Price When Reviewed: 594.89 . 1190.64 . 594.89
Pros: Low-cost server solution; runs on standard hardware; powerful search, version management and automation functions.
Cons: Poor searching for video metadata; automation system requires a lot of technical know-how.
Apple’s Final Cut Server is a client-server-based workflow tool with three main uses: cataloguing and searching assets (especially video-based assets); version control through check-in and check-out capabilities and approval; and automatically converting, copying, and executing scripts.
From the main interface, you can see thumbnails, view H.264 previews, see shot metadata, and drag shots directly into Final Cut Pro – very slick.
Final Cut Server has powerful and flexible catalogue and searching capabilities. This is useful when you have hundreds or thousands of clips for multiple projects with video from the same collection of footage, or large projects requiring better searching capabilities than those in Final Cut Pro.
Final Cut Server’s ease of cataloguing files and creating detailed, customized, savable searches are major selling points. It automatically updates if you copy a new file into the folder that fits those criteria.
The downside is that Final Cut Server doesn’t let you search all of the metadata by default. Things like the codec used, pixel dimensions of footage and other useful information are catalogued but not searchable in the standard configuration.
Searching is snappy, even if cataloguing and thumbnail building isn’t, so Final Cut Server is responsive when you’re sifting through files.
Version control lets you keep track of multiple versions of the same project file over time and revert to older versions; it also offers check-in and check-out capabilities. For projects with more than one editor or artist, versioning ensures that only one person at a time works on a file. Final Cut Server also has a reviewing system that manages the approval process.
One of the big selling points is its automation. It can perform tasks by watching folders, starting automated processes such as running files through Apple’s Compressor to convert formats.
You can also perform complex operations, like publishing content to a custom Web page and having clients provide feedback to Final Cut Server via the Web. However, many advanced capabilities rely on custom scripting: if you’re comfortable with scripting, you can create some amazingly powerful workflows with Final Cut Server, but this is a barrier for most users.
Final Cut Server’s capabilities can be immediately useful for most studios. However, we’d only recommend it to users who have the technical chops to employ its advanced features.