embodiments allows a user of the application to group media clips displayed in the timeline into a single clip representation. A composite display area of the media-editing application often displays numerous clips at various instances in time and at various levels in the compositing hierarchy. To reduce the number of media clips in the timeline, the media-editing application of some embodiments allows the user to select several media clips and combine them into a one media clip representation. In this manner, the media-editing application reduces the congestion in the timeline. These single clip representations are referred to as "compound clips." Compound clips can be viewed as containers that can include several media clips of the same type in some embodiments, or that can include several media clips of several different types in other embodiments.

Although the abstract mainly covers compound clips, most of the ways a non-track-based magnetic timeline works is described in the patent itself. A little 'smuggling' by the patent lawyers?

Here's a list of contents to show what editing software features Apple now has a patent for. Instead of reading the text, use this list of figures with some interesting quotes from the relevant sections. Remember that the phrase "in some embodiments" doesn't mean that Apple planned to add that feature to Final Cut Pro, these clauses are included to make the patent cover a wider range of possible editing software features.

Fig 1: Main UI

8875025-fig1

Connected clips in secondary storylines are referred to as "anchored clips in anchored or secondary lanes."

Instead of, or in conjunction with, having several levels of media clips that anchor off the central compositing lane, some embodiments allow media clips to be placed in these anchor lanes and to be anchored off of other anchored media clips placed in these anchor lanes.

Skimming within clips with the option to see skimmed clips in the viewer:

In some embodiments, the playback (or skimming) is not shown in the timeline clips, but rather in the preview display area

Fig 2: Selecting ranges in clips before reducing audio volume of range

Fig 3-4: Expand Audio/Video clips and Detach Audio

Fig 5: Change appearance of clips in the timeline

Some embodiments may also allow the user to directly manipulate the media clips (e.g., by expanding or contracting the audio or video portions using a cursor) to change the appearance.

Fig 6: Zooming timeline horizontally

Fig 7-9: The playhead and the skimmer

Fig 10-11 Clip skimming

Fig 12 Insert edit

Fig 13 Adding a selected event clip to the end of the timeline

Fig 14 Connecting a clip

Fig 15-18 Replace edits

Gap clips to maintain duration:

When the second media clip is shorter in duration than the first media clip, some embodiments replace the first clip by placing the second clip at the point that the first clip starts. This will cause a gap to close or to be filled with a position clip after the second clip.

Fig 19-20 Gap clips

Known here as Position clips

Fig 21 Trimming connected clips

Including the fact that if connected clips are audio only, they can be trimmed down to the sample level instead of being limited to whole frames.

Fig 22 Slipping clips

Fig 23 Connection point

Including an option to use the point dragged from in the event clip as the connection point when dragging to the timeline i.e. if the mousedown is 1/3rd of the way along the clip or selection when you start dragging, then the connection point is set to 1/3rd along the clip.

Fig 24 Changing the connection point

Fig 25 Creating a secondary storyline

Some embodiments allow the user to create a container first in an anchor lane and add media clips into the container from the timeline or the clip browser.

Fig 26 Extend edits

Fig 27-31 Editing and moving the playhead using timecode entry

Fig 32 Editing with video only, audio only or both audio and video

Fig 33-35 Two Up view

The media-editing application in some embodiments displays two frames in the viewer  for other types of editing as well. Some of different types of editing include a ripple edit, a slide edit, a slip edit, etc.

Fig 36 Making compound clips

Fig 37 Navigating Timeline History

Fig 38 Bookmarking a timeline history view

Fig 39 Timeline history state diagram

Fig 40 Retiming a compound clip

Fig 41-46 Importing clips into a database

Including transcoding and proxy generation

Fig 47-50 How timelines are represented in the database

Fig 51 Application architecture

simple-block-diagram

It might be possible to associate some of the internal frameworks in Final Cut Pro X and iMovie with elements of this diagram. For example, the Rendering Engine could be implemented by 'Ozone.framework' - the 'headless' copy of Apple Motion 5.X in Final Cut and iMovie. You might be able to guess what 'TLKit.framework' does.

There's an interesting hint about how the application defined in the patent might not only be a traditional application running on a computer: 

In some embodiments, the media editing application is a stand-alone application or is integrated into another application, while in other embodiments the application might be implemented within an operating system. Furthermore, in some embodiments, the application is provided as part of a server-based solution. In some such embodiments, the application is provided via a thin client. That is, the application runs on a server while a user interacts with the application via a separate machine remote from the server. In other such embodiments, the application is provided via a thick client. That is, the application is distributed from the server to the client machine and runs on the client machine.

Fig 52 Computing device

All software patents need to include a description of a computing device for the software to run on.

