FCPX vs. Premiere CS6

February 26, 2013
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I know this debate has been hashed out over and over again….. And I really think that an editing system is a story cutting tool, there is no right or wrong. It comes down to what your needs are and what you are comfortable with. There isn’t one magic editor to “rule them all”. These are my opinions, I’m not a fan boy one way or the other and my goal is to make an educated decision for myself and my crew.

We have been using FCP7 for the the past 10 years now, but without any future updates, render speed increases, new filters or advances to the program it’s sitting dead in the water. Sure it still works just fine but there comes a time when you need to start thinking about the future. So with a bit of free time at the beginning of the year I decided to do some testing. For $299 it’s hard to beat the cost of FCPX , I bought it right when it came out but haven’t had time to really dive in and explore till now. I just recently subscribed the the Adobe Creative Cloud for Premiere CS6 and pay $20 a month($240/year) for a subscription to use the program. It’s a pretty good way to try it out and so far it’s worked great. I can use it on all three of my computer systems online and offline.

I’ve edited a few projects in each program and here are two I would like to share with you. The first is a tutorial video that I edited in FCPX. This was shot on the Canon C300, audio was captured on a separate digital recorder and was synced in FCPX using the native sync tool. I converted the MXF files to Prores HQ with MPEG Stream Clip.

FCPX – “Digital Audio Recorders Tutorial”

 

The 2nd is a retrospective personal project from a trip I took to India. This was shot on the Canon 5DMKIII  in 24p, files were transcoded to Prores LT using Mpeg Stream Clip. I don’t like to edit in native H.264 as it’s a finishing codec, it slows down the computer and any filters you add (color grading, noise reduction etc.) will degrade the footage causing more banding and micro blocking.

Premiere Pro CS6 – “The Great India Adventure”

 

Coming from FCP7 I can say that it was much easier jumping into CS6 — I felt right at home after about 30 minutes. You can also very easily set your keyboard shortcuts to match FCP7 which was a HUGE help. On the other hand working in FCPX was like driving a spaceship, I had no idea what I was doing and had to watch quite a few tutorials to figure out how things worked as it’s basically a new configuration. After I did get a hang of things it was fast and I did enjoy working in FCPX, I also really enjoyed using the text generator which you probably noticed in the edit. It was really handy for very quick on-the-fly title animation.

Here are the thoughts I jotted down as I used each program, a basic list of good/bad qualities. It’s like looking for a new girlfriend, there is no such thing as perfect, you have to find the one that will work the best with you. OR for some of you, until something better comes along.

FCPX – The Good

  • Built in audio sync
  • Fun quick animated text effects
  • Great video stabilization
  • Good audio EQ
  • Good color correction tools
  • Love the video/audio skimming feature
  • Drag in/out points
  • Cool trimming features for clips

FCPX – The Bad

  • Magnetic timeline — found it a huge pain
  • Can’t have multiple sequences open (I love to do this for different versions)
  • Adjusting audio levels with rubber band key points is a pain
  • Crashed a lot, had to re-install multiple times
  • Neat Video “de-noise” plugin does not work
  • “Magic Bullet Looks” plug in wouldn’t work
  • Can’t export OMF for audio mixing

 

Premiere CS6 – The Good

  • Very similar to FCP7 easy switch over
  • Presets that  customize keyboard multiple ways (including FCP7 defaults)
  • Plural eyes 3 works great for audio sync
  • Feels professional, has all the options you are used to
  • Links to Photoshop and After Effects for easy motion graphics
  • Media manage full project and all sequences in a few clicks
  • Can have multiple sequences open
  • Warp Stabilizer is AMAZING

Premiere CS6 – The Bad

  • Not a fan of the color correction filters
  • Audio and Video tracks don’t move together i.e. V1/A1 move V2 audio will stay on A1
  • When exporting, CS6 has to re-render already rendered clips
  • If you cancel during a render you lose partially rendered info. You have to render the full clip

 

As you can see there is not a straight answer. A big part of my decision in picking an editing software comes down to training my crew, bringing in new editors to work with and also collaboration with other companies and agencies. What program will most of them use, what will be the most versatile for us, what will be the most reliable, fast and help us streamline our production.

