Premier vs. Final cut


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I'm a multimedia (stills and sound) photographer who is taking the next step to video. I work on a PC currently, so Premiere is the logical program to use. Of course, I could switch to Mac (with the various problems attendant therein). Would you all like to help me with this decision--work with Premiere on a PC (and therefore After Effects, etc) or make the bigger step to Mac, Final Cut, etc. Is Premiere and Final Cut very different from each other? Is one particularly better? Do any of you work on both of them, and can comment?



OK, here we go. Everyone has their favorite. But let me address this as best I can.

"I could switch to Mac (with the various problems attendant therein)." What problems? I'm not aware of any problems.

Now, you can run the Adobe suite on a Mac, too. Nothing wrong with Premiere Pro, very nice NLE. No one is cutting feature films on it, but for video, it's just fine.

FCP does have just over 50% of the professional post-production market right now, and is very heavily favored in broadcast and film. So, there's career expansion with it. It's easy to learn (Apple Pro Training Series by Peachpit Press), probably more grass roots support for it than any other NLE.

Motion is MUCH easier to use than After Effects, and does what MOST video editors need done. There are higher level things that AE does Motion won't do. I don't compare them, they're not the same thing. Motion is also MUCH easier and faster to learn (Apple Pro Training Series books by Peachpit Press).

SoundTrack Pro comes with thousands and thousands of complete music beds, individual music loops, music hits, sound effects, folley sounds, all native 5.1 and can be mixed to stereo easily, top quality sounds.

So, "should" you switch? That's your decision alone. My question would be, "What are you expecting to gain from switching to A- a mac, B- FCS 3?" Or, "What do you need to do that Premiere on a PC is not doing for you now?"


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Premiere vs. Final Cut

Premiere vs. Final Cut

I can't thank you enough for the extremely complete and thoughtful response. I've been out of town until just now--hence the slow return. To respond to your question in the last paragraph. I have no great desire to switch to a mac, and in fact, after 20 plus years on a PC, think it will just complicate my life. So all this revolves around wondering if FCS would really be worth the switch. I gather from what you're saying that Premiere is a fine video editing program, and would be more than enough for me--a still photographer who wishes to add video to his work, and that it's not particularly more difficult to work with--right? While I've learned Premiere via a trial copy and via, I don't yet have any working experience with it. And I'm still going to have to make some purchases--a 64 bit computer--PC or Mac, and one of the two suites, etc. What I'm hearing you say is that you prefer FCS, but that Premiere is fine--and that it probably doesn't represent a reason in itself to go to all of the trouble of switching to a Mac. Am I reading you correctly? Since you are a teacher, I gather that you leave your students on a PC and Premiere?



Tim Kolb

New member
From the other side of the situation...Premiere Pro has some merits.

Various video formats have specific traits and both FCP and PPro work in a way that optimizes a given sequence (or edit timeline) the specific settings to work with various specific formats "natively." (Final Cut requires any format that isn't a QuickTime file to be rewrapped as a QT file to be edited while PPro has a different philosophy and handles most tapeless formats unaltered).

For integrating graphics into the timeline, Photoshop integration with Premiere Pro simply defies comparison to any other NLE on the market...there just isn't anyone who comes close.

Also, in Premiere Pro, adding non-native graphics or video clips (sometimes you need to utilize media of varying types in a given project) never produces a playback condition where you get a screen that tells you you need to render instead of showing you a picture.

I would also search the web and learn a bit about the "Mercury Playback Engine". In a business where we're all trying to cram more work into every hour, how fast our editing system gives us feedback and response has a big impact.

I should say that Final Cut does have the sales numbers edge in specific high-end workflows, where FCP has really had Avid in its sites from day one. Premiere Pro has had a reputation for having some challenges with long timelines...this reputation was at least partially earned, but PPro does have some traction in the event video sector, which wouldn't be the case if long timelines were unserviceable. The real point of stress with many NLEs (other than Avid) is the sheer number of media assets.

I switched from being an all-Mac shop (10 employees and 8 Macs on 2 NLEs, one DAW, multiple GFX and 3d machines) to PC back when OSX first hit the scene and I had G4s that had issues when loaded with RAM, FW busses that would simply stop working, requiring dealer service (on a Digi02 control DAW control surface, this is a dealbreaker), and RF problems inside the case that made running my Media 100 systems with the case closed pretty much impossible.

