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ATPM 9.05
May 2003




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by Lee Bennett,

National Association of Broadcasters Convention 2003

Can You Say “Newbie?”

Let’s be totally truthful. What you’ve got here is a first-time NAB attendee who has only started doing digital video (DV) work in the past two years or so and is just finally beginning to learn to use Apple’s Final Cut Pro instead of Adobe Premiere. But since it seems I’m the only ATPM staff member who went, I was nominated to come back with the scoop! Luckily, I had an NAB veteran with me. My good friend and former college roommate, Andy McConnell, took me under his wing and helped me to have a really good time. Andy has attended eight of the last nine NAB conventions.

I could easily go on about what it felt like to be one of about 90,000 people wandering around the two-million-square-foot Las Vegas Convention Center that housed some 1,200 exhibitors. However, since this publication is about the Macintosh experience, I’ll stay focused.


The spectators around Apple’s pavilion at NAB were never sparse.

Apple’s Video Editing Powerhouse

Probably the biggest announcement pertaining to Macintosh users was the announcement of Final Cut Pro 4 to be released between June and August. I think the only complaint I have is self-imposed. I’ll be editing several short videos to be shown at an annual week-long convocation that always begins on Memorial Day weekend, and it just seems too bad I won’t quite be able to use the new version for this round of videos.


Apple announced Final Cut Pro 4 on Sunday, April 6. These banners were hung outside the South Hall shortly afterward.

The new Final Cut Pro 4 features were met with enthusiastic applause at each moment and venue I heard them. The new features total more than 300—the most significant being RT Extreme, support for 8- and 10-bit uncompressed video, 32-bit processing, and enhanced interface customization.

Bundles of Joy

Final Cut Pro 4 will also come bundled with three brand-new applications. LiveType provides powerful animation tools to your titling, including templates to make letters appear to digitally draw themselves on the screen. Compressor incorporates media encoding directly within Final Cut Pro. The first time I heard Compressor being mentioned, I overheard someone in the crowd say, “Bye bye, Cleaner!” Last, but absolutely not least, is Soundtrack, an integrated application providing access to thousands of royalty-free music samples and 30 professional effects. All the sounds loop and automatically match each other in adjustable pitch and tempo, allowing you to “compose” an infinite number of musical arrangements for your videos. If this sounds familiar to composing with Sonic Foundry’s Acid on the PC, it may be no wonder. While I have not been able to find a solid source for this fact, my understanding is that one of the people Apple recruited to develop Soundtrack also helped write Acid.

…And That’s Not All…

In addition to these new applications, Cinema Tools—previously available separately—will also be bundled with Final Cut Pro 4. The utility, which originally sold for nearly $1,000, has been updated to support ink numbers and change lists for both 35mm and 16mm film.

Final Cut Pro 4’s price for a new purchase will remain unchanged at $999. Upgrades are $399.


Yours truly sat in on a 30-minute introduction to Final Cut Pro 4. Apple set up a mini classroom within their pavilion and conducted these introductions—as well as several in-depth topic-specific tutorials—all day long throughout the convention. 20-30 workstations were set up, complete with Bose QuietComfort(R) Acoustic Noise Cancelling(R) headsets. Getting to try out these headphones for a half hour clinched my decision to buy a set the next day!

It’s Not Over ’til Apple Says It’s Over

Apple also announced Shake 3 and DVD Studio Pro 2 at NAB. Shake is a digital compositing and visual effects package for use with HD and film projects and uses Shake Qmaster network render management software. DVD Studio Pro 2 brings an updated interface, time line track editing, and professional templates, styles, buttons, and backgrounds.


Your new production team is here.

Can You Say “Growing Market Share?”

Andy informed me that, for a while, Apple’s presence at NAB seemed to be dwindling. That is absolutely not the case any longer. Practically every time I turned to a new exhibitor, I saw Apple equipment driving what they had to show. Numerous exhibitors had even gotten their hands on the new 17" PowerBook.

I spent a little too much energy just taking everything in and not getting as many photographs as I should have. Not to worry, though. Apple reps took care of that job for me. Apple’s Web site has a full section devoted to NAB 2003, complete with photo galleries.

Award-winning Wonders

One additional bit of major news for Apple is that Final Cut Pro 4 won two best of show awards. MacCentral reports that FCP was the recipient of a Vidy Award and a Government Video Salute, presented by United Entertainment Media.

Final Thought

I’m going to wrap up with props to Crywolf and whoever came up with the slogan for their CoolMac Silencer. The slogan, “Hear Yourself Think Different,” is something we can all take to heart. Granted, it’s for a product that I’ll probably never directly use any time soon, but the words left a considerable impression—especially when you consider the numerous complaints at how loud the Mirrored Drive Door G4s are. This company makes some great-looking equipment silencing and cooling cases. Some marketing brain was on the ball with this slogan.

But beyond this product, think about the slogan. How much psychological clutter is present in your life that prevents you from being able to, well, think different?

Anyway, I hope to see you at NAB 2004!

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Reader Comments (1)

Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · May 3, 2003 - 13:10 EST #1
I decided not to include this as part of the report, but I'll say here that just a couple more NAB photos are in my photo album. This album, however, is mostly full of my "tourist" photos of the surrounding Las Vegas region—hotels and the Star Trek: Experience. Also, my nighttime hotel photos will be in the December 2003 issue as a desktop wallpaper series.

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