The better editing program: Adobe Premiere vs. Final Cut Pro

I won’t say there is one that’s better than the other. But there are certain cases to choose Premiere Pro.
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Timeline view of Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro

One could make a convincing argument that the years 2007 – 2008 were one of the most important in the history of consumer video. Seemingly overnight, consumers had access to shooting videos like never before.

Why?

The first iPhone was released towards the end of 2007. A year later, Canon released the 5d Mark II, which was one of the first “photo cameras” to shoot 1080p.

These two innovations allowed nearly anyone who could afford a cell phone or a decent camera to shoot quality video. In parallel, video editing programs rose in popularity, as millions of new shooters sought creative ways to edit their footage.

For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to focus on two of the most popular consumer facing editing programs to layout which is the best editing program for you: Adobe Premiere Pro and Apple Final Cut Pro. Ironically, while they differ in a number of ways, Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere were created by the same person.

I began using Final Cut in 2003 (back then, there was a version called Final Cut Express). I’ve used Premiere since roughly 2010, so I have a strong understanding of both programs.

Here’s what you should know about both Premiere and Final Cut to determine which editing program is best for you … in 5 minutes.

Which is cheaper?

A look at the timeline on a Final Cut Pro editing sequence.

This depends:

  1. Do you plan on JUST purchasing a video software for the next 12 months?
    If you just want video editing, Final Cut Pro is by far the cheapest. A one-time payment of $299.99 will get you Final Cut Pro. Adobe Premiere will cost $21 / month for a 12 month commitment (or you can prepay $240 for the year).
  2. Do you also see yourself using photoshop or a motion graphics program?
    Where Final Cut Pro gets a bit more costly is the lack of creative programs associated with it. If you’re someone who does a fair amount of creative work, it’s likely you’ll need Photoshop to edit photos and maybe after effects to create motion graphics. These two programs alone will likely involve you buying Adobe’s Creative suite, which would include Adobe Premiere. So in this case, purchasing Final Cut Pro would be an ADDITIONAL cost.

Choosing between Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro

It’s important to point out that Premiere and Final Cut Pro have both existed for over 20 years and have had various editions and versions of themselves. Some iterations have been less desirable than others, but this article will explore present day versions of both.

While this article explores the nuance between the two video editing programs below, there is one main reason why somebody would choose Premiere over Final Cut:

As of 2020, Window users do not have access to Final Cut Pro

Final Cut Pro is an apple product, and therefore is only available on MacOS. That said, for Mac users, there is one main reason why somebody would choose Final Cut over Premiere:

Final Cut Pro takes less processing power and requires less rendering time.

h.265

Without getting into the fine aspects of video codes, h.265 (or HEVC) is a codec that some cameras record in (namely GoPRO and some Panasonic camcorders). h.265 is very taxing on a computer as it is highly compresses video data. This in lay speak means it takes a lot of data and packs it into something that fits on a smaller card, but in turn causes an editing program to really churn as it “unpacks” that data. Final Cut Pro 10.4 and later allows for much easier editing of h.265 video clips. Premiere will get smoked by them and does not offer this support.

Using Adobe Premiere for Green Screen

While a number of factors can influence how well your able to key out a green screen (bit depth for example) Adobe Premiere offers more tools for a cleaner chroma key.

Final Cut Pro has more flexibility with Higher Frame rates

Premiere doesn’t allow you to add warp stabilization (an effect that stabilizes a video clip) and to adjust the speed of a clip at the same time. This can be troublesome if you’re trying to stabilize and slow down a shot at a high frame rate. Final Cut Pro doesn’t have this issue based on my experience (tell me I’m wrong) and allows you to add video stabilization while also adjusting clip speed.

Final Cut Pro has more transitions

And a look at the timeline for Adobe Premiere Pro.

Premiere offers a set of default transitions that will get the job done. For those who want more advanced transitions, you’re likely going to move into After Effects. But from Gaussian blurs to lens flares, Final Cut Pro offers more transitions native to the platform.

Dealing with text

Again, Premiere assumes for the most part that if you’re going to be doing advanced graphics or text overlays, you’re going to be using After Effects or Illustrator. Therefore, Premiere doesn’t have a tremendous amount of text templates or generators from which to choose from.

Final Cut Pro is easier for creating text overlays and lower thirds within the program and allows you to easily copy and past text “called legacy titles.”

In my opinion, many of the text templates in Final Cut can feel un-original and you’ll want to import or create ones of your own. There are also countless plug-ins out there to elevate your Final Cut Pro experience, for this.

After Effects and Final Cut Pro

The primary reason I often choose Adobe Premiere over Final Cut Pro is the ability to integrate other Adobe Creative Cloud offerings with Premiere.

Adobe Premiere works seamlessly with other Adobe products. Import a file created in Illustrator (called an .ai file) or After Effects (.ae file) and place it on your video timeline. When you update the file in Illustrator or AE, the changes will take effect on your timeline—you won’t need to replace or re-import a new file.

This will very much not be the case in Final Cut Pro, and in some cases makes working in Adobe Premiere very attractive.

Do you need Final Cut Pro if you have iMovie?

If you’re new to editing and deciding which video editing program to choose, a simple answer might be found if you

  1. Own a mac
  2. Have used iMovie and are fairly comfortable using it

Final Cut Pro is a more robust iteration of iMovie, and primarily differs in that it:

Export in Apple ProResCompressorTimeline FunctionalityKeyframingCan scale clip size
Final Cut ProYesThe primary tool for how Final Cut Pro exports videos Allows multiple video layersYesYes
iMovieNoDoesn’t allowCan only edit one layerNo No, limited to cropping an image but not making it bigger

But for those who have edited in iMovie, Final Cut Pro will be a relatively seamless transition and it’s likely you won’t feel as intimidated operating in this space opposed to Adobe Premiere.

Final Minute

Even with decade of experience, it’s difficult to vote for one of Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro over the other. Most competent editors will have experience in both, and will choose according to the needs of their project. The crux of this post is to immediately identify who can’t use Final Cut Pro and what project will likely make Adobe Premiere more appealing.


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