Now, I'd switch to a Mac with no issues (I've been cross platform at various points) as the Macs are solid. PCs do have more extensive configuration options (NVIDIA Pro-level display cards are supported product-line complete on PCs for instance...), and I have an extensive investment in PC software, which is one reason why I don't simply switch to Mac as my primary platform.

Viewpoints and features vary and each NLE has its sweet spots. It's a matter of matching the right NLE to its most optimal duty...
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Thank you very much:

"For integrating graphics into the timeline, Photoshop integration with Premiere Pro simply defies comparison to any other NLE on the market...there just isn't anyone who comes close." ..
Since I'm mainly a still image photographer (at least at this point in my life), and since I use Photoshop all the time, could you explain further how and why that integration is so good. And could you include some discussion of how well APPro (and FCP) work when one is putting together a still image multimedia production. (In the past I've used Photodex Proshow).

You also say, "Viewpoints and features vary and each NLE has its sweet spots. It's a matter of matching the right NLE to its most optimal duty."

So, for someone doing multimedia (Mostly still images, some video, ambient sound, voice over, interviews, etc), I gather you're saying that either APPr or FCP would serve well, and that PC's work fine with the former, right?


Tim Kolb

New member
I use PPro for television commercials, video work for corporations and entertainment productions...and I've even done some independent film work on it.

I think you'd be fine with it on a PC...I'd recommend a serious 64 bit system with Windows 7 (probably not Vista) and also 8 GB RAM minimum.

As far as Photoshop can import a Photoshop document in separate layers to manipulate each layer separately, and select the document from the timeline and choose to edit it in Photoshop...and it launches right out of PPro...and any changes you make are then reflected in the document in PPro.


New member
I think you'd be fine with it on a PC...I'd recommend a serious 64 bit system with Windows 7 (probably not Vista) and also 8 GB RAM minimum.
Thanks Tim: Would you consider adding to the above recommendations?
1. Is Duo Core sufficient (i.e. does one profit greatly from quad core)?
2. How many and what characteristic of Hard Drives? Should they all be internal, except for a backup one? Is Firewire 800 ever useful? Can/should the Scratch disk be the one which holds the media--of course, different than the main drive (I mean, do I need a main, a media, and a scratch HD, all internal, as well as a mirror HD--?Raid 1? Transfer rates etc? Raid 0 drive?
3. Video Card characteristics? ATI Radeon or nVideo Geoforce. 512 Gb or more?
4. Blue ray burning?

BTW: do any of you guys work in the San Francisco Bay Area?

Thanks again,
keith (kdoc)
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Tim Kolb

New member
When i say serious system, I mean just that.

Quad core -minimum-.

8 core would be better

drives depend on what sort of media you're planning on handling. I can get 2 streams of uncompressed HD from my fibre channel hard drive array...but the interface card costs more than most people want to spend on hard drives total.

Internal RAID 0 ("striped") is an inexpensive way to go, but it's risky...daily backups become absolutely critical. You could get away with RAID 0 for compressed HD like HDV, EXcam, DVCProHD P2, CineForm, and i assume AVCHD (I have no experience with AVCHD, though if you plan on using that format, I'd put as much processor in the machine as you can afford).

For bigger loads like uncompressed, you would need to invest in a large hard drive subsystem.

I think most of us just use one media disk for everything these days...the whole idea of splitting up video/audio and scratch and media was based on a time when hard drives and data speed were much slower.

Adobe likes NVIDIA display cards best. If you research the Mercury playback engine on the web, you'll see that the technology that Adobe has in the wings works hand-in-hand with NVIDIA cards. I prefer Quadro pro-level display cards myself as they seem to get along with other pro-level peripherals like SDI I/O cards and the like.

BluRay...that's up to you. Do you have a client that wants BluRay? Many of us have Blu Ray burning capability we have yet to use...

You can always add it later...and it will only go down in price. Buy it when you need it.


New member
Adobe likes NVIDIA display cards best. If you research the Mercury playback engine on the web, you'll see that the technology that Adobe has in the wings works hand-in-hand with NVIDIA cards. .
In reviewing the Marcury, it seems like one doesn't need super-fast vidio cards. Do you agree with this conclusion? How much RAM would you get in the card--i.e. is 256 or 512 sufficient, given the Mercury engine?

Thanks for all the info. Very helpful!!


Tim Kolb

New member
Mercury playback engine is an advancement in playback response even without a Quadro card...but far far greater with one.

