One of the most popular questions I get asked is: “I’m using Final Cut Pro 7. Should I buy Adobe Premiere Pro or Apple Final Cut Pro X?”
This article looks at Premiere Pro CC. I’ve also written a companion article that looks at Final Cut Pro X. Read it here.
Let me start by saying both applications are used by professionals around the world every day. Both are made by excellent companies, with devoted teams of programmers supporting and improving them. Both applications are frequently updated with bug fixes and new features. And, if you were to edit a project in either one a trained expert could not tell by looking at your cut which software you used. (Though they could tell by looking at titles and effects, which vary by vendor.)
In other words, both applications deliver world-class, high-quality results.
So, why should a Final Cut Pro 7 editor consider Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
Recently, I sat down with the folks at Adobe to discuss that very question. And, it should not surprise you that Adobe thinks that Premiere Pro is the application of choice. We only had two hours for the discussion, so there wasn’t enough time to discuss every difference between the two applications. But, this is a start.
LARRY’S POINT OF VIEW
In an interesting quirk of history, Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro 7 and Final Cut Pro X were all designed by the same man: Randy Ubillos. Randy, whom I’ve met twice, did not do all the programming – these applications are far too complex for one individual to program in their entirety – but he set the strategic engineering direction for all of them.
From my point of view, Adobe has modeled recent versions of Premiere Pro after Final Cut Pro 7; extending it to run efficiently on today’s hardware. The big sea change occurred with CS6, when Premiere adopted FCP 7’s keyboard shortcuts, much of its nomenclature, its media handling and many of its features. This is not a bad thing. Final Cut Pro 5 – 7 had something like 2 million users, while Premiere Pro had only a fraction of that. If I were going to emulate something, I’d pick the biggest market I could find.
In other words, Premiere Pro CC looks and operates very much like Final Cut Pro 7.
Final Cut Pro X, on the other hand, took a different path. It looked at the new world of digital video and built itself upon a foundation where film and tape are no longer important. (This is not the same as saying film and tape don’t exist, simply that they are less important than digital media files.)
Over recent versions, it has seemed to me that Adobe was working hard to have Premiere Pro achieve feature parity with FCP 7; though from a performance point of view, Premiere blows the doors off Final Cut Pro 7.
Given that as background, earlier this week I sat down with the folks at Adobe to explore the question of “If I were a Final Cut Pro 7 user, why should I consider Premiere Pro?”
NOTE: In this article I’m comparing Premiere Pro to Final Cut Pro 7. It requires a separate article, which I’ve not yet written, to compare Premiere Pro CC to Final Cut Pro X, because that comparison is a whole lot more complex.
Premiere Pro runs on both Mac and Windows systems. Without getting into the inevitable Mac vs. Windows debate, supporting both platforms gives editors the ability to choose the best platform for their work.
Premiere Pro supports all the latest Mac hardware. It is fully 64-bit, multi-threaded and multi-core, and fully supports the GPU in your system.
NOTE: Final Cut Pro 7 only effectively used 1 processor and, with just a few exceptions didn’t support the GPU at all. Also, because it was only 32-bit enabled, FCP 7 would only access 4 GB of RAM, regardless of how much RAM was installed on your system.
Premiere Pro supports all modern codecs and cameras. In fact, Premiere can handle projects larger than 6k and Adobe actually has a few customers testing 8k. (Both FCP 7 and Premiere allow mixing different frame sizes, frame rates, and codecs on the same Timeline.) Here’s an Adobe blog that explains this in more detail.
NOTE: As I was writing this article, Adobe released the 8.0.1 update to Premiere which focuses almost exclusively on improving performance.
CPU vs. GPU
The CPU is used to play all video in their camera native format and camera native frame rate.
The GPU is used for:
Multiple GPUs, such as the new Mac Pro, help speed exports. Also, GPU support is a newly-added feature in Adobe Media Encoder, which handles exporting duties for Premiere.
NOTE: In order for Premiere Pro to “recognize” the GPU, the computer needs a minimum of 768 MB of RAM on the GPU.
