There’s not much of interest for video content professionals coming out of CES this year. NAB doesn’t seem to be generating much early buzz either. By definition a consumer show, in the past CES has illuminated trends of interest to video pros.
Early NAB rumor
According to ThinkSecret, Apple is planning a major announcement for Final Cut Pro 6.
Preliminary information from sources suggests that Apple will take advantage of the April show to demonstrate Final Cut Pro 6 to the public for the first time. Even more significant, Apple will use the stage to unveil Final Cut Extreme, an extremely high-end version of its video editing software designed to grab marketshare away from rival Avid.
Priced at $10,000 per license, FCP Extreme is rumored to handle 4K files generated by the yet to be released Red camera. The price, and the size of the potential market just don’t seem to fit with Apple’s recent strategy. If Apple were to simply fix media management and update the built-in FCP color corrector, it would generate more revenue at less cost. But every time I declare a Mac rumor site wrong, I turn out being wrong.
FCP for digital intermediary work? Maybe.
The only thing that lends this rumor credibility isn’t even mentioned in the ThinkSecret piece. Apple recently hired former Avid product designer Steve Bayes as the senior product manager for Final Cut Pro. For seven years, Steve was Principal Product Designer for Media Composer, Symphony and Nitris at Avid. For my money, Steve knows more about nonlinear editing than anyone on the planet. Hiring Steve to do anything less than shoot for the highest reaches of the biz would be like engaging the Manahttan Project team for a fireworks show.
In the portable video world, the Toshiba Gigabit S series players look like they can give the iPod a run for its money. Lots of gadgets sport spec sheets that compare favorably to the little white player but don’t seem to catch on. It always comes down to two things. How easy is it to use? And, how cool does it look? I gleaned nothing of the former from the Engadget write-up, but the coolness factor is below room tempertaure. But five hours of video playback capability, the ability to download TiVo Series II media directly, and apparent compatibility with the Vongo service makes the device look promising.
The Mac rumor sites are reporting that the online movie subscription service Vongo (don’t bother clicking if you’re on a Mac) is making overtures to Apple. Until now Apple’s turned a cold shoulder on subscription services, but in the age of Netflix, Steve Jobs’ “people would rather own than rent” their content dogma will be challenged in the video market place.
Toshiba’s HD-DVD pricing: brilliance or desperation? Today’s NY Times features a blurb about a $499 player. Interesting. These high definition DVD players that should be able to find a spot on Wal-Mart’s shelves. With Blu-Ray players in the north of $1,000 neighborhood, Toshiba might have a survival strategy. Not too long ago it looked like the game was over for HD-DVD. What does this mean for DVD authors in 2006? Not much. Blu-Ray has a more robust feature set, but we’ll pretty much continue authoring to the lowest common denominator until one format wins over the other and gets significant penetration.
Like a vampire in a B-movie, TiVo is pronounced dead by the pundits every year, expected to perish at the hands of a new killer. This year is no different with CNET assigning the executioner’s role to the Scientific Atlanta MCP-100. It’s a sweet HD DVR with a DVD burner. Yeah, that’s going to be huge with studios and cable cartel. As TiVo’s advertising strategy continues to evolve, look for big media to embrace it as the best DVR option for it.
Two duds of the show… The Motorola ROKR E2. Taking a step in the right direction shedding Apple and iTunes, the phone still requires a USB connection to a PC to download songs. Um, Moto, a wireless device should be able receive stuff wirelessly. Alienware’s under $2,000 iMac knock off. That thing is just plain ugly. The iMac is cheaper and doesn’t scare small children.
Intel’s keynote tonight should be interesting.