Apple Updates FCPX to 10.4.1 - ProRes RAW and Closed Captioning Support


Just a few days before NAB 2018, Apple has announced a long awaited update to FCPX, Motion and Compressor. The headlining features in the new 10.4.1 version update of the software include the ProRes RAW codecs and robust Closed Caption support built right in to the FCPX interface.





Closed captioning in Final Cut Pro now includes tools to add captions to projects without the need for third-party software or services. You can now import closed caption files directly into your project, or create them from scratch as you edit. They will appear in the viewer during playback and can be attached to video OR audio clips in the timeline, so they automatically move with the clips to which they’re connected.

The fact that they can be attached directly to audio clips in the timeline is a new and welcome change to the way FCPX works, as it makes much more sense if there is voice over or some other similar situation where the audio wouldn't necessary be attached to a video clip. You can edit all captions from the inspector as well, including the location and look of the text. The addition of captions is also greatly enhanced by FCPX's unique Roles features, as you can create multiple version for different languages and turn them on and off with a tick of a box.



The new ProRes RAW and ProRes RAW HQ formats allow you to import and edit from the camera/recorders just like regular ProRes, while also still providing flexibility when adjusting highlights and shadows like RAW. According to the release, the ProRes RAW performance optimization for macOS will allow editors to play full-quality 4K ProRes RAW files on even the MacBook Pro and iMac systems in real time without rendering, not just the iMac Pro. Another amazing aspect of this new codec is the fact that ProRes RAW files are even smaller than ProRes 4444 files, which helps to save a ton of hard drive space!

You can work natively with ProRes RAW and ProRes RAW HQ files created by Atomos recorders, who Apple has partnered with. I don't generally like external recorders, for their added bulk and messy additional wires, but this is definitely something to consider now.


FINAL THOUGHTS - The small things...

The update is due to be released in the Mac App Store on Monday, but as per usual with FCPX updates, there are at least a few nice "easter egg" features hidden in the update, released without any fanfare. I think my personal favorite I've seen so far is that the app will respect each Roles on/off check box in the timeline index upon exporting your project. Basically, whatever Roles you have enabled in the timeline, is what you get on the export. 

Previously, if you had certain Roles turned on or off in the timeline, and went to export the project, they would all export as "on" unless you manually went in to the Share settings and disabled them for that particular export. This was simply a waste of time and a very unintuitive, backwards way of doing it. Now its a WYSIWYG or "What you see is what your get", which is great and how it always should have been.

Here's to hoping there is more where that came from!


Blackmagic Design Finally Updates Their Video Assist Monitor - LUTs, False Color, etc

The 5" Blackmagic Video Assist monitor/recorder has, at long last, been updated by Blackmagic Design. This monitor has always represented a great value being that it comes in at less than $500 for a great 1080p panel along with professional SDI/HDMI connections, ability to record to SD cards, exposure zebras, focus peaking, etc.

Unfortunately, until this 2.3 firmware update, the more recently released 7" version had been the only one to have received all of these new features, while only selling for a couple hundred dollars more. This was obviously causing a lot of of early adopters of the 5" model to feel a bit "burned" when many, many months passed and it appeared that the new expanded features set would never be coming to their own 5" monitor.


While this was always a substantially less pricey monitor in comparison to the SmallHD and Atomos lines, it definitely had some glaring shortcomings in comparison to its competitors - namely the lack of LUT support.

This is even more essential these days since all Blackmagic cameras (as well as many others), shoot in LOG/flat profiles. Without the ability to properly monitor with a normalization LUT you are stuck trying to guess exposure and make aesthetic choices based on a low-contrast, low saturation image. It's possible, but definitely not ideal.

With the release of firmware 2.3, Blackmagic Design fixed that shortcoming by allowing you to load up to 6 LUT's to the monitor, giving you various "looks" to choose from to help you make important image decisions on set, as well as to not confuse/panic your clients if they see the bland and flat LOG image on the screen.


