Avid vs. Final Cut Pro
I am probably about to start a war of words with this post. But this decision has me at a crossroads. My question is Avid or Final Cut Pro? We have been presented with upgrading our commercial production suites to new equipment (currently we are on Media 100 v8). We have been shown two systems, one running Avid Media Composer with Mojo SDI and the other with Final Cut Studio with the Multibridge Eclipse. In terms of computer specs, they're nearly identical. Cost is not so much an issue. What's kind of strange is the Avid system is $7,000 more than the Final Cut Pro, and our higher-ups are wanting the Avid system.
Now for some background on our workflow. We don't have one. We shoot on Beta and DVCPRO tape. Have no shared storage, only dedicated machine storage. They won't upgrade us to shared because it's too expensive. These machines would serve only to do commercials and station promos. Our newsroom however uses Avid Newscutters and shoots on P2. The only time we would need to work with the newsroom is to grab footage for promo spots which we should be able to access there server from either system.
What I want to hear are some honest opinions. I'm assuming people out there have used both systems and can give me a good response. I like Final Cut, but it's not my decision unless I can be really persuasive.
Personally, I feel that Final Cut has a stronger user community that is willing to share it's knowledge. I just went to the Avid forum and there are about 5 post where as Final Cut Pro has well over 50. A lot more Training Tutorial as well. If you want help then Final Cut would be worth looking into. Also here is an article that is a little dated. http://library.creativecow.net/articles/inhofer_patrick/avid_fcp_update.php
In the end, I say buy them both.
Salt Lake Video
Check out my DVD Money Making Graphics & Effects for Final Cut Studio 2
Eric, our facility sounds about the same as yours. We shoot dvcpro25 and a little betacam, though these days it's mostly used for studio work and not in the field. We have four edit suites which once ran the gamut of systems between a Grass Valley linear system in the control room, Discreet Logic Edit*6, Panasonic's own Postbox system, and a PC box running Premiere/Pinnacle Nitro. It was hard for an editor to move from room to room to help out on projects or trade jobs, there were too many contradictory mouse and keyboard commands to keep straight, and you never felt fully comfortable on any one of them, you always felt like a beginner, never a "power user".
We decided it made the most sense to standardize on one platform, so that the three editors could all become equally adept and interchangeable, room to room. We could then cover for each other as needed, and share skillsets.
The macs are simple to inter-connect via ethernet, so transfer of graphics and sound files is possible, (slow but we're not fussy at this stage) but we have yet to really need to do things that way: While we theoretically could all edit on the same project simultaneously (one guy cutting, one guy scoring, one guy massaging graphics, for example) we've never had the need to try that out yet.
Instead, each editor pretty much stands alone, and we occasionally sneaker-net files or videos on usb drives, CD-or DVD-rom burns, or DVC Pro tape using SDI in and out when soembody neesd something in another room. If we want a SAN or NAS at soem point, the macs are already configured for it, but keepign a bunch of files spinning on central drives is not the way we work here: we still put tapes and DVDs on shelves for long term deep storage, and don't have a need to load many terabytes into instant-access. Some folks do. Angry Bob over in the Broadcast forum wrote a neat COW online article about cheap and easy DIY central storage you can cobble together yourself, you might want to look at that as a stepping-stone to a bigger NAS or SAN.
We picked the mac/fcp route because it was a little cheaper than Avid, because I had experience with macs at home and so did the chief engineer, many local VAR's on the PC side were bums... even though with Avid and Final Cut both, you're still talking about essentially closed systems with one supplier, we also found the mac/FCP workflow much easier to handle and more comfortable, and that is advice I always give someone shopping for a system: they all can do basically the same things with a few specialties here and there, but the best system for you is the system that works the way you like to work, that feels transparent and simple for you, comfortable. You spend so many hours a day with the thing, you want to pick one you just plain like more. A system you like more, you get more adventurous with, you push it's limits more and become faster, better, more creative on it, even if it may not be as powerful as some other system. The user experience and competence is an important part of the equation.
