Apple have announced the next version of Final Cut Pro X will have two features for high-end workflows. The free update will include ProRes RAW for better footage acquisition and flexible closed captioning for media distribution. It will be available from Monday April 9th from the Mac App Store.
Updated with more information on exporting using roles and Compressor 4.4.1
ProRes RAW provides the real-time performance and storage convenience of ProRes 442HQ and 4444 with the postproduction flexibility of camera RAW. The new proposition from Apple is effectively: “Add any camera you have into a RED-like RAW workflow with an Atomos recorder and Apple professional video applications.” This can be done now because Macs are now fast enough to work with multiple layers of camera source media in real time – instead of extracting the information from the source when mastering in a grading application.
Whereas the current family of ProRes codecs is designed for all stages of video production, Apple ProRes RAW and Apple ProRes RAW HQ are designed for acquisition. When ProRes RAW is used in Final Cut Pro 10.4.1, the output for distribution is ProRes 422 HQ or ProRes 4444 (although ProRes RAW would be a good codec for archiving ‘original camera negative’).
A camera sensor is a grid of photosites that can each only record a single red, green or blue brightness value. Footage for postproduction is made of a series of images where each pixel in the grid is made up of at brightness values for red, green and blue. At some point in the workflow, the RGB values for each pixel need to be interpolated from the brightness values of adjacent red, green and blue photosites.
In this case the RGB value of the single pixel in the video frame is based on the red brightness at its location plus green and blue values interpolated from the brightness values recorded at adjacent photosites.
ProRes RAW encodes the information captured by individual camera photosites without extrapolating RGB information for every position in the sensor array. At the point of being used in a timeline, Final Cut Pro creates a grid of RGB values by interpolating the brightness values recorded at individual photosites.
The ProRes RAW advantage is that there is more processing power in a Mac running Final Cut Pro than there is in a camera recording images on location. More processing power means the algorithm that is doing the interpolation can be more advanced. It can also be modified if needed. Cameras must bake in their pixel interpolation into the footage they record.
In practical terms, ProRes RAW gives REDCODE RAW quality at ProRes data rates. For 1 stream or REDCODE RAW 5:1 or 3 streams of Canon Cinema RAW Light, a Mac running Final Cut Pro 10.4.1 will be able to play back 7 streams of Apple ProRes RAW HQ or 8 streams of Apple ProRes RAW. Also Final Cut Pro is able to render and export ProRes RAW HQ 5-6 times faster than REDCODE RAW 3:1.
In practice you would use ProRes RAW where you used to use ProRes 422 HQ and ProRes RAW HQ where you used ProRes 4444. Because of how each RAW frame can vary, the data rates vary much more with ProRes RAW than they do with standard ProRes.
For more information on storage requirements and data rates for ProRes RAW, read the new Apple White Paper.
There will initially there will be two ways to record Apple ProRes RAW: using the Sumo 19 or Shogun Inferno on-camera recorders from Atomos or a 5K full frame Super35 Zenmuse X7 camera mounted on a DJI Inspire 2 drone.
Atomos’ ProRes RAW page.
Interesting that this new ProRes family initially only works with Apple video applications: Final Cut Pro 10.4.1, Motion 5.4.1 and Compressor 4.4.1. Could this be the start of Apple favouring their own post applications over other macOS tools.
The other big new feature of Final Cut Pro 10.4.1 and Compressor 4.4.1 is the ability to import, create, edit and export closed caption text. Closed captions are the text that optionally appears at playback – be it in the Netflix application running on a set-top box, on broadcast TV, at special subtitled screenings in cinemas or in the YouTube iOS app.
Of course captioning should be done when picture and sound have been locked, but Apple have done a lot to implement this feature so it works well based on continuous changes made towards the end of postproduction.
The flexibility of Final Cut Pro X video roles means that captions in multiple formats and in multiple languages can be edited and exported from the same timeline.
Individual captions can be associated with video or audio clips in the primary storyline. This means that when these clips are edited and re-ordered, the captions move with their associated clip.
The big news is that captions can also be connected audio and video clips. That means an individual caption can be connected to the specific piece of audio that it is transcribing. So although you should start captioning your production once there is a picture and sound lock, you can start the captioning process earlier. Timeline changes made to clips in the primary storyline and connected clips will be reflected in their associated captions.