Review: MoviePro 3K video camera app for iPhone 6 Plus

Monday, 27 October 2014

MoviePro has been available on the iTunes App Store for a long time, but it has been updated to take advantage of the faster processors and better camera processing in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

The headline news is that MoviePro can record at 3K at up to 30 frames per second on the iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. 3K is 3072x1728 pixels per frame. 

This 4K video on YouTube shows how much bigger 3K is than HD and shows the quality of the recording. The quality isn't limited by the camera, but by YouTube:

When viewing this full-screen, make sure YouTube is playing the 4K version by choosing '2160p 4K' from the cog pop-up menu.

There is also the problem of not having a big enough screen to show the video on. Here is the same video with the centre HD area cut out. It shows the quality, and also shows how much you can zoom 3K video in an HD frame without losing any quality.

If you want to download the source 4,587,894,223 byte 3840x2160 ProResLT file, it will be available for a month here (or until HighTail turns off the unlimited downloads/bandwidth setting for the file).

Here is a partial list of resolutions MoviePro can record in: 320x240, 1024x768, 1600x900, 2560x1920 (4:3), 2560x1440, 1920x872 (2.20:1), 1920x698 (2.75:1)

As well as high spatial resolution, MoviePro can also record in a large range of framerates: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.. in single frame increments to 23, 24, 25, 30, 48, 50, 60, 96, 100, 120, 192, 200 and 240 frames per second. 1080p can be recorded at up to 60 fps. 240fps at 1280x720.

Pro features

As this app has been around for a while, there have been many improvements over the months to support professional use:

High data rates

For 3072x1728 25fps footage, the H.264 file has a data rate of 120-130 megabits per second. That's up to 681K per frame. If you encoded a QuickTime movie using Photo Jpeg with a quality set to 'Low' (25), its data rate would be around 640K per frame. If you record at 30 frames per second, the data rate isn't higher, so you get lower quality frames.

If you record 3072x1728 at 2 frames per second, the data rate goes down to around 25 Mbps. That results in very high quality frames.

The data rates fall quickly for lower resolution videos: 3000x1688 movies are recorded at around 115 Mbps, 2560x1440 at 85 Mbps, 1920x1080 at 45 Mbps.

The data rate cannot be set directly - 'Video Quality' is defined as a percentage of the quality the iPhone would normally record:

mp3.5 presets

Sound

As well as having a on-screen sound meter, there is also an on-screen control for input record level. Using a splitter cable you can monitor with headphones while a separate microphone records the scene. You can also use a bluetooth connect microphone.

You can also control how audio is recorded: choosing between none, low, medium, normal (?) and uncompressed:

mp3.5 audio

It seems the data rate for Low, Medium and Normal have the same result: 64 Kbps 44.1 kHz AAC. Uncompressed is 710 Kbps 44.1 kHz uncompressed. There are no sample size or frequency controls.

Interesting

You can group settings into five presets which you can swap between with a tap. Pressing the 'Star' control near the record button brings up the presets:

mp3.5 presetsoverlay

As you can see, some of the preset descriptions are shown in type that is too large to fully show in the overlay.

Other settings not built into presets include:

  • Orientation
  • Which built-in microphone to use (Bottom / Front Top / Back)
  • Zoom - choosing either a slider for direct zooming, or a +/- buttons and a zoom speed control
  • Whether the Volume + button can trigger recording or not (useful for external microphones and headsets)
  • Guides - One kind of guide: Dividing the screen into thirds
  • Recording time - As well as the usual unlimited recording, set recording time for values between 5 seconds and 2 hours
  • Spy Mode - The option to blank the screen when recording
  • On-screen Audio Metering
  • Video Stabilization

A nice touch for left-handed operators is that the UI reconfigures if you hold your device up the other way.

Right-handed UI:

mp3.5 UIRight

Left-handed UI:

mp3.5 UILeft

By default, MoviePro will auto focus, auto expose and auto white balance while recording. By tapping on the screen you can set the point that the software uses for focus and exposure. Dragging from the point you've tapped allows you to have separate focus and exposure points:

mp3.5 focus-exposure-point

You can also turn on the device flash and use it as a light, use a timer delay before recording and also pause recording while filming with creating a separate QuickTime file

Instead of sending footage to the camera roll, you can keep them in the app library, which has a browser that provides useful information - and gives access to a video editor:

mp3.5 library 

3K in Final Cut Pro X

When you create a new project in Final Cut and set it to set the resolution based on the first clip added to the timeline, you get the following message:

3k-not2k

If you switch the Format pop-up to 'Custom' Final Cut will set the project to the correct dimensions:

3k-3k

Bear in mind

There are a few areas where MoviePro could do with some improvement.