After thinking through the questions I decided to move forward with Premiere CS6. My experience while using the program was great and we have already started editing all our commercial projects with it.  I will still dabble in FCPX, I enjoyed using it for the tutorial video as it gave me quick and easy options for my onscreen text animations. As with any decision I make for my company I have to weigh all the factors, and when it came down to it CS6 fits best with our future goals. I look forward to using it more and seeing how it progresses. I would love to hear your comments for what you use now and why. Thanks for reading and joining the conversation!

– Joe Simon

26 Comments. Leave new

Great post! I use FCPX for most my projects and love it. I also am subscribed to adobe cloud and I came from using FCP7. I can say that it literally took me an entire year to get 100% comfortable using X but I am so glad I made the switch. I cant imagine doing an SDE without it ever again. Being able to not HAVE to transcode H.264 to prores is amazing and the magnetic timeline is actually an amazing tool if used properly. With the magnetic timeline I am able to bring down my favorited clips to the timeline and as video is being played I can trim clips down and re arrange them all real time as the video is actually being played. I love it. The ability to upload straight to vimeo through FCPX is nice as well.

Not sure if you are aware but you can have multiple sequences available…they are just called “projects” now. You can go back and forth between them using the back and forward buttons on the timeline.

Also Magic Bullet Looks 2.0 is available for FCPX and I use it for almost all my projects and love it. http://www.redgiantsoftware.com/products/all/magic-bullet-looks/

Neat video is available for FCPX as well: http://www.fcp.co/final-cut-pro/news/847-neat-video-upgrade-their-noise-reduction-plugin-for-final-cut-pro-x

Thanks for all your hard work and for posting this blog! Looking forward to seeing more in the future!

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Thanks for the comment Dave! I appreciate the feedback and knowledge. I’m sure I’ll learn more as I use each program, I also like the idea of trimming clips as you play them.

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They are both different tools for different jobs. I love that we are in such a cool period of time where we aren’t limited to budget or gear anymore for the most part. Art and creativity can flourish using a cheap camera and any of the available editing programs. I am glad you love premiere so much and I see you and your editing crew taking advantage of the power it has. Thanks for all you do! Looking forward to more blog posts!

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Here’s the bottom line, you can’t trust a company that sells software only to push hardware. FCPx is bloated software that only works well on the latest and greatest Macs. Adobe Premiere works a million times better on older machines, which in the end will last longer. Once you discover you can change the keyboard shortcuts to FCP in Premiere, it’s all gravy.

http://raindogg.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/FinalCutProXSucks.jpg

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audio and video tracks can be linked and then they can be moved together. more than that you can group how many tracks of audio and video would you like and the do whatever want to do with them.

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Thanks! Yes, they can but if you are moving from V1/A1 to V2/A2 you have to move one then click “option” and drag the other way to move the other one. Quite a pain.

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Good, honest comparison. I use FCPX and the issues with neat video flashing green frames after rendering (and most other plugins) is forcing me to consider a CS6 subscription. I think it’s wise to know how to edit in both.

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In response to the green frames from neat video, this is a known issue with fcpx 10.0.6/10.0.7 that needs to be resolved on apple’s side. A temporary but annoying solution is to just alter the neat video parameter by as little as one degree of intensity/reduction and it will most likely re-render the clip without the green/magenta frame.

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The green frames have finally be address in the new firmware update!! Yay

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Im working on CS6 and i love it. I never was a FCP fan. Thanks Joe, love your work

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Great, impartial insights! I don’t blame you for going the Premier Route. The inability to share projects with other companies has become a bit of a pain for me. I persevered with FCPX and it did take nearly a year to get there. The main stumbling block for me with Premier was that it doesn’t read Canon DSLR timecode. For a multi camera event shoot, that is essential for me. I have friends who use Premier who come to me to organise their rushes after a big 4 man shoot, if anyone knows a way to get Premier to read 5dII timecode it would get them off my back 🙂

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Thanks. I have also found it hard with CS6 and DSLRs because of the timecode issue. Especially that I can’t color in Davinci Resolve.

