I subscribe to Premiere Pro and own Final Cut X and Da Vinci Resolve. I’ve been weighing up which one to focus on in order to become a better editor and video professional. I’ve considered the ease of use when editing and exporting, the support and community of each, and the market demand.
Cost is also a factor, so it’s worth knowing what you’ll pay for in the long run, let’s say, for the next 10 years. I also consider what each one of these brands stand for, from my personal perspective. These are my findings.
Ease of Use
Each one of these has a timeline which you edit with. Media is imported, and it’s not hard to get started scrubbing through and moving clips into the position you want. But, what differs is the speed at which it does this and if your computer can handle what you’ve given it to process. Premiere Pro requires the most work before you can actually move around the timeline with ease. Proxies need to be generated, but once that’s done, it’s easy to flip between the raw footage and proxy footage in the timeline.
Final Cut does this almost automatically. It’s done in the background if you didn’t uncheck the box during import.
DaVinci Resolve also has this feature, and it is on par with Final Cut here. It’s quite impressive to think Final Cut is an Apple-produced piece of software, and DaVinci does this by itself.
I would say that Final Cut doesn’t intimidate you as much as Premiere Pro or DaVinci Resolve does when opening it up for the first time. It’s more user friendly in that way. But, if you don’t make the needed changes before you start editing, your hard drive will fill up quickly. The application wants to import all the footage into the library by default, which essentially creates a duplicate of the footage. You can change it, but the other two import media and keep it in its location by default. It’s most likely the way Apple likes to have control of how you work with the application and footage, whereas Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve is much more open to your interpretation.
Final Cut’s magnetic timeline is quite troublesome for some, but also the main reason many use the application. DaVinci Resolve does have a magnetic timeline when cutting clips in the Cut panel and then goes into a free timeline in the Edit panel. It’s almost the best of both worlds. In my opinion, the way DaVinci Resolve uses it is justified. It’s not needed all the time, but is useful when going through rushes or putting the rough cut together.
Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve have panels for each part of the video production workflow. Final Cut doesn’t. In my opinion, DaVinci Resolve’s panels are the best for getting started and finishing a project. Premiere Pro still makes it possible to do color changes while in the editing page, which essentially could deem it useless to switch between. DaVinci Resolve has dedicated panels for media, cutting, editing, color, and effects. The only place where the media and effects come together is during the editing panel, which makes sense. Final Cut doesn’t offer panels. You have a timeline, and that’s the focus. What you do with it is add video, audio, text, and effects. It’s simple and more straightforward. But it’s also limiting in that regard.
Although you have great third-party plugins for Final Cut and Premiere Pro, DaVinci Resolve is the professional staple when color is concerned. It’s what the industry uses to grade big films.
If you’re shooting ProRes or raw footage, it’s only as good as the color you can get out of it. In this way, it’s quite ironic that Apple, the founder of ProRes, has a piece of professional software that’s quite limiting in that regard. DaVinci Resolve just has so much more to offer. Basic grades, but also masking certain parts of the frame you want to grade differently, tracking them, and creating a look is far better in DaVinci Resolve than in Premiere Pro or Final Cut.
If you consider the abilities of Premiere Pro when you can add in the power of After Effects with dynamic links, it outweighs the others. This is, of course, only if you’re versed in the application. If you’re planning on adding custom graphics to your videos, Premiere Pro and After Effects is the route you should follow. However, Apple Motion and DaVinci Resolve’s Fusion panel can offer great graphic generation options but the community support, meaning the amount of education available on YouTube, is limited, whereas the amount of tutorials you can find for Premiere Pro and After Effects is in a state of abundance.
I must, however, say that the training page on Black Magic Design's website has a complete set of tutorials based on each of the workflows, from editing to color-grading. If you've ever watched some tutorials on YouTube, you might've heard the name or watched Sam Kolder's videos. And even he's migrated completely from Premiere Pro and now is launching a course on DaVinci Resolve.
