2007 has been a rather interesting year for Apple. With virtually no Mac products announced, the only new product shipping is now the Apple TV. Traditionally, hardware is not announced during the NAB conference. Last year, of course, Apple did bring out the 17″ MacBook Pro. But with the almost erie silence with Mac product it is definitely a possibility.
NAB is not a consumer show, nor is it really a proper venue to bring out such consumer products. However, a new Mac Pro is due, and Apple may need to get some new Macs out before the end of the quarter. In my opinion we will not see anything all that new, if we see anything at all. Now as far as software goes, that is another story.
Apple has had two years to really improve Final Cut Pro. It is almost a given that we will see FCP 6.0. It is hard to say what the new feature set will be, but if I had to guess we will definitely see a few things such as:
- Support for more HD formats
- Support for beyond HD formats (digital cinema cameras and so on)
- Additional RT support
- Multiple codec playback, same timeline, in realtime
- Improved asset management
- High end color grading tools
Many have speculated about the release of Final Cut Extreme, however, Apple is more successful to push these capabilities in the regular suite. They will require more horsepower, which means more Mac sales. Lets not forget that is where Apple makes their money. I am also going to guess that new software may require Leopard, which could complicate things more.
As far as the rest of the Final Cut Studio is concerned, we will likely see regular updates. Soundtrack is likely to have a handful of new features, and probably surround sound support. DVD Studio Pro will support both Blu-Ray and possibly HD DVD. I pray that compressor has been improved greatly. And it would be my guess that Motion has some new features, a few eye-catching ones, and some performance updates.
Shake/Phenomenon, this one is tricky. I don’t know if Apple will have anything to show, however, since they did mention it to begin with we might get a quick sneak peak. I think that Apple will focus mostly on the new FCP Studio though.
Xsan and beyond. Apple has the opportunity to do a few things. Avid, has watched FCP grow over the years, but has continued to grow in the high end market. While FCP is quickly closing in, Avid offers some solution that make FCP slightly impractical. And if your studio, or station has the money to spend, when not get the Avid, rather than trying to configure FCP with third party software. Apple acquired an asset management company last year, which could be added to FCP or a new Xsan type environment.
So I guess we will see what happens April 15th. Lets just hope that Apple does surprise us, and we get some really really cool new toys.