OTHER ADOBE APPLICATIONS
Premiere Pro supports tight integration with other Adobe applications, essentially one-click access to:
We can create a new After Effects comp in Premiere, import comps from After Effects without rendering them first, and/or convert the Timeline into an AE comp. This was enhanced in the latest release with the Live Text Templates allowing an AE comp to be saved in such a fashion that the text is editable in Premiere.
NOTE: Adobe plans to significantly enhance this Live Text feature in the future.
When it comes to Photoshop, we can create new PSD files directly in Premiere Pro. (Though both Premiere Pro and FCP 7 allow you to link to a PSD file, update the file in Photoshop and have those changes instantly reflected in Premiere, or FCP 7.) For editors working with still images, this hot link is a very cool feature.
There is no limit to still image size in Premiere. If Photoshop can create it, Premiere can edit it. Keep in mind, however, that video formats have very specific frame size parameters. Large still images should be used for pan-and-scan moves; also called the “Ken Burns effect.”
NOTE: According to Adobe, Final Cut Pro 7 processes Photoshop images as though they were created by Photoshop 3 (not CS3). This is why elements like layer effects are not supported. Premiere supports all the layout and design features in Photoshop, including embedding vector-based Illustrator files in a Photoshop document.
DYNAMIC LINK SERVER
You may have noticed, when you opened an AE comp in Premiere, that a new service started along with the import: Dynamic Link Server (DLS).
The Dynamic Link Server is actually a headless version of After Effects running in the background. “Headless” means that it can do anything After Effects can do, but has no user interface. This allows Premiere to play any AE comp, without actually knowing what’s in it.
THOUGHTS ON RENDERING
A big benefit to Premiere is that we don’t need to spend time rendering. For most video formats, running on most modern computers, rendering is no longer necessary. (I spent a chunk of time talking with Adobe about this whole issue of rendering and transcoding to try to understand it better.)
Playback and rendering are controlled by the Mercury Playback Engine. This provides hardware video acceleration on those systems that support it, or software acceleration on those that don’t. The reason this is important is that the faster the Mercury Playback Engine can run, the less rendering is needed.
Traditionally, hardware acceleration was optimized for PCs running nVidia cards with CUDA. At that time, only MacBook Pro laptops on the Mac supported hardware acceleration. However, over the last few releases, Adobe has enabled hardware acceleration on almost all Macs. OpenCL performance on Macs is, essentially, on par with CUDA support on PCs.
NOTE: Adobe’s goal is to have essentially equal performance whether running on OpenCL or CUDA, Mac or Windows.
What Premiere does, internally, is play all media using the camera native codec, but calculate all effects using 32-bit floating point math. This means that video plays in the same format that you shot it, but all effects are calculated with extreme accuracy, yielding very accurate results without needing to render.
In fact, most exports can be completed without first rendering the file. (Slow hardware, high-resolution images, or multiple simultaneous effects may require rendering.)
WORKING WITH MULTIPLE PROJECTS
Due to architecture restrictions, Premiere Pro can’t open multiple projects at the same time; unlike FCP 7; though, like FCP 7, Premiere supports an unlimited number of clips and Timeline sequences in a single project file.
However, using the Media Browser in Premiere, you can view the contents of any Project stored on your hard disk, then import any media or sequences contained in a separate project directly into the project you have opened in Premiere.
WORKING WITH MEDIA
Premiere Pro takes displaying used media much further than FCP 7. After editing a clip from the Project panel into the Timeline, a small orange badge appears in the clip in the Project panel, indicating the clip is used in the Timeline.
Click the small orange badge and Premiere lists every occurrence in the Timeline where media from that clip is used.
When replacing a clip in the Timeline, Premiere replaces clips based upon timecode, while FCP 7 replaces based on frame numbers. Timecode, Adobe tells me, is much more accurate.
The History panel in Premiere shows the last 32 steps you made during your edit; though it can be customized to show the last 100 steps using the Panel menu. This allows you to jump back to any arbitrary point in your edit, rather than needing to undo backwards one step at a time.
All selected clips in the Timeline can be grouped without first turned them into a nest. This allows you to move all grouped clips the same amount, while still seeing them as individual clips in the Timeline.
