The release of Final Cut Server (along with Final Cut Studio 2) mark a huge step forward for Apple in the media production market. Final Cut Sever is going to revolutionize the way that the entire post production process is handled.
From Apple’s Website:
“Meet Final Cut Server, Apple’s powerful new media asset management and workflow automation software. Final Cut Server takes the headache out of managing large collections of media files, then extends to tracking job status, managing reviews and approvals, and automating complex sequences of tasks – all with Apple’s legendary ease of use, and all in a single product designed to work seamlessly with Final Cut Studio.”
Content Catalog w/ Search Functions:
Final Cut Server creates a catalog of media files and the information that goes along with them. Think iPhoto for professional video. You will be able to assign specific values to media files via metadata tags. You will then be able to use this information to find your media later via a layered keyword search.
There are several ways to bring files into Final Cut Server. You can physically add the files to the browser, or you can configure “watched folders” that automatically update the catalog whenever they are updated. Apple states that Final Cut Server will support more than 100 different filetypes. Reference media (thumbnails and proxies) are automatically created when files are added to the catalog. There is also an option for configuring versioning of files so that a history of the file is maintained should you need to return to an older version. This is particularly powerful in environments where several people are collaborating, as some aspects can get accidentally changed or overwritten without properly using file versioning.
This feature of Final Cut Studio allows you to create “containers” or “Productions”. A Production is basically a place to gather assets for a particular project. The great thing about this, however, is that the Production container references the original files instead of copying the original files. The advantage of this is that you can re-use media for different cuts or projects without increasing the amount of storage space required.
Final Cut Server includes a powerful metadata system. It allows you to customize the information that is stored with the file. For instance, you can create custom stages for the project tracking area that apply to your workflow.
Included with Final Cut Server is an access control module. While it has not been stated as to whether this will tie into Open Directory, the access system allows the administrator to control access to media through users/groups and even allows you to control access through different points of the production.
Final Cut Server’s workflow is completely customizable, even on the per-project basis. The program looks for specific events and user inputs to make it’s next move. Here’s an example that could be configured: when a project status is changed to “Ready to Publish and Close”, Final Cut Server responds by exporting the final timeline to several different formats (DVD, web, streaming, iPod). Once it has done this, the program could be configured to automatically archive the files for that project and move them to an alternate storage location. The ability to customize this process for each specific project and/or client is going to boost productivity immensely.
From Apple’s Final Cut Server Fact Sheet: “Final Cut Server lets you automate review and approval processes so that internal or external clients can view, annotate, and approve content from anywhere. You can configure Final Cut Server to notify reviewers by email when a project is ready for evaluation.
Reviewers can add timecode-based clip annotations to low-resolution proxies so that a Final Cut Pro editor can see the comments displayed shot by shot. You can add or modify rough cuts right in Final Cut Server to show the editor what you have in mind. Because the proxy file sizes are not large, it’s possible to review Final Cut Pro projects in the Final Cut Server browser even over a low-bandwidth connection.”
Many media projects require input from all over the country (and even the world), therefore Final Cut Server’s remote review and approval feature is going to make things so much easier. No need to worry about compressing and uploading the file to an FTP site when you can now simply have Final Cut Server automatically encode the file and host it for you.
Since many of 318′s clients are mixed Windows/Mac environments, Apple’s decision to make Final Cut Server cross-platform will be very helpful for our clients. The server software runs on OS X, while the client can run on both Windows and Mac computers. This means that a Windows-based client can view rough cuts as they are completed using the Final Cut Server client software, or a producer on a Windows-based laptop can still view footage and approve cuts.
Integrated Cuts-only Editor:
This is truly an interesting feature. Apple chose to build a cuts-only editor into Final Cut Server. This means that users can throw together quick cuts to test out ideas or select shots without even leaving the program. This functionality is fantastic for that occasional disconnect between editors and producers, allowing the producer to take control in the easy-to-use interface and actually show the editor what he is talking about instead of simply describing it.
Final Cut Studio:
This is an obvious feature, but Final Cut Server ties directly into Final Cut Studio. Creating a Final Cut Pro project within a Final Cut Server environment means that your assets will be managed by the server, and you will simply have to “check out” your project when you want to make changes. When you go back and “check in” your changes are uploaded, along with any other media that was locally cached. This is an awesome solution for both high-speed fibre networks as well as the traveling editor, as you can edit directly with the Final Cut Server or locally cache your project and then upload the changes when done, all with a few simple clicks.
Final Cut Server also utilizes Compressor 3 for its rendering and transcoding jobs. As previously stated, specific export settings can be saved in the workflow, so that when a project hits the finalization point, Final Cut Server will handle the exporting and transcoding work for you. Apple also touched on the formats available for Compressor 4: “Add the Episode Pro plug-in from Telestream to encode to VC-1, WMV, GXF, and FLV formats as well as High Profile H.264 and a number of third-party proprietary broadcast server formats.”
We here at 318 are very excited about the advancements in both productivity and creativity that this product will bring to our clients. Final Cut Server is going to revolutionize the industry, and 318 is going to be there for you in both setup and support for this product as well as finding new and exiting ways to innovate your business.
http://www.apple.com/finalcutstudio and the Final Cut Server Fact Sheet available at this site.