Final Cut Pro vs. Avid

In the world of video editing software, Avid and Final Cut Pro are the two names that stand well above others in the field. Not only are Avid and Final Cut Pro the market leaders for video editing software (about 20% and 45% respectively), they are by far the two most powerful editing programs on the market. In order to help you determine which product is best for you, here's some comparison information on the two popular video editing programs.

What You Get in the Box

Both Avid and Final Cut Pro ship as components of larger suites of programs. Final Cut Pro usually ships with Final Cut Studio, and Avid Media composer is the editing component of the Avid suite of video programs. With both programs, there are companion applications for compression, editing, DVD authoring, multilayered composting/effects and database management. Final Cut Pro comes with a sound editor program, Soundtrack Pro, that is not available with the Avid suite of programs.

Compatibility Concerns

One major advantage that Avid has over Final Cut Pro is the fact that Media Composer is a cross-platform application, while Final Cut Pro will only run on a Mac. If you are a Mac fan, this is not a big deal; however, there are many professional editing environments that are based entirely on the Windows operating system.

Format Support

The newest version of Final Cut Pro, Version 7, adds a lot more codecs that you can use for encoding or converting video files. With the addition of these news codecs, Final Cut Pro is now on par with Avid in terms of providing support for most popular formats.

However, one area that Final Cut Pro has a slight advantage over Avid is the fact that Final Cut Pro allows you to drop QuickTime media files based on various codecs directly into its editor. With Avid, you must import and convert the media to Avid compatible OMF or MXF files.

Although you need to convert some files in Avid, Media Composer usually plays and scrubs files more responsively than does Final Cut Pro. Also, Avid still has the lead when it comes to support for native camera formats like P2 or DVCPRO HD. With Avid, you can edit the video directly from the camera files. Apple, on the other hand requires that you copy video files to your local machine and then wrap them as QuickTime movies.

Collaborative Editing

When it comes to collaborative editing, Avid is light years ahead of Final Cut Pro. Avid's Unity application has set the standard for allowing multiple editors to simultaneously work on the same video project. Several editors can work within the same Avid project at the same time, and all have access to timelines created by other editors.

Although Final Cut Pro has made advances in collaborative editing, it still doesn't come close to the flexibility offered by Avid Unity. Careful planning and project management will allow Final Cut Pro users a limited amount of collaborative editing; however, Final Cut Pro still has a long way to go in this area.

3rd Party Plug-Ins

Final Cut Pro has a clear-cut advantage over Avid when it comes to third-party plug-ins. For almost any editing task you can imagine, there is a plug-in provided by a third-party vendor to make using Final Cut Pro easier. On the other hand, with Avid, the few plug-ins that are available are virtually all from Avid.

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