The first is frame rate control: Even though you might choose a specific frame rate, the frame rate recorded often isn't exactly correct: If set to record at 25 frames per second, the resulting movie is usually 25.035 fps, but sometimes 25.034 fps or 25.025 fps. The metadata in the file means that editing software like Final Cut Pro X reads the frame rate as 25 fps, but QuickTime Player 7 and Mpeg Streamclip determine that the frame rates I've listed. Here are the frame rates of other movies I've recorded: 24.024 fps (not 24), 23.029 fps (not 23), 20.025 (not 20), 120.2 fps, 200.557 fps, 239.634 fps (but sometimes exactly 240 fps).

There is a note from the developer stating that if you can do without higher resolutions and data rates, the recorded frames per second are more likely to match the setting, but that setting didn't improve the accuracy for me.

This is probably a side effect of the software framework MoviePro uses - the iPhone prioritises quality over consistency. MoviePro needs a mode that records at exactly the frame rates required. This is needed if you want your iPhone or iPad to synchronize with other devices recording at the same time - be they cameras recording other angles of moments that might only happen once. If the high frame rate section is only going to be recorded using MoviePro is less of a problem - editing software will treat the 239.634 fps footage as if it is 240 fps and when you play it at the frame rate of your project, you'll get the slow motion you want.

Frame rate accuracy is also important when performers are working to music playback for sync slow motion for music videos. 

Talking of frame rates, professional movie makers need more specific frame rates: 23.976, 29.97 and their x2 and x3 multiples. To get better results, they also need shutter speed control. Footage shot at 25 fps is usually made from stills shot with a 1/50th second shutter speed (known as a shutter angle of 180° as it results in a shutter speed of twice the frame rate). That means footage shot at 2 fps should have a shutter speed of 1/4 of of a second.

As the data rate of 3072x1728 footage can be as high as 130 Mbps, it would be be great to have that same data rate available to lower resolutions (perhaps at higher frame rates). Recording as a Photo Jpeg medium (instead of H.264) 2560x1440 QuickTime movie would result in high quality footage with enough extra resolution for reframing and stabilzation.

Being extra picky, it would be good for the UI graphics to be scaled for the iPhone 6 Plus display, as some of the graphics is a little blocky if you take a closer look.

Conclusion

The fact that I'm asking for precise frame rate control, shutter angle control and audio encoding settings shows how professional this application already is. This application is great value. Buy it now and it will help your iPhone become a secret weapon on your next professional shoot.

MoviePro costs £2.99 and is available from the iTunes Store.

Creating Apple Store iOS App Previews using Final Cut Pro X

Thursday, 23 October 2014

For those iOS developers who want to provide more information to potential purchasers in the iOS app store, Apple suggest using video-based 'app previews.'

Apple have provided resources for developers who want to create app previews using iMovie 10.0.6 and Final Cut Pro X 10.1.3. 

New in OS X Yosemite is the ability to record what happens on an iOS 8 device attached to your Mac. Here's an excerpt from Apple's instructions:

Capture Screen Recordings with QuickTime Player

  1. Connect your iOS device to your Mac using a Lightning cable.
  2. Open QuickTime Player.
  3. Choose File > New Movie Recording.
  4. In the window that appears, select your iOS device as the Camera and Microphone
 input source.

AP-choose-iPhone-source

Once you use the Record button, perform the actions on your iOS device that demonstrate the features of the app, you save the recording on your Mac.

Final Cut Pro X app preview settings

There's a PDF of instructions for those new to Final Cut Pro on how to create new projects and which custom size to use for each app preview: 

  • iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c,
 iPod touch 5th generation: 640 x 1136 for portrait, 1136 x 640 for landscape
  • iPhone 6: 750 x 1334 for portrait, 1334 x 750 for landscape
  • iPad Air, iPad 4th generation, iPad mini with Retina display: 900 x 1200 for portrait, 1200 x 900 for landscape
  • iPhone 6 Plus 1080 x 1920 for portrait, 1920 x 1080 for landscape

App previews must be set to a frame rate of 30p.

11 free titles

As well as the short PDF guide Apple also provide a set of free title plugins (12.2MB ZIP) to provide useful information in overlays on top of screen recordings:

APtitles-in-browser

The ZIP includes installation instructions.

A new market?

For writer/editors, creating iOS app previews might become a marketable skill: "Sales for this app were low, but after using the services of AppPreview4D, everything changed!"

iMovie for OS X Yosemite: Final Cut Pro X for Yosemite clues

Thursday, 16 October 2014

As iMovie for OS X Mavericks is a full version of Final Cut Pro X with a consumer UI, the new version of iMovie for OS X Yosemite is relevant to those waiting for the next version of Final Cut.

iMovie for for OS X Yosemite (version 10.0.6) has a new user interface.

