Apple today released Final Cut Express 4, the latest version of its intermediate video editing software. Taking its cues (and code) from Final Cut Pro 6, the new Final Cut Express features an open format Timeline that lets you mix DV and HD formats in the same project and adds the capability to import AVCHD formatted footage. (I suspect that AVCHD is getting transcoded to Apple Intermediate Codec (AIC) and not edited natively, which is how Final Cut Pro and iMovie handle the format.) Also like Final Cut Pro, simply adding a clip to the Timeline dictates a project’s More than 50 new FxPlug plug-ins are also included.
Apple is also touting the capability to import iMovie ’08 projects, which it accomplishes by being able to read Apple’s Final Cut XML format. (In iMovie, choose Share > Final Cut XML. When you import the text file that’s generated, Final Cut Express accesses the footage from the iMovie Events folder on disk.) However, importing is limited to edit points and transitions, not titles; Final Cut Express substitutes cross dissolve transitions for the ones used in the iMovie project. It’s currently unclear whether Final Cut Express will acknowledge other types of iMovie edits, such as color adjustments or cropping, but I suspect it doesn’t.
Tying Final Cut Express and iMovie ’08 is a sensible move. iMovie lacks several fine-editing operations, such as precise control over audio levels within a clip, an area in which Final Cut Express excels. Now, iMovie can be seen as a place to store and manage video, and quickly assemble a rough cut of a movie, before handing it off to Final Cut Express for more control and fine tuning.
The Final Cut Express package also includes LiveType 2.1 for creating animated titles, but I’m not seeing a mention of Soundtrack, the separate audio editor that shipped with Final Cut Express HD 3.5.
Final Cut Express 4 is available now for $199, or for $99 to owners of previous versions of Final Cut Express. It’s a universal application that requires a Mac running a 1.25 GHz or faster PowerPC G4 processor, a PowerPC G5, or Intel processor; AVCHD support is available only on Intel-based Macs. Mac OS X 10.4.10 or later is also required.
[Cross-posted at TidBITS because, well, I’d say the same thing anyway and I’m