Adobe Premiere user tries Final Cut Pro… and likes it

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I’ve been editing exclusively in Adobe Premiere for over 12 years now, but today I decided to try Final Cut Pro on a real project. Final Cut impressed me.

user interface

After watching a few YouTube tutorials, I jumped right into Final Cut Pro without too much confusion. There is no doubt that Premiere is much more complicated than Final Cut. There are so many extra windows and tools in Premiere that I’ll probably never use for my simple projects, and this complexity can be off-putting to new users. I also found that navigating Final Cut Pro felt a bit easier. I didn’t jump from one corner of the screen to the other like I do in Premiere.

I feel like no matter how gigantic my computer monitors are, they’re never big enough for Adobe Premiere, and I’ve never understood how to edit a video on a laptop, but for the first time, I found editing in Final Cut Pro a lot comfortably on my 14 inch laptop screen. Other than that, the project I was working on was unusually simple.

reproduction

I edit in Premiere almost exclusively at 2x speed and I’m sorry to say that it’s completely unusable on my new M1 MacBook Pro. The footage can play smoothly for a second at 2x speed but then it freezes and when I press spacebar to stop playback the footage pauses and the software freezes while the audio sometimes up to 10 seconds before continuing the sound will stop and the software will be usable again. This also happens on some Windows machines I’ve used, but it’s never been this bad. To fix this, I made a habit of creating proxies before I start editing a project. Sometimes this only takes a few minutes, sometimes it can take over an hour if the project is big enough. It’s annoying, but I’ve gotten used to it.

Editing in Final Cut Pro was shockingly fast. Not only did my footage never stutter, but it scrubbed flawlessly with no additional rendering or proxy building. When I added effects to a clip, the footage was noticeably lower resolution for a few seconds (while being rendered in the background), but it always played smoothly and was scrubbed before and after the footage became sharp. This proved to me that my computer was fast enough to play my relatively small 4K footage at 100Mbps at double speed, but Adobe’s software is the weak link.

timeline

Timelines work differently in Premiere and Final Cut. If you move one clip over another in Premiere, the bottom clip is deleted while the footage is moved out of the way in Final Cut. Although both programs are capable of mimicking the other by holding down the command and option keys, their native way of working encouraged me to edit differently. In Premiere I tend to go “up” in my timeline and put the footage on higher video tracks so I don’t accidentally delete something, but of course in Final Cut I kept my timeline tidier and I only ended up with three video tracks.

This “magnetic timeline” in Final Cut was certainly better for managing space on my small laptop screen, but I wonder what I would have done on a much more complex project.

effects

I didn’t spend much time comparing effects in both programs, but the two I tested were noticeably better in Final Cut Pro. Warp Stabilizer can be incredibly slow in Premiere, but with a single click and a few seconds, the “Stabilize” function in Final Cut was ready.

The other “effect” I use on almost every project is still image panning and zooming (the Ken Burns effect). In Premiere, this process is done manually with keyframes, while in Final Cut it’s done much faster with a sleek interface.

plugins

I’m not an expert when it comes to Adobe Premiere plugins. I’ve honestly tried to stay away from them because they’ve caused me so much trouble in the past.

Motion VFX was a sponsor for the video project I was editing in Final Cut and they asked me to use their plugins to produce the final video. I was shocked at how easy the software was to install, how easy it was to use in Final Cut, and how good the results were.

As I said, I haven’t used many plugins in Premiere, but Motion VFX in Final Cut Pro worked better than anything else I’ve tried.

Export

Once again, exporting footage to Final Cut Pro was significantly faster than exporting to Premiere. I’ve heard that Apple has “tweaked” Final Cut to work better with their hardware and I’ve always assumed that was bullshit, but it certainly seems true.

The deal breaker

Final Cut Pro is better than I ever imagined, but I won’t switch to it. First, Fstoppers owns about 12 Windows computers and we all have to use the same software. If I switched to Final Cut, no one would be able to open a project I was working on in the future, but that’s not the main reason.

My biggest frustration with Final Cut was the inability to have multiple timelines open at the same time. I like having two or more timelines open in Premiere and I drag and drop footage between them. Since I couldn’t do this in Final Cut, I had to zoom in and out of the timeline and then wrestle with the timeline while dragging the footage from a 5 hour point on the timeline to the 1 hour mark. only to zoom past it and keep losing my seat. This single issue wasted hours of my life on this single project.

I’m sure there’s another, faster way to edit in Final Cut, but I feel like over the past decade I’ve developed a style that I’m going to have a hard time learning again.

Conclusion

If you’re thinking about getting into video editing and own a Mac, I’d highly recommend Final Cut over Premiere. It’s cheaper, faster and easier. However, if you are working on large projects or need to share projects with Windows machines in the future or want to edit in multiple timelines at the same time, Premiere is your only choice.

That being said, I’m hearing that Davinci Resolve could be the best of both worlds, working on Mac and Windows. Maybe I should try.

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