MC/FCP Differences

Several people have responded negatively to my suggestion that Final Cut Pro hews closer to a desktop publishing metaphor than Media Composer does. Admittedly, the differences are pretty subtle, but this issue was hotly debated in the early days and I, for one, advocated the idea that editors were more interested in moving pictures and how they look on a screen than on little rectangles and how you can move them around in a timeline. As much as possible, I wanted you to be able to make all editing decisions based on moving video. Avid’s engineers also did without an explicit toolbar and tried to make the cursor smart enough to do what you wanted when you wanted to do it.

In one sense the difference is just one of visual semantics. The MC has a ‘toolbar lite’ at the bottom of the timeline, where you choose effects, trim, segment or source/record mode. So you’re switching modes in both programs. But there are fewer modes in MC than there are tools in FCP, and to me, that makes it more intuitive. People who started working with one of the Adobe applications before learning to edit often find FCP more intuitive.

One question is whether this difference of approach leads to a different kind of editing, or is more appropriate for a different style, or with different kinds of material. One commentator suggested that FCP seems to be used more for documentaries and music videos and the MC more for features and television.

So how’s this for a hypothesis: FCP does a better job in segment mode than MC. It’s easier to drag things around, easier to rearrange clips, easier to create new and unexpected juxtapositions. MC is better in trim mode, better at tying material together, better at making disparate material look like continuous action. FCP is better for montages; MC is better for dialog. FCP is better at making cuts that jar you; MC is better at making cuts that are smooth as silk.

In addition, FCP is better in a standalone, home-brew environment, where you might be working with full-resolution media and doing your own visual effects, sound work or tech support. MC fits better in a world where teams of specialists have to collaborate and work with various kinds of media.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Avid, Avid vs. Final Cut, Final Cut

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