Premiere Pro or Final Cut?

Premiere Pro or Final Cut, which do I prefer.

I got my first proper video camera about 5 years ago, a small Panasonic non-HD camera (HD was around, but rather expensive for something I only wanted to experiment with), and like many people my first editing experience was with Windows Movie Maker. I soon realised that doing this was quite fun, and as this luckily coincided with a sharp fall in HD camera prices, I got myself a nice Canon HD camera.

At the time Windows Movie Maker would not do HD video so I bought a copy of Corel’s VideoStudio X2. However as time went on I wanted to do more with VideoStudio than what I was.

As I was also needing an upgrade for my PC I thought I’d basically start again, but rather than buy a new computer and then find software for it and then find how to use it I thought I’d firstly find some good video editing tutorials, see what software they was using, then see what hardware was needed for running that software. After a bit of browsing around (and some really horrific tutorials on YouTube) I came across a site called IzzyVideo, run by Izzy Hyman. He has done some really good tutorials (some free, some subscription only), both on editing techniques and on general video creation. What software was he tutoring on – Final Cut Pro 7 and Final Cut Express. What hardware does that need – Apple Mac.

Final Cut 7 was a bit expensive for me, plus it was overkill for what I wanted, but Final Cut Express, especially at education price made sense. Likewise I couldn’t afford a new Mac but a friend sourced a second hand MacBook for me. So that sorted that out, I’ll move across to Mac and go Final Cut Express.

Time goes by and there’s then the release of Final Cut Pro X (and all the controversy that caused!). It was released without quite a few features considered essential by the serious film making community, however for my use it was great, especially as Izzy Hyman very quickly released some great tutorials for it.

Time goes by again and I find myself playing with Photoshop CS6 and it’s through its limited video editing abilities I became aware of Premiere Pro. I also realise I could do with a system with more powerful graphics than what I was currently using. My two generations’ old MacBook Air seems to run all this software well enough for me, but it’s not really an ideal machine for this sort of thing. Then by chance I found myself having access to a more powerful Windows system and at the same time found some good Premiere Pro tutorials up on the Creative Cow web site so I thought I would give it a try (and taking advantage of Premiere Pro being for both Windows and Mac).

Both Premiere Pro and Final Cut are non-linear editors where you can chop and change video clips and drag them around. Both have numerous different effects built in and you can adjust white balance and sort out colour correction. Titles and captions can be added and both have audio editing facilities. The only real restriction on them is your imagination as to what you want to do!

On both, where my original video has been a couple of simple clips, perhaps me just talking about a film I’ve seen recently and have not required a significant amount of processing I’ve had the whole process of import, clip editing, sound adjustment, and then rendered out ready for YouTube upload all done well within an hour. So if things go well and you’ve got it right in camera at the video recording stage then for short videos things can be done really quickly.

One thing I like about Premiere Pro compared to Final Cut is that it is more flexible when it comes to reading video files. I copy the recordings across from my camera onto my computer hard drive and Final Cut wants to see the whole file structure of the AVCHD directory, and if anything is played with or altered or deleted anywhere within that directory tree then Final Cut can throw a bit of a hissy fit and doesn’t want to work with the files, where with Premiere Pro you can happily use your system’s file manager to tunnel down into the directory and into the individual recording clips, get rid of the ones you don’t want, copy across into this area others you might want to use and Premiere Pro is still quite happy with everything.

Final Cut also wants to transcode new clips before it will use them which can delay getting started where Premiere Pro will run clips natively, but then I’ve found for editing Final Cut does seem to run that bit more smoothly. It also just needs say two or three actions to complete a task where Premiere Pro may need three or four actions. There’s one area I’ve found Final Cut to be far better at, and that’s with green screen / chroma key editing. I can get a good key sorted out far quicker and with better results  compared to Premiere.

Both can be a bit fiddly when it comes to settings for exporting and both take their time for the final rendering processing. This is where the more powerful hardware really comes into play for cutting down that time.

I’ve found both Premiere Pro and Final Cut great products. Skills learnt through using one are quite transferable across to the other. Both have been fun to use, on the other hand both have given me headaches at times.

Overall, I think if I was just going to be doing standard video editing and only video editing, then I’d choose Final Cut. Since it came out they have updated it with most of those missing features that weren’t there at time of release. However as I’m going to be playing around with Photoshop as well and the way Adobe is enabling their different programs to smoothly interact with each other means that for the time being I’m going to stick with Premiere Pro.

What I would suggest to anyone whose currently undecided is to find a suitable tutorial web site (I found Creative Cow quite good), compare the tutorials for one against the tutorials for the other and then decide on which you would feel most comfortable using.

I’ll will also add that I did briefly play with Avid, however although it’s education price is quite competitive I did find it rather klunky to use and it didn’t settle down to it. I just found it a bit too irritating. I could see it had huge potential, however it wasn’t for me.

My YouTube video talking about this.

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