Final Cut Pro 10.4.1 works with closed captions in one of two formats: CEA-608 and ITT.
CEA-608 is the long-standing closed caption format used in US broadcast TV and on DVDs worldwide. ‘iTunes Timed Text’ captions are used in iTunes video bundles for movies and TV shows that can be bought or streamed from Apple. They are also used by Amazon Prime Video and YouTube.
Captions can be imported as files generated by external services or applications (using the File > Import > Captions command). .scc and .itt formats are recognised for now.
Captions can be extracted from video files with encoded captions. Add the clip to the timeline and use the Edit > Captions > Extract Captions command.
Captions in compound clips or in multcam angles can be extracted and added to their parent timeline (Edit > Captions > Extract Captions).
Add caption to the active language subrole at the playhead location using the Add Caption command (Option-C [or Control-Option-C if the caption editor is open – this means you can add a caption while editing another caption]).
An indvidual caption is shown in a language sub-role lane of the captions lanes of the timeline. You choose which captions are visible in the viewer by activating the caption video subrole in the timeline index.
To open a selected caption in the caption editor, double-click it or choose the Edit Caption command (Shift-Control-C).
Captions can be edited in a floating caption window (to use timeline navigation shortcuts such as J, K, L, I and O without entering them into the caption editor, also hold down the Control key – Control-J, Control-K etc.):
Captions are automatically checked, errors are flagged in the timeline index (you can choose to only show errors)…
or in the timeline. In this example, captions overlap, which most caption formats do not allow:
This problem can be fixed with the Edit > Captions > Resolve Overlaps command.
For more on fixing problems with captions that would mean they would not be valid when played back, there is an Apple support document on Final Cut Pro X Caption Validation.
Once you have timed the captions for one language, to start work on another language, you can duplicate them as a new language. Select the captions you want to work with, then choose the Edit > Captions > Duplicate Captions to New Language command.
Each caption format has various formatting options. If you are happy with the style of a caption, you can use the Caption Inspector to Save Style as Default and move to another caption to Apply Default Style.
CEA-608 captions can have more than one field on screen at once. You can use the Inspector to add and format up to three extra fields per caption:
If you have a long caption you can split in into individual captions using the Edit > Captions > Split Captions command (Control-Option-Command-C)
Conversely, you can combine consecutive captions into one longer caption using the Edit > Captions > Join Captions command.
By default, captions are connected to the primary storyline. To connect a caption to a connected clip that overlaps the caption in the timeline:
Captions are not supported when sharing to Facebook. If you have captions in your project, they will not appear when you share the project to Facebook.
If you want to export just the captions from a timeline, use the File > Export Captions command.
To make preparing productions for distribution or for collaboration easer, Final Cut Pro 10.4.1 has a new Roles tab in the Share dialog box:
To make preparing to export easier, Final Cut will respect which roles and subroles are on or off in the timeline when sharing.
In the Roles tab you can
When you share a Master File as Separate Files, in the Roles tab you can
It looks like you can’t yet add a video and audio file and then choose which video and audio roles you want it to include. These separate files are either video or audio.
The next version of Compressor has gained some features too:
For those who need to add captions to finished videos, instead of using a full NLE, they can use Apple’s video distribution preparation application.
Built-in settings and destinations support captions: “Apple Devices (in both the H.264 and HEVC codecs), ProRes, Publish to YouTube, Create DVD, and other settings that use the QuickTime Movie, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4 formats.” Note that captions are not supported when sharing to Facebook.
Standard Compressor jobs can only import a single .scc (CEA-608) or .itt (iTunes Timed Text) file. If an imported video file already contains embedded CEA-608 closed captions, Compressor adds the caption data to the job.
You can edit each caption’s text, appearance, position, animation style and timing. You can also add new captions at the time of your choice.
If you have multiple captions selected in the captions palette, you can adjust their start or end times by frames, seconds or minutes at the same time.
YouTube and Vimeo support CEA-608 captions that Compressor encodes into videos. If you use iTT subtitles, Compressor will generate a separate .itt file and will automatically upload it if you use the YouTube or Vimeo presets.