WORKING WITH EFFECTS
Effects can be applied to a master clip located in the Project panel, which causes that effect to appear in every related clip in the Timeline.
Effects can be applied to all selected clips in the Projects panel, without having to first open them in the Source monitor (Viewer).
COOL KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS
Here’s a shortcut when copying a title or Live Text clip that is already in the Timeline: press and hold the Option key while dragging the title in the Timeline. This creates a copy of the clip in the Timeline and a new master clip in the Projects panel.
A difference between FCP 7 and Premiere is that, once a clip is edited into the Final Cut Pro 7 Timeline, you can change it as much as you want without affecting the master clip. In Premiere any changes made to the Timeline clip are reflected back into the master clip.
NOTE: FCP linked the master clip to the Timeline clip based upon: file name, timecode, auxiliary timecode and reel ID. Premiere’s links are much more extensive. which is why adding effects to a master clip works in Premiere.
Another killer shortcut is what I call “Instant Zoom.” Try this: zoom into the Timeline. Press ““. Move the playhead anywhere else in the Timeline. Press “” again. Amazing.
While Premiere Pro can not read Final Cut Pro 7 project files, it can read FCP 7 XML export files with no additional conversion. This means that all you need to do to move a FCP 7 project to Premiere is export the selected project from FCP 7 as an XML file, then import that XML file into Premiere.
Media files move easily between Final Cut Pro 7 and Premiere Pro CC.
NOTE: When transferring files, media and your edits will transfer with no problem. However, transitions, effects, text and color correction settings will, in most cases, not transfer perfectly.
There is no one perfect software – which is why Adobe, along with all other developers, is continuing to improve and extend all their programs. But, if you were wondering what makes Premiere Pro CC worth considering for Final Cut Pro 7 users, now you know.
37 Responses to Why Should Final Cut Pro 7 Editors Consider Adobe Premiere Pro CC?← Older Comments
hoovdaddy – I know that there is a ‘funny’ or ‘funky’ way that you can accomplish this inside of CC, the multiple projects situation, in a very creative way. First of all, this can work only if you have multiple projects on ‘one’ drive. If you have a bunch of drives connected, I’ve not tried this, but my method seemed to work fine.
1.) Open and create a new project and call is “Multiple Edits” or whatever you want. Save and Close this Project.
2.) Open Project or Edit #01, and copy the Sequences. “Command + C”. Make sure you copy the Sequence, and hold the shift key fr any other important folders, like “Previous Versions” or whatever, in this case, just right-click and copy the sequence. THEN hit “Save”.
Re-open your CC project entitled: “Multiple Edits”, and once it opens, HIT “Command + V”, and boom! Your sequence is inside the new project. Now, you will notice that all of your linked media is also added inside a folder called “Recovered Media”, this is telling CC that this media is the media used to connect back to the other media, used to link ot your time-line. It’s like when you import media.
So, if you copy and paste one sequence into a new project, CC will automatically bring in and import the media for your sequence, you’ll need to organize that however you want, or rename the folder from “Recovered Media” to “Media for Project or Edit #01”.
3. Open Project or Edit #02, Project or Edit #03, Project or Edit #04, and so on, and copy your sequences into the one project.
And remember, it helps that if these edits are in the final stages of editing, so that if you needed to add b-roll or other media, you’ll need to either import the media direct, or “copy” some of the other project folders from each edit, such as “B-Roll – Project or Edit #01”, or “B-Roll – Project or Edit #02”. Remember, that this doesn’t affect your other single projects, this is just a way to get them all into one project, and all linked to one drive, or another. Remember, the media is linked to the drive, so if you have a Project with sequences from multiple drives, once you unplug, the media will appear offline, so. In this case, some editors like to consolidate their media anyways, and this might be a more efficient way, as you could, in theory, consolidate multiple projects at once, since they are all in one saved project. I’m certain on that, but that’s where you might want to see what works best for you. But in terms of getting everything into one project, I do this “copy and paste” method all the time.
while I’ll have access to read-only sequences from multiple projects, I’m assuming I can play and move around in them, I just can make a tweak if needed… I’d have to close the project I’m in and open the other project to make the trim, dissolve shorter, change slate, etc., right?
