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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?


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

great house giveaway 2020

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.

Tour de france 2020
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.


BBC snooker the crucible

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.

amazon kindle BF

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. 

The Future

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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