Compressor has been able to add metadata from QuickTime movie files to jobs. Version 4.4.1 can add metadata stored in XML property list files in the following metadata categories:
Using a standard set of property lists when exporting batches means that other tools that can read this metadata can make decisions based on property values (such as specific keywords).
Although Apple don’t often let themselves be guided by external trade events, this is a rare update that seems to be prompted by NAB happening in Las Vegas next weekend. I’m not sure how many naysayers will be swayed by the inclusion of closed captions. ProRes RAW however shows that Apple is serious about trying to attract more high-end workflows to the Mac, and Final Cut Pro X specifically: “Don’t worry about good cameras with bad codecs, we have the acquisition format you need for HDR workflows. Available now in Apple pro video applications only.”Read more
Since May 2017, Apple has been running its ‘Everyone Can Code’ educational programme. It provides video-based and interactive book-based coursework teachers and trainers to help people learn how to make applications in Apple’s Swift programming language. Schools and universities operate Apple-supported courses in app development.
Although it is great that more people can learn software development this way, I think that the ability to know how to tell stories is a skill that a wider range of people need in their day-to-day lives.
People need to tell stories more often than they need to solve problems with app development.
At an education event in Chicago today, Apple announced that a new programme is coming: ‘Everyone Can Create.’ It does for music, film, photography and drawing what Everyone Can Code did for programming. The difference is that they are showing how using tools to create music, videos and pictures can be useful to learn a variety of subjects.
The moviemaking examples for students use Clips for iOS running on an iPad:
Moviemakers don’t just shoot video clips, they put them together in a way that tells a story, documents and event, persuades, or even instructs. While photographers capture a single moment or emotion is a photo, moviemakers combine multiple images, both videos and photos, to tell a complete story.
In this activity, you’ll learn some basic techniques using the Clips app to build a visual story and start thinking like a moviemaker.
The preview of the lesson guide for teachers includes how to prepare to make an interview video:
Students choose an interview topic, compose an interview script, then record an interview with a peer, family member, or other guest expert. Have students follow these guiding steps:
- Identify your interview topic and build a short list of things you know and don’t know about it.
- Find a friend, family member, or community member who has experience with the topic and is willing to be interviewed.
- Compose a script that includes a brief introduction and at least three insightful questions you’ll ask during the interview.
- Choose a quiet and well-lit location to record your interview.
- Record an introduction to yourself, your interviewee, and the main topic.
- Switch to the rear camera to record your interviewee’s responses. Trim clips to keep the interview concise.
- Add posters to introduce or highlight big ideas. Text on posters is most effective when it’s short and sweet.
- Arrange clips so the finished video resembles a conversation between you and your interviewee.
- Share your video with friends, family, and community members.
I’m glad Apple is spending more time supporting video literacy. Those who learn to educate themselves by telling stories through film will soon learn how to tell other stories through film – both to entertain and to change their worlds.Read more
The reason why some editors don’t like Final Cut Pro X is because other film makers such as directors can pick it up so quickly. Here is a (Google-translated) quote from an article on finalcutpro.es about the editing of award-winning Spanish feature film ‘Handia’:
I think there is a fear on the part of some editors to be dispossessed of their tool. A Moviola, an Avid or even Premiere requires prior knowledge. With FCPX, everything is facilitated, I would say, simplified and the editor can think “If the director can do what I do, what do I do?”. To this I usually reply that our value as assemblers is not in the machine. It is true that we assume the proper development of the entire process between filming and post-production, but we are also the first spectators of the film, we are not contaminated by scriptwriting, filming, we can contribute a lot. The tool is not so important.
They think they are the people who know how to make the NLE put the film together. If collaborators can get results as quickly, what do editors bring to the project? They need to remember that editors are better at putting the film together – even if others can use the NLE as quickly.
Post tool users used to have ‘moats’ to protect themselves against too much competition: hardware cost, software cost and software difficulty. As long as these three things remained high, a less-talented editor had less to fear from competition. Now that these moats are going away, it financial background will be less of a differentiator – personal skills will make the difference.Read more
Facebook’s Oculus division have defined a new unit of time says BBC News:
The flick has been designed to help developers keep video effects in sync, according to a description on the code-sharing site GitHub.
