Apple try to lock down Final Cut Pro X's unique design and features by filing 10 patents

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A huge day for Apple applying for ten patents in video editing. The patents range from the FCPX GUI with a magnetic timeline and auditions right through to keying, metadata and yes there is even a mention of touchscreen editing in there.

To do justice to all the patents would require somebody to sit with them for a long period of time, days and days not hours. There is a lot of information in there and we are sure that eagle-eyed readers might spot new buttons or distill the lengthy patent speak into possible new features.

Our take on the applications is that Apple are trying to patent the magnetic timeline and near enough the entire way FCPX operates. They are being very thorough.

We will follow Patently Apple's great detective work and try to give a real-life summary on each patent, there is a lot to digest and we will take a look at them one by one over the next few days, you never know we just might spot something that's been overlooked in the excitement to browse through them all. 

 

Media-Editing Application with Novel Editing Tools 

This patent describes the operation and layout of FCXP including the magnetic timeline, precision editor, auditions, the use of 'anchor clips' in 'anchor lanes' a 'compositing lane' and spines. 

Look familiar?

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Here is the abstract from Apple

"Some embodiments provide a media-editing application with novel editing tools. The media editing application provides an in-line precision editor that can be opened in the composite display area. In some embodiments, a selection of an edge between two clips expands a composite lane into two lanes, a first lane and a second lane. The first lane is then used to perform edits to the left side of the selected edge, while the second lane is used to perform edits to the right side of the selected edge. In some embodiments, the first lane shows the additional media content available for the clip on the left side of the edge to include. The second lane shows the additional media content available for the clip on the right side of the edge to include. The additional media content is in the source media file, of which a clip represents a portion."

The patent also references touchscreen which reinforces many people's thoughts that the GUI was designed for possible touch screen and tablet usage.

"The clip browser 110 allows the user to view clips from a selected folder (e.g., an event, a sub-folder, etc.) of the clip library 105. As shown in this example, the folder "New Event 2-8-11 3" is selected in the clip library 105, and the clips belonging to that folder are displayed in the clip browser 110. Some embodiments display the clips as thumbnail filmstrips, as shown in this example. By moving a cursor (or a finger on a touchscreen) over one of the thumbnails (e.g., with a mouse, a touchpad, a touchscreen, etc.), the user can skim through the clip. That is, when the user places the cursor at a particular horizontal location within the thumbnail filmstrip, the media-editing application associates that horizontal location with a time in the associated media file, and displays the image from the media file for that time. In addition, the user can command the application to play back the media file in the thumbnail filmstrip. "

Interesting how the application uses older terminology for storylines and connected clips.

"The timeline 115 provides a visual representation of a composite presentation (or project) being created by the user of the media-editing application. Specifically, it displays one or more geometric shapes that represent one or more media clips that are part of the composite presentation. The timeline 115 of some embodiments includes a primary lane (also called a "spine", "primary compositing lane", or "central compositing lane") as well as one or more secondary lanes (also called "anchor lanes") above and/or below the primary lane. The spine represents a primary sequence of media which, in some embodiments, does not have any gaps. The clips in the anchor lanes are anchored to a particular position along the spine (or along a different anchor lane). Anchor lanes may be used for compositing (e.g., removing portions of one video and showing a different video in those portions), B-roll cuts (i.e., cutting away from the primary video to a different video whose clip is in the anchor lane), audio clips, or other composite presentation techniques."

The patent appliaction also includes some interesting flow diagrams on how FCPX operates.

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And a visual representation of the metadata that gets stored with a clip.

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The patent application also describes a multi tracked editing tool, which we would assume is the Angle Editor. Interesting to note here that the filing date on the document is the 1st of June 2011 which means that the multicam features of FCPX were planned well before the original launch.

"The media-editing application of some embodiments provides another multi-tracked editing tool. This multi-track editing tool is also an in-line tool. That is, the media-editing application opens this multi-tracked editing tool within the timeline as a new "page" in some embodiments. In some embodiments, the media-editing application displays only the inside of a selected media clip of which to edit the tracks. No other media clips of the media presentation will be displayed when the selected media clip is opened as a new page for multi-track editing. This multi-tracked editing tool opens different tracks contained in a media clip in different lanes to allow the user to edit individual tracks of the media clip independently. In some embodiments, the multi-tracked editing tool opens different tracks of a media clip in a central compositing lane and a set of anchor lanes. Each lane will include a track of a media clip in these embodiments. In some embodiments, the media-editing application does not display in the tool any other media clips that were displayed in the timeline before the tool was opened."

So one patent down and no real surprises or new features, fascinating reading however as it shows the level of consideration Apple has gone into in designing the new interface. The document might be wordy and a long read, but if Apple get this patent granted it will certainly block a lot of the new functionality to other NLE manufacturers. We wonder what Adobe have to say about skimming, or is it hoverscrubbing?