A Decade of Vanguards, #7
Different postproduction suites, such as Apple's Final Cut Studio and Adobe's Creative Suite, have by and large evolved in the same ways. First they added lots of unique and user-requested features, and then they added support for newer hardware and formats. But as the suites have matured, the story has been the increasing serendipity among the separate software components in one suite. What does "serendipity" mean in this context?
Editing software, the anchor of most suites, has not evolved much recently—at least as far as the interface goes. (Only the lower-end Apple iMovie continues to think outside the bin). But what has advanced? You can now bring your editing timeline into an effects program and send it back out again. Moving your production to different software is almost like visiting a new production house: Each program has its feature set, and you don't have to start over from scratch.
Also, as processors have become more powerful, more work on the timeline transpires in realtime. The target started moving when HD production ramped up; bigger frames required more processing. But the fact that even an off-the-rack machine today can edit in HD in realtime (with effects) is pretty amazing. The faster processors also enabled the unbundling of the hardware. Gone are the days when you needed an editing/effects card to go with your software suite. Now software developers can dedicate more time to fine-tuning software instead of battling hardware compatibility.
This fine-tuning now seems to be focused on intermingling and polishing the various elements within postproduction suites. While new versions of suites may have fewer new features, the chances is good that we'll be using more elements of the suites' different software components.