by Mark Wherry
On May 9th, Apple hosted an informal event in Los Angeles to unveil two new iPad apps for creative professionals. However, these weren’t just any two apps. Ever since the late Steve Jobs ushered in the post-PC era with the launch of the iPad, positioning Apple at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts, there has been much speculation as to whether the company would bring its professional applications for music and video production to the iPad. And that question has now been answered with the surprisingly stealth release of Logic Pro for iPad and Final Cut Pro for iPad.
The proceedings were opened by the delightfully imaginative Mary Spender, whose work exemplifies what it means to be musically creative in the modern world. With a guitar at the ready, Spender laid bare the writing process behind a new song from the very first ideas, which had been recorded at a live gig and later built upon by adding a Drummer Track, to the final polished production awash with layers of guitar tracks and multi-take solos, fuelled by Logic Pro’s amp effects.
Now, you might be thinking this sounds like a typical example of someone using Logic Pro, and normally you’d be right. But this was all happening on an iPad; although, frankly, Spender had me at automation. Because while you might previously have tried using an Apple Pencil to draw automation on an iPad, tethered to a Mac via Sidecar, support for this handy accessory is now supported natively by Logic Pro for iPad. This means you can tap the paint tool and just draw the desired automation smoothly across a Track’s automation view, exactly as you would expect. As simple as it is brilliant.
Later, Apple invited producers Denzel Baptiste and David Biral — better known as the production duo Take a Daytrip — to blow us away (quite literally, with the monitoring level set for the Genelec speakers) with some electronically-styled hip-hop. Having produced the Lil Nas X track Montero, which is the Demo Project currently included with the Mac version of Logic Pro, the pair’s enthusiasm in using Logic Pro on an iPad was evident as they showed off working with Step Sequencer, and two new tools: Sample Alchemy and the highly infectious Beat Breaker.
At one point, I did have to apologise for my exclamatory use of certain, choice Anglo-Saxon vocabulary as I began to realise exactly what Logic Pro for iPad could facilitate from a creative perspective. And although I can’t go into the details just yet — look out for a full review once the app has been released—there were so many aspects that will delight both new and existing Logic Pro (and even GarageBand) users alike. One foudroyant feature was Plug-in Tiles, giving quick access to essential controls in a Live-esque manner, without taking over the screen — a stroke of genius in this context.
While Logic Pro is obviously most germane to Sound On Sound readers, both Mary Spender and film maker extraordinaire Andy To demonstrated Final Cut Pro, which was also very impressive for anyone with even a passing interest in video production. Again, some of the features unique to the iPad were arguably the most impactful, such as the ability to use the iPad cameras to record clips that can be used immediately in the current Project — ideal for storyboarding and more — and a truly superb feature called Live Drawing, allowing you to quickly create hand-drawn footage with the Apple Pencil. Another nice touch, so to speak, was the jog-wheel control, which can be employed in situations where a little more precision is required than afforded by regular touch controls.
In short, my overarching takeaway in getting to experience Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro for iPad was that one mustn’t come to any conclusion about these apps based on their names alone. Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro for iPad aren’t merely a technical exercise in making a Mac application available on the iPad, since that would be pointless, unnecessary, and, perhaps worst of all, boring. Rather, these apps bring the essence of what Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro can do for creative users to the iPad because they have a reason to exist on the iPad, bringing a unique user experience to the table — or tablet, if you will.
By embracing the iPad’s interaction models, such as touch and Pencil, and combining that with more traditional keyboard, mouse, and trackpad input devices, Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro for iPadOS can reshape and hopefully inspire different creative decisions. And with its mobile and convenient form factor, the iPad affords you the freedom of being creative in environments where even a MacBook Air could be cumbersome. So, I left the event, as I’m sure Apple intended, with the sense that I can’t wait to explore these ideas further when the apps are released in a few weeks time.
Price & Availability
Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro will both be available as subscriptions on the App Store on 23rd May, each costing either $4.99 per month or $49 annually with a one-month free trial. Logic Pro requires an iPad with at least an A12 Bionic chip, while Final Cut Pro only runs on iPads powered by M-series chips.