Apple Final Cut Pro vs. Adobe Premiere Pro: Which is Better?
If you work in video editing or are pursuing a career as a video editor, then you will inevitably encounter the two most popular video editing software programs: Apple Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro.
While some video editors do work with other programs, such as Magix and Cyberlink, most professional video creators rely on either Apple or Adobe software products.
Both Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro are robust, high-quality video editing programs with advanced tools. Which one is best for your next video project? Which should you invest time in learning? Here’s our guide to help you compare Apple Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro to decide which one is right for you.
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Adobe Premiere Pro
Adobe Premiere Pro is part of the Adobe Creative Suite, Adobe’s toolkit of multimedia production programs. Adobe has developed virtually every tool that a multimedia professional needs to create incredible, high-quality videos — and even better, all of Adobe’s programs easily integrate with each other. If you already work with other Adobe software programs for photo editing, digital artwork, or other content, you may find it easy to pick up Premiere Pro for video editing and sync it with the other programs you use.
Here are some of the features to consider when choosing Adobe Premiere Pro.
Premiere Pro is multiplatform
Premiere Pro is a multiworkstation program, meaning you can use it on either Mac or Windows operating systems (OS). This gives you more flexibility with devices that you can work on and other programs you can use in conjunction with Premiere Pro.
As long as your device meets the following technical requirements, you will be able to run the Premiere Pro software:
- On Windows: Microsoft Windows 10 (64-bit) version 1703 or later; Intel 6th-generation or newer CPU or AMD equivalent; 8GB of RAM; 8GB of hard-disk space; a 1,280 by 800 display; a sound card compatible with ASIO protocol or Microsoft Windows Driver Model.
- On macOS: Version 10.12 or later; an Intel 6th generation or newer CPU; 8GB of RAM; 8GB of hard-disk space; a 1,280 by 800 display; a sound card compatible with Apple Core Audio.
Premiere Pro integrates with other Adobe products
As part of the Adobe Creative Suite, Premiere Pro integrates seamlessly with other Adobe software products, including:
- Adobe After Effects: Video compositing software that allows you to do advanced effects processing and animations.
- Adobe Audition: For audio editing and sound effects.
- Adobe Photoshop: For image editing.
- Adobe Illustrator: To incorporate illustrations and digital artwork.
- Adobe Stock: Giving you access to a vast library of stock images and other media.
Premiere Pro’s ability to smoothly switch back and forth from the After Effects program makes it easy for video editors to render a video in either program and use both interchangeably to edit as needed.
Premiere Pro has a user-friendly UI and plenty of tutorials
Although Premiere Pro contains a daunting number of advanced editing tools, the well-organized UI makes it easy to navigate all of the features.
For new users, Premiere Pro is extremely welcoming and approachable to learn. It offers a streamlined user interface (UI) and an interactive guide for beginners that walks you through the step-by-step process of using the software.
Adobe offers a range of online tutorials, user guides, and support videos. Plus, there’s a large community of video editors who work in Adobe, so there’s no shortage of ways to find support as a new user. There are plenty of online courses, instructional videos, and blogs to help answer your questions and teach you the ins and outs of the software.
Premiere Pro uses a nonlinear editor (NLE) timeline
When editing within Premiere Pro, you will work within a nonlinear editor (NLE) timeline. This is the more traditional timeline format, which features tracks and track heads. Premiere Pro separates audio and video content into tracks on your timeline.
Because the NLE timeline is the more traditional option, experienced video editors may feel more comfortable and familiar with Premiere Pro rather than Apple’s trackless timeline format.
Within the program, a piece of timeline content is called a “Sequence,” and Premiere Pro allows you to organize your content further with Nested Sequences, Subsequences, and Subclips. You can access Premiere Pro’s timeline tabs to switch between different Sequences and Nested Sequences.
Premiere Pro’s timeline is easy to scale, providing tools that experienced video editors are familiar with, such as ripple, roll, razor, slip, and slide, among others.
Premiere Pro has a highly customizable workspace
For workspace organization, Adobe Premiere Pro uses dockable tabs that run across all of the different Adobe applications. This makes it easy to transition between the UI of any Adobe products.
Premiere Pro offers you seven pre-configured workspaces, but you are free to customize your workspace as much as you want. The configurable UI allows you to dock or undock individual panels as you wish, as well as show or hide features like thumbnails, keyframes, and FX badges.
Premiere Pro has excellent color grading features
Premiere Pro comes with a tool called the Lumetri Color Panel (as does its sister product, Adobe After Effects), which offers powerful features for color grading and color correction.
