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Final Cut Studio 3 to bundle major Motion, Soundtrack upgrades

The third major release of Apple's Final Cut Studio professional video and audio production suite will offer a mixed bag when it comes to advances in individual component applications, half of which will be touted as new releases while the other half see more muted upgrades.

While details are still admittedly limited, people with rudimentary knowledge of Apple's plans for the software say the suite will introduce major new versions of Final Cut Pro (v7.0), Motion (v4.0), and Soundtrack Pro (v3.0). The remainder of the application upgrades will reportedly consist of point release, and include Color (v1.5), Compressor (v3.5), and DVD Studio Pro (v4.2.2).

A complete breakdown of Final Cut Studio 3.0 component apps with general descriptions is therefore:

Final Cut Pro 7.0: for real-time editing for DV, SD, HD and film.

Motion 4.0: for real-time motion graphics and animation design.

Soundtrack Pro 3.0: for advanced audio post production and sound design.

Color 1.5: for real-time professional color grading.

Compressor 3.5: for high-performance encoding with output in various formats.

DVD Studio Pro 4.2.2: for professional authoring, encoding and burning of DVDs.

Of interest is that DVD Studio Pro 4.2.2 will represent the first upgrade to the DVD authoring application in roughly two years but won't introduce any new features. It appears as if the software will follow the path of iDVD, a similar offering geared towards the consumer market that was hung out to dry alongside the release of iLife '09 as Apple pushes online distribution.

Final Cut Studio 3.0 is currently undergoing beta testing under the code-name Sideways in the form of a 2.8 gigabyte disk image. Some of its component applications, including Color 1.5 and Motion 4.0, have been accessible to some of Apple's professional video editing partners for months so that they could evaluate the software when run atop betas of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

The finalized suite, along with an update to Final Cut Server code-name Dingo, are believed to be on track for a release sometime later this summer or early this fall, following the release of Snow Leopard.