Resolve and Premiere Pro have the option of exporting individual clips. This is useful in you need effects added to certain clips on your timeline.
I am a DOP and director who’s shot ads for Gillette and Avene and social videos for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. I can say that the industry standard is to use Premiere Pro. It’s Premiere Pro projects that are passed around as industry standard. Is it going to change soon? I don’t think so, although I do think DaVinci Resolve is becoming more of an option with their cloud integration. Final Cut is actually considered a no-fly zone because it’s hard to use the XML data in DaVinci for color grading.
Unless Final Cut changes to cater for video production being a collaborative experience, its use will become more for personal projects rather than for commercial work. A lot of movies have been edited using Final Cut, but in the commercial industry, it’s not that used.
I believe another aspect of Premiere Pro is the speed of getting started and being able to move the whole project by dragging into a separate folder on a hard drive. If I wanted to move a project created with Final Cut or DaVinci Resolve, I have to go into the application and export it from the database. For short-form videos, it’s also easier to add effects and do things with video that you wouldn’t necessarily see in commercials or movies. Making video collages or adding effects are just easier to do in Premiere Pro and After Effects, so that’s what’s used.
If budget is concerned, basic skin retouching can also be done in After Effects rather than Autodesk Flame. In this way, Premiere Pro is easier to use for everyone in the production pipeline. I must say that I am not yet versed in retouching in DaVinci Resolve, although I have heard good things.
What I would like to see is video editors starting to use DaVinci Resolve. This will be better for the colorist, because they’ll have the project in DaVinci Resolve already. I believe it’ll take time before effects are done in DaVinci Resolve as industry standard, but it can do incredible things already, if you are open to learn.
What Each Company Stands For
Adobe has its Creative Cloud. All the applications you need to do great work are included in a monthly subscription. Its tagline is “Creativity for All.” I think it’s powerful from a branding perspective, although buying in to this will set you back financially in the long run. Adobe Creative Cloud will cost you $55 a month. That’ll be $660 per year, and over a 10-year period, you would pay $6,600. I assume you are a photographer or visual artist, so you have the whole suite at your disposal for that cost, so it might not be too expensive if you think it’s the monthly cost of your whole business.
DaVinci Resolve is a software that was acquired by Black Magic Design. They’ve modified it and made it to be what it is today. You can actually download a free version. It’s not limited to time, but this free version doesn’t give you all the features it has. In this way, they are much more oriented towards “Creativity for All.” They also make cameras and video production hardware. The Black Magic Design Pocket 6K Pro is the cheapest camera that records in-body raw footage and ProRes 422. And if you support this way of a company trying to make it possible to capture video and edit it professionally at the lowest possible cost, Black Magic Design is the one to choose. You can download a very capable free version, get the Studio version for free when you buy a camera or piece of gear they make, or buy it outright for $295.
Apple is the wealthiest company in the world. It’s incredible to think that the company is based on and made for the creative industry. Creative technology therefore outweighs companies in the oil, logistics, and all other sectors in the global market. The Mac Studio is an example of this. The way they build their new M chips with Video Processors built-in also shows that they are focused on the creative industries at large. It’s therefore incredible to be here in this moment in time, where your machine can edit layers of 8K footage if needed. But, it is strange to consider they give you all this power to edit, with software that isn’t used as the standard tool in the industry they’re built around.
I might be biased because I own a 6K Pro Pocket camera from Black Magic Design. I therefore have Da Vinci Resolve Studio too. But, I subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud because I also do a lot of photo retouching and when my team shoots commercials, we do the dailies and editing in Premiere Pro. I bought Final Cut because I wanted to change to an easier method of getting videos out, but found myself stuck with regards to collaboration.
However, when shooting video on the day, the DIT would import footage using Resolve, because it has great backup functionality, and the director can rest assured that when a card is formatted, the footage has been captured, transferred, checked, and backed up, which I don’t believe Premiere Pro or Final Cut can do.