The old 10.0.0.5 UI:

iMovieMav

The new 10.0.6 UI:

iMovieYos

The old adjust controls:

iMovieMavAdj

The new adjust controls:

iMovieYosAdj

 

10.0.6 new features

  • Updated look for OS X Yosemite
  • New file export options including Custom H.264, ProRes and Audio Only
  • Share any video frame as an image
  • Email HD video with Mail Drop when signed into iCloud
  • Select a portion of a clip in the timeline by dragging across the bottom of a clip
  • Adjustments bar is always open for easy access to audio and video tools

For developers using iMovie to create app previews on the App Store:

  • Support for iPhone and iPad screen recording videos captured with QuickTime Player
  • 11 animated titles designed to showcase apps in action
  • Share option to easily export for the App Store

Version 10.0.6 will on run on any version of OS X before OS X Yosemite.

A short Apple developer document explaining how to use iMovie to create app previews. Ripple Training also have a video which shows the process, including iMovie's 'App Preview' mode.

As iMovie 10.0.6 requires OS X Yosemite, iMovie 10.0.5 is available for those who haven't upgraded. This means both online help systems are still available:

iMovie 10.0.5 help.

iMovie 10.0.6 help.

 

Although there are some new features to iMovie, the majority of the changes between 10.0.5 and 10.0.6 refresh the UI for OS X Yosemite. Not all the UI has been updated however. The Import Media dialogue box hasn't been updated (apart from its title bar):

importmediaMav

An unmentioned 10.0.6 improvement was first seen in Final Cut Pro X: the option to hide clips you've already imported.

New "App Preview" project type

Here are the icons for the 11 new animated titles designed to work for App previews:

APreview-Titles

Three have a yellow on-screen control for repositioning the title:

APreviewTitleOSC

These new titles are implemented as Motion 5.1.1 templates. The current version of Apple Motion is 5.1.2. The other Motion titles were created using an older version of Motion.

Export options

The new version of iMovie adds the ability to export the current project or clip as a ProRes (422) mov, H.264 .mp4 or audio only file (with a choice of AAC, MP3, AIFF or WAV formats).

As you drag on the custom H.264 quality slider, whose range is between 2 and 16 Mbps for 720p footage… 

export-custom

the estimated file size is updated:

export-custom-size

A feature that would be useful in Final Cut Pro X. You can also choose to export at lower resolutions using the pop-up: Options are 1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720, 960 x 540 and 854 x 480. The custom data rate range changes based on the resolution of the export.

If you are working in an App Preview project, a new App Preview share destination appears - H.264 mp4 with AAC Audio.

If you have imported 4K footage, you can export it (or a selected range of it) at full resolution in ProRes .mov or H.264 .mp4:

4k-clip-export

Remote control apps are dead, long live remote control

The iOS 8 - OS X Yosemite combination means that Apple will discontinue specialised remote control iOS applications. To replace them full iOS equivalent applications will be able to control their OS X counterparts.

Here's how this works with Keynote. Keynote on iOS can control Keynote presentations running on nearby OS X Yosemite Macs.

You first pair your iOS device with the Mac using a preference: 

Kpair-pref

Once linked you tap the 'iOS play' icon:

kphonestart

The presentation doesn't have to be in slideshow mode on the Mac:

k-before-control

Once the iOS device finds the Keynote app running on the Mac:

kphoneready

As each slide comes up in the presentation on the Mac, it appears on the iOS device. As well as going to previous and next slides, the iOS device can use a range of colours to mark up slides on the Mac screen. Sketching done on the iOS device:

kphonemarkingup

…appears on the Mac:

k-marked-up

This is the kind of two-way communication that would be very useful for iMovie and Final Cut Pro X users. Up until now, most remote control iOS apps have controlled Mac applications by simulating keypresses. Now useful information could be passed from the application running on the Mac to the iOS app. For example, the Mac could be displaying a project so that it fills the screen while the iOS app shows an inspector for the current clip.

Final Cut Pro X inside iMovie 10.0.6

It looks like the Final Cut parts of iMovie were created in August. There are no obvious hints about future X features hidden in iMovie. As before, a large proportion of iMovie's almost 3GB bulk are made of frameworks used in Final Cut Pro X. 

What does this mean? That the features for iMovie 10.0.6 were frozen by August; the weeks since then were used to fix bugs in iMovie for OS X Yosemite compatibility (and perhaps bugs in Yosemite for iMovie compatibility).

Skinning iMovie 10.0.7 (i.e. Final Cut Pro X 10.2)?