As far as reliability, well, macs are pretty good, I must say, compared to most PC's I've worked with, but they certainly are NOT immortal or infallible, they break down or get deranged occasionally, usually the fix si pertty easy. We bought extended 24/7 phone support with our FCP systems and the VAR is here in town so service calls are quick, generally. One time we smelled smoke in the building, but couldn't find the source. A week later we finally figured out that the mac tower's video card had had a component literally burn a hole right thru the board during a lightning strike, but aside from a few gltiches in the LCD display,(not the actual output) the darn thing kept editing clean video for another week while we searched for a problem!
Avid has history in newsrooms, newscutter is very popular, and if you are a big and busy broadcast news bureau, maybe Avid is for you. The old joke about Avid is that it is a powerful database management system with an NLE attached to it. If you have, say, three stations near each other as part of a broadcast group and you're consolidating news ops, so they shoot in three places but cut and distribute from a central control location to all three stations, an Avid system is probably what you want a demo of. If your operation is somewhat more laid-back, say, your company mostly cuts VNR's about the medical field for syndication to many stations, then the Final Cut system may be as good as Avid for that and yes, cheaper.
Other considerations commonly include what is the most common platform used locally by others. Two reasons for that: available extra help to come in and cut for you, and a local knowledge base for the hardware. The main systems people are hired to know these days seem to be both FCP and Avid, if you know both, you should always be able to find work. A nice feature of Final cut is that you can remap the keyboard to duplicate an Avid's key commands and so, if you're used to cutting using hotkeys on Avid, there is little or nothign to re-learn. You can store multiple user setups and each editor can call up their own version of the interface ready to go. When you use final cut, it is the same on a laptop as it is on a tower. With Avid, you have to always wonder what "flavor" of Avid someone is talking about, they are not all equal or do things the same way.
Avid used to have a lock on high-dollar value editing for film and TV, I feel that is no longer the case and while Avid-cut shows still outnumber FCP ones, the delta is shrinking annually. Ask your higher-ups if they are wanting Avids for the cachet of the name, or for some other reason. IF the promo units have to talk to the newscutters, that may be their reason, but from your description, that doesn't seem to be the case for your operation.
FCP works very nicely with P2, we've used rented P2 cams to shoot and edit HD spots.
My bias is obviously towards FCP, but really, you have the opportunity to try demos of both systems, and you really should do that. Bring a tape and cut the same project with the sales engineer for both systems and see what your heart tells you. Then consult with your engineer and manager about how to make the numbers work, or if they do.
Well I will have to say that after cutting on Media 100, Avid, and FCP that FCP is my favorite. I really didn't think it would be, don't get me wrong, I loved Avid. I cut a few hundred spots with avid and I'm really glad that i did. The biggest difference that stands out to me technically is user friendliness. FCP beats Avid hands down. The Mojo box is probably the biggest problem i ever encountered. if you were headed to a nitris or composer system i would feel better. the mojo box caused me a lot of problems and made me hate being away from the nitris bay.
Here are the pluses that help push FCP over the top for me when it comes to an editing system.
Lets just say avid and FCP are equally good editors. some of the biggest bonuses with the FCP system involve the "other" programs that come with the studio package. namely Motion, DVD studio Pro, Color, Sound track pro, Compressor, and even Live Type. The add-ons in the package is amazing. It is true that avid does come with some additional software, but 3rd party software doesn't allow for round trips, or interaction between each other.
alright enough said, but one more piece of advice. don't scrimp, Get a Kona 3 card for capture. it is one of the reasons that i don't have the problems that I've had in the past. It works, and it works well. and if for any reason it's not working well Aja has hands down some of the best if not the best customer service in the business.
FCP, hands down. It's a matter of bang for the buck and Avid offers no products with near the level of bang vs buck.
My Avid is maybe worth one of it's payments. How's that for bang?
Your FCP suite will grow with you as you do and you will find it does much more of what it claims to be able to do. Avid's managing team is now their sales team, which explains the "creative" advertising. They have no staff in product development. Heck to this day, their flagship product, DS was written by a company Avid purchased it from.
In short, they have stopped trying to compete. Speaking only for myself, they have made it impossible for me to reward their failure further.
think it`s time for me to break down a wall for Avid.
