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The downside to editing HDV native is conform times. They are incredibly long even on Apples latest Dual 2.75GHz with 4GB of RAM. I ran tests on several different systems using a cuts-only 1 minute 45 second sequence with dissolves at the beginning/end and one three way color corrector applied to one clip. There were 15 clips ranging from 5 to 10 seconds each. On the Dual 2.75GHz system, it took 6 minutes and 20 seconds to conform everything including the color bars and tone, slate, and countdown. On a Dual 2GHz system with 2GB of RAM that same sequence took 8 minutes 30 seconds. The times werent that bad considering it is hi-def, but if you had an hour-long program, you might expect to have your system run overnight.
Apple also includes the Apple Intermediate Codec for those users who are migrating their HDV footage from iMovie or Final Cut Express HD. It should be pointed that the Apple Intermediate Codec should not be used if you are working on a new HDV project. The codec creates files that are much larger in size, and increases conform times dramatically. The same sequence mentioned above took nearly 12 minutes to conform on the Dual 2.75GHz system and over 15 minutes to conform on the Dual 2GHz system. The AIC codec is also not as robust as editing native HDV, and users making the transition should notice the difference.
The slow conform times aside, editing HDV native is nearly identical to editing DV footage. Real Time effects, scaling, motions, etc. all work exceptionally well. If, for whatever reason, your system begins to bog down with multiple video tracks, effects, etc. The Dynamic Real Time playback kicks in. With this mode enabled, the quality of the video in the Canvas Window will degrade to ensure video and audio remain synced. Of course, Dynamic Real Time playback is for playback purposes only, and is a representation of the final rendered output. This is something you will need to explain to your clients sitting in your edit bay during a session who might want to know why the footage degrades when it hits a point in the Timeline.
Finally, Final Cut Pro has the ability to control the audio mix directly from a Mackie or Logic control system. This means you now have the ability to connect an outboard audio mixer like the Mackie Control Universal, and mix/master your audio they way most of us are accustomed to - from a tactile device. Once youve had a taste of using one of these devices with Final Cut Pro, youll wonder why it took this long for it to be implemented.
Final Cut Pro 5 also allows you to capture up to 24 channels simultaneously from a professional audio or video device. You could theoretically have a small band performing live and record the soundtrack directly to your Timeline.
With all of these new features, Final Cut Pro further proves why it is one of the top non-linear editing applications. Final Cut Pro 5 is so versatile it can be used by anyone, and on any content from event videos to major motion pictures. I give a Must Buy Recommendation.
Final Cut Pro 5 can be purchased as a stand alone application for $999 or upgraded from an earlier version of Final Cut Pro for $399. Users can upgrade to Final Cut Pro Studio which includes Soundtrack Pro, DVD Studio Pro 4, and Motion 2 for $699. For more information please visit www.apple.com/finalcutpro.
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