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Apple applies for a patent for Smart Transitions in video editing applications

apple smart transitions patent

Apple have applied a patent for the use of 'Smart Transitions' in video editing, for use in Final Cut Pro X we would assume. What on earth are smart transitions? We take a look.

Another patent application for Apple (after the collaborative editing) that interests us because it might be a hint of what is to come with FCPX. 

The abstact of the patent is a normal vague description:

"A method, system and computer-readable storage medium for performing smart transitions between video clips are disclosed. According to implementations, a first video clip can be displayed on an interface of a video editing application. A second video clip can be received in the interface. In response to receiving the second video clip, a video clip sequence that includes the first video clip, the second video clip and a transition selected based on content characteristics of the first video clip and the second video clip can be generated. The generated video clip sequence containing the transition can be displayed on the interface. The video clip sequence including the transition can be generated automatically in response to receiving the second video clip."

Not much given away there, so we had a read on of the rather lengthy and wordy patent application to see if we could pull a few real world examples out.

So based on the transition analysing both clips, not only for metadata, but for colour and temporal information.

1) A smart transition could look at the date metadata and perform a cut between media from the same day and a mix or other transition between media from different days.

2) If a high amount of motion is detected, a cut could be performed. If a low amount of motion has been detected, a dissolve or another transition will be applied.

3) Different transitions can will be applied depending on the colour analysed in the media.

4) Different transitions can be automatically applied depending on the length of shots.

5) The transition could automatically repair defective media (This is where it gets interesting) The transition once applied would look for defective media, make two clips omitting the problem and then join them togther to minimise the problem.

6) If a transition has been used too much in a sequence, applying a smart transition wil result in another effect being applied.

So it gets more interesting the more you think about it, How about the transition recognising camera metadata so it would perform a cut between angles on a multicam project but a dissolve between the same angle?

One for plugin developers to note is that for Apple to make this possible in FCPX, the transitions would have to have access to the metadata as we described. At the moment the coded and Motion effect architecture within FCPX won't allow the transfer of such information, so there will have to be more internal data sharing added to make this possible in the future.

It has certainly set us thinking... Could you set up 'Rules' so that for example if you used clips from an archive bin, they would always dissolve in and out? It is another clever example of Apple looking ahead and planning further features for FCPX that will take some of the routine drudgery out of editing.

So if Apple can make smart transitions, why stop there? How about smart name supers that would range left or right depending on where the person was sat during an interview? How about a varying drop shadow on titles based on the brightness of the track below?

The original patent was filed on the 28th of January and published on August 2 2012. 


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Written by
Top BloggerThought Leader

I am the Editor-in-Chief of FCP.co and have run the website since its inception ten years ago.

I have also worked as a broadcast and corporate editor for over 30 years, starting on one inch tape, working through many formats, right up to today's NLEs.

Under the name Idustrial Revolution, I have written and sold plugins for Final Cut Pro for 13 years.

I was made a Freeman of Lichfield through The Worshipful Company of Smiths (established 1601). Though I haven't yet tried to herd a flock of sheep through the city centre!

Current Editing

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2020 has been busy, the beginning of the year was finishing off a new property series (cut on FCP) for Channel 4 called The Great House Giveaway. I also designed and built the majority of the graphics as Motion templates. It has been a great success and the shows grabbed more viewers in the 4pm weekday slot than any previous strand. It has been recommissioned by C4 for 60 episodes, including prime-time versions and five themed programmes. The shows have also been nominated for a 2021 BAFTA.

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Although both were postponed to later in the year, I worked again on ITV's coverage of the Tour de France and La Vuelta. 2020 was my 25th year of editing the TdF and my 20th year as lead editor. The Tour was the first broadcast show to adopt FCPX working for multiple editors on shared storage.


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BBC's Snooker has played a big part in my life, I've been editing tournament coverage since 1997. I'm proud to be part of a very creative team that has pioneered many new ideas and workflows that are now industry standard in sports' production. This is currently an Adobe Premiere edit.

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Covid cancelled some of the regular corporate events that I edit such as trade shows & events. I was lucky however to edit, from home, on projects for Amazon Kindle, Amazon Black Friday, Mastercard and very proud to have helped local charitable trust Kendall & Wall secure lottery funding.

As for software, my weapon of choice is Final Cut Pro and Motion, but I also have a good knowledge and broadcast credits with Adobe Premiere Pro, MOGRT design and Photoshop.

Plugin Design & Development

I'm the creative force behind Idustrial Revolution, one of the oldest Final Cut Pro plugin developers. It hosts a range of commercial and free plugins on the site. One free plugin was downloaded over a thousand times within 24 hours of release.

I also take on custom work, whether it is adapting an existing plugin for a special use or designing new plugins for clients from scratch. Having a good knowledge of editing allows me to build-in flexibility and more importantly, usability.


Now in its 10th year and 4th redesign, running FCP.co has given me knowledge on how to run a large CMS- you are currently reading my bio from the database! Although it sounds corny, I am pretty well up on social media trends & techniques, especially in the video sector. The recent Covid restrictions has enabled live FCP.co shows online. This involves managing a Zoom Webinar through Restream.io to YouTube and Facebook. 

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I'm always open to new ideas and opportunities, so please get in touch at editor (at) fcp.co. I've judged film competitions, presented workflow techniques to international audiences and come up with ideas for TV shows and software programs!


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