Apple just announced its new Final Cut Express 4, a "significant upgrade" at a price of $199, that's $100 shaved off of the Final Cut Express 3.5 "HD" edition. I think it's proof that David Pogue was right about iMovie '08.
The big news is that the software will support AVCHD (on Intel-based Macs), so you don't have to worry about incompatibilities with that cute little Panasonic SD-cam on your Christmas list. You can also now mix standard-def DV and both HDV and AVCHD in the same timeline, and gain access to FxPlug effects. Express 4 supports 1080i and 720p resolutions, and has a simplified setup and is compatible with iMovie 08 at the project level: you just import the whole thing and go.
But speaking of iM '08, my guess is that Apple is re-positioning this as an upsell, not to enthusiasts, but to all the ordinary Mac users who find themselves in need of a video editor with actual effects and more powerful editing features. David Pogue was right about iMovie 08, but maybe Final Cut Express 4 is the solution.
Apple Releases Final Cut Express 4
New Final Cut Express Features AVCHD Support and iMovie '08 Integration
CUPERTINO, California—November 15, 2007—Apple® today released Final Cut® Express 4, a significant upgrade to its powerful video editing software based on Apple's award-winning Final Cut Pro 6, with a new low price of $199. Final Cut Express 4 adds support for the latest AVCHD cameras, allows mixing of standard and high definition content on a single timeline, includes the ability to import iMovie® '08 projects, and gives users access to hundreds of sophisticated FxPlug cinematic effects and filters.
"Almost a million digital filmmakers have made Final Cut their editing application of choice," said Rob Schoeben, Apple's vice president of Applications Product Marketing. "With the introduction of Final Cut Express 4, Apple makes it easy for anyone to join the rapidly growing community of Final Cut editors worldwide."
The new Open Format Timeline in Final Cut Express 4 allows users to mix and match DV, HDV and AVCHD material*, all in realtime using the same industry-leading editing and trimming tools found in Final Cut Pro. Supporting both 1080i and 720p HD resolutions, Final Cut Express 4 automatically performs the necessary scaling, cropping and frame rate adjustments. When starting projects from scratch, the new simplified setup automatically configures everything based on the first clip dropped on the Timeline.
Final Cut Express 4 makes it easy to import iMovie '08 projects and enhance them with advanced editing capabilities such as multiple layers of video and graphics, picture in picture effects and animated titles. It includes over 50 new FxPlug filters, including Soft Focus, Vignette and Light Rays, with hundreds more available from a rapidly expanding FxPlug developer community. With enhanced audio controls, users can automatically raise any clip to its maximum level without distortion using the new Soft Normalize and Gain controls. Final Cut Express 4 also features LiveType 2, which provides an intuitive environment for creating dynamic and fun animated titles and includes an extensive library of animated fonts, textures, templates and effects.
Pricing & Availability
Final Cut Express 4 is available immediately for a suggested retail price of $199 (US) through the Apple Store® (www.apple.com), Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers. Owners of previous versions of Final Cut Express can upgrade to Final Cut Express 4 for just $99 (US). Full system requirements and more information on Final Cut Express 4 can be found at www.apple.com/finalcutexpress.
*AVCHD is only supported on Intel-based Macs.
Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital media revolution with its iPod portable music and video players and iTunes online store, and has entered the mobile phone market this year with its revolutionary iPhone.