Best Buy
  • Price: £695 . Upgrade £217

  • Company: Apple

  • Pros: A comprehensive bundle; keenly priced; high-quality ProRes codecs; good real-time editing workflow.

  • Cons: DVD Studio still doesn’t burn to Blu-ray; no batch encoding in Compressor.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10 We rate this 9 out of 10

This camera is reviewed as part of our group test of Video-editing applications

Apple has technically stopped giving Final Cut Studio a version number, but it says version 3.0 on the box, so that’s what we’re going to call it. The bundle includes Final Cut Pro 7, Motion 4, SoundTrack Pro 3, Color 1.5, Compressor 3.5, and DVD Studio Pro 4. All except DVD Studio Pro are new releases.

One of Final Cut Studio’s key improvements is to the ProRes codec pack. The ProRes 4444 option combines 4:4:4 colour encoding with data rates up to 330Mbps. The two ProRes422 options are now LT, with a data rate of up to 100Mbps, and Proxy, using 36Mbps for offline or proxy editing.

Final Cut Pro 7 now also includes native support for Panasonic’s AVC Intra format, and will log and capture media from P2 cards automatically in the background. Alpha transitions have been added allowing infinitely customisable wipe patterns.

A new Easy Export applet is available from Final Cut Pro and Motion via File > Share. This provides quick rendering to favourite formats, and works in the background.

Easy Export is another window on Compressor 3.5, the bundled encoding tool.

The enhanced Droplets system allows you to tweak configuration in the Settings dialog appears before you start rendering.

You can now also drop a file onto Compressor and, if the codec is supported, the app will detect the appropriate settings so you can use them to encode further files in the same format. One thing Compressor doesn’t provide is batch encoding – although Final Cut Pro itself does.

Although DVD Studio Pro 4 hasn’t been updated in this suite, it’s already one of the most popular choices for authoring. However, it lacks the ability to author Blu-ray, so doesn’t provide an end-to-end production process for HD. Nevertheless, Final Cut Studio is a very compelling package.

It may not bundle quite as much as Adobe’s CS4 Production Premium, or even Avid Media Composer. But it covers the main areas with aplomb, and costs far less than either.