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How Final Cut Pro Works


Problems with Final Cut Pro
One of the drawbacks with Final Cut Pro is that it only works on Macintosh computers.
One of the drawbacks with Final Cut Pro is that it only works on Macintosh computers.
© Andrew Cutraro/Getty Images

Final Cut Pro is a complex piece of software that's subject to the same bugs and glitches as any other widely used computer program. But small ticks aside, there are some broader issues with Final Cut Pro that keep the message boards buzzing with frustrated users.

Because the market for professional video editing software is very small, Final Cut Pro will forever be compared with the AVID Media Composer, hands down the industry standard for feature film and television editing. One of the major complaints that professional editors have with Final Cut Pro is its media management system.

AVID uses a database-style system to organize and manage all of the files that are associated with a project. Whenever a clip is renamed -- in the hard drive, the file browser, on the timeline, in the effects area -- the clip is renamed throughout the system. There's no chance of losing a clip by renaming it or using it in another project.

With Final Cut Pro, unfortunately, there are plenty of ways to misplace files on the system. That's because Final Cut Pro uses two separate systems for organizing project files: the Finder and the Browser.

All applications and files on a Mac are accessible and searchable in the Finder. If you have video clips saved on your computer, then they're located in some folder in the Finder. To use those clips in Final Cut Pro, you need to import the clips from the Finder to the Browser. If you move or rename any of the clips in the Finder, that will break the link to the same clip in the Browser, making the clip inaccessible [source: Genius DV]

Some users have been frustrated with how Final Cut Pro works with newer tapeless camcorders. Tapeless camcorders record directly to built-in hard drives or removable media cards. One of the more popular tapeless formats, called AVCHD, wasn't compatible with Final Cut Pro until a recent upgrade. Even now, the AVCHD video must be transcoded to an intermediate Apple codec before it can be edited in Final Cut Pro, which can be a lengthy process. Still other tapeless formats won't work at all with Final Cut Pro or Macs in general.

For some users, the main problem with Final Cut Pro is that it's only available for the Mac. If you're an amateur filmmaker who has already invested in a high-end Windows system, you might hesitate to switch to an expensive Mac just to use a proprietary piece of Apple software. AVID, for example, is available for both PC and Mac, as is Adobe Premiere.

Also, Final Cut Pro is no longer available as a stand-alone purchase. To buy Final Cut Pro 6, you must buy the entire Final Cut Studio 2 suite of application, which retails around $1,300. You can, however, buy Final Cut Express as a standalone for $200.

Another issue for professional editors is marketability. If you want to work with the majority of studios and production houses in Hollywood, you need to be an expert in Avid, not just Final Cut Pro. Even though Final Cut Pro is gaining popularity in high-end professional circles, the talent pool of highly experienced editors is still shallow when compared with AVID.

We hope this has been a helpful introduction to Final Cut Pro. For lots more information on video editing, audio editing and related topics, see the links on the next page.