First off, Final Cut Studio offers a great array of additional programs to help you edit motion graphics and audio. Soundtrack Pro is a fantastic audio editing software with great features like Noise Reduction and the ability to insert some good quality music loops straight into a timeline that can also show video for scoring purposes. In addition, Apple also offers Motion, a program that can edit motion graphics. This program has a ton of great presets and just recently added the ability to put objects in 3D space. For titles, Apple used to offer LiveType, a program which allowed editors to quickly make titles and backgrounds from a wide variety of good presets, but has sadly discontinued that program in it's last release of Final Cut Studio 3. One of the best (and most developed) features of Final Cut Studio is Color. Color was originally a very expensive color grading application called Silicon Color Final Touch which Apple bought and included in Final Cut Studio. Though it has been rewritten a bit to work within Final Cut Studio, the application still has a lot of power, but does have a steep learning curve for most people. Still, it is a strong selling point for the Studio package. The Studio package also has a DVD authoring program that again has great presets (a strong suit of the Studio package) and plenty of flexibility. However, Apple has still not added Blu-Ray burning functionality into the program leaving Blu-Ray video producers out in the cold. Lastly, Final Cut Studio also has a professional encoding program called Compressor which can encode video in almost any format. This entire software package goes for $999 on Apple's site.At the same time, Adobe Creative Suite 5 offers a strong group of programs in their software package. Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects are three programs that are undoubtedly the choice of almost all of the photo, graphic, and video industry - which gives the Creative Suite package a real edge. Additionally, each of these programs work seamlessly with and within the Premiere program and have the added advantage of not having to buy or install additional plug-ins to make all three programs work together. Also, if we are all honest, most of us will probably end up buying Photoshop even if using a Mac and Final Cut Pro. This will obviously make the price of Final Cut Studio even more expensive knowing that Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended($999) will have to be added into the bundle if picture or graphic editing needs to be done. The price of Photoshop is more than absorbed into the price of buying Adobe's Production Premium CS5 ($1699) and thus saves money and eliminates needing to have programs from multiple vendors. Like Final Cut's Adobe has a compressing program called Media Encoder that has a ton of great presets to choose from as well as a DVD and Blu-Ray burning program called Encore. While Encore doesn't have as many professional templates to choose from it does have a community that develops more and with the addition of Blu-Ray burning, is currently a step ahead of what Apple's DVD Studio Pro offers. Overall, though Final Cut Pro has programs like Color which are greatly reduced in price when you buy the Final Cut Studio bundle, I think that the Adobe Creative Suite bests that fact by having programs in its package that are more useful and that save you a lot of money as well. PC vs. Mac And so now we enter some real dangerous territory where most of these kinds of debates end up. Namely, which one is better, a Windows PC or a Mac? It is true that there are fewer viruses and malware for the Mac due to its history of relative obscurity, less incompatibility issues since a Mac can only be ordered and assembled from Apple itself, and has historically been on the leading edge of computing. Of course, all of these facts plus the Mac's sexy appeal make for a product which tends towards the high end of the price range. This, and the large task of learning and getting used to a new operating system (though it is easy to do), can turn many people off to Macs. Nonetheless, Macs are solid computers that can still pay for themselves in saved time from fighting computer bugs and viruses. I have owned two Macs in my lifetime which never needed any major repair and rarely got a spinning beach ball of death that couldn't be quickly overcome. That being said, Final Cut Pro is still at a slight disadvantage in the PC vs. Mac debate not because of anything to do with the Mac operating system or hardware, but rather the exclusivity of the program. Final Cut Pro can only be installed on the Mac OS X operating system. As such, in order to fully collaborate projects with other editors, you'll need to make sure that they are on a Mac first. Since Macs users only consist of a little more than 10 percent of the overall computer market according to research done by Market Share, your options may be limited. However, since Final Cut Pro does make up 49% of the editing market, you can bet a lot of those Mac users are video editors. This still leaves video editors without any easy options of collaborating with over half of the video editing market. Not a great number. On the other hand, any program in Adobe Creative Suite can be used on both the Mac and on a Windows-based PC. This means that no matter what kind of computer you buy, you can always transfer your Adobe applications and license to it and expect it to work which is a big advantage over Final Cut. That's not to say however that Final Cut Pro will never be a Windows program. With iTunes and Safari coming to the PC, it may just be a matter of time before Apple's strength in the editing market becomes available for anyone to use. However, it's still safe to say that if it does happen, it will probably be quite a while. As such, I think it is hard to dispute that Adobe has a clear lead here by being able to work on both the stability of the Mac platform and the commonality of the PC. Codec and Video Format Handling Lastly, another important discussion that is commonly found on this subject is the differences in how Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere CS5 handle video. Final Cut Pro converts almost all of the footage that comes into the program into either the Apple Intermediate Codec or ProRes. In most cases, Final Cut Pro will transcode into ProRes 422, a codec that is similar in design to Avid's DNxHD codec. This codec is very easy for editing systems to decode, has a highbit rate, and a 10 bit color space making it an excellent choice for editing speed and picture quality. It also keeps makes more video types compatible in a single timeline. Quite honestly, this is one of the biggest reasons Final Cut Pro users give for