A flick, derived from “frame-tick”, is 1/705,600,000 of a second – the next unit of time after a nanosecond.
A researcher at Oxford University said the flick wouldn’t have much general impact but may help create better virtual reality experiences.
Although most people are now aiming making VR hardware that refreshes its display 90 times a second, video is available at many different frame rates. It is hard to make sure all the frame updates happen at the same time and at the right time. The small monitors inside a head-mounted display must update more often than the frame rate of the source video in order for the video to follow the speed of normal head movement. The flat frames of video being sent to the viewer’s eyes are excerpts from a larger sphere of video.
If you have spherical footage that is designed to update every 59.94th of a second on a VR headset that is being refreshed 90 times a second, the mathematics gets complicated, and errors can creep into the tens of thousands of calculations that must be done during a VR experience. This is partially because true frame rates cannot be completely captured using multiple decimal place values. The frame rate for US TV is described as 29.97 frames per second for example. The true definition of this frame rate is a division calculation: 30÷100.1×100 = 29.970029970029970029970029970029970029970029970029 and on into uncountable infinity.
The flick trick is tom come up with a small enough unit of time that goes into all common video frame rates and refresh rates without any decimal places left over. This makes the calculations much simpler. Adding and subtracting is faster than dividing. It is also more accurate – as the duration of each video frame or VR refresh update can defined as a whole number of flicks.
Here is a table of how many flicks correspond to popular video frame rates. Final Cut Pro can edit audio clips and keyframes at ‘subframe’ resolution which is 1/80th of the project frame rate.
|US Film for TV||
|VR headset refresh||
PS: The highest commonly used ‘frame rate’ is that used in high-end audio: 192KHz which defines samples of audio at 192,000 fps – which is 3,675 flicks per sample.Read more
Today’s Final Cut Pro X update adds features for both high-end professionals, those new to editing and everyone in between.
Apple has also updated Motion, their real-time motion graphics application, to version 5.3. Compressor, their video encoding and packaging application, has been updated to version 4.4.
All updates are free for existing users, and prices for new users remain the same from the Mac App Store: $299.99 for Final Cut Pro and $49.99 for both Motion and Compressor. Apple have yet to introduce subscription pricing on their professional video applications. Those who bought them from the Mac App Store in 2011 have not had to pay for any updates over the last six years.
The hardware requirements to run Apple’s professional video application remain the same, but a few features depend on them running on macOS 10.13 High Sierra: HEVC and HEIF support and attaching a VR headset. If you don’t yet need these features, Final Cut Pro, Motion and Compressor will run on macOS 10.12.4 or later.
After I cover the new 360° spherical video features, I’ll give a rundown of the rest of the 10.4 update.
There is a large range of audiences for 360° spherical video:
The rest of this section is a much shorter version of my Final Cut Pro & 360° spherical video: All you need to know page.
Final Cut Pro 10.4 can handle spherical video with ease. It recognises footage captured by 360° cameras and spherical rigs. You can create spherical video timelines to edit 360° footage. There’s a 360° Viewer in the Final Cut interface that can be shown next to the normal view that lets you get a feel of what your audience will see when they explore the sphere of video.
To look around inside the video sphere, drag in the 360° Viewer.
On faster Macs running macOS High Sierra you can install the Steam VR software and attach an HTC Vive VR headset to use it to watch the video play straight from the Final Cut Pro 10.4 and Motion 5.4 timelines. Apple’s technical support document on the subject: Use a VR headset with Final Cut Pro X and Motion.
It has been possible to work with 360° spherical video in video applications before. As they are designed to work with video in rectangles – rectilinear video – it was necessary to ‘fool’ them into working with the spheres of video that are at the core of 360° editing. This was done with specialised 360° plugins, which were applied as effects and transitions to footage in rectilinear video timelines. Although the user knew that the rectilinear footage represented spheres of video, the editing and motion graphics applications had no idea.
Apple have made spherical video a true peer of rectilinear video in Final Cut Pro 10.4 and Motion 5.4. If applications understand the nature of spherical video, existing features can be improved to do the right thing for 360° production, and new features can be added that benefit both rectilinear and spherical production.
