I've been editing exclusively with Adobe Premiere for over 12 years now, but today, I decided to give Final Cut Pro a try on a real project. Final Cut impressed me.
After watching a couple of YouTube tutorials, I jumped right into Final Cut Pro without too much confusion. There's no doubt that Premiere is far more complicated than Final Cut. There are so many extra windows and tools in Premiere that I will probably never use for my simple projects, and this complexity can be a turn-off to new users. I also found that navigating around Final Cut Pro felt a little easier. I wasn't jumping around from one corner of the screen to the other like I find myself doing in Premiere.
I feel like no matter how gigantic my computer monitors are, they are never big enough for Adobe Premiere, and I've never understood how people can edit a video on a laptop, but for the first time, I found editing in Final Cut Pro very comfortable on my 14-inch laptop screen. That being said, the project I was working on was abnormally simple.
I edit almost exclusively in 2x speed in Premiere, and I'm sad to say that it is completely unusable on my new M1 MacBook Pro. The footage may play smoothly for a second in 2x speed, but then, it will freeze up, and when I hit the spacebar to stop playing, the footage will stop and the software will freeze while the audio continues for sometimes up to 10 seconds before the sound stops and the software becomes usable again. This does also happen on some Windows machines I've used, but it's never been this bad. To fix this, I've gotten in the habit of making proxies before I start editing any project. Sometimes, this only takes a few minutes, while other times, it can take over an hour if the project is large enough. This is annoying, but I've become used to it.
Editing in Final Cut Pro was shockingly fast. Not only did my footage never stutter, but it also scrubbed flawlessly without any additional rendering or proxy building. When I would add effects to a clip, the footage would be noticeably lower-resolution for a few seconds (while it rendered in the background), but it would always play and scrub smoothly before and after the footage became sharp. This proved to me that my computer was plenty fast enough to play back my relatively small 4K 100 Mbps footage at 2x speed, but Adobe's software is the weak link.
The timelines work differently in Premiere and Final Cut. Moving a clip on top of another in Premiere will delete the bottom clip, while it will move the footage out of the way in Final Cut. Although both programs are capable of mimicking the other by holding the command and option buttons, the native way they work encouraged me to edit differently. In Premiere, I have a tendency to move "up" in my timeline, putting the footage on higher video tracks so that I don't accidentally delete anything, but in Final Cut, I naturally kept my timeline tidier, and I only ended up using three video tracks.
This "magnetic timeline" in Final Cut was certainly better for space management on my small laptop screen, but I do wonder what I would have done in a much more complex project.
I didn't spend a lot of time comparing effects in both programs, but the two I did test 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" feature in Final Cut was done.
The other "effect" I use on almost every project is panning and zooming on still footage (the Ken Burns effect). In Premiere, this process is done manually with keyframes, while in Final Cut, it's done much more quickly with a slick UI.
I'm no expert when it comes to Adobe Premiere plugins. I've honestly tried to stay away from them because they have given 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 by house easy the software was installed, 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 ever tried.
Exporting footage in Final Cut Pro was once again noticeable faster than exporting in Premiere. I've heard that Apple has "optimized" Final Cut to work better with their hardware, and I always assumed it was bull, but it does certainly appear to be true.
Final Cut Pro is better than I ever could have imagined, but I won't be switching over to it. First of all, Fstoppers owns about 12 Windows computers, and we all have to use the same software. If I switched over to Final Cut, nobody else would ever be able to open a project I worked on in the future, but this isn't the main reason.
My main frustration with Final Cut was its inability to open multiple timelines at the same time. I like having two or more timelines opened up in Premiere, and I drag and drop footage between them. Because I couldn't do this in Final Cut, I was forced to zoom in and out of the timeline and then fight with the timeline as I dragged the footage from a five-hour point on the timeline over to the 1-hour mark, only to whiz by it and lose my place, over and over again. This single issue wasted hours of my life on this single project.
I'm sure there is another, faster way to edit in Final Cut but I feel like I've built a style over the last decade that will be hard for me to relearn.
If you are thinking about getting into video editing and you own a Mac, I would highly suggest Final Cut over Premiere. It's cheaper, faster, and easier. However, if you're working on large projects, or you need to share projects with Windows machines in the future, or you like editing in multiple timelines at the same time, Premiere is your only choice.
That being said, I hear Davinci Resolve may be the best of both worlds, and it works on Mac and Windows. Maybe I should give it a try.