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Hey Joe
Thank you for share your experience, I made more or less the same. I also will move to CS6. What I really can’t habituate is the magnetic timeline on FCP X, maybe it’s because I used many years FCP 7.

What I like on FCP X is the possibility to select multiple in an out points on a clip and that they stay connected, maybe it’s also possible whit CS6 but I couldn’t find it yet.

On CS6 I like the User Interface and of corse the timline the possibility to customize the layout. Also the organisation of the projects, it’s more how i’m thinking on a project structure. what I most like is the handling, like FCP 7

We will see what the future brings
Cheers Francesco

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Thanks for checking it out!

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Thanks for the artcile, it was interesting for me to find out what you think about it. I found FCPX more up-to-date because of its new approach to editing. Though CS6 is new and quite fast, it is somehow outdated. The progress should touch upon not only performance but workflow optimization as well. FCPX is a bit “green” here and there but I’m sure it is just a matter of time.

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Good article, personally a full on CS6 fan myself. Just wanted to point out that you can use the pre rendered footage for export by checking the ‘use previews’ box. Personally avoid using it though, unless it’s for showing rough cuts for internet.

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Thanks for the tip!

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Thanks Joe for sharing this information,
Can you please share how to transcode Prores HQ with MPEG Stream Clip,
With your given link of mpeg stream clip software I download it, install it windows version but i couldn’t find Prores HQ or LT,
Please help.

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I’m not sure about the windows version. The Mac version has an option for Proress in the pulldown menu. Sorry

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Hey Joe,

Great post. Quick question though, is it still worthwhile to convert the original 5d mk3 files to Prores in FCPX. Doesn’t all altered clips in the timeline convert to a standard pro res or higher? Wouldn’t this eliminate all the microblocking and banding issues since the entire timelime is being rendered in Prores once altered?

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If it’s converting the footage to prores then yes it would. If it’s just dong the render in prores and keeping the original H.264 files then no.

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Great information Joe. I’ve always editing on Adobe so I don’t have an opinion for any of the Final Cut software. CS6 is pretty stable compared to CS3 and I really enjoy the integration to all the other adobe suite. If Adobe had it’s own audio sync like you mentioned Final Cut has, it would be really awesome. Plural eyes 2 adds so many tracks to my sequences, does Plural Eyes 3 do the same thing? I just haven’t had the time to upgrade and check it out. I am happy with CS6 but might try to convert files again this time to mpeg stream clip for quality purposes. I used to convert to cineform but it failed me a few too many times. My audio and video tracks seem to move together, but not all the time. And then there are times when you try to set audio in a particular track but for some reason, it just won’t do it. Instead it adds a new track way at the bottom. I like to believe this is an issue Plural Eyes is causing unless its user error. Have you encountered this? gracias Joe!

jorge – your name and email fields were not working.

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Thanks Jorge. I haven’t had that issue yet, but time will tell. Plural Eyes 3 is much faster then 2 and more accurate, so it’s a nice upgrade. Good luck!

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So, very good comparison, and I think it boils it down nicely. It will be one year in October that I committed to FCPX, and long story short, it took that long, working all day everyday, to come to appreciate what FCPX has to offer. I also think that with the new Mac Pros, or a really souped-up Hackintosh, that the power of FCPX would be even better realized. For the time being I’m going to go with FCPX, (I’m one of three editors in this production facility), but I’m a long time CSx user and will probably keep that on hand for awhile yet.

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Love the videos Joe. As far as editing program, I am using Final Cut Pro X. I am not a professional, although I have high aspirations to get good with digital video and editing. I like the ease of use that FCPX provides for me. I have taaught my grade 6 students how to use it on a very basic level, and they love it! As always, thanks for sharing all the ideas and information. I have been a long time follower of your work, and appreciate the cinematic feel that you bring to video.

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Joe, had you looked at the integrated audio sync features in PPro before going with PluralEyes 3?

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