Thursday, August 19, 2004

Apple's prowess in Sotfware Design

I've recently read some reviews on Motion Apple's new motion graphics application for video. Normally a program written from the ground up can tend to be a little sparse in UI. We all know Apple's OSX is progressing nicely but I'm particularly impressed with what they've done with some of their recent new apps or upgrades.

DVD Studio Pro- Apple really has done a great UI job with this app. It's not only gorgeous but highly functional. They only complaints I've read are about sluggishness on some systems. Everyone from Pros to Novice are able to get up to speed with this application quickly. Great job.

Apple Remote Desktop 2.0- Nice clean use of brushed metal UI and Aqua. They've wrapped up a nice group of features and this app shows a lot of promise. Some initial bugs being reported but I'm sure they'll be fixed soon.

Motion- This apps UI is impressive. I read a very comprehensive review from Peter Wiggins from Creative Cow and I learned a lot. Motion is not a toy..it goes pretty deep once you start using the layering and timeline functions. Keyframing is always available when you need it. Most people seem to say that whatever they need just happens to be right there meaning the developers brainstormed a lot about what the users next step would be. Kudos Apple. By version 3 I predict Motion overtakes After Effects. Sorry Adobe but if you don't do a total overhaul of AE you won't stand a chance.

Logic 7- This is not a shipping product yet and all I have are 7 pics of the Beta to go off of but it seems like Logic 7 will be the next app to see a much improved UI. Apple Loops will be integrated very nicely and I'm sure there will be plenty of other touches that musicians love. I cannot wait for this product.

Apple is definitely on a roll. They have really done a good job on their Pro apps. Now I see the apps coming closer and integrating in very cool ways. This is one of the reasons why I so desperately want an Apple Office. I'm salivating about what Apple would bring to the table in this genre. Open Office and the like are nice MS Office clones but we don't want that do we? Don't we want to see Apple's take on the integrated suite? Imagine the graphics powers they could extend to creating fancy spreadsheets.

I'd love to see more software. I don’t' always agree with the people that hate seeing Apple create software. Every market that Apple devotes resources to creates a Halo Effect that increases opportunities for other developers. Final Cut Pro killed Adobe Premiere on the platform but Premiere never created a "Cottage Industry" devoted to it. Final Cut Pro has.

I'd love to see Apple apply their design talents on a nice simple 3D program aimed at video Pros. Like the Soundtrack of 3D or something. If they could utilize Motion's procedural behaviors within a 3D app for animation they'd be looking at a hit.

I love Apple software. I want more.

8 comments:

Varian Allen said...

I can't wait for Logic 7 either. I'd really love to see Apple go up against Digidesign with the next version of the application. I would also love to see Apple add file-based processing into OS X, alongside Audio Units.

hmurchison said...

Varian,
I think that Apple will be competing soon with Digidesign at the lowend. Logic 7 is a nice app with wonderful midi capabilities but the audio is relatively "bolted on". This is fine for music but Apple is becoming a player in the video NLE segment and ProTools dominates here because of the maturity of its tools for Post Production. I think we will see a new Apple app aimed primarily at audio Post and sweetening. Thus is will be strong on audio editing and mixing but have a little midi functions thrown in. Apple will position this app as the natural app for inclusion in Final Cut Pro workflows. Those that need great midi will still have Logic available.

Varian Allen said...

Do you think Apple will hurt themselves bringing another audio application into the mix? Conversely, Pro Tools' original focus was on audio, but later they sort of "tacked on" MIDI. I love Logic, I've been using it for years, but I would like to see app evolve a bit when it comes to audio.

Also, how do you feel about file-based processing in OS X? In the limited amount of time that I've spent with Pro Tools, I found their AudioSuite plugins very useful.

hmurchison said...

Varian,
I think there would be confusion should Apple bring another audio app into the fold just as there was confusion between Soundtrack and Garageband. Apple would need to push a Audio Post app at Final Cut Pro users who need excellent audio features and very little midi and push Logic Pro at users who need a lot of midi but less audio editing. Eventually the lines may be converged but that would take a bit IMO.

I think Apple is "all" about File Based Processing. They do not want to get into areas like TDM and DSP systems. Remember the old Quadra 840av and I think 610av? Those both had AT&T dsp in them but Apple quickly went away from using DSP systems. I see Apple going after the low hanging fruit here. Final Cut Pro is not an attempt to kill Avid. Apple has no intentions of treading on Avids $80k realtime NLE installments. In the same vein they will not seek to enter Digi's ultra high end either. They will compete at the $2k and under level and subsist happily off of that. I think Digi will have a harder time selling TDM systems as Native systems get faster and faster but the market will always be there for them.

Apple has a great opportunity to parlay off of the 250 thousand Final Cut Pro users they have. I'd like to see Apple announce a Audio Post app at NAB 2005 and eventually I'd love for Apple to take the procedural abilities of motion and create a 3D app for the rest of us who don't need Maya but want to easily do simple animated 3D elements for video. I think Apple would do good to acquire Luxology (luxology.com) to obtain the services of the creators of Lightwave and some great new IP. Let'em run as a wholly owned subsidiary but leverage their talents for some OSX specific items for the future. Varian did you know that Apple is exhibiting at AES in late Oct? I don't think I've ever seen Apple do that. Sounds like Logic 7 and whatever they are going to call "ProBand"(new Apple trademark) is coming. Should be interesting.

Varian Allen said...

Right, I couldn't see Apple adopting the hardware-based processing model. I agree with you that Apple should focus their efforts on competing with Pro Tools on the low end (Pro Tools LE). With all of the achievements that have made over the years, I think one day hardware-based processing systems won't really matter. I, personally, have no use for them. I really believe that Apple should add file-based processing to the core of OS X, though.

I have to say that I do like how clean Pro Tools' UI is. I hope Apple polishes Logic's UI a bit.

Apple trademarked something called "ProBand"?

hmurchison said...

Varian,
http://www.macobserver.com/columns/devilsadvocate/2004/20030817b.shtml

Apple applied for "Proband" "iWork" "Pod" "Searchlight" and "Zeroconf". I don't expect but half of these to turn into actual products within a year. I did take the time to look up the time it took for "Garageband and Keynote" to be trademarked and then announced. It's about 4 months. So I expect to see ProBand soon and maybe iWork at MacWorld San Fran.

I agree ProTools has a simplicity to it the belies its power. Apple really needs to design an app that does the same. Looking at Motion I'm amazed at what these engineers can do. I can only wonder what an Apple Audio Edititors interface would look like. I think you'll see more processing functions coming to OSX. Appleinsider.com has a section on some new Core Audio features in Tiger. Of not is Device Agreggation and new Midi Sync options along with file format and filetype conversions. App flexibility should take a nice little leap forward.

Varian Allen said...

There's a new article up on AppleInsider [http://www.appleinsider.com/article.php?id=653] that has some interesting speculation regarding Apple's recent ProBand trademark. It says that there's word of Apple re-branding Logic under this name. I was curious about your take on this.

hmurchison said...

Varian,
I think Proband is a collection of plugins that were shown at NAMM 2004(Winter). These plugins are Sculpture(a modeling synth) Ultrabeat(Drum synt) and Guitar Amp(Modeling Guitar Amplifier). Apple may toss these plugins in with Logic 7 but somehow I think they will end up as a "Proband add-on pack". We'll know by late Oct for AES.