why they prefer Final Cut, just behind the ease and stability of the Final Cut interface.The only real drawback to this method is the time it takes to transcode each video as well as the potential to have two of the same video files on a computer. However, video transcoding usually doesn't take very long and most editors prefer to delete their original clips after the transcode which makes these issues less of a drawback. On the contrary, Adobe Premiere can handle almost any video codec natively in a single timeline without the need for transcoding. This can obviously save a lot of time transcoding but has the unfortunate drawback of taxing the computer system, due to the complexities of decoding consumer-type video formats such as H.264 and AVCHD. Thankfully Adobe has finally addressed this issue in its newest version of the Creative Suite by integrating a Mercury Playback Engine into Premiere. This engine, with the support of CUDA technology from NVIDIA, offloads all video rendering to the graphics processing unit of the computer which returns results real time back to Premiere for viewing. This frees up the processor in the computer to focus on other tasks which helps speed up edits. This was probably the biggest announcement from Adobe this year and has gone a long way in easing the pain of working with high resolution codecs. Overall, since both editing software applications have some great aspects when it comes to handling video, this particular issue is a real toss-up. Other than time, Final Cut Pro's approach to video leads to fewer codec issues while the support of native codecs in Premiere can save time but may take more time to edit if you don't have a CUDA supported GPU. Conclusion: Though this is probably the longest (and possibly the most daring) blog post Videomaker has seen for a while, I'm not going to allow it to end without first giving you my final verdict on which program is currently better - so here goes. With all of the facts and opinions I've written about above, I would say that in my opinion, Adobe CS5 Production Premium is probably the best editor by a very small margin. Though Final Cut Pro is more widely adopted, has a great editing codec, and some awesome secondary programs, Adobe's Mercury Playback Engine, along with it's inclusion of Photoshop and After Effects, as well as it's cross-platform ability give it the win by a nose. That being said and being a multi-editing platform user myself, I would still encourage learning both programs if possible. Additionally, editors can never know which interface is better for their style until they try it. If you know a buddy with Final Cut Pro, or have the time to download a free trial from Adobe online, it can most definitely be worth your time to try a few simple cuts in both editing platforms to see which feels more natural for you. In the end, being comfortable with an editing interface can make a huge difference in your editing speed. Additionally, since both programs are so close in features and price, this blog post alone should never be enough to sway you to one side or the other. Hopefully though, it can help you form a more accurate picture of what each editing package offers as well as what issues to expect if you purchase them. No matter what, the best way to making better video is not by having the best software but by having the most experience, so I encourage you to keep improving your skills by making a ton of creative videos. Good luck!
Final Cut Studio vs. Adobe CS5: Which One is Better?
Videomaker forums shows just how much heated debate there still is and so, I've decided that even though having an opinion on this topic is akin to playing with fire, I would like to still give it the ol' college try. That being said, I am admittedly no expert on either Sony Vegas, Avid, CyberLink PowerDirector, or Corel Video Studio Pro, and so I leave the merits of those programs to both the Videomaker forum participants and any comments written below. However, it's only fair to say that for the past 7 years, I have been a Final Cut Pro editor. All the way back in my high school days in 2003, I was using the program to make promotional videos for both my school and church. That's not to say that I haven't had experience with Adobe Premiere though. Since making my way to Videomaker a year ago, I have edited more than 25 promotional and educational videos using Adobe Premiere so after a year with the program I feel like I have a good perspective on the good and the bad of both platforms.That being said (and I'm sure my lawyer will be fairlyrelieved), here are my thoughts on the merits of both Final Cut Studio3 and Adobe CS5. Industry Use: One of the biggest arguments I seem to hear for using Final Cut Pro is that it is an industry standard used by many commercial production houses, independent films and even some Hollywood films around the world. While this is most definitely true (FCP has been used to edit X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Social Network amongst many others) Adobe Premiere is also being used by television powerhouses like the BBC and The Tonight Show. Truthfully, Final Cut Pro does have the advantage over Premiere if you want to learn how to edit on the same software that some production houses are using right now (keep in mind however that many other production houses are also using Avid), but that's not to say there won't be an industry standard change over the next few years if one software proves to be better than the other. To show you where it stands, a survey of the American Cinema Editor's Guild placed their users at 21% Final Cut Pro, and all the rest on Avid systems. Additionally, ina 2007 SCRI study, Final Cut Pro made up 49% of the US professional editing market. Even so, Adobe hasn't laid down its arms on the industry just yet. Their products such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects are clear winners in both the graphic and motion graphic design realms. Though there are great alternative programs like Autodesk Smoke, Autodesk Flame, or the Foundry's Nuke, After Effects has a huge market share amongst both consumer and professional compositing markets. With all of these facts in mind, it would seem beneficial to know not only how to edit on Final Cut Pro, but also on other platforms such as Adobe Premiere and Avid as well. Package Features: Being an industry standard is one thing, but for those wanting to do editing outside of the realm of high-end films and television productions, the fact that more productions are using Final Cut Pro rather than Premiere is probably of little concern. That being said, it's important to look at the features that the Final Cut Studio and the Adobe Creative Suite offer.December 01st, 2010