Final Cut Reality Check

As people start using Final Cut 6 some of the hype is going to fall away and we’ll see what the program’s strengths and weaknesses really are. In a post on Editblog, Scott Simmons notes the extremely long analysis times that Apple’s SmoothCam requires (especially with HD). He also points out that times speed up considerably if you make a new master clip containing only the material cut into your show — otherwise the software analyzes the whole master clip, regardless of what you actually used. We sure didn’t see this in the demos Apple did.

I’m now very curious about how long Avid’s Stabilize effect would take on the same material. It’s not nearly as intuitive, but those multi-hour wait times on FCP look like a real disadvantage.

I’m also hearing from a friend that Compressor 3 is much slower than Compressor 2 on a quad-core G5. [Correction — it was a dual 2.0 G5.]

For its part, Avid introduced version 2.7 with a bad bug on Mac systems running Unity that can trash all your bins. Buyer beware — back up regularly. I’m sure hoping that one gets fixed real quick.

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7 Comments on “Final Cut Reality Check”

  1. Gary Bradley Says:

    We’re looking at a switch from Avid to FCP for the Met Opera shows, which I’ve edited for many years. Avid media management looks superior…FCP multi-cam is probably better.. a little worried about losing FluidMorph for jump-cuts… but the biggest knock I’ve heard is that FCP to tape is iffy– dropped frames happen, while pick-up edits and seamless inserts (which we take for granted on Avid– hey, these are 3-hour programs) don’t. Any contrary, first-hand accounts of straight-ahead tape output of long-form programming?

  2. editblog Says:

    That’s a great idea! :

    Avid’s Region Stabilize did very well.

  3. Liam Says:

    Edit to tape with long projects in FCP works fine for me ive used blackmagic and Aja cards both work fine. Blackmagic has definitely had some problems but they have usually fixed them quite quickly and both cards technical support is great.

    The stabilize effect is something thankfully i havent had to use and i guess is a rarity. Having to use suggests u r usually editing someones holiday or wedding video…I shudder just thinking about those days!

    I think it is great to have both FCP & Avid available…kind of like having black and a blue pen…

  4. Mark Raudonis Says:

    The “long analysis time” issue is easily worked around by media managing the clip to ONLY what you need smoothed out. Soundtrack pro had this issue in the first version, (analyzing the entire piece of media, not just the selection) and now the current version has “learned” how to work around this and ONLY analyzes your selection. I’ll bet that by next year this won’t be an issue.


  5. Dennis OConnor Says:

    I’m trying to activate “Joe’s Filters” … In LIBRARY, under Final Cut Pro System Support in PLUG-Ins’ I have the folder. BUT when I open FCP,in Effects browser, it’s NOT there and there are LOCK icons on all the folders??? I recently downloaded “Joe’s Filters” and tried to bring it in again…but still no JOE and his Filters… currently I’m doing a work around. I’m taking the scenes I have on my 5.2 and making a QTime file, then moving to my 4.5 (Where JOE’S works) making my fix with Joe’s FIELD FIXER, then bring it back into the 5.2 replacing the unstable Mini DV. This work around is a pain, how can I activate the sleeping JOE’s Filters.

  6. P Jackson Says:

    I’m coming from using both, although my far greater experience is with Avid; I’ve been cutting on them for 16 years (10 years of multi-machine videotape and 5 years of film behind that).

    The two systems are designed for two different customers. Avid, from the start, has been a traditional film and videotape editor’s tool, with interface and nomenclature designed to appeal to an editor’s senses. FCP started as a somewhat glorified amateur device, aimed at the graphics creator and wannabe-editor, with tools and interfaces designed to cause as little confusion as possible for these folk. Over time, FCP has matured into a more serious device.

    Avid benefits from an arsenal of items (sophisticated compositors and audio production systems, network media management, graphics systems, multi-station and newsroom systems, TV operations systems & software, etc., etc.); all of which are contributory in some form or another in helping define and provide for a given user’s esoteric needs. FCP is slowly getting its feet wet outside of the core product, but is miles away from having the Avid army of products.

    Avid media management is, hands-down, the winner over what FCP offers. Avid render times, compared to FCP, are not nearly the same nail-biters. Matching back to tape, clip consolidation and transcoding are all areas where Avid shines. I’m not from Hollywood and don’t measure an editor by how many edits he or she can slam in an hour, so the fact the keyboard shortcuts are on the plus side for seasoned FCP people really doesn’t turn my head at all.

    On the other hand…

    FCP is clearly ahead of Avid when it comes to mixing formats. FCP can mix multiple formats on the same timeline that would make any Avid choke. It seems to take less horsepower to do as much with FCP (a high-end Mac laptop will handle HD editing fairly well; the most ballsy PC laptop running Avid is not a reliable HD finisher at all).

    FCP does a few small but very nifty things, like an almost-realtime timecode window burn (nothing is realtime, however, in FCP – there is a render price tag) that Avid can do only with long render times. These are things that make clients watch the clock and wring their hands, with Avid.

    My biggest appreciation for FCP is, however, that someone came along and gave Avid a hotfoot. A number of Avid products and developments came into being clearly in answer to FCP’s leadership. There are always rumors that Apple will drop FCP, or sell it to a smaller company (which may not have the capitol to compete with Avid), but I guess we’ll have to wait those out.

    Hey, maybe Avid will buy FCP. It’d be interesting to see how the mix of the two cultures would pan out. History shows that Avid would probably buy FCP in order to make it disappear. Sure hope not.

  7. P Jackson Says:

    p.s. — about Avid Stabilize: It’s about as easy to use as a toothpick. You drop it on the clip you wish to effect, open the effect editor, drag the box over the region of interest, set to auto-zoom or not, and render.

    Regardless of what has been said previously here, it’s a valuable tool in any production situation, be it camera-car cleanup or upstage hand-held cut-ins. The guy who said using this suggests home movies or weddings ain’t been around very long.

    FluidMorph on Avid has saved my @$$ more than once when I was stuck with a jump-cut, and clients don’t believe it when they see it.

    I haven’t done any long-format programs on FCP, so I can’t compare matching back to tape on Avid, which I can tell you is always dead-nuts accurate, and you can count on matching into the same tape six months later with no color or image shifts.

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