Adobe Premiere User Tries Final Cut Pro... And Likes It

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. 

User Interface

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. 

Playback

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. 

Timeline

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. 

Effects

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. 

Plugins

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

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. 

The Deal-Breaker

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. 

Conclusion

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. 

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12 Comments
Felix C's picture

Did you solve the color grading issue? There are many YouTube videos that show how to grade. I typically edit in FCP and then color grade in Resolve. Pretty easy. Adobe products have always been CPU hogs and stopped using them at version 1.0. I once got a year free subscription to Premiere and never used it.

George Stark's picture

I've been waiting for your impressions of the new expensive MacBook you just acquired...or did I miss it?.... thanks

Michael Kuszla's picture

Hey guys.
Thanks for the article Lee. This is a precious statement.

I left Premiere 4 years ago because of its legendary power and CPU consumption whereas Final Cut is simply fastest (whitout the need to generate proxies), I do not have playback or issue.

With the MyBookPro 14' M1 Max I have now, compared to my old 2017 MacBook Pro, the gap is even more huge. But the first time it takes me 2 days relearning something simplier (not cheaper).

So, to quickly answer to one of your frustration. YES you can open several timeline at the same time. They just have to come from the same workspace. Imagine A finalcut file as a catalog (refering to lightroom) and youcan have several footages for diferent productions/projects.

Anyhow. Once you open your projects. Upon the timeline you'll see the project name, and arrows on the side. They allows you to move from project to project.
If you have 2 or 3 monitors. You can finetune the display of informations with, say:
Monitor 1: timeline 1
Monitor 2: timeline 2
Monitor 3: preview, vectorscope, etc... (here the preview show the timaline you are working on)
So you now can use Drag'n Drop, copy paste.

Note that you can also move your footages upon the bottom one as in Premiere :)

Regarding the Windows gear. Well. Final Cut Pro stays an Apple product unfortunately, and Premiere has the advange to work on every computer, with ressources sharing via server.

Em Wood's picture

Very glad to see this story. Thanks Lee. As an infant I began cutting on Avid after testing the EMC Cube. Worked on Avid for a long time in broadcast TV and Film. I learned how to use Premier when it become less clunky. I found it very similar to Avid with a few more Adobe bells and whistles.

I disdained FCP. It was iMovie with some upgrades. Eww. Yuck. Not for pros.

Then... I just began playing with it on some small, quick projects. I think it was back when FCP could handle multiple video codecs while Avid was still choking and Premiere remained an awkward adolescent Avid to me.

The magnetic timeline, which originally seemed so "drag and drop" consumer-ish, and the locked V/A tracks, which was so unfilm like, started to melt my creative heart. I begun watching for story instead of clicking on track modes and watching sync.

I could drop in efx in a rough to see how they worked and the timeline still flew by. Multicam amazed and syncing audio was a snap. Compound clips allowed me to create multiple cuts within cuts.

Once I was willing to embrace the logic instead of holding onto old methodologies, I was now arrangining, rearranging, moving shots and scenes, trying looks, zeroing in on the best storyline.

The editing software became invisible.

I moved onto long form gingerly (believing the hype that FCP couldn't handle it) but was pleasantly surprised that with proper media management and file/folder organization, long form was not a challenge. We started working on projects with over 100 hours of footage, graphics, stock, music, etc. in FCP with no issues. No media lost or misplaced.

Yes, there are some bumps. Simple things like the position bar in the timeline never seems to center up despite all the tricks mentioned online, 3rd party plugins sometimes freak out and crash at the worst times, limited interface customization, and an occasional corrupted clip are really annoying. But based on what I've experienced and have seen on the forums these issues or similar are not uncommon with other editors.

So all in all I've become a fan of FCP. I still use the other apps. But FCP has become my go to creative firecracker.

I only hope that Apple continues to improve and upgrade FCP.

This is a personal take from an multiple award winning professional working on national and international projects for film, TV, and digital.

Lee Morris's picture

Well damn, now you've got me thinking I should keep using Final Cut

Eric Wasserman's picture

Great video. I've used both and found compelling reasons to prefer one or the other depending on what I'm doing. While the Library>Event>Project structure still makes me insane, I've found a lot to love about FCP recently. And just to address a couple of your concerns (and your friend should've known about these): there's a LOT more color control than the basic panel you highlighted. If you go into the Color & Effects Workspace you'll see all your vectorscopes & waveforms, plus you can add all kinds of different corrections by choosing Add Correction beneath your initial Color Board menu. Also, as far as Export goes, FCP is basically begging you to send your Export jobs to Compressor (a 1 click operation) where you have an abundance of granular controls. The Share menu is just for a quick render that you want to share with a client, slap on YouTube or whatever. Compressor is free with FCP (or it used to be), so you're not being suckered into an additional purchase. One can argue about having it be a separate app but it does everything Premiere can do with exports.

Good luck.

Em Wood's picture

Hey, just thinking. It would be great to see followup story after you use FCP a bit more. I believe the community would learn a lot from your fresh and honest insight.

Larry McNiff's picture

You might want to look at Final Cut Pro X - Compressor. That option for Final Cut Pro X gives you more output capability and options. It's an additional charge, but very useful.

Shorty Robinson's picture

You most definitely SHOULD continue using FCP. It is most certainly superior to PPro in so many ways if you know what you're doing. The magnetic timeline, as you've already discovered, but even more so: ROLES. OMG, they just so vastly surpass the concept of TRACKS, it hurts!

BUT… get at least some basic training first. Learning the little tips and tricks will definitely save you a lot of the frustration that you've had so far. Best resource would be rippletraining.com. Even their Youtube channel is a HUGELY helpful resource.

yousaf saleem's picture

I left both behind and simply went the Davinci resolve route. Way easier to set up and use. Faster compared to the premiere too.

Shorty Robinson's picture

LOL… Resolve is most certainly NOT "way easier to set up and use" than FCP! 😂😂
That only shows you know nothing about FCP other than maybe having seen some screenshots. Easier than PPro?? Sure. That's not exactly a high bar to vault either. 🙄

Claudio Almeida's picture

Thanks Lee for this great article. I made the same switch 2 year ago and i'm still amazed with FCP and i'm still learning new tricks. Check Dylan John youtube channel. You must see the video called "10 things you're doing wrong in Final Cut Pro". The titles is misleading, he just shares 10 workflow tips that are a treasure for FCP users. (I don't know Dylan, i just want to share because i think it's valuable stuff). Thanks again.