The Lumetri Color panel has similar features to Adobe’s robust color editing panels in Lightroom and Camera RAW, two of the most popular software programs for photography. If you’ve used Adobe’s photo editing software, you’ll likely have an easy time picking up the color grading options in Premiere Pro.
Within Adobe Premiere Pro, video editors have access to the following Lumetri Color panel sections, giving you very precise command of the colors in your project:
- Correction section: Here, you’ll do most of your color grading work, including correction for white balance, tone, exposure, and more.
- Creative section: This is where you can set and save look-up tables (LUTs). Premiere Pro displays your LUTs in a sleek drop-down menu, making it easy to browse through them and select the one you’d like to apply.
- Curves section: This section allows more precise control over your color correction, with the ability to independently adjust the saturation for each color.
- Color Wheels & Match section: This area gives you control of the shadows, mid-tones, and highlights separately so that you can adjust brightness, hue, and saturation for each. You can also easily compare the adjustments you make to the previous appearance with the Comparison View toggle.
- HSL Secondaries section: This gives you the ability to fine-tune the aesthetic and angles of your video project by selecting a range of pixels and adjusting color grading settings for only those pixels. This allows video editors to color correct for skin tone and clothing or apply artistic choices to make certain elements in the video stand out from the rest of the setting.
- Vignette section: This is where you can create vignettes with independent controls for the darkness (or lightness), roundness, and feathering.
Premiere Pro’s render time may be slow
Premiere Pro tends to have a long render time, especially for large, complex video projects. The software doesn’t enable you to select an edge, which can make it feel “mouse heavy” to video editors, particularly when working on large projects. Long video content may bog down the interface at times, and the software may have trouble reading and processing complex projects with a lot of content.
Premiere Pro has strong support for teams
Premiere Pro makes it easy for teams of video editors to work together on the same project. Its multi-project workflows are flexible and offer a synchronized way to organize projects that multiple individuals will edit or manage. When you rename a file or other media type in Premiere Pro, it will also be renamed across the project to reduce confusion and limit accidental copies of the same content.
Premiere Pro organizes media using bins
Premiere Pro allows you to organize your media files by storing them in “bins,” which act like folders. You can nest bins within other bins and apply color labels to the assets within. Some video editors feel that Premiere Pro’s bins lack organization, though, in recent years, Adobe has improved the functionality of bins.
Apple’s Final Cut Pro
Final Cut Pro is Apple’s latest video editing software program, which is part of Apple’s production suite.
Final Cut Pro has led the ranks of video editing software for a long time. Adobe’s Premiere Pro is one of the few products that can truly compete with Final Cut Pro on a massive scale. The program is faster and smoother. Like all Apple products, the user experience is sleek and simple to use.
Final Cut Pro works only on Mac
Apple’s Final Cut Pro only runs on Apple devices using macOS. This means that if you have a Windows device, you won’t be able to run Final Cut Pro, so Adobe Premiere Pro is likely your best option for video editing software.
If your Mac device meets the following technical requirements, you will be able to run Final Cut Pro:
- On macOS: 10.15.6 or later or later; 4GB of RAM; OpenCL-capable graphics card or Intel HD Graphics 3000 or later, 256MB of VRAM; a discrete graphics card; and if you want to use a VR headset with the program, you will need to have SteamVR.
Final Cut Pro integrates with Apple products
Final Cut Pro works smoothly with two other Apple software programs: Motion for motion graphics work and Compressor for content delivery. If you already use Adobe products, including PhotoShop, InDesign, or Illustrator, you may have to take extra steps to use these in conjunction with Final Cut Pro, whereas Adobe’s Premiere Pro integrates with existing Adobe products easily.
Final Cut Pro has a simple UI and user-friendly design
As with all Apple products, everything in Final Cut Pro has a simple user experience. Final Cut Pro hides all of the advanced editing functions when you first open the software, so the initial UI looks clean and approachable. This makes it fairly easy for new users to dive right in and start editing a video. There are also plenty of online courses that will teach you step by step the ins and outs of this software.
Once you’re ready for more advanced video editing capabilities, you can simply open up the rest of the tools to access the more complex features, such as Color Grading for Final Cut Pro.
Final Cut Pro uses the trackless Magnetic Timeline
While Adobe’s software uses the traditional NLE timeline, which relies on tracks, Final Cut Pro uses Apple’s innovative trackless timeline format called Magnetic Timeline.
