After the director shouts "Cut!" the editing process begins. Editing involves logging the best takes, capturing them to the hard drive of the workstation, and trimming and sequencing them in a timeline. Increasingly, this process is taking place on location, with portable systems, during production. Checking for timing, continuity, and performance on location provides an opportunity to get it right before the actors have departed for their trailers.
Apple's wildly popular video-editing application, Final Cut Pro, is ideally suited to run on the current generation of PowerBook laptop computers, making effective use of the laptops' FireWire ports to capture a variety of native digital video formats to the hard disk, including DV, DVCAM, DVCPRO, DVCPRO 50, and DVCPRO HD.
While it's entirely possible to complete a DV or offline film project on a Power Book, higher-resolution formats (SD and HD) require the performance of a dedicated workstation to finish (online) the content. Editing in these formats is best suited to a Power Mac G5, where Final Cut Pro can take full advantage of the desktop's dual processors. Digital video is captured either via FireWire or, for high-bandwidth formats like uncompressed HD, through a PCI-X card installed in the chassis.
For projects shot on film, Final Cut Pro includes Cinema Tools, a relational database that keeps track of the original film negative feet, frames, and audio timecode throughout the entire editorial process. Cinema Tools works in tandem with Final Cut Pro to ensure that every frame of film is properly accounted for during editing.
Today's generation of video producers are comfortable with both the horizontal and vertical nature of the editorial process. In addition to performing cuts and transitions between shots and applying filters and color corrections to clips, they know how to make effective use of multiple video tracks. This routinely involves superimposed titles, split screens, and picture-in-picture effects. It can even involve compositing techniques including travel mattes, blend modes, and keying for blue- and greenscreen effects. Final Cut Pro supports all of these operations.
The latest version of Final Cut Pro includes an architecture called RT Extreme, which leverages the power of the host PowerPC processor, the operating system, and the graphics processing unit to calculate transitions and filter effects in real time. This design philosophyto provide the full creative palette of effects in real timeis at the heart of round-trip production.
Round-trip production also lets you create, import, and revise parts of your project in separate applications, with updates in one application automatically reflected in the others. Apple has leveraged XML (Extensible Markup Language) to make all media metadata and project information accessible to Apple and third-party applications to facilitate this automatic updating process.
Several parts of the production workflow require tools well beyond your basic cut and splice. Those parts include audio (music, dialog, sound effects) and motion graphics (text, illustrations, animations).