I think most all of us who watch and use Final Cut Pro were taken by surprise today when Apple dropped Final Cut Pro 7 as part of the new Final Cut Studio 3 Final Cut Studio (2009) Final Cut Studio. Evidently there was a lot of people who knew of its existence as it took no time for reviews and tutorial movies to pop up online. It’ll be difficult at this point to wade through all of gushing Apple / FCP fanboy slobbering that has filled the tweets and blogs of the release day and see what real changes Final Cut Pro 7 has that makes a difference when you are living in the application for a full work day, day after day so I placed my order with overnight shipping (hoping for a weekend install) and just received a shipment notification as I was writing this. I’m about to start cutting a personal video on my Mac Pro at home so that’ll be a nice test! But we can look at the announced features.

There’s quite a number of Avid catch-up features that, to be honest, should have been included a long time ago. Color-coded markers that can be exported should have been in version 1.0. A floating timecode window, an offline resolution HD codec, called ProRes (Proxy), comprehensive matchframe and reveal options, global transitions and speed change ramps are all things Avid has had for quite a while … from damn near the beginning in some cases. The Automatic Transfer feature looks very close to part of Avid’s recently introduced Avid Media Access.

But there are some cool things that I am very excited about. The addition of ProRes 4444, while horribly named, will be a great addition to the FCP only edit house who is doing the highest quality mastering work. iChat theater is a great idea in concept but I’ll reserve judgement until I see how well and how smoothly it actually works. It takes Adobe’s Clip Notes a step further and trumps Avid in the review/approval department by a mile. The new “easy export” functions available under the new Share menu seem both a bit amateur (You Tube built-in? Really … from a Pro App?) quite handy (MobileMe and/or AppleTV for quick client approvals or watching a cut in the lounge) and convenient (all Compressor presets are right there). The Share menu item is also glaringly missing the option to upload right to FTP! Hello Apple, client edits ending up on FTP is a very, very common way to share cuts! And then there’s the Share to Blu-ray. Hmmmm … I don’t really know what to make of this being added here in FCP. While it is great to have and an often requested feature it just seems odd that it wouldn’t have been integrated into DVD Studio Pro, even in the simplistic templates that are available in FCP. But since DVD Studio Pro is the only app that didn’t get an update I think we can take this as a sign that DVDs (at least to Apple) really are dead and DVD Studio Pro will no longer be updated. If it can’t do it now it ain’t ever gonna be able to do it. Here’s your chance Adobe Encore.

And finally there are the intriguing things … some of the “under the hood” stuff that I am really curious about:

Improved render management and improved media management are two gaping FCP holes that power editors have been struggling with for a long time. Digging in the heels of FCP 7 will tell how this has been improved.

Background exporting can be added to the background “things” list with the Smoothcam analysis. Can background rendering be far behind?

And then there’s the page that talks about FCP 7’s Broad Format Support and more specifically this:

camera-native editing

Did they say the same thing way back when FCP 6 arrived? I can’t remember. To me that reads that you can drop mxf files and other non – .mov files right into FCP and into to an FCP timeline. That is exactly what we talked about recently in this post. That would be a huge shift and one of the biggest pieces of news in FCP 7. But then I watch the Using Automatic Transfer video and it looks like that FCP is still copying media from its camera originated place to a media drive so I don’t know. If you still have to use the Log and Transfer tool to copy and rewrap “camera-native” formants then they aren’t really “camera-native” anymore and you certainly can’t “start editing right away.” If you’re one of the luck few who have tried this please comment below and let us know. Can FCP 7 edit non – .movs in the timeline?

All in all it looks like Final Cut Pro 7 does have some nice new features as well as (finally) some much needed and long overdue features. It really looks a lot more like Final Cut Pro 6.5. I can’t believe it took 2 + years to get this update though. I really can’t. That said I can’t wait to get to work with it.