Apple Video Solutions: Training For the Media Industry

On May 31st I attended a briefing session in Manchester from Apple Computer entitled Apple Video Solutions Training for the Media Industry.

First we were given an overview of current trends and Apple’s strategies to exploit new markets. New trends included: quick adoption to digital technologies and HD television within media industry and by the general consumer; the changing face of media distribution, for example iPod, DVD, SDTV, HDTV, and 3G technologies; and diminishing costs of technology in relation to the cost of people who work in the new media industry.

Some interesting phrases were introduced such as Creative Cross Pollination, this doesn’t involve Bees or the wind, but refers to the multiple technical skills which creative individuals need to get ahead in the new media industries.

The remainder of the day was split into two sessions:

The first session was an overview of the revamped video editing package Final Cut Studio 2 and Final Cut Server: Apple’s media asset management and workflow automation software.

The session second related to Apple Authorised Training Centres and the Apple Pro Certification for students training for careers in Video Editing and Music Production.

Apple Software

Final Cut Server

Final Cut Server allows multiple users’ access to shared assets and to manage those assets across multiple workstations via a Java application. By “Assets” I mean media files, I’m trying to use the right industry jargon here.

The Final Cut Server interface also works on Windows XP.

The main drawback with Final Cut Server seems to be the need for new high end Apple computers across an entire department for it to work efficiently. It does not seem likely that the Edge Hill Media Department for example would replace all their kit just to adopt Final Cut Server.

Final Cut Studio 2

Described by the presenter as “A bundle of new products with Final Cut Pro at its heart” Final Cut Studio 2 was the main product being promoted.

The package includes:

Final Cut Pro 6

This is the leading video editing package used by the majority of professional editors.

New Features include:

  • Pro Res 4.2.2, a codec for HD, this enables the user to edit small files then output them as uncompressed HD;
  • An open time line that can include mixed formats, different Codecs, Framerates and resolutions;
  • Smoothcam a tool to remove camera shake; and Editable Motion 3 master templates, which allow you to edit video with graphics in motion.
Motion 3

A 3D package that works with the Final Cut Pro 6 timeline.

New Features include:

  • State of the art Match Moving which allows graphics to follow the paths of images on video, for example the path of a formula one car
  • Retiming Behaviours that analyse pixels enabling frames of video to run smoothly in slow motion
  • Persuasive 3D, a vector based 3D paint tool
Soundtrack Pro 2

An Audio Post-Production package which includes:

  • Improved Spotting, the matching of sounds with events on screen
  • Better Take Management, allowing the rerecording of poor On-Location sound and the ability to easily cherry pick elements from multiple takes using a timeline.
  • Surround Mixing: Create cinematic soundtracks with panning Surround Sound.
  • Loads of free music and sound effects to work with
  • Conform: automatically synchronises changes picture and sound, and shifts the timeline accordingly.
Compressor 3

Compressor 3 outputs media in multiple formats simultaneously:

  • Formats include the iPod and Apple TV video format H.264 as well as leading industry-standard formats like MPEG-2
  • Compressor 3 can output multiple tasks as a cluster over multiple machine.
  • Telestream Episode Pro Plugin can output Microsoft formats like WMV.

Apple has aquired the company Silicon Color, and have integrated their professional color grading application into Final Cut Studio 2.

Features include:

  • Realtime High Quality colour grading
  • Autograding
  • Secondary rooms allow colour enhancement of different objects on the screen.
  • Geometry: Pan and scan editing for non-widescreen formats.

Session two: Apple Authorised Training Centres

Capitalising on the halo effect of the iPod and the remarkable status as the world favourite brand, Apple are now moving into Education, targeting Primary, Secondary, FE and HE sectors.

Schools and Colleges can now become Apple Authorised Training Centres.

In Higher Education Apple now offer Apple Pro Certification in the use of Logic Pro for Music Production and Final Cut Pro for video editing, these qualifications can be integrated into a Degree programme giving students an industry recognised vocational qualification as well as a degree.

We were shown a video of the programme in action at Doncaster College:

“There’s no doubt that students applying for creative arts and technology courses are increasingly aware of the need to be qualified in industry-standard software to help them get the jobs they want”, says David Kirtlan, Deputy Head of the Faculty of Arts. “They see on our Web site that we are an AATCe, and often one of their first questions is ‘how do I get certified in Apple’s Pro Applications?'”

There are already 30 institutions in the UK that have AATCe status, If Edge Hill University offered degrees that integrated Apple Pro Certification it could be an incentive for undergraduate recruitment. Short courses can also be offered to Alumni or the public; this could generate revenue for the University.