The other "headline" feature in this update is False Color. This has become a very popular tool for exposing digital sensors and is greatly welcomed by all. Though, while False Color is awesome to have, I'd say one of the least sexy, but most important new features in the 2.3 update is the improvement of the dreaded "green cast" that these monitors had displayed up until this point. The Improved colorimetry included in the update promises to improve the green tint/cast that had plagued the Video Assist monitor since day one, and will allow for a more neutral, and natural image to be viewed by the user.

Overall this is a very late, yet amazing update from Blackmagic Design, nicely rewarding their loyal customers by instantly adding TONS of value to their already existing product, for free.


What's new in Blackmagic Video Assist 2.3

  • Add LUT monitoring for both the Blackmagic Video Assist and Blackmagic Video Assist 4K
  • Add MXF wrapper to DNxHD for the Blackmagic Video Assist
  • Add DNx different bit-rates - DNxHD 220,145 and 45 for the Blackmagic Video Assist
  • Add False Color monitoring to the Blackmagic Video Assist
  • Add expanded options for Focus Assist to include Red, Green, Blue and White as well as Peaking
  • Add manual control for screen orientation
  • Add extended HDMI luminance range for the Blackmagic Video Assist
  • Improves screen colorimetry on Blackmagic Video Assist
  • Improves fan audible noise on the Blackmagic Video Assist



Behold: The Mill's Blackbird Transformer Car Rig

Think you need an actual car on set to film a car commercial? Think again. The Mill's new Blackbird Transformable Car Rig allows filmmakers to digitally "skin" any car over the Blackbird's rolling chassis.

The frame is fully adjustable in length and width, to replicate the size and dimensions of the car to be skinned over the Blackbird's frame. The wheels can be changed and suspension adjusted to further match the driving characteristics.

It's packed full with an electric motor, 3D cameras for recording the surroundings and other extremely impressive tech.

What a world we live in...what a world.


FCPX + Apple App Store 2.0 - New App Subscription Model

Just a few days before WWDC 2016, Apple has revealed that there are some major changes coming to the various App Stores. (iOS, tvOS, watchOS, OS X)


One could argue that this has been a long time coming, especially with many software creators (e.g. Adobe) turning to subscription based models to keep their cash flows steady.

What this change ultimately means for general purpose "consumer" apps is unknown, although it does appear to give developers more options for how they would like to monetize their apps, which couldn't be a bad thing from their perspective. The better profit share splits being offered from Apple should appeal to developers as well. (From 70/30 to 85/15 split after 1 year of a customer's subscription)

The more interesting (worrisome?) question is what will happen with Apple's own Pro Apps like Final Cut Pro X, Compressor, Motion 5, Logic Pro X? On one hand, its kind of mind blowing that with all the updates and improvements to Final Cut Pro X since it's 2011 debut, that Apple hasn't charged for a single update.

Could this change bring a new monthly charge to get the next version of Final Cut Pro X? Or perhaps not a full blown subscription, but will this simply put in place a method for Apple to charge an upgrade fee when there is a significant update to FCPX? Both are somewhat plausible, although the latter seems to be more so, in my opinion.


With a new update of Final Cut Pro X rumored to be coming some time next week during WWDC 2016, it would stand to reason that any changes to the way it's being priced and sold will be revealed at that point as well. I personally doubt that Apple will start charging a subscription price for any of the Pro App's, simply because they have no track record of doing that in the past, and its relatively "small potatoes" in the grand scheme of their vast business.

I've always thought of Apple's hardware as being "the cars" that they sell and their software as being "the road" on which you can "drive" the car on. Basically, they stand to make more money, more often if they have a good ecosystem (highway system?) of software on which to run their very profitable hardware on.

Also, while the Final Cut Pro X user base continues to grow as more people come to understand its power, it's still hasn't completely shaken the stigma it unfairly earned when it debuted back in 2011. It seems that it would be in the best interest of Apple to continue to make it readily accessible to the masses at its incredible one time price, and it will continue to permeate slowly outwards to the Youtubers, students, bitter FCP7 die hards, old-timer AVID fogey's, anti-subscription Premiere users, and to the masses of other post production professionals who may now be willing to give it another chance.

Who knows, maybe you'll even be able to get an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription through the Apple App store before you know it? Stranger things have happened...