Apple Buffs Trio of Pro-Media Apps

At NAB 2003, the Mac maker unveils upgrade to multimedia applications Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio Pro and Shake.

Apple Computer Inc. kicked off this weeks National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas with upgrades to three of its fast-growing roster of professional media-production applications.

The company on Sunday took the wraps off Final Cut Pro 4, DVD Studio Pro 2 and Shake 3. The Cupertino, Calif., Mac maker said the new versions of its Final Cut Pro video editing software and Shake compositing and effects package will ship in June. Version 2 of DVD Studio Pro, an application for DVD authoring, will reach end users in August, the company said.

Final Cut Pro 4 will mark the debut of RT Extreme, a feature for real-time compositing and effects and three new bundled applications: LiveType for animated titling, Soundtrack for music creation and Compressor for batch transcoding. It will support 8- and 10-bit uncompressed formats as well as full 32-bit floating point per channel video processing. It will pack new interface customization and let users save and export customized settings among Macs.

Final Cut Pro 4 will cost $999, and current owners will be able to upgrade for $399.

Shake 3 will be available for Mac OS X, Linux and IRIX. Mac OS X users will be able to take advantage of Shake Qmaster, network render-management software with unlimited network-rendering licenses that will distribute rendering tasks across a cluster of Mac desktop systems or servers. Cross-platform users will gain access to new motion-tracking and real-time broadcast preview features, the company said.

Apples pricing scheme for Shake gives preferential treatment to Mac OS X users. The new version will be available for Mac OS X with unlimited render licenses for $4,950, and for Linux and IRIX for $9,900; annual maintenance fees will be $1,485. Current Shake for Linux, IRIX and Windows customers can double their existing Shake licenses for free if they switch to Shake on Mac OS X, Apple said.

DVD Studio Pro 2 has been rewritten from the ground up on Mac OS Xs Cocoa platform, Apple said. It features a new click-and-drag user interface, a new menu editor, timeline-based track editing derived from Final Cut Pro, and a new software MPEG-2 encoder. Customizable templates feature a library of styles, buttons and backgrounds. Like Final Cut Pro 4, DVD Studio Pro 2 will include a batch-transcoding feature that lets users batch and export directly to multiple formats including MPEG-2 for DVD, MPEG-4 for streaming media or any supported QuickTime format.

Starting this week, Apple has cut the price of DVD Studio Pro in half, to $499. Customers who purchase and register copies of DVD Studio Pro 1.5 now will be able to upgrade to DVD Studio Pro 2 for a shipping-and-handling fee of $29.95.

The three Apple upgrades build on software acquisitions the company has made in recent years to extend its portfolio of applications for pro multimedia producers. Apple purchased the code for Final Cut Pro in 1998 from Macromedia Inc. and debuted the package at NAB in April 1999. DVD Studio Pro folds in software acquired from Astarte GmbH in April 2000 and purchased along with Spruce Technologies in July 2001. Apple purchased Shake developer Nothing Real in February 2002.

Other Apple multimedia buys in 2002 included the audio-software company Emagic; software portfolio of video-effects vendors Prismo Graphics and Silicon Grail; FireWire developer Zayante; graphics accelerator company Raycer Graphics; and graphics accelerator company Raycer Graphics.

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