The exposition floor at Macworld San Francisco 2005 is mostly bereft of video- centric products—the emphasis is clearly on accessories and expansions upon Apple's iTunes- and iPod-centric music offerings, as well as a healthy dose of digital photography products. But the keynote Tuesday morning from CEO Steve Jobs told a decidedly different story, as he introduced Final Cut Express HD as well as high-definition video compatibility in the new version of iMovie.
Jobs called 2005 "the year of HD," with a surprise onstage assist from Sony president Kunitake Ando, whose company worked with Apple to develop the new HD-compatible apps. (For his part, Jobs spent a fair amount of time praising Sony's FX-1 HDV camera, telling the overflow crowd at the Moscone Center, "you guys gotta get one of these," perhaps forgetting that the $3,699 price tag might be a bit beyond the easy reach of the consumer-heavy crowd, who mostly laughed at the comment.)
Like its professional-level big brother, FCE HD allows for HDV capture over FireWire and features real-time preview of edits and effects with RT Extreme. The software also supports Digital Cinema Desktop, which enables HD and DV preview monitoring on a secondary display. Nothing earth-shattering there, though the ability to edit HD on a Mac for FCE HD's $299 price tag (it' sa $99 upgrade for existing FCE users) is probably enough to make it a quick sell to videographers.
But if high-def is the steak, it might actually be the sizzle that makes FCE HD an even more appealing dish. Apple has built in Live Type, including 27 animated LiveFonts, 150 effects, and plenty of new templates, backgrounds, and textures. It also now includes Soundtrack, Apple's music creation software that sells for $199 on its own. Soundtrack enables original score composition from more than 4,000 pre-recorded loops and sound effects, and it includes score markers for video-to- soundtrack syncing.
iMovie also has taken the step up to HD, and now supports MPEG-4 video, and in a feature sure to appeal to its consumer base, features Magic iMovie, a single-step movie creation function that separates the video into clips and then adds titles, transitions, and music. As always, the new version of iMovie is available bundled in the latest version of iLife, which will sell for $79 and be available beginning January 22. iLife '05 also includes a new version of iDVD, which includes new templates that include video clip drop zones for creating video menu buttons, and support for all single-sided DVD formats with a compatible Apple SuperDrive. GarageBand and iPhoto also boast upgrades, with 8-track recording as well as pitch and timing correction on the former and RAW image support in the latter.
Jobs also offered a preview of QuickTime 7, which will offer live resizing, surround sound and HD playback, and MPEG-4 and H.264 compliance. It's expected to ship in the first half of 2005, along with Tiger, the latest version of Macintosh's OS X operating system. Tiger also will feature an upgrade to Apple's popular iChat that offers four-person video conferencing as well as a Dashboard (similar to the one in Apple's Motion graphics tool) that offers quick access to a slew of widgets, including a calculator, live stock and weather updates, and a dictionary/thesaurus.
In other announcements not specifically video-related, Jobs showed off the new Mac min, a two-inch tall, 2.9-pound CPU with a DVI interface that's compatible with any industry standard LCD or CRT monitor. It will be sold not only sans monitor but also without keyboard or mouse, making it Apple's most aggressive attempt yet to get PC users to switch. The Mac mini will be available on January 22 in two configurations— a 1.25GHz, 40GB G4 for $499 and a 1.42GHz, 80GB G4 for $100 more. Both models include a slot-load Combo drive (which will burn CDs and play back, but not record, DVDs), iLife '05, and AirPort compatibility.