Apple has begun shipping a new version of its Final Cut Studio video post production suite for the Mac. The upgrade includes Final Cut Pro, Motion 4, Soundtrack Pro 3, Color 1.5 and Compressor 3.5. The new Final Cut Studio also sees the price cut from £723 to £650. Both prices exclude VAT.

The new version of Final Cut Studio has ditched the product numbering, but is an upgrade to Final Cut Studio 2.

Final Cut Pro 7 offers new versions of Apple’s ProRes codecs -- including ProRes Proxy for offline and mobile editing at low bandwidth; ProRes LT, for general purpose editing; and ProRes 4444 for editing and visual effects at the highest quality possible.

Easy Export enables users to continue working on projects while encoding is done in the background and the sequence is exported to YouTube, MobileMe, iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, DVD or Blu-ray. iChat Theater support allows real time collaboration by sharing Final Cut timelines or individual source clips with other iChat users, even if they don’t have a copy of Final Cut Pro.

Other new features include new speed tools to change clip speed with ease, alpha transitions to create effects using moving mattes, and native AVC-Intra support for the latest Panasonic cameras.

Motion 4 extends the application's motion graphics toolset. 3D compositions gain point and spot lights to cast realistic shadows or turn any shape, video plane or paint stroke into a reflective surface. Motion 4 gives editors the flexibility to adjust the depth of field within a 3D canvas by selectively highlighting a single object or using multiple objects to create a racking focus effect.

Soundtrack Pro 3 adds new audio editing tools including Voice Level Match. which extracts volume information from the vocal content of one clip and applies it to another without altering any other audio content so editors can easily correct mismatched voice levels. An enhanced File Editor includes new tools to make sophisticated edits and fine tune volume adjustments by targeting specific frequencies such as the rustle of a paper or the bump of a desk without affecting dialogue.

The new Advanced Time Stretch feature stretches and compresses audio using three Apple-designed algorithms or other algorithms available as third party plug-ins.

The Color 1.5 colour grading application now works with a greater range of sequences and effects from Final Cut Pro and an integrated workflow allows editors to complete projects entirely within Final Cut Studio. New 4K support works natively with files from cameras such as the Red One and outputs directly to ProRes for HD or DPX for film. Expanded support for new high quality formats includes AVC-Intra, XDCAM 422 and ProRes 4444, for grading with the maximum amount of colour information.

Compressor 3.5 can automatically detect QuickTime settings and create an Easy Export template or a mini droplet on the desktop that automates specific Compressor actions. New, customisable sharing options make it easy to publish to YouTube and MobileMe, or export for iPhone, iPod, Apple TV and mobile phones. Menu templates and encoding presets allows the creation of Blu-ray discs. Final Cut Studio also includes DVD Studio Pro, a powerful DVD authoring environment with drag and drop tools, on screen editing and real time previews.

Final Cut Studio costs £695 plus VAT, or £216 plus from current owners of Final Cut Studio 2.

Apple today also introduced Final Cut Server 1.5, the asset management and automation tool for Final Cut Studio. Final Cut Server 1.5 includes powerful new features like lightweight, offline editing with ProRes Proxy, production hierarchies to organise media, and support for still sequences to easily view and manage image sequences for graphics and effects workflows.

Final Cut Server now includes unlimited client licenses and is available for £694 plus VAT or as a £216 plus VAT upgrade for existing users.