I suspect RAM might be less important than the memory bandwidth and number of GPU cores running on the card. The 5800 has 240 cores...the 4800 has 192.

As you've probably seen, there is one gamer card that they are supporting for CUDA, but I think they're avoiding getting too deep into the consumer cards because some users tend to overclock them or hack the wrong drivers for them and they tend to get pretty toasty.

Tim Kolb

New member
Hi Ben...I see this thread is coming back to life. :)

Having done an invitation only hands on with the new PPro before NAB, and playing with it at NAB, it's very limited when applied to real world editing situations. Yes, I've spent a lot of time with Mercury Engine, and it is in fact very limited. Start stacking up video clips with CGI's and applying composite modes, yeah, it's pretty limited.
While i would say that Adobe needs to address some areas of "real world editing" situations...I'd be curious what situations you are referring to? Using an HDSDI I/O card perhaps? That's certainly one area where I think Adobe has simply been overselling Mercury by piling up a bunch of layers of P2 DVCPHD 24p with no pulldown...40 Mbits/s at 960x720 is nearly SD and it is very misleading IMO...though there are still benefits.

And many of PPro's newest features are not actuate, and are unstable. They're very nice, but mostly candy at this point.
Is "actuate" a typo for accurate? I'm curious what sort of items you noticed when you spent your time demoing the software...not a challenge here...I'm truly interested.

FCP handles Photoshop layerd files just the same as PPro, as does Motion, and can round-trip still/graphics to Photoshop, also.
Um...while FCP can import PSD docs in layers (there are a couple of catches the last time I checked, like you may have saved them in PS on Windows...those may come in flat), and you can edit them, FCP's import capability is still a good two versions behind PPro CS5 where I can open the PSD importer and choose certain layers, merge a subset of the layers in the document and import that flattened, I can import each layer at the document (canvas) size or each layer can come in individually with it's size set to allow for the content and crop any extra space, or before CS4, I could import the layered doc as a sequence. Keep in mind that PPro's main advantage to my mind is that it has much more flexibility in creating arbitrary frame sizes and allowing the editor to use the PSD wth far less prep for pixel dimension and aspect.

I'd agree with Ben that the ability to load PSD's in FCP and edit and refresh is there, but FCP's basic structure takes a little more prep while in Photshop to create the proper doc size for the sequence in my experience.

PPro can handle tapless native, but it's limited RT. FCP runs on the QT engine, thus the QT re-wrap. But this re-wrap adds some benefit, not the lease is more RT performance.
Horses for courses. When you only support one media wrapper, maintaining troublefree operation of your editing software can be easier. Some of the native camera formats that are H264 based are particularly arduous decodes (AVCHD and DSLR for instance) and converting them to ProRes makes life simpler for FCP...I call 'em like I see 'em.

However, I think it won't be that many quarters until the CPU power simply out-muscles these codecs...remember when HDV was unworkable natively? Then, native modes popped up but were, just a couple years later, is anyone worried about HDV decode anymore? Everybody does HDV fairly easily now. It won't be long and this will be a relative non-issue. I don't know what "limited RT" means exactly... I know it's been nearly a decade (8 years I guess...) since I've put any clip on any timeline in Premiere Pro and seen anything that says "not rendered"...playing in RT is one thing of course, but being able to do timeline work visually with any asset placed there, even at reduced response with mixed media and frame sizes has been an area where PPro has typically been ahead.

As far as RT is need a serious machine to run it, because PPro CS5 is a beast, but on the other hand, it takes whatever you throw at it including frame sequences, which can be loaded directly, it does use a CUDA card to help preview effects, and alllows the CPU cores to dedicate themselves to decode/encode duties, and does have some functions which seem pretty everyday to me that FCP has some challenges with...but each app has its areas of unique competency.

(smile)...just thought I'd chime in in case anyone was under the impression you're at all biased, Ben.


Tim Kolb

New member
Actually, HDV and any Long-GOP codec still have major drawbacks and slowdowns when editing with them natively. I don't remember a time when Final Cut didn't edit HDV natively.
Long GOP isn't as efficient as I-frame...I agree wholeheartedly. But let's face it, Long GOP workflows are pretty workable these days. FCP moves through 50 Mbit XDcamHD effortlessly on a properly configured Mac.

