SAN FRANCISCO (05/30/2000) - No one's donning dark sunglasses or ducking out of project meetings to attend gala premieres. And Steve Jobs hasn't been spotted talking on his cell phone with his agent, demanding to meet with Scorsese. But it's pretty apparent that Apple Computer Inc. (800/692-7753, http://www.apple.com) has movies on the brain.
The proof? A spate of product launches scheduled throughout 2000 that bolsters Apple's offerings on the desktop-video front.
Apple sees desktop video as the next big thing in personal computing-and as natural a fit for the Mac as desktop publishing has always been. The strategy that worked so well in that medium will also guide the company's video efforts: develop high-performance products to attract pros, while luring personal users with ease of use.
Apple's belief in the emergence of digital video took root with last year's launch of the iMac DV, a computer that came bundled with the iMovie application to make digital-video editing possible right out of the box. Apple's upcoming efforts in this area will keep the emphasis on ease of use and timesaving features.
Final Cut Pro 1.2.5 should hit the shelves in May. The update, free to users of the $999 editing software, targets professionals. Its native YUV color support allows users to edit effects in one color scheme. The upgrade also supports a 16:9 wide-screen format, so QuickTime movies can fit onto Apple's Cinema Display. With Final Cut Pro, users can also create Make Reference movies that merely point to source files instead of copying the entire file during rendering; the new process frees up disk space and saves rendering time.
Apple will join forces with Pinnacle Data Systems Inc. (888/484-3366, http://www.pinnaclesys.com) to offer a video-editing system that includes a Power Mac G4. Slated for a summer 2000 release, the product will combine Final Cut Pro with Pinnacle's Targa Ciné video board to support uncompressed standard-definition (SD) and high-definition (HD) video. A fully configured SD setup should cost less than $10,000; the HD version should cost less than $30,000.
Another product, the RTMac, will offer real-time editing, support for a second monitor, and real-time video playback. Apple is teaming with Matrox (800/361-4903, http://www.matrox.com) to produce the $999 PCI card, which is due for release this fall. The RTMac lets users render motion with compositing, so they can plot complex movements without having to wait for an effect to render.