Final Cut Pro: Still one of the top video editing programs? October 09 2013
In this article we look at where Final Cut Pro came from, where it is going and how close its competitors are to knocking this editing powerhouse off of it's prosumer throne.
Do you have visions of becoming a bonafide video editing superstar?
If yes, then you better be ready to break off a decent amount of change because the first thing you’ll need is a pro grade video editing system, and they can cost you a pretty penny (though they are still much cheaper than even 5 years ago).
Professional video editing software applications are often a pricey investment (and they are an investment!) and, thus, require a wary eye and a cautious mind for making the right comparison before plunging in. A sound purchase requires comparing the features, editing tools and the final price in order to make the best decision.
With so many video editing software applications available in the market these days, choosing the ideal option often becomes a challenging job. However for many editors there has really only been one company to choose from in their eyes - Apple and their non-linear editor (NLE) Final Cut Pro (FCP). Over 12 years it managed to climb its way to the absolute forefront of the professional video editing market. Ever since its early days, Final Cut Pro has managed to develop a huge customer base, which keeps on multiplying with each passing day among the video editing market, currently led by its latest iteration, Final Cut Pro X.
What is really fascinating about this product though is it’s history. The story of Final Cut Pro begins in the most unlikely of places... Adobe.
It was a man named Randy Ubillos who is credited with creating the first 3 versions of the Final Cut Pro adversary, Adobe Premiere. Before making any further releases Ubillos was headhunted by Macromedia to work on creating KeyGrip, their editing platform and the predecessor to FCP.
Due to some issues of Macromedia’s partner firm, Truevision, with Microsoft regarding the technological basis of KeyGrip, the software could not be released in the market. Meanwhile, the company decided to focus on transforming the application into something more futuristic and useful, and thus, came up with Final Cut.
During the National Association of Broadcasters 1998 exposition Macromedia demonstrated Final Cut as a 0.9 alpha, in both Mac and Windows compatible versions. This initial version was ahead of its time even though it consisted of only a limited number of real-time effects.
After seeing it in operation at the conference Apple purchased the software and continued developing it into something more innovative and valuable, the result being Final Cut Pro.
FCP is fast and powerful, providing plenty of features, effects, transitions and templates for editors of any skillset to cut their teeth on.
Apple recently announced the launch of its latest version, Final Cut Pro 10.0.9 (RRP $299.99), which, like previous versions is only available to Mac users. Final Cut Pro X was a complete redesign and dramatically different from previous versions. The company included some major radical changes, putting forth a new and much effective pathway for the professional editing community. However, because of its radical differences from previous iterations there was an evident backlash upon its release.
Some notable negatice comments included:
Walter Biscardi (Creative Cow):
"All in all the worst product launch I’ve ever seen from Apple or pretty much any software manufacturer. Instead of a nice suite of applications that worked well together (FCP, Color, Motion, SoundTrack Pro, DVD Studio Pro) you now have one big app that really doesn’t do all that much well. It completely ignores the 11 years of existence by giving you zero options to open older projects. We called it iMovie Pro when it was debuted back in April and quite honestly, that’s what it is."
Then there’s the now famous Conan spoof -
However, It has been over 2 years since the launch of FCPX and sentiment has now changed somewhat, restoring much of FCP’s past prominence.
Larry Jordan, a prominent voice in the video editing space is a vocal supporter of FCPX -
“The future is not standing still, and we can't stand still with it. We need to change. How soon you change is a personal decision that each one of you gets to make. But when you change, Final Cut X is there."
Whether it is the revolutionary editing tools, advanced capture and playback options or the export and production ease, it certainly appears that Apple is keen on bringing out something groundbreaking to an industry resistant to change. However, it is not only Apple that aims at ruling the video editing market. There are many other video editing suites that are adopting the same features and policies for making a bigger impact on the video editing community and conquering the ultimate throne of the film-chopping world.
Who exactly are Apple’s direct competitors in this space and why should you even consider them?
Avid Media Composer – Windows/Mac
With its first version dating back to 1989, Avid Media Composer is, at $999, one of the most expensive movie editing and professional broadcast programs available in the market. It provides an extensive support for several cameras, which makes it easier for the editors to combine and select the best and the most influential takes. It is the non-Avid product support available in software bundles that make Avid Media Composer far different from its competitors. Instead of reinventing the already existing products of other companies, Avid Media Composer bundles third party software applications for fulfilling the roles like Sorenson Squeeze for DVD compression and SonicFire Pro for the advanced audio file editing.
Sony Vegas Pro – Windows
Price - $599.95
Though belonging to the house of one of the biggest players in the world of electronics Sony Vegas Pro is one of the most overlooked but high-powered performers in the present day video editing market. Though it does not support as high-end, flashy resume as Final Cut Pro, its feature-packed bundle makes it no less effective and useful. Vegas Pro enables the editors to mix several kinds of video formats and multiple resolutions with the need of recording.
Vegas Pro initially entered the market as a mere audio editor and was later on purchased by Sony. Before being inherited by Sony, Vegas Pro brought some superior sound editing tools at the disposal of the editors and still continues to boast of the same impressive audio editing abilities. Just like Final Cut Pro, Sony Vegas Pro also provides an active support for add-ons and plugins. With no specific hardware requirements and a lesser price tag, Sony Vegas Pro surely holds an edge over the more pricey and hardware dependent editors such as Avid Media Composer.
Adobe Premiere Pro CC – Windows/Mac
Price - $19.95 per month
The “old dude” in the modern day world of film editing, Adobe Premiere has been serving the industry for more than 22 years now. One of the prime selling points of the Adobe’s flagship program, apart from its sturdy and productive video editing provided after decades of improvements, is the perfect integration with several other software packages present in the Adobe Creative Suite, including Adobe After Effects. The inbuilt speech-to-text feature is a killer addition to the list of impressive features of Premiere Pro. It helps in creating a search-ready index for the words that are spoken in the video. It enables the viewers to search the exact quote easily without the need of watching the complete video.
Adobe’s latest move to “Creative Cloud” has made the pricing structure of Premiere Pro a LOT more accessible for professional (read- income earning) video editors. Instead of being a one off payment (such as the other NLE’s in this article) it is instead an ongoing monthly subscription fee. For $19.99 a month an editor can own Premiere Pro and for $30 more per month, can own the whole collection. Enticing stuff.
These are only a few names to include in the list of NLE’s giving tough competition to the Apple’s Final Cut Pro. With more and more challengers keen on giving tough competition to Apple’s professional video editing tool, it will be interesting to see how Apple manages to retain its throne in the future. Considering the present pace of developments, it is likely that Apple will continue to surprise and revolutionise the video-editing community in the future, though with the prevelance of other strong platforms, will the market continue to stick with Apple or simply migrate to one of the other, more standard, non linear editing platforms. Only time will tell.