Media that represents spheres of video has ‘reorientation’ properties. This is useful when you want to choose which part of the sphere is is visible if the viewer is looking straight forward. When people start watching, playback starts with then facing forward. After initially looking around when the story starts, even though viewers can look anywhere in the sphere, most will spend the majority of the time looking forward, turning maybe 60° to the left or the right depending on video and audio cues.
In 10.4 you can show a Horizon overlay which marks what is straight ahead, with tick marks to show what is 90° to the left and 90° to the right (the left and right edges of the rectangular viewer define what is seen if the viewer turns 180° from the front.
There is a new Reorient transform tool for changing spherical video orientation by dragging in the viewer.
The 360° Viewer shows what is straight ahead when viewed online or in a spherical video device. Here the Reorient tool is being used to make the London bus appear straight ahead (X:0°, Y:0°, Z:0°):
This means that if the viewer is looking ahead when this shot starts, they’ll see the London bus.
Final Cut Pro 10.4 doesn’t yet convert footage from 360° cameras and rigs into spherical videos. Apple expects that editors will use the specialised software that comes with cameras to do this work – which is known as ‘stitching.’ If footage needs more advanced work done on it (such as motion tracking to steady a shaky shot and removing objects from spherical scenes), that will need to be done in applications such as Mocha VR.
Final Cut recognises spherical media and knows how it should work in a spherical timeline. It also recognises flat media, and knows what to do with it in a spherical timeline. In traditional rectilinear projects, each piece of media has X and Y position properties. This allows editors to position footage and pictures in the frame.
When flat (non-360°) media is added to a 360° spherical video project, instead of having X position, Y position and Scale properties in the ‘Transform’ panel of the clip inspector, there is an additional panel in the clip inspector: 360° Transform. This panel has properties that allow editors to position the flat media anywhere inside the video sphere. This can be defined in Spherical coordinates – two angles plus distance, or Cartesian coordinates – X, Y and Z co-ordinates (where the centre of the sphere is [0,0,0]).
Auto Orient makes sure the flat media always faces the viewer. X, Y, and Z Rotation is applied to the media after is positioned using Spherical or Cartesian co-ordinates
Final Cut Pro 10.4 comes with 10 360°-specific plugins. Nine of them are used to apply a graphic effect to a whole sphere of video. Here they are in the effects browser:
There is another plugin that can be used to hide parts of the sphere of video, which is useful when you need to hide the equipment (or person) that is holding the 360° camera.
In this case of this shot, I am visible to those who look straight down, because I held the camera on the end of a pole above my head. The 360°
The result is that the whole sphere looks like this:
10.4 includes a set of titles designed for 360° – they display and animate 3D text on and off:
10.4 comes with two 360° generators:
The Final Cut Pro 10.4 update is probably only first part of Apple’s 360° spherical video plan. The way they have started is designed to accommodate many future updates. I expect that the video applications team still have a long to do list:
A tough list, but Apple are best positioned of anyone to be able to deliver these features to all Final Cut Pro users. The Apple video applications team can also bring 360° spherical video to millions of people through their other applications working on Apple hardware of all kinds: iMovie for macOS, iMovie for iOS, Clips for iOS and Memories for Photos.
Here is a summary of the other features in the Final Cut Pro 10.4 update – with links to the new help system on these topics:
Choose which part of the footage to base a white balance on. A new option in the Color Balance effect (Option-Command-B). Apple help topic on manual white balance.
New grading tools such as colour wheels, colour curves plus hue and saturation curves. Color Correction Overview.
New built-in camera LUTs (including support for the December 2017 RED Workflow update and software from Canon) and support for loading more camera LUTs. You can also control where in the pipeline LUTs are applied using the new Custom LUT effect. See Color Lookup Tables.
TIP: Important note pointed out by Gabriel Spaulding: Libraries do not carry LUTs that are applied using the new LUT features, so if are sharing with other editors and you use these new features, make sure you manage the LUTs to prevent seeing this message:
All colour corrections can now be animated using keyframes.