Classic Apple user interface design avoids Modes - states where only some tools, menu commands and user interface elements are available and when the effects of some tools change. It is interesting that with iMovie 10.0.6 Apple have added a third mode. As well as video editing and trailer making, the App Preview project type acts as a mode - changing which titles are available and making sure the resulting movie is the correct size.

It would be interesting if Apple added more project types. Two examples 'Media Logging' project and 'Producer Feedback' project. In fact, if Apple could add types of project, they could make the application skinning/project type mechanism available to third parties. Useful if you wanted to create a 'BBC News' project type, or a 'Real Estate' project type. As iMovie is the Final Cut Pro X underpinnings with a consumer friendly skin, perhaps these custom versions of iMovie could include a few features from Final Cut. Useful for large enterprise deployments of 'iMovie Pro X.'

New patent shows a little early Apple thinking on Final Cut Pro X

Monday, 13 October 2014

Last week Apple was awarded a patent concerning how to highlight discontiguous groups of clips on a timeline.

Even though it is a new patent, it shows Apple’s thinking back when it was applied for. This patent took years to be awarded, so any feature hints found in the application document have been superseded by what Apple chose to implement in the intervening years.

Patenting concepts that apply to editing software requires a description of a sample editing user interface. Here is an example from the patent:

Final-Cut-X-May-2009

The imaginary sample editing application shows a combination of Final Cut Pro 7, iMovie and Final Cut Pro X. Layers from Final Cut Pro 7, iMovie's way of having content in more than one place at a time (clips would appear in 'All Files,' 'Video' and in an interview folder). The viewer/inspector/timeline layout are from Final Cut Pro X.

The parts of this illustration that interest me are the labels above the viewer and the inspector. The viewer has three control areas: 'Display Types,' 'Viewer Tools' and 'Overlays.' The inspector seems to have two tabs at the top - 'Inspector' and 'Transcript' with clip 'Specific Controls' at the bottom of the inspector.

This patent was applied for in May 2009. Interesting that Apple considered including a clip transcript panel in a clip inspector. I also hope that Apple will expand the way overlays work in the Final Cut Pro X viewer.

The patent.

 

 

Apple drops ProApps from corporate definition

Monday, 15 September 2014

For over 10 years Apple have included a mention of their professional video and audio applications in their corporate definition. Like most companies they define who they are in every press release they put out.

This week they dropped the words 'professional applications' from their definition:

Apple reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, defined the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad and has announced Apple Watch, its most personal device ever. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store, continues the rapid pace of innovation of mobile software with iOS and integrated services including Apple Pay and iCloud. Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world with OS X, and free iOS and OS X apps like iWork and iMovie.

The first mention was in July 2004:

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning desktop and notebook computers, OS X operating system, and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital music revolution with its iPod portable music players and iTunes online music store.

Apple's previous nine definitions: 1995-2012

 

 

UHD: Logo and minimum specification

Tuesday, 09 September 2014

Digital Europe have announced a logo and minimum specification for UHD:

UHD-logo-Alex4D-black-on-t

UHD-logo-Alex4D-white-on-black

UHD-logo-Alex4D-white-on-transparent

The display device accepts UHD input via HDMI [2.0 according to appendix]

It shall support HDCP 2.2 Copy Protection

  • a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels
  • at frame rates 24p / 25p / 30p / 50p / 60p
  • with a minimum supported bit depth of 8 Bit
  • at a chroma sub-sampling rate of 4:2:0 for 50p/60p and 4:2:2 for 24p/25p/30p
  • with minimum supported colorimetry according to BT.709

PDF including specification and logo information.

 

 

BBC adoption makes Apple's Final Cut Pro X seem more 'Pro'

Thursday, 04 September 2014

Peter Wiggins of fcp.co has broken a big story:

After a successful trial period BBC news cameramen/editors will be upgrading to Final Cut Pro X from FCP 7 for their news gathering field operations. A full roll-out throughout all the English regions is expected next year.

[…]

Further trials are ensuing within other divisions of the BBC and, aside from it's widespread use on The Culture Show, FCP X is about to be deployed for several other productions within the BBC including several popular daytime shows.

Interesting that two very different uses are mentioned in this story: news gathering field operations and popular daytime shows.

The first use shows that Final Cut Pro X is good for individuals with very little support while on location, but with standards-based exporting that integrated well with higher-end systems back at base. A popular news editing system at the BBC at the moment is based on Quantel iQ.

The second use shows that Final Cut works well with the kind of productions made by small production teams and medium-sized production companies. 

Following on from ITVs adoption of Adobe Creative Cloud for larger teams and dramas, this isn't a good sign for Avid and editors who only know how to use Avid Everywhere tools. It may be that the software at the core of Media Composer can't be tuned for recent Mac and PC hardware as well as Premiere and Final Cut Pro have been.