The Magnetic Timeline uses lanes rather than tracks and features a Primary Storyline to which all of the content is attached. You can assign “Roles” (labels) to sort your content, such as Video, Dialog, Music, or Effects.
Final Cut Pro’s Auditions feature allows you to place optional clips in a selected spot within your video. This makes it easier to compare clips and make creative decisions about where to place pieces of video content in the overall project. You can also group clips into Compound Clips, similarly to Premiere’s Nested Sequences.
Many video editors consider the Magnetic Timeline easier to manage and sync than Premiere Pro’s timeline format. However, those who have worked extensively in video editing may find a learning curve to adjust from the NLE timeline you’re familiar with to this new timeline format.
Final Cut Pro has a less customizable workspace
The UI for Final Cut Pro’s workspace is organized into panels and windows and is far less customizable than Premiere Pro’s dock-style workspace. With the exception of the Preview Window, you cannot split any of the other panels into their own windows.
Even within the Preview window, the amount of control you have as an editor is sparse, offering only a Play and Pause option. Adobe Premiere Pro offers more controls in this area, with buttons for Step Back, Go to In, Go to Previous Edit Point, Lift, Extract, and Export Frame.
Final Cut Pro only offers three preconfigured workspaces (titled: Default, Organize, and Color & Effects), whereas Premiere Pro has seven for you to work with. While Final Cut Pro provides an organized workspace that’s easy to clean and navigate, you will have less control over customizing it than with Premiere Pro.
Final Cut Pro has upped its game in color grading
For color grading and correction, Final Cut Pro offers the Color Board. While many video editors previously considered Final Cut Pro to lag behind Adobe’s Premiere Pro in terms of sophisticated and flexible color controls, Apple has done a lot of work to upgrade the flexibility of color controls in Final Cut Pro.
With Color Wheels and Color Curves to control hue, saturation, and more, the Color Board in Final Cut Pro can compete with Premiere Pro’s Lumetri Color Panel. The Color Inspector tool allows you to use color wheels to add color grading and other effects to specific clips and even apply multiple effects to a single clip. The color curves give you finer control over hue and saturation and allow you to compare and contrast different color effects. It’s also far easier now to load predefined custom LUTs and apply them to any clip.
Final Cut Pro has a very fast render time
Final Cut Pro is faster and more efficient than Premiere Pro in many ways. It offers fast render times, even with larger video projects, and efficient editing workflows. While Final Cut Pro excels in speed, the software may slow down when faced with complex video projects containing many video tracks. Final Cut Pro works best and quickest for chronological editing.
Final Cut Pro has less support for teams
Although multiple editors can work on the same project via editing servers such as Jellyfish, collaboration with other users on projects still feels a little stilted and is not necessarily a smooth process. However, if you’re a lone editor, this is not so much of an issue.
Final Cut Pro organizes media in a library
Apple’s Final Cut Pro organizes media into a Library, which provides the umbrella container (or database) where you can store all of the projects, clips, and media files for your project. You can use Roles, Events, and Projects to label and sort your media; keyword tagging and smart collections make it easy to find clips or other media files quickly. Final Cut Pro’s library does allow for batch clip renaming, which can be very helpful for large projects using many similar clips.
Key takeaways for Final Cut Pro vs. Premiere Pro
The first factor to consider when choosing a video editing software is your device and operating system. This may narrow down your options and essentially make the choice for you. If you’re working on a Windows device, you won’t be able to run Final Cut Pro, so Adobe Premiere Pro is the way to go.
If you’re working on a Mac, you have the option between Premiere Pro and Apple Final Cut Pro. This is where you’ll want to consider what types of video editing projects you expect to work on. For example, will they be large or small? Lengthy videos or shorter clips?Chronological sequences of content or out of order?
For chronological video projects of all sizes, Final Cut Pro is a strong option with fast render speeds and a sleek UI. For complex video projects with a large number of video tracks, Premiere Pro may be better able to handle the complexity of your project and media files, despite slightly slower render speeds. Premiere Pro also gives a higher level of control and personalization in general for those video editors who like to customize their workspace and UI as they like. If you aren’t too particular about being able to fine-tune your workspace, Final Cut Pro may provide you with the sleek, user-friendly UI you’re looking for and a less overwhelming number of options for your workspace organization.
While the differences may seem important and certainly matter to your workflow and editing preferences, the truth is you can’t go wrong with either Adobe or Apple when it comes to video editing software. Both are popular for professional video and film projects, and both will provide you with a robust set of advanced video editing tools to create high-quality, stunning video content.
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