Final Cut vs Premiere Pro
The video making community has come an incredibly long way in a tiny speck of time. We have gone from paying $2,000 in 1981 for a near-worthless VHS camcorder that requires you to lug a massive box on your shoulder, to one person having an entire production’s worth of equipment in his closet (this guy). The key factor that enabled such a revolutionary leap was digital video, followed closely by HD video. In the same time period, we were introduced to non-linear editing with platforms like Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro, and Sony Vegas. Then we were given things like Apple Motion and Adobe After Effects, stunningly powerful tools that anyone could own.
Today, most editing studios are going to be running Premiere or Final Cut, the two most relevant editing systems on the market right now. If you are a maker of video, your preference is likely set in stone, but below are compelling arguments for both pieces of software.
Adobe Premiere Pro
Adobe Premiere is the non-linear editor (NLE) that I use currently. For the first part of my video-making career, I was a die-hard FCP editor. Nothing could compare, because Final Cut was king and Macs were awesome, end of story. After a while, I became involved with motion graphics and the next step was obviously Apple’s Motion. Unfortunately, I had a really awful outdated version of Motion and it crashed a lot. The solution was Adobe After Effects, a godsend compared to my previous editing situation. After that, the change over to Premiere was easy.
Good Things About Premiere Pro
Premiere is obviously going to have all the in-depth controls one would expect from a professional NLE, but where it really shines is the user interface and the Adobe dynamic link. The way Premiere is set up is very logical, using drop down menus to navigate and stopwatch icons to edit keyframe values. The dynamic link proves to be very useful when there is a need to integrate other facets of the Adobe suite into a project, like a Photoshop file or an After Effects composition. Instead of having to go through the arduous process of exporting things from each independent program, Premiere can automatically launch the app you need when you need it. Cool, right? This applies to not just inserting visual bits, but with audio too. In the timeline panel, Premiere Pro can link directly to Adobe Audition to do more in-depth audio editing.
Premiere is also equipped with a pretty good rendering engine. Even though I have a computer that isn’t lightning quick, she gets by when running Premiere Pro, even with Photoshop or After Effects open. The customization ability of Premiere, much like other adobe products, is phenomenal. I can put whatever window or menu wherever I want, which is nice. Rarely do I crash Premiere, and though it doesn’t have a “live save” feature like FCP, the auto-save stores project files in iterations and happens on a frequent enough basis that a crash isn’t too Earth shattering.
What Premiere Pro Lacks
Premiere is a great editing system, but there are a few features that I wish were more built-in. The first is the color-correcting interface. Not that I can get better results with a different NLE, I just like the layout of FCP better. To combat this, I have Magic Bullet Looks attached to Premiere, which gives me better color control, but the interface seems a bit friendlier to my editing; easier to use.
The other thing that I really wish Premiere had is more “artsy” features built in. There are sometimes I want a bad TV or grunge effect that is quick to engage and edit. Premiere doesn’t really offer that. Though it is a small thing, it is super convenient to make those into a type of flicker transition sometimes; a look I go for a lot. Premiere is lacking in stock production extras like royalty free sound effects too; something that can be a huge time saver when a project needs to be wrapped up.
Final Cut Pro X
As I mentioned earlier, for the first part of my editing career I was a FCP editor. Final Cut was what I immediately started learning in school when an “advanced” digital media class was started, and I quickly felt very at home in the FCP 7 interface. When Final Cut Pro came out with X, I was excited! Then when I got it, I was less than pleased. Other than the business-as-usual bugs that are to be found in new software, Final Cut was plagued with what I saw as an oversimplification of what is the main hub of my work. Regardless, FCP X does have merits.
Good Things About Final Cut Pro X
FCP X looks really cool. If you walk up on someone working on FCP X, you can probably assume they are from the really trendy future. Fluff features aside, FCP had a new “time warp” feature that was very much like the expensive plugin called Twixtor. Basically, what it does is make slow motion slower while retaining smooth action, even when a relatively low frame-rate was being used. The feature was surprisingly close to the results of Twixtor.
Unlike Premiere, FCP has a large library of sound effects that can be looped and modified. A huge bonus! Other stock features that are included are the filters that are over-the-top and very easy to use in a pinch. My personal favorites are the “crosshatch” and “bad film” filters. As far as I know, those are FCP exclusives. The user experience is a very “drag and drop while pressing big shiny buttons” type journey, and sometimes that is a really cool feature when all the tools do what you want them to do.
Why I Hate Final Cut Pro X
The FCP X giant button policy drives me crazy. Though I love everything being big and beautiful, I feel foreign when I am editing in it. Then there is the magnetic timeline…
…(that was me glaring at the magnetic timeline with disdain.) I hate that thing about as much as poverty and war. Not only will my clips never seem to go where I need them, the lack of a separation between audio and video tracks makes me feel like I’m taking CRAZY PILLS! Everything is being moved or overwritten in the timeline when I just want to put in one freaking clip under something! AHH! Then there are the ridiculous keyframe controls. Why can’t we just model our keyframing like After Effects, like they are supposed to be? Also, being an Apple product, I’m pretty sure it can only be installed on an Apple. Which…I like Apple computers, I am typing this article on one, but sometimes I may need a PC.
Needless to say, FCP X just doesn’t really jive with me. Not to say it’s a bad system, but I prefer Premiere Pro so much more than Final Cut X. I also think that the “live saving” thing is stupid. Great, I can’t lose a project, but it makes it much more cumbersome to manage multiple iterations of a project.
Lesson here? Find a different job than being a video editor, all we have is pent up production rage. No, seriously, there's enough of us. Go become a dental assistant.