A Few Quick Final Cut Express 4 Followup Notes

I ended up having an impromptu briefing with Apple today about Final Cut Express 4 (see the last post) and learned a few new details that I speculated about earlier today.

  • AVCHD footage is indeed transcoded to AIC on import. I was 99 percent sure this was the case, but since it wasn’t expressly mentioned, I hedged a bit. Editing native AVCHD is too choppy, explained Dion Scoppettuolo, Final Cut Express product manager. Final Cut Pro 6 and iMovie ’08 also transcode to AIC.
  • Soundtrack, the application for fleshing out a soundtrack and other audio edits, is indeed gone in this version of Final Cut Express. Starting in Final Cut Express 3.0, Apple bundled LiveType and Soundtrack to round out the program’s capabilities. LiveType 2.1 is still there, but Soundtrack was abandoned because users were preferring to use GarageBand instead, said Scoppettuolo. I don’t entirely buy into that—Soundtrack, like Final Cut Express, seemed to be cut from a higher quality of code and performance, but I could be wrong.
  • Importing an iMovie ’08 project does indeed bring in only the basic edits, with transitions converted to cross dissolves. However, it also retains the volume levels on the clips. Video adjustments, titles, and other stuff is discarded. In a Final Cut Express workflow, iMovie truly is the place to cut your rough assembly together quickly.
  • In iMovie projects where DV and HD footage is combined, Final Cut Express crops (or doesn’t crop) according to the iMovie porject’s aspect ratio setting.

I’ll be writing the First Look article for Macworld next week, provided the upgrade copy I ordered arrives in time. Apple couldn’t provide me with a review copy until after the Thanksgiving holiday because the entire company is shutting down next week (as thanks to the employees for shipping the iPhone and Leopard this year), and the reviews program is closed to do inventory.

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