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For years, we've been promised professional digital video editing on the desktop. In the past, that meant $30,000 to $60,000 for half a truckload of gear. That's about to change, thanks to Apple Computer's release of two products that fit together like hand in glove. Final Cut Pro is Apple's new digital video editing software, which is capable of delivering professional-quality results, even in the hands of an amateur, for less than $1,000. Run it on Apple's new 500-Mhz desktop screamer, the FireWire-enabled Power Mac G4, and you can capture, edit and output digital movies for less than five grand, out of the box.

Final Cut Pro lays out a working environment in four basic windows: a Viewer; a Canvas; a Timeline; and a Browser. The Viewer previews the work, while the Canvas window provides for the construction of a video with drag-and-drop editing. As a film clip is dragged over the Canvas window, a semi-transparent menu pops on allowing users to insert the clip, overwrite an existing one, replace a previous clip, fit to fill an existing amount of time, or superimpose one clip on top of another. A timeline at the bottom of the screen provides A and B tracks and up to eight simultaneous audio tracks. Finally, the Browser window can quickly sort through video and audio clips, graphics and typographic treatments, providing handy access.

Final Cut Pro has a logical, if not intuitive, interface. Since most decisions are made visually, with near-instantaneous results, it's easy to fall into a productive rhythm of selecting work, dragging it into place, rendering a transition -- there are dozens included as off-the-shelf defaults -- and immediately previewing the work in progress. Output options include video, QuickTime, a digital stream for Websites, still images or even as audio.

Ready for your closeup, Mr. Jobs: if they gave Oscars for software, Final Cut

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