My Opinion, it don`t exist the only one perfect system, and it will never be...
Think this article from Oliver Peters very interesting.
He works on both systems and and bring up a summary of advantages and disadvantages from Avid and FCP.
I know the problems from Avid and learned to handle it. Amazing for me, how many problems FCP has inside and no one of FCP users is talking about it. For a complete MAC you have to pay a lot, may be this is the reason for this. A friend of me always say: MAC user are no user, they are believer.
I mean gammashifts, uncorrected framehandling at tapeplayouts are problems for consumer products but not for professional ones.
Things I love on working with Avid:
- Mediamanagement - share data between projects and systems with one click, also over networks
- working with hd and sd in one timeline with native material for xdcam ex, p2, hdcam, xdcam hd, hdv, what you want all stay native.
- change rastertyps or downconversion for hd material
- the kind of working in the timeline to arrange and rearrange the material
- realtime colorcorrection and timewarps
- DNxHD codec technology very smart for postproduction
@ Stephen Smith
You must took a look at a wrong webpage. The Avid community and knowledgebase has millions of threads.
So only a few things from my expierence. And sorry for my bad English.
I think the more even debate would have been Final Cut versus the latest version of Adobe Premiere for mac. A much closer horserace, that. But that wasn't the question-)
[Mark Suszko] I think the more even debate would have been Final Cut versus the latest version of Adobe Premiere for mac. A much closer horserace, that. But that wasn't the question-)
If we are going to get side tracked then I might as well throw this in...It's not the editing program that makes the end product great it is the user. I've seen awesome stuff and crap made on all three of those programs.
Salt Lake Video
Check out my DVD Money Making Graphics & Effects for Final Cut Studio 2
You're right about that. Nobody points to a TV show or commercial and remarks about what edit system it was cut on. The last time I know of anybody doing that, it was because nobody but Newtek had falling-sheep kiki-wipes at the time, so you always knew on sight who had a Video Toaster, but lacked the self-control to avoid employing the sheep wipe:-)
I would say 95 percent of what I edit is cuts, 4 percent dissolves, 1 percent something more exotic. I have the power of Castle Grayskull at my command, but I use it only for good:-)
Falling sheep. That brings back some memories. I guess you answered it. Video Toaster is the best.
Salt Lake Video
Check out my DVD Money Making Graphics & Effects for Final Cut Studio 2
Remember that "creative cow" is mostly mac/final cut place.
The Avid user base is over at Avid.com forums.
I use mainly Avid but have worked on final cut and Like Avid better if I'm just editing.
If I needed to do everything myself (like Audio, GFX, author DVD's, etc etc) I would go with Final cut.
I feel Avid is a more stable editor. And 1,000 times more stable and reliable when coming in or out with pro VTRs.
Going firewire and file based stuff Final cut kills avid.
Price wise, I could care less because my employer pays for the gear.
Both Avid and Final cut have their own headaches. Neither is even
close to perfect.
In the end it's about you feel comfortable. They're just tools
and neither won't make you a better editor
Just my random 2 cents.
Broadway Video, NYC
I know of nobody over there on an Avid product longer than me.
I know of no bigger Avid fan than me back in the day either.
You are wrong about stability. New Avid users have no problem with the buggyness as thats the way they found the big A. Old Avid users miss the stability Avids had back when they were "Avids".
If you wrote the checks for these products you really could care less as you'd care quite a bit. It's price point vs capabilities (actual capabilities not claimed capabilities) that are the decising factors in these purchases... not the temporary telent on the tools.
By our government's standards, Avid is in line for a bail out.
assuming failure is the qualification for such a thing.
I have to agree with Robert. Our firm is currently looking at the next "big" thing, and with the recent cost reduction of a Avid Symphony Nitris with hardware (NOT including drives), it is not that more expensive than a FCP (Double + 15% on a trade in). So when you take the real-time functionality, support and that you can in the right market charge more per hour, then it is not such a difficult decision.
Our facility is PC based, so it has to be added that we also use the Adobe premium suite extensively.
All the Best
Mac Million Ltd. - HD Production & Editing
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[Eric Nicastro] "Cost is not so much an