The French Final Cut Pro X website Yakyakyak.fr has reported that French broadcaster TF1 has also adopted Final Cut Pro X for its news department (Google's English translation).

In other news this week, Hamburg Pro Media have stopped selling their Mac OS X MXF tools. MXF is the wrapper for movie footage captured by many modern cameras and also the delivery container for submitting programmes to UK TV companies from October 1st. Hamburg Pro Media used to provide a suite of tools for UK TV production companies to be compliant with the new delivery rules (the old product page archived on the Internet Wayback Machine). Hamburg Pro Media's AS-11 Suite Workflow Guide.

Next week is IBC 2014, the main European trade fair for the TV production industry. There's a good chance these stories will influence some of the conversations next week in Amsterdam.

Read the fcp.co story and stay tuned to find out more!

 

2010 Apple patent: Final Cut Pro X concepts

Saturday, 30 August 2014

A patent filed by Apple in 2010 shows a possible future direction for iMovie that includes ideas that have appeared in Final Cut Pro X. More evidence of the large amount of research and development Apple put into editing user interfaces.

I've written before about Apple's patent concerning wider story structure as well as timeline structure. This week saw Apple being awarded a patent that seems to have arisen out of making editing easier for a wider range of people. A step on the way to general video literacy.

US Patent 8,819,557 is for "Media-editing application with a free-form space for organizing or compositing media clips." It follows on from the way older editing applications gave space in icon-based bins for editors to play with clip order. In Final Cut Pro 7, Adobe Premiere and Media Composer bins can show clips as icons that can be arranged in any way prior to being added to a timeline. 

This Apple patent turns icon-view bins into spaces where editors can combine clips together into timelines, as well as perform many other operations - including assigning keywords, defining selected ranges, skimming, trimming sequences and trimming edits and more.

8819557-editing-pasteboard-a-editing

 

8819557-editing-pasteboard-c-dynamic-trimming

The patent includes a storyboard that shows an element of dyamic trimming. Here is an excerpt from the text:

During playback, a playhead moves along the media clips in the sequence. Before the playhead reaches the end of the media clip, the user can invoke a command that will cause the media clip to continue playing content from its source file after the current out-point is reached. When the playhead reaches a location in the media clip source at which the user wants to set a new out-point for the media clip, the user can invoke a command that will cause the frame at that location to be set as the new out-point for the media clip.

As well as the full text of the patent, you can view the whole 119 page patent - including many UI storyboards in this 13MB PDF. The easiset way of reading the patent is to have the text in one window with the PDF in an another.

 

 

Why Avid is No. 1 in Hollywood

Thursday, 28 August 2014

When Premiere and Final Cut users try to convince Avid editors that they are living in the past, they often don't understand the day-to-day experience of high-end TV and feature film post production.

To provide an insight into why Avid is still number 1 in Hollywood, Chris Fenwick invited TV editor Austin Flack to talk on his Final Cut Pro X podcast: the FCPX Grill.

fcpxGrill logo

If you don't have the time to listen to the whole 74 minute episode, here are my notes on what was said:

[6:05] AF: I’m a reality TV editor, I’ve been doing it for 6 or 7 years…

[6:47] AF:…I’ve done a lot of Top Chef, I did a season of Masterchef

[7:25] AF:…and I’ve done a few seasons of Catfish, that’s the latest thing I’ve been doing

[10:48] AF: USC, big film school, they had a big partnership with Avid…

[11:17] AF: I was using Premiere on my computer at home… I would try and click on the clips to drag them around and it wouldn’t work and I was “this is lame - screw this” and so I gave up on Avid

[11:55] AF: When I got my first TV assistant job, it was Avid, and I bluffed and said I used it in college

[12:23] AF: Since I got into TV it has been primarily Avid…

[13:08] AF: I did prefer Final Cut 7 - strongly - for several years. It was way more modern… a year into being on Avid shows, I realised I was faster on Avid. It was a more fluid process.

Collaboration

[15:26] AF: The primary reason that most editors and post people in L.A. working on big TV shows don’t think that Final Cut X or Premiere are ready are because of shared storage and multi-seat edits… Avid is fantastic at huge post-production projects.

[16:02] CF: So by shared storage you mean… all the media for all the episodes is going to go on one shared server …and everyone has access to the same media.

[17:14] AF: …we’re not just talking about editors, we’re talking about story producers, story assistants, assistant editors, even our supervising producers - they all have Avid …everything is happening at once. I’ve been on shows with 10–15 editors, another 10 story assists and story producers, other producers, five assistant editors … we can work at the same time in the same projects. That’s the big thing.

 

[18:20] AF: Final Cut X is not terrible, I’ve cut with it and there are things I like about it …Final Cut 7 was not a big threat to Avid in Hollywood …Final Cut 7 was never the incumbent. Avid has never let go of the throne

[20:04] AF: (On MTV’s Catfish) We are constantly jumping all over the place …I’m am touching virtually every episode and the other editors are touching my episodes

[20:40] AF: Right now I’m cutting the 5th episode of this show. I didn’t start it, other people are working on different things in it. We can break it up by act, we can break it up by scene and we’ll have the same project open - we are sharing the project. I can be editing Act 1, the editor down the hall can be editing Act 2, the assistant can be adding footage, graphics and music, and story producers can be making string outs for Act 3 and that is all happing in the exact same project.

[22:00] AF: We cannot work on the same timelines…

[22:26] CF: (In Final Cut Pro X terms…) So I open a library, you open the very same library, I open a project named scene 2, you’ve already opened up a project named scene 1

[23:14] AF: If I’m the first person to open a bin (an event in Final Cut Pro X terms), it locks to me - it’s my bin. No-one can change it while I have it open. When I close it someone else can open it and change it. They can still open it… if I had a bin open… they can just open it as read only

[25:13] AF: In Avid an assistant editor can email me or ping me and say the graphics are in, all I do is save mu project, which is a refresh all of a sudden these bins pop up in my project (events appear in a library) and everyone else’s project…

[25:51] AF:…As soon as I do something someone else has access to it, as soon as they do something I have access to it.

 

[26:02] AF: Although Avid isn’t easy to use, it’s a lot easier to use especially for story producers and story editors, who are not technically savvy, it is a lot easier than anything in the Finder (connecting to servers, uploading, version control)

[26:32] AF: It takes about two buttons to log into the servers… to log into the project and you are up an running… people can watch my cuts as I’m cutting… they can open them read only

[26:53] AF: You can load sequences into the source window (event viewer) from someone who is working on a project, but I want to steal some stuff from their timeline… (you can open their read-only compound clip in it’s own timeline) …you can pick out some stuff you want to take and overlay it onto your project… if I’m doing a flashback and I need a bit of that thing to flash back to, I can set an in and out, pick the tracks - maybe I don’t want their music, and I don’t want this graphic or something - and I can just lay that into my sequence

 

[27:58] AF: A lot of people in Hollywood love Adobe, they love Final Cut X, but if you add a bunch of editors to a project, that’s an Avid project.

 

Designed for editors to edit and assistants to assist

[28:37] CF: Austin, were you the person who Tweeted me once “I’ve been listening to the Final Cut Grill and everything you talk about helps the assistant editor” 

[29:14] AF: I will admit that I was an Avid assistant, once, but these days I could not do that job…

[29:27] AF: Avid is not easy… technically-speaking. …I could still be a Final Cut 7 assistant editor… Final Cut X, I really understand it, I’m a tech-savvy guy, DaVinci Resolve, After Effects. …in Avid’s world, the editor becomes an idiot. Why I need something, I call an assistant and say “Could you take care of this, I don’t really know how to do it” …there’s just some things that are kind of old and kind of weird to use.

[30:27] AF: I don’t do any tasks that would be an assistant editor’s task… I’m just editing… it’s a failure of the process if I have to string-out a scene. They’re paying me a fair amount more than the story producers to edit.

 

[31:00] AF: When I’m editing, I find Avid much easier, much faster. …the kind of work you describe in Final Cut Pro X, which is great - with metadata, keywords and all these wonderful things you can do… that’s not ever what I’m doing.

[31:26] AF: When I start editing in Final Cut X I get really frustrated …when I’m in a timeline doing a cut that’s when I think Avid is much more fluid…

 

CF talked about at his company different editors sharing media in different rooms using Final Cut Pro X, a million Final Cut Pro X sales vs. 25,000 professional editors.

[35:49] AF: (with Final Cut 7) the fact that we couldn’t have the same project open at the same time was a frustration.

 

[36:05] AF: Now Final Cut Pro X has reached parity with where Final Cut Pro 7 was, but Final Cut 7 wasn’t good enough. 

[36:53] AF: If you really wanted to, you could edit a very complicated show on Final Cut X, but it wouldn’t be as fast and fluid

CF talked about bullet-point marketing. From a marketing perspective MacOS and Windows were the same - until you tried them. The same with Tivos and Comcast DVRs

[38:45] AF: (With Avid) it’s all this version control, it’s this database …a robust database that can manage these enormous projects and keep these versions in control and make sure everything stays linked… 

 

Fluid timeline

[40:31] AF: As an editor… Avid is more fluid. Avid is, a lot of ways, antiquated… but when I’m editing - especially when I’m using dynamic trim, I’m so happy…

[41:48] AF: It’s a lot about not taking your hands off the keyboard… in Avid I can play the edit as I’m changing it …I change the edit with the J, K and L keys. If I select an edit, press L, the edit plays forward in real time, and if I press the space bar, the edit point has changed, and the great thing is that it loops forever until I unselect the edit…

[43:25] AF: (With dynamic trimming, you press the space bar when it feels right)

AF and CF discuss music editing.

[46:22] AF: I find it so terrible in Final Cut X that you are always mousing.

 

CF dismissed the need for dynamic trimming:

[47:59] FC: If it takes you five times to find the edit… you’ve got to get your chops up!

(Chris Fenwick does not speak for all Final Cut Pro X editors on this subject! AG)

[48:52] AF: (Dynamic trimming is) so wonderful… it gives you a second to think about it… there’s a fluidity, a simplicity and an elegance to just using your J, K and L keys… when you are rippling and rolling you get the four up, but you are still getting dynamic trimming…

 

[50:32] AF: I was a Final Cut 7 partisan… I preferred it in television… I preferred the mouse and clicking and dragging. In complicated television environments, the kind of cutting I’m doing am just way faster… when you are clicking and dragging, you are not seeing exactly what frame you dragged that out to. You are not seeing that frame play. You might look at the frame “that’s the frame where he closes his eyes” but then you play the edit and say “no that doesn’t work”

[51:35] AF: Dynamic trimming didn’t come to me quickly. The way it works in Resolve is powerful but sort of clunky… If you get into an Avid situation… you are not even clicking on stuff , it’s just a lovely world.

 

[53:22] AF: Probably 80% of what I’m doing… I am breaking audio sync on purpose in Avid… X makes it cumbersome to break audio sync and then… you can’t put them back together which is maddening to me… and it doesn’t show frame offsets, so you don’t see how much out of sync it is… I don’t like how its trying to keep audio in sync because usually not what I want…

[55:16] AF: I’m the editor. It feels like I’m in Microsoft Word and the paperclip is trying to tell me what to do… I’m in charge, I know what I’m doing.

 

AF then introduced “Franken-biting” making people say things they didn’t say.

[56:14] AF: (In Top Chef) We are trying to get them to explain the recipe in 10 seconds as opposed to a minute and a half…

[56:52] AF: The biggest reason why Avid is not going anywhere anytime soon is because of ScriptSync

CF agrees:

[57:10] CF: I’ll turn to the producer and say I need five different versions of where he says the word “and”

AF then went on to explain ScriptSync (for transcribed or planned scripts) and PhraseFind (detecting words in verité footage).

[1:01:41] AF: (There’s so much footage in reality TV that) we always work offline… almost never working full res… ScriptSync is virtually everything.

 

[1:04:36] CF explains how Final Cut Pro X’s product manager came from Avid, and that he understands how some editors see Avid’s advantages over Final Cut Pro X. He went on to say that one day Avid and maybe soon after that Final Cut Pro X will be the old way of doing things. CF also said that the vast majority of people who call themselves editors need to do the assistant editing stuff.

[1:07:09] AF: When I edit stuff at home, I often use Final Cut X if it is relatively simple… I did cut a TV pilot on it and I got very frustrated.

[1:07:24] AF: If you’re an owner-operator or a small production company, Final Cut X or Adobe are great choices, I don’t think I would invest in Avid…

[1:07:56] AF: For big-time TV work Avid is still virtually the only game in town… if you’re a younger editor who aspires to big-time TV work, you need to know Avid for at least the next 5 or 6 years. You are going to be cutting in Avid… that’s just what’s going to happen

[1:08:20] AF: In a lot of ways Avid is a dinosaur that is ready to be disrupted, and that there are a lot of things they’ve been slow to embrace. Frankly I think that Adobe is the real threat. They are better at software than Avid, they are a bigger company, their survival depends on it. Apple’s survival does not depend on capturing the very high-level professional TV market… what they need is a Final Cut Server, and if that’s going to cost $1500 and need dedicated hardware, I don’t know if they feel like its worth it… Did Final Cut Server even come out?

[1:09:43] AF: Everything’s going to change: Avid has a lot of ridiculous qualities that are from the 80s…

[1:10:13] AF: Hollywood wants to use the best tool and right now Avid is the best tool for these things.

 

To see Austin Flack's video of how well dynamic trimming works in Avid, and more useful links, visit the FCPX Grill podcast episode page.

Following on from this episode there was a discussion about dynamic trimming on the fcp.co forum - showing advanced trimming in Final Cut and where it falls short compared with the Avid version.

Follow Austin Flack on Twitter and visit his website.

 

If Apple wants Avid's market, could they change Final Cut Pro X faster than Avid could change Avid Everywhere to capture some of Apple's editing market? We'll see!