Good news for video-producers everywhere: Apple has finally introduced a Universal (Intel-native) version of Final Cut Express 3.5.

Beyond being simply an upgrade to a universal app, Apple has added adjustable keyframe control over all effects, transitions, and motion parameters, and more than 200 “real time” transitions, filters and effects, including dissolves, wipes, page peels, blurs, borders, mattes, and keying effects. This will allow you to preview your edit decisions as you work.

There is also a new version of Soundtrack included with Final Cut Express HD 3.5. This includes “improved multi-track audio editing and recording tools with tracks, busses, outputs and real-time effects processing just like a professional recording studio”. There also improved capability for recording single and multiple takes of dialog and other types of performances.

In my opinion, Soundtrack itself is worth $299 – it’s great that it’s bundled with FCE 3.5.

LiveType (included with Final Cut Express HD 3.5) has also been upgraded to version 2.1. and includes 70 new animated objects, 15 new textures and 60 new customizable preset effects for text and titles. With the new LiveFont technology, animated text styles can also now be scaled to any resolution – including HD – “with blazing rendering performance, especially on the new generation of Intel-based Macs”.

Final Cut Express HD 3.5 is available now for $299. Owners of earlier versions can upgrade for $99.

To run FCE 3.5, you’ll need a Macintosh computer with 500MHz or faster PowerPC G4 or G5 (550MHz for PowerBook G4) or Intel Core Duo, along with 512MB RAM, a display with 1024-by-768 (or higher) resolution, and an AGP or PCI Express graphics card compatible with Quartz Extreme.
You also need Mac OS X 10.4.6 or later.

FCE 3.5 + a new MacBook = portable digital video nirvana. Once again, Apple hits the ball out of the park.

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