"40 Mbits/s at 960x720 is nearly SD" Really, nearly SD, when it's more HD than H.264, HDV, or any other 4:2:0 highly compressed Long-GOP? Need to recheck your fact, my friend.
Breathe man... My dismissive tone was aimed at Adobe, not the format. DVCProHD looks great and I use it often, and when it's off a P2 card and shot at 720p24 PN mode, it's stored resolution is 960x720 and it's bitrate is 40 Mbits/'s incredibly fast. My remark was that if Adobe was going to show off Mercury in what is a "real-world editing scenario" for ME, I'd like to see some full-frame 1080 with a bit rate. DNxHD is OK, but even on Windows where I can't encode to it, I think ProRes is a really good example of high quality footage that runs pretty easily. I end up using CineForm for most of the projects that initiate with me only because it's completely cross-platform.

What's "more HD" is a ridiculous argument in itself...XDcamHD/EX is everywhere...DSLRs are grabbing hold regardless of a number of compromises that have to be made...and H.264 isn't restricted to 4:2:0...what do you think AVC-Intra is? MPEG4 field acquisition is not going anywhere...and transcoding to I-frame won't be a big advantage for long, and it isn't a necessity now.

FCP imports PSD files made on a Mac just fine, always has, there has never been any documented issues with it. It imports as it's own Sequence. You can use any combination of layers you want, manipulate them independently. Always has been like that. Very flexible. Not sure what you mean by "generations behind"

Have you used PPro and imported a multi-layered Photoshop File lately? FCP supports ALL the features of ...Photoshop 3.0...anything else is dumped on import. No layer can't sort the layers on import...take one, or two, merge them in subgroups, I can choose to flatten the document on importing it...i don't need to do that in Photoshop, preserving my ability to alter it later, etc.

Premiere Pro can import a 16 bit PSD and handle it (along with 10 bit DPX image sequences, etc.) in 32 bit float...and give me a 10 bit I/O cards or custom sequence settings...

What do I mean by generations? Photoshop 3.0? We're on Photoshop 12 now...

I've never seen a single clip put into an FCP Sequence that needed rendering. But when you start to pile them up, apply composite modes, filters, keyframes, yes, I've seen both NLE's bog down and need rendering. That's a simple fact of life. There is no such thing as an NLE that "never" needs rendering.
I'm not referring to effects, I'm talking about placing media that does not have the same frame rate, size, or codec as the FCP sequence is specified for...

For a recent class, I created a DSLR native 1080p23.976 timeline.

I placed a DSLR 1080p23.976 clip on it...
then an XDcamEX 1080p23.976 clip on it...
then a 1080p29.97 AVCHD clip on it...
then another DSLR clip at 720p60, which I took down to overcrank by clicking on it in the project bin and simply changing it's framerate to 23.976...
then I dropped a 720p23.976 DVCProHD clip on it...
then I added a ProRes HQ 1080p30 red line...I played it back.

...I did get a red line when I last dumped a 4K RED R3D file onto the timeline...I dropped frames on that...but I could still see the image...chug through it with dropped frames...adjust the RAW parameters...etc.

Ben...can FCP do that? FCP needs to have that 720p60 clip converted to 24 fps through compressor or Motion to get it to the timeline as overcranked.

How skewed are my facts?

As far as marketshare...I think the Sony guys would even laugh out loud at the assertion that Vegas has more marketshare than Premiere Pro...come on.

I had my edit suite in the same hallway as a friend with FCP for years and, yeah if he brought in media that was a different framerate, size or codec or whatever than his FCP sequence, in order to hit the spacebar and play through it, dropping frames or not, he had to render...

I'm scratching my head that there's even a point of contention here...please explain in more detail what I have wrong here.

Tim Kolb

New member
Well, you're entitled to your opinion. I rely on the literally dozens of edit workstations I touch on a weekly basis across the country. I just don't see the use in pushing an NLE that only has 6% of the professional post production market. I'd stick with FCP and Avid that the overwhelming majority of professional post houses are using. We don't do simply one track edits.
Well...we're not arguing statistics...FCP is ahead of PPro, though how much in sheer sales numbers depends a lot on where you draw the line between "professional" and not, i suspect. I am positive however that there is no meaningful way you can slice the market and come up with more active chairs of Vegas than PPro...

I've been defending features and functionality that most who haven't used PPro for anything meaningful in the last 5 years tend to misrepresent. Interaction inside the Adobe suite is superior to interaction with apps outside shouldn't be a shock to anyone, and it's far from an "opinion." Anything I need clarification on is available in FCP's user documentation on Apple's website...that's where I do my research as I have consulting gigs where I work with FCP systems fairly frequently.

