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Video Editing Software Compared: Apple's Final Cut Pro X vs Adobe's Premiere Pro

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If you want to incite a riot, walk into a room of creative professionals and shout that the app that you use is by far the superior choice. And that battle is as real for top video editing platforms like Final Cut Pro X versus Adobe Premiere Pro.

Search sites like YouTube or Reddit, and you'll find strong opinions for (and against) both apps. As always, the truth is somewhere in the middle. In this article, we'll look at both apps and the advantages for each.

Why Choose Final Cut Pro X?

Final Cut Pro X, or "FCPX," is a favorite of video editors, but it's unorthodox tools means it's not without controversy. Here are a few reasons that you might consider making it your go-to editor of choice.

Perpetual License Model

Call me old school, but it becomes exhausting to juggle subscriptions to so many apps. And if you want to own your software, then Final Cut Pro X is the only show in town. 

In recent years, Adobe has shifted all of its apps to a subscription-only model. While some users favor this "always-up-to-date" license model, it's not for everyone, and the expenses add up.

Final Cut Pro App Store
If you want to "own" your software, Final Cut Pro X is the choice. 

Keep in mind that if Apple launches a major new version, it's possible that the upgrade could be priced separately (as if it's a new app.) But if you want to pay once and unlock updates, FCPX is the way to go.

Native macOS Feel

Final Cut Pro X Interface
The FCPX interface feels like many other macOS apps and helps ease the learning curve.

Some users claim that FCPX feels like a beefed-up iMovie at this point. Depending on your experience and needs, that could be taken as either a plus or minus. For beginner video editors, the familiarity of the interface layout can ease the learning curve and help you produce your project more quickly.

Performance Advantages

This point will be a controversial one, but it's documented by enough users that it bears mentioning.

Render times vary between platforms, but one performance point that's often discussed is that timeline scrubbing is faster with FCPX without pre-rendering in files. Premiere users often mention rendering proxy files to work efficiently in the app.

The Magnetic Timeline

Apple broke with tradition with the magnetic timeline. Basically all other serious NLEs (non-linear editing programs) use multiple channels to organize free-floating clips—V1, V2, V3 for video, A1, A2, A3 for audio, and so on—into layers. FCPX uses a different metaphor: there's one timeline, and everything snaps to it, like branches on a tree.

 

This doesn't sound like a big difference, but it's the kind of detail that gets editors really screwed up with emotion. In practice, if it suits your style, the magnetic timeline does very well to help keep your projects organized and your workflow smooth.

Magnetic timeline in Final Cut Pro X
The Magnetic Timeline

Why Choose Adobe Premiere Pro?

If you're still on the fence, let's look at a few reasons that you might choose Adobe Premiere Pro.

Cross-Platform

If you find yourself jumping back-and-forth between Windows and macOS, then using Adobe Premiere Pro is a must. That's because Final Cut Pro X is macOS only and locks out your Windows-based friends.

Premiere Pro macos
Premiere Pro is cross-platform so that you won't leave out your Windows-based colleagues.

If you know that you're working in mixed-company, consider creating your next project in Premiere Pro. You can still lean on it as a dedicated macOS user, but you won't leave your Windows-colleagues out of the project.

Low Cost to Get Started

In the section above, I highlighted the fact that FCPX is a perpetual license model. Once you buy FCPX, you can use it and update it with any new patches or versions that Apple adds.

If you're on a Mac and like to own your software, then FCPX is the right choice for you. But Premiere helps you start for less cost out of your wallet. Adobe's Creative Cloud model made all of their apps a monthly subscription-based service. As long as you subscribe, you can use and update the app.

Adobe Creative Cloud subscription
One advantage of the subscription-based model is that it's inexpensive to get started.

Adobe offers a single-app plan that doesn't require a subscription to the entirety of Creative Cloud. It's the least expensive way to get started.

Integration with Adobe After Effects

NLE video tools are designed to sequence clips, adjust timings, and create a cohesive video story. They also typically feature some primary effects and tools to add captions or text.

But they aren't fully-featured animation tools. That's where an app like Adobe After Effects enters the picture. To create animated graphics, titles, and effects, you need an extra app like After Effects. Premiere has a massive advantage with its tight, easy-to-use integration to send projects back-and-forth between the apps.

Sure, Apple has its animation and motion graphics tool in the form of Apple Motion, but After Effects has a much larger community and tutorial base.

Learn more about Adobe After Effects in the article below:

Other Video Editing Apps to Consider

Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro X are two of the most popular options, but they aren't the only platforms. For example, both apps leave mobile users left out in the cold as they don't include mobile app versions.

Don't fall into the trap of false dichotomies! In reality, there are many other video editing apps that might fill gaps in the need. Here are other popular video editing apps.

  • iMovie is another macOS only option, but it's one of the most accessible apps to start with. Plus, it has a price point (free) that's hard to match.
  • Adobe Premiere Rush is similar in name to its fully-featured older sibling, but is a significantly slimmed-down app that also features a mobile app—a feature that Premiere and FCPX lack.
  • For mobile-first editing, LumaFusion and KineMaster are both worth a look.

Check out introductions and learning resources for some of the apps mentioned above in the articles below:

The Best Source for FCPX and Premiere Templates

No matter which video editing platform you choose, you need advantages that help you work efficiently. Both Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro have huge fanbases and user communities and benefit from pre-made templates that ease the learning curve.

The best place to source unlimited video templates is from Envato Elements, the all-you-can-download creative library.  With a single subscription, you can source an unlimited number of templates for both apps.

Envato Elements Template library
Use the Envato Elements library to download the best video templates for Final Cut Pro and Premiere and save hours of design work.

When you use a template, you don't give up the ability to customize your video. Instead, you skip the work of drawing every element and animation from scratch. Use templates like blueprints: outstanding starting points, but not inflexible.

More Premiere and FCPX Resources

Which of these two programs do you prefer, and why? Make sure to leave a comment to share with your fellow Tuts+ readers who are making a decision.

Both apps feature a learning curve, so it helps to have a few resources that help you conquer it. The tutorials below help you master both apps step-by-step. If you've decided to switch platforms, use these resources to help you learn a new platform:

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