High-dynamic-range video allows the range of brightness levels in footage, projects and exports to be much larger. This means much more detail in brighter parts of the image. Wide Color Gamut and HDR Overview and Configure library and project settings for wide gamut HDR.
There is a new button in the library inspector.
Once clicked you can set your library to be able to support media and projects with wide gamut HDR.
As well as being able to HDR properties for footage, projects and libraries, there is a new HDR Tools effect to support standards conversion. 10.4 can also generate HDR master files.
For a detailed article by someone much more expert than me on the subject of the new colour tools and HDR, read Marc Bach’s blog post.
Any projects started on iMovie for iOS on an iPhone or iPad can be sent directly to Final Cut Pro 10.4 for finishing. Very useful for the many professional journalists who prepare reports on their mobile devices. See Import from iMovie for iOS.
If 10.4 is running on macOS 10.13 High Sierra:
Final Cut Pro 10.4 libraries can be stored on connected NFS devices as if they were on local drives.
Optical flow generation of new frames is now much faster as it has been rewritten to use Metal.
The UIs have been redesigned and also been made resizable (using a 50%/75%/100% pop-up menu).
The Final Cut Pro X Logic Effects Reference site has been updated to provide help on the redesigned audio plugins.
As this is a major update to Final Cut, the Library format has been updated to work with the new features. Apple advises that before you install the update from the Mac App Store, you should backup your current version of Final Cut and existing libraries.
Before you update, check to see if you need to update your version of macOS. Final Cut will no longer run on macOS 10.11, but will still run on macOS 10.12.4. Apple’s detailed Final Cut Pro technical requirements.
New in Preferences: In the Editing panel, you can choose which is the default colour correction that is applied when you click the Color Inspector icon in the inspector, or press Command-6.
In the Playback panel, you can Show HDR as raw values and If frames are dropped one the VR headset, warn after playback
TIP: Control-click a clip in the browser to create a new project based on its dimensions and frame rate.
TIP: It is useful to be able to line up elements of waveforms when colour grading. To add a horizontal guide, click once anywhere in the waveform monitor.
Commands with unassigned keyboard shortcuts:
For new keyboard commands associated with 360° spherical video, visit my Final Cut Pro & 360° spherical video: All you need to know page.
Apple ‘went back to 1.0’ with Final Cut Pro X in 2011. They didn’t push Final Cut Pro 7’s 1990s software core to breaking point to accommodate new digital workflows. They imaged what kind of editing application they would make if they weren’t limited by the ideas of the past. One result was that Final Cut Pro 10.0 was based around GPU rendering and multiple-core CPU processing. The kind of processing that 360° spherical video production needs.
Getting established postproduction tools to do 360° via plugins is they way people without access to the core of applications had to do it. It is a stopgap that application users will eventually want leave behind. Apple didn’t add 360° via plugins to Final Cut in a ‘do it the legacy way.’ They jumped to ‘Version 1.0’ of 360° spherical video. They answered this question: “As you have control over Final Cut Pro, how should you design 360° into its core?”
Following the Final Cut Pro 10.4 update, the Apple Video Applications team are now well placed to develop more of their products and services to support many more people who want to tell stories through 360° spherical video. For years now Final Cut Pro has been powerful enough to work on the biggest shows, yet friendly enough for the millions of people who know iMovie to make a small step towards professional production. With 10.4, that applies to 360° spherical video too. I’m looking forward to experience the stories they tell.Read more
Vincent Laforet is another influencer who has has access to an iMac Pro for the last week. His blog post includes speed tests for Final Cut Pro X, DaVinci Resolve, Adobe Lightroom, RED Cine-X and Adobe Premiere. He also test to see how fast the new iMac Pro was at stitching the multiple sensor media recorded using an Insta360 Pro to a 6K stereo sphere. He compared it with his 2016 5K iMac and his recent 2017 MacBook Pro:
I processed 6K Stereo (3D) VR Insta360 PRO footage through their Insta360 Stitcher software, a 56 second clip, here were the export / processing times:
iMacPRO – 5 minutes 55 seconds
iMac – 11 minutes 09 seconds
MacBookPro 15” – 32 minutes
Read more about the computer and other results on his blog.Read more