You are an FCP trainer/advocate and I am the same for PPro... I find FCP users far less acquainted with the features and user experience in Premiere Pro than the other way around...I suppose that's because of the number of FCP systems out there.

Conversely, I find FCP users to be very vocal about where PPro's failings lie with very little actual experience in the seat. As far as parroting marketing cliches, i think Adobe users as a group have a distance to go to catch up with Apple users...Apple's marketing prowess and user loyalty is the envy of most other companies in any market...

But one needs to take an objective glance around once in a while NAB this year I was talking to a college professor who is very well known in the FCP community who was explaining to me that Premiere Pro is probably "OK...I just found that students don't get the whole A/B thing, and Final Cut is just easier". He is referring to the timeline setup that was similar to the old Media 100 systems that had a transition track in between video track 1, A and B...sort of like a switcher. The last version of Premiere that had that feature was Premiere 6.5...Premiere Pro went to an inline timeline (like FCP) in 2002...almost 9 years ago. That would be like me saying that FCP is an amateurish system because it doesn't even have audio level meters...but since i'd be referring to version 1 of the software, that would be absurd, yes?

That's the kind of stuff that gets me a little irritated.

I was all Apple until OSX and the G4's came in and brought our Media 100 systems and ProTools suite to a dead halt because of a perfect storm of issues with some quirky hardware and really rough-around-the-edges OS, and i went to Windows under duress. I loved my Macs (I had 9 stations all together). I don't care what the ads say, nobody loves's a tool and it has some good and some bad, but no personality at all...if it all just works, it's fulfilling what I need.

I've cut in FCP, and when I say something about it, it's typically a first hand experience.

(I could always be informed of a better way I could have done something as I'm not nearly as knowledgeable about FCP as someone like yourself, but I don't make things up...)

I lay most of the perception issues at the feet of Adobe who has restricted PPro marketing over the last 3 releases to talking about how it interacts with the rest of the Adobe line instead of how it does its job on an everyday editors would use it. What editor wants to work everyday on an application that almost looks like it was a "fill in" utility for other software? Mercury is the only thing anyone actually knows about...better than nothing, but as you found out on a cursory level, not the whole story.

FCP is a good system. I had a chair for about a year a couple years ago. It has some things that Premiere Pro doesn't have and it does what it does well. But the reverse is also true, Premiere Pro is much better than most who are unfamiliar with it give it credit for...

CS5 has the attention of the market at a surprisingly high level at the moment. Depending on what Apple has in the queue, things could be interesting in the near term.
No, Mercury engine does require specific (top of the line) video cards.
This is a very interesting thread, especially now that FCPX is generally regarded as an inferior product to the previous FCP.

Adobe's share is skyrocketing now because FCP users are moving to Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5. Their well-timed switcher program and 50% discount didn't hurt either.

I wanted to address Ben's comment about MPE. The Mercury Playback Engine resulted in software only performance improvements between CS4 and CS5.

Here are my test results:
Vancouver Videographer benchmarks Premiere Pro CS4 & CS5

I should note than in those tests I did not select Maximum Render Quality so the gap should be even wider as GPU acceleration = higher quality for real-time effects.

GPU acceleration is another level of acceleration (and at the same time quality). In order to use the GPU acceleration you need a certified NVIDIA Cuda card. Some of them on the list are the expensive Quadro cards but there are some very inexpensive video gaming cards on the list and here is a little secret - they outperform the more expensive CUDA cards.

This post discusses Max Render Quality in Premiere Pro CS5.5 and GPU acceleration

Kim Welch

Senior Member
Staff member
Not sure about Market Share but is FCPX generally regarded as an inferior product

Not sure about Market Share but is FCPX generally regarded as an inferior product

Not sure about Market Share but is FCPX generally regarded as an inferior product? I did hear it was a step down.
"Adobe's share is skyrocketing..." Really? There is a marketing data that shows this?
At IBC Adobe shared some of their growth figures:

Demand for Adobe’s Production Premium CS5.5 video content creation tools has exploded, growing 22 percent year-over-year with 45 percent growth on the Mac, fueled by the large number of Apple Final Cut Pro customers switching to Adobe Premiere Pro.
Adobe Press Release Source

Kim Welch

Senior Member
Staff member
I think maybe Avid is leading the charge for most used editing software these days. Just from what I hear not because I use it to edit.