Who says software doesn’t have material value? Flickr user spaunsglo grabbed this photo of the beloved suite.

iPhonewhat? Apple’s Pro Apps division unleashed an enormous upgrade to its Final Cut suite in May, and Macworld.com put up the full reviews on its site last week, just before the deluge of coverage of a certain consumer multifunction device. There’s a lot in Final Cut Studio 2: ProRes codec in Final Cut Pro, 3D and painting in Motion, HD in DVD Studio, conforming in Soundtrack, and a “new” (acquired) app called Color.

The reviewers for Macworld are people worth paying attention to. HD consultant and writer of one of our all-time favorite blogs, HD For Indies, Mike Curtis, wrote the review of flagship Final Cut Pro. The Color app was reviewed by none other than the technical chairman for HD Postproduction for the National Association of Broadcasters, Gary Adcock (who’s also a consultant out of Chicago). I’m humbled just to get my byline among people of this caliber. (I did the Motion and Soundtrack Pro reviews). Online is the only place you can read our full, detailed reviews, so while there are still great reasons to pick up the print rag, you’ll definitely want to go online for the Final Cut reviews.

The Reviews

The apps are all reviewed one by one. As of Final Cut Studio 2, you can’t purchase them a la carte, but they’re certainly worth looking through in detail individually, as they retain some standalone character.

Final Cut Pro 6

In terms of bang for the buck, the Final Cut Studio 2 package offers many more features and capabilities than previous versions of the suite … Apple has also made a slew of improvements and fixes to existing features: FCP 6 is better, easier to use, and faster than previous versions. -Mike Curtis

Motion 3

With Motion 3, Apple has focused on the major capabilities previous versions lacked: motion tracking and stabilization, painting tools, and a true 3-D graphical environment to augment speed and easy, improvisational control. Motion may not become your only motion-graphics program, but it could easily become your favorite tool for quickly creating visuals. -Peter Kirn

Color 1.0

Color 1.0 is a solid, best-in-class addition to the Final Cut Studio 2 suite, offering one of the most powerful color-correction tools available in video production … However, its complex, less-than-familiar interface will take some getting used to. And its lack of support for third-party codecs will likely deter some video pros. -Gary Adcock

Soundtrack Pro 2

Sound editors and video editors—the humans, not the software—often seem to live in different worlds. … Soundtrack Pro … seeks to bridge some of those divisions, at least within the suite’s workflows. Enhanced recording tools aid dialogue and Foley recording (which includes sound effects and incidental sound), and a new audio Conform facility promises to make reconciling video and audio edits easier. -Peter Kirn

Past Reviews

DVD Studio Pro 4 is unchanged in this release of Studio. Here’s legendary author/reviewer Jim Heid’s review from 2005:

DVD Studio Pro 4

DVD Studio Pro 4 is a jaw-dropping value, offering features that even five-figure DVD-authoring systems can’t match. If you’re setting up your first DVD-authoring system, look no further. But … If high-definition video isn’t on your radar, consider sticking with version 3.

Compressor 3 was not reviewed, but you can read the Compressor 2 review by Jim Heid and Anton Linecker from 2005.

Performance Tests

Macworld.com’s lab has been testing away on Apple’s latest hardware. The short version: the new MacBook Pro rocks in a very big way (a plain MacBook really won’t cut it with Final Cut Studio, particularly Motion), and while octa-Mac Pros are nice, the quad-core is probably what you actually need.

Macworld Labs Tests Eight-Core Mac Pro
Review of the new MacBook Pros

Strangely, this information isn’t combined on a single page on Macworld.com, so I feel I’ve done a small service there. Got opinions of the tools yourself — or of the reviews? Feel free to share here!