It sounds like you’re talking about long format work where segments are created and plugged into a master timeline.
What I currently do is all short form promo spots, multiples of them at a time. While I will open an older timeline on occasion and copy the previous versions clips and paste them into my new timelines, it’s only so I can reuse the color correction, motion settings, etc, then I delete the clips. The biggest issue for me is having the full access to multiple projects (including the ability to edit) simultaneously. If I could just get the functionality you’ve mentioned, the ability to have multiple sequences open and play them back for approval without having to close each down and open the next for viewing, and do that 5 times, that would be awesome!
To me, and it’s probably just me, maintaining the integrity of my original project is something I rely on the auto save for (as long as it works!). Now, if I screw up a project I have open in FCP, I just go back to the latest autosave (have mine set for 6min) and recover. In a sharing environment in which I’m working on something and my buddy next door needs access to it, that’s where maintaining the integrity of the original project factors in. I’m one of 2 finishers for the creative/promotions side and we don’t share projects like my brothers & sisters who do the longer form editing. In my Avid days, what you’ve described with the read-only access to other projects was ok and necessary because we were all working on different parts with one person piecing the final product together and that’s where protecting the other projects was extremely valuable. When everyone in town dropped Avid for FCP, there was less and less sharing and everyone had to become more conscious of opening other projects while people were working on them.
I guess what I’m hoping for is the best of both worlds for people like me and for those who are editing larger projects with more than one editor contributing.
“while I’ll have access to read-only sequences from multiple projects, I’m assuming I can play and move around in them”
That’s how project sharing will work, yes.
“I just can make a tweak if needed… I’d have to close the project I’m in and open the other project to make the trim, dissolve shorter, change slate, etc., right?”
You can have only one Read/Write project open at a time. You can have unlimited Read Only projects open within that project.
I’m sure we can improve the feature, so be sure to give us your feedback here: http://adobe.ly/feature_request
Kevin, these aren’t read only, once you copy the sequence into a new project, the media follow it, and you can edit the time-line. If you really wanted to, I guess you could copy the entire project file folder in CC, into your new CC project, so you have all 7 edits, and their project folders, and all their assets in one CC project, that’s up to you. As far as the color correction, I’m seeing here in CC, that if you have saved color correction filters, these will appear no matter what project you are in, and those color correction filters can be seen and used in any CC project. The color corrections, I belief, will carry over, as you copy one sequence, into a new CC project. This isn’t a master time-line situation, although it could probably be used in that way, this is simply copying your sequences into one new project, so that’s what you will have to determine, is how much more editing will you need to do to each clip, so if it’s just color and audio and finishing, you should be fine, but if you need to continue to do serious edits and more extensive work, you should just copy the entire folder chain into the new CC project.
All of the project sequences, media, sound, fx, place that into one folder, then copy that giant project folder, and paste it into your new CC Multi-Project project. If these are short promos or short format, it should not take you any pains at all, especially since there’s not a ton of media and sound and fx, just with each 1-7 projects, open each promo project, place all your project into one folder, and copy the entire folder over and paste it into your new project, where you can see all your other edits. Project A, timeline A, Project B-F, copy to your Multi-Edit project. Once you are in that new project, and once you’ve copied all the sequences and project media into this new project, yes, you can continue to edit, and make drastic edits, so these copied sequences are not ‘read-only’, you are copying the media and timelines and it all will function, as if you originally built the new project that way, cause it’s all just “meta-data”.
The other thing you mentioned, is editing with multiple sequences open in CC, yes, you can do this. You can open as many as you want and tab over as needed, or, what some editors do, they open the time-lines in separate viewable windows, so they literally have multiple sequences and their windows open at the same time. This is crazy, I only edit one time-line sequence at a time, yet still have those others open, I chose to just have one window open, so the other sequences are accessible via the tabs, just like in FCP7.
The other thing to consider is setting up your projects in the future, to reflect the projects for the week or month, and keep building off of one project, that way, as a project is needed, rather than opening one CC project for every separate clip, you simply open one CC project for the month, and work on the clips as needed, and let your CC project build naturally, and at the end of the month, save the CC project out as “Multiple Projects October 2014”, so if you worked on 4-9 clip edits in October, you simply know where to find the clips or those clip edits, all in “one” CC project, rather than have separate project files, for every single project, sounds like that’s part of your frustration. This also helps with batch exporting, with all the clips saved in one CC file, you can batch export as needed, and not have to open one project at a time, or edit one project at a time. From here on, maybe look at ways to consolidate or collect multiple clips edits, under one CC project.
all of the media is in one place, on our local RAIDs.
I don’t know if it will help but below is our work flow for creative/promotions finishing:
1) each predator edits their promo on their box, media manages it, posts it in our “Ready to Finish” folder on a server.
2)I pull it down off the server to my local RAID, delete off server so my cohort isn’t working on the same thing I am.
3) I do my finishing, get it approved, do my exports, then put the final project folder (the one I just worked out of) back to the server into a central location for anyone to access. There are times where during the approval process where graphics will change or a shot needs to be switched out, etc… its’ rare. There are times when I’m asked to make the tweak right there to see how it plays.
4) retags and revisions are done by the predator from the final project folder that I previously finished out of, that folder is placed in our “Ready to Finish” folder on the server, I grab it and the process repeats.
So, “14-0555 – XYZ Network Premiere” promo has it’s own folder with all of it’s stuff (media, project, graphics, exports, cue sheet, etc.) and everything stays in that folder.
While the suggestion to create essentially an approval project is a viable workaround, it won’t fit into our workflow. As complex as our workflow is to someone sitting in for the day, it’s about as simple as we can get it, which is to our advantage when we have a freelancer or one of the other guys in long form step in.
Creating a new project for approvals, copying and pasting sequences (and having all the media follow it into the new project – which I didn’t know so thanks for that nugget), that just creates a bigger mess and would create havoc!
The only way for us to stay sane is to have multiple individual projects open as we work along. If I could post a screen grab of my setup I’d do that to try to illustrate what I’m trying to explain. (I always work better with visuals).
Thank you for this article Larry, now I have finally hint which of them should I use. maybe, I will use Pr CS6 because it easy to find tutorials.
Great article. Will you be writing that one that compares CC and X though?
An article comparing Premiere with FCP X is a whole lot harder to write. It is on my list, but I’m struggling to figure out what to use as comparative metrics.
Thanks for responding. I can appreciate that complexity. I guess what I’m looking to answer – and I invite others to chime in as well – is…. I’m a director – shorts for the web, branded content, and documentary – having transitioned primarily from writing, and I’d like to be able to edit more of my own work – to complete personal projects on my own, to add another level of communication with the editors I work with, and to expand my professional range. I’m at an important juncture, trying to decide which pool to dive into, X or CC. I’ve worked with X already and enjoy it. I also get the changes X brought in terms of story-based editing over of track-based, and like it. I could even see myself making a case for the superiority of this framework. But, more and more, the production companies and editors I speak with either have, or are planning to make the shift from FCP to Premiere. Part of me thinks this is just because switching to Premiere allows them to move forward without have to learn anything new. But, if that’s going to become the dominant platform among my colleagues, wouldn’t I be better off going in that direction. In other words, if I’m going to throw myself into one of these programs, which one makes the most sense professionally? I think what a lot of people want to know, whatever level of the game they’re at: Which one is better? And which one is most likely to become the industry standard?
I think a strong case can be made that Premiere, Final Cut and Media Composer are already industry standards. All three have hundreds of thousands of users using the product every day for professional work. Major feature films, network television and a jillion other projects are cut every day in each of them.
I also don’t think there will be a “dominant” platform in the near future – the industry is too fragmented to resolve around a single platform. Which, I think, is a good thing. Competition is a very good thing for all of us.
As for professional results, if you were to edit professionally shot footage on Avid, Adobe, or Apple using cuts and dissolves then output it to a high-quality file and look at it on video scopes, you could not tell which program edited which footage.
You CAN tell when you add titles, effects or color grading, because each application handles these differently – but still professionally.
Pick the software that fits your style of working best.
[…] I wrote an article examining why Final Cut Pro 7 editors should consider Adobe Premiere Pro CC. (Read it here.) I was fascinated by all the […]