Saturday, April 16, 2011

NAB 2011: SuperMeet and the Final Cut Pro X announcement

I was one of the lucky people to attend the 2011 Final Cut Pro User Group SuperMeet event on the Tuesday of the NAB Show.  We were expecting to hear Kevin Smith and a handful of other video production professionals speak, but a week before the event, it was announced that a "special guest" had bumped all the speakers with a "special announcement."  It was obvious that it would be Apple making an announcement about the new Final Cut Pro X.  The event sold out, they had to add more seats, and all of a sudden this was the hottest ticket to have at NAB.

As we were entering the Bally's Event Center, there were even people in the hallway asking if anyone had extra tickets to sell.  You would think it was a Justin Beiber concert.  After getting our lanyards and badges, we milled around the SuperMeet exhibit floor for about an hour.  Quite a few vendors had booths set up and it was easier to speak to them here rather on the noisy, crowded NAB exhibit floor.  We bought $10 of extra raffle tickets, hopped on line (it was more a large mob of people) and waited for the theater to open.

Right around 7pm the lights dimmed, the Apple logo appeared on the projection screen, and all of us video nerds cheered.

Apple's Peter Steinauer and Randy Ubillos walked us through a Keynote presentation listing all the new features, and a decent demo of the software.  It was all just a preview the left many unanswered questions, but it really looks like an exciting piece of software.  For those that are calling it iMovie Pro, I disagree.  Wait until you use it, rather than judge it on appearance alone.  I won't list all of the new features, since others like Gary Adcock have already done a good job of reporting that news.  Some of the obvious improvements are the new 64-bit architecture, improved AVCHD and DSLR footage support, improved media organization, and time saving color correction and audio cleanup features.  The new interface looks very nice, and will take a little time to get used to.  Video and audio tracks are handled differently in this new version.  I'm sure after getting acclimated, these improvements will really speed up the editing process.

Many subjects were not addressed in the Keynote presentation or the demo:  what changes are being made to other Final Cut Studio programs, how will the new track system affect exports to other programs, will old FCP plug-ins still work, etc.  The Apple portion of the event wrapped with the announcement of a June delivery date, and $299 price tag.  Makes Adobe's $400 upgrade price for Production Premium CS5.5 seem a bit excessive, considering it's not even a "full" upgrade.  I love CS5, but I'll save my money for FCP X.

After Apple's presentation and demo, FCP User Group LA and Boston leaders Michael Horton and Daniel Bérubé introduced many of the leaders of the FCP User Groups in the US and around the world.  Many more chapters than I knew about.  It's always inspiring to be around so many enthusiastic media professionals, especially from all over the globe.

The evening ended with SuperMeet's world famous raffle, but unfortunately my coworker and I left empty handed.  Michael, Daniel, Abba Shapiro and Jeff Greenberg hosted and thousands of dollars in prizes were handed out.  We were really hoping for the hour sit down with PPW instructors Abba Shapiro and Jeff Greenberg, but no luck.  One lucky woman left that night with a $30,000 DiVinci Resolve control surface.

All that being said, the evening was a blast.  I'm looking forward to the Boston SuperMeet in October and I can't wait to get my hands on the new Final Cut Pro X.

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