By Mike Curtis Macworld.com | on July 24, 2009
Price When Reviewed: 695 . 216
Pros: Substantial improvements in round tripping from Final Cut Pro; support for the new ProRes and other formats at up to 4K; affordable control surface support; myriad fixes.
Cons: Still a few issues with Final Cut Pro round tripping; effects, transitions and filters done in FCP don’t display in Color; slow final renders; no network rendering for final output; high system requirements.
Color 1.0 was my most eagerly anticipated component of Final Cut Studio 2, since I'd previously used its powerful progenitor, Final Touch with a £15,000 control surface. The promise of a beautiful professional color correction tool was mitigated by the myriad workflow problems of getting in and out of Final Cut Pro accurately. I used to say Color 1.0 was like a bird that was beautiful in flight, but don't try to watch it take off or land.
Since then, Apple has been diligently pecking away at these workflow issues, as well as adding new convenience features and format support. With support for Red and other formats at up to 4K resolution, support for the new ProRes flavors (see our Final Cut Pro 7 review), improved file based workflows, and support for tantalizingly affordable control surfaces, the new Color 1.5 is indeed a bird of a different colour. Let's take a look at the new goodies.
Improved round tripping
While there is still a long list of caveats about what Color does and doesn't do or display, it has reached a very workable threshold where most projects, most of the time, can be round tripped successfully between Final Cut Pro 7 and Color 1.5. Still graphics, speed effects, multicam clips, and other common elements no longer translate incorrectly between Final Cut and Color, a very noteworthy improvement.
New format support
Color 1.5 now supports importing and rendering to all the new ProRes flavors, but most importantly to the new ProRes 4444. This means that extremely high quality 1080p HD or 2K work can now be done at single hard drive speeds instead of requiring the massive storage and throughput necessary for uncompressed files. New video formats are also now supported, including Sony's 50 megabit per second XDCAM 422 and Panasonic's 100 megabit per second AVC-Intra format.
Color now supports ProRes 4444, DPX, Cineon, and Redcode RAW at up to 4096 x 2304 resolution, for square pixel 4K film output. Redcode RAW .R3D support is improved as well. For final renders, Color now decompresses Redcode RAW at full quality and resolution (usually 4K) and then scales to the final deliverable size, often 1080p or lower resolution. Combined with Color's previous ability to manipulate the RAW parameters, this is now an optimal solution for maximum quality and control--well done! Rendering is still time consuming for all formats, and no network rendering is offered with this version.