WWDC 2019 notes for Apple’s Pro Apps

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:

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.

31st May 2019

Atomos Neon: ProRes RAW on-set recorder + HDR monitor + Dolby Vision

5th June 2019

2019 Mac Pro: two ultimate configurations