FCPX vs. Premiere CS6
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