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.

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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.