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Final Cut Pro for PC?

Apple could be developing the Microsoft Office of content creation By Charlie White

In the past, your humble narrator was accused of having an anti-Mac bias. Now, some are saying just the opposite -- that perhaps a pro-Mac bias is afoot. There are good reasons why the tide seems to have turned here at the Midwest Test Facility, but we actually have no bias here for or against any operating system or content creation platform. The only bias here is toward getting the job done efficiently, at a reasonable price. Let's take a look at the tide table of TV tools, and extrapolate what this could mean for the digital video editing world.

The convention center was finally at the end of another frenzied day, its interior lights dimmed to about a third of their original brightness. Waiting for an after-hours meeting with an Apple employee, a DMN reporter, feet aching from another action-packed, pavement-pounding day at NAB, loitered in a dark corner of the now roped-off Apple booth, when suddenly, a phalanx of bodyguard-like gentlemen in business suits fanned out, sweeping the area, looking for something, anything that might interfere with their well-heeled boss. Then, surrounded by even more handlers, in he came, a middle-aged, bespectacled and disheveled man of average height, touring the Apple booth, taking in all the new applications and products freshly introduced by the Cupertino Fruit Company. Who is that guy? He looks like? no, wait. It couldn't be. Is it Bill Gates?

Although it might have read like fiction, the previous paragraph actually happened. We're still not positive if it was Bill Gates or not, but it got us to talking and thinking about what could happen in our industry if the stars lined up just right and current trends continued unabated. What if Gates and Jobs combined resources, and decided to take over the content creation world with their nearly-unlimited power and prestige? Come to think of it, we've heard rumors of Apple execs dumping their stock, because iTunes sales were not as high as they had hoped. The much-vaunted Pepsi campaign didn't give away as many songs as Apple expected.  Could Apple be in financial trouble?  Could Gates be sniffing around there, perhaps summoned to bail Apple out again? All worthy speculative questions. Better yet, could there be a Final Cut Pro for Windows waiting in the wings? If so, would sales of that excellent editing application double in market share overnight because of its availability on the Windows platform? It looks to me like Microsoft would sure like to have another killer editing application in the Windows camp, a better place to showcase and flex the muscle of its Windows Media 9 format, one that I think we'll be hearing a lot more about in the coming months. And, Apple would certainly like to have access to the mother lode of the content creation market, that which calls Windows home, representing well over half of the universe of people who buy and use content creation software.

Or could Gates have been on a reconnaissance mission, perhaps worried that Jobs wants to expand the Mac OS to the PC platform? Mac OS X on the PC (it looks funny to even write that) would be a huge danger to Microsoft. Not only would the excellent OS X be available on the still-fastest and highest-bandwidth low-cost computers, the economies of scale would make the Mac much more affordable with PC hardware. But then, what would happen to the budding G5? Well, that is a formidable platform now, but who knows if IBM will pull a Motorola, brimming over with enthusiasm for the Mac now but waning when it realizes that a barely 4% market share does not a bonanza make? For the record, it seems unlikely that Gates, the world's richest man, would have even needed to go into the Las Vegas Convention Center on such a mission, given that he could just buy one of each of the products he wanted to see and have them personally demonstrated to him at a private location of his choosing, but then the most interesting applications hadn't been released yet, so maybe that would have been the only way for him to see them.

Anyway, for my money, I'd like to see OS X widely available on any and all platforms, because I think Apple's products are striking a chord with the content creation market that hasn't quite been struck like this before. That's probably why some readers think we're kow-towing to Apple here on Digital Media Net. But then, when a company like Apple does great things, releases best-of-breed products and provides tools that do their jobs (no pun intended) efficiently for a good price, we would be irresponsible journalists not to notice. So let all companies know, we'll pour on the praise when they have some great products, but we'll poo poo when the products, stink, too. After all, that's why people come here to read our reviews, features, tutorials and commentary.

That said, regardless of the hardware on which it's running, it appears obvious that Apple has hit its stride with software development. It looks to me like Apple is on a roll. The company started its run of good luck, as far as digital video editors are concerned, with the acquisition of Final Cut Pro (nee Final Cut) from Macromedia, where the program, originally developed for PC and at one time earmarked to be the front-end editing software for Media 100 on the PC, seemed to be languishing for years and not ever really getting completed. Nonlinear editing software guru Randy Ubillos and his team, freshly recruited from Adobe where they originally created Premiere, were spending years packing the new Final Cut software package with all their best and brightest ideas. When the dense loaf was almost fully baked, there stood Apple, ready to pop it out of the oven and serve it up with plenty of Apple butter thickly slathered on top. Voila! Like 180-proof grain alcohol -- instant buzz. (And by the way, it stands to reason that Final Cut Pro for Windows must be hidden somewhere in the deep recesses of Apple headquarters, since its underpinnings are rooted in the Windows world.) Then Apple develops DVD Studio Pro, one of the finest DVD authoring software packages I've ever seen. Next comes Soundtrack, which is so much fun to use that it's more like a very powerful toy than a pro app, but is used, and deemed useful, by video editing pros nonetheless. And then the achievement that really got my attention, Motion 1.0, which just won, by the way, the 2004 AIM (Awards for Innovation in Media) Editors' Choice Award for best at NAB in the Content Creation category. The application deserved it, too. I'm no software coder, but it looks to me like Apple has assembled a first-class team of software developers, perhaps meeting or surpassing the best in the industry, even Adobe.

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Related Keywords:Final Cut Pro, Bill Gates, Motion 1.0, Apple, Microsoft, Charlie White, Midwest Test Facility, After Effects, Premiere, digital video editing


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