Final Cut Studio 4 is all about speed.

After a long summer hiatus, I’m back with some juicy info regarding what’s next in the Apple Video Professional world.

Final Cut Studio 4 is most likely not going to hit by the end of 2010 as was initially the plan… but the wait isn’t all that much longer. Expect to have it January 2011 at the earliest, and NAB 2011 at the latest.

Final Cut Studio 3 was not the major upgrade it was marketed as. Rather, since what now will be Final Cut Studio 4 didn’t make it in time, they took some of those features, and bundled them together in order to tie people over until the true major upgrade.

Randy Ubillos, the man heading all of Apple’s video applications, but notoriously infamous for the “updated” iMovie debacle, is definitely trustable. Apple knows very well that editors don’t like change in the wrong places… so the last thing they’re going to do is a major UI overhaul of the program. Simply put, the external familiarity we all love is here to stay.

One thing that isn’t here to stay is what we all hate… Final Cut’s bulkiness as a suite, and it’s slug-like agility when live-previewing and rendering. The major feature of the new Final Cut Studio, and the reason the upgrade is taking so long for the team to complete, is a complete architectural code rewriting… i.e. Snow Leopard. The new Final Cut Studio has been re-engineered from the ground up for speed. And apparently, the wait is not in vain. Previewing will be instantaneous. Long renders will be a thing of the past. The secret is that the new Final Cut Studio has been created to take advantage of multiple cores… so if you’re running on an 8-core Mac Pro, you’ll be thanking your lucky stars you stuck it out and didn’t switch to Adobe’s offerings.

Speaking of Adobe’s offerings, Apple is quite aware that Motion is a joke, and that After Effects runs circles around it. That’s why they’ve had a team working exclusively on making Motion more powerful and easier for editors to use. The software has been in the works ever since Apple scratched Shake, and Motion is going to end up being a hybrid which utilizes the power of Shake with the usability of Final Cut Pro. Also, Motion’s UI is supposedly getting a major overhaul, and will resemble Final Cut’s way more, making it more familiar for editors. The team is working hard to change the timeline and browser of Motion to match Final Cut Pro’s. Whether or not these major changes will be ready in time for the next upgrade isn’t a guarantee at this point… but if not FCS4, then definitely FCS5. But odds are, Motion will finally be the powerful, usable program it has the potential to be when the next upgrade hits the shelves.

DVD Studio Pro has basically gone the way of the dodo, i.e. iDVD. However, once Apple’s machines support Blu-Ray (which they inevitably will), OS X’s DVD Player will be repackaged as Media Player, and eventually iDVD and DVD Studio Pro will morph into applications suitable for delivering films across all different mediums… including DVD, Blu-Ray, and the Web.

Native RED support hasn’t come yet due to bickering between both Apple and RED… neither will compromise the licensing negotiations, so native RED support is a technical go, but a legal stalemate. Whether or not the legal issues will be resolved by the next major release is uncertain.

Compressor will also see changes. I wasn’t given details, but rather just told that the team responsible for it hates the current version and is working on a new one. Whether or not it will show up by FCS4 is uncertain.

And as for Color…it finally will get the Apple touch.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I know I haven’t posted in a while, but hopefully this information will tie everyone over until the release hits. Just know that Apple has not abandoned their pro apps in the slightest… there’s a team at Apple working on them just as hard as the iPhone team works on the iPhone. Apple wouldn’t be employing dozens of people with large salaries if they didn’t think there was a future for the product. The fact is this… Final Cut Studio 4 is coming soon, it’s a major, functional, flashy upgrade, and should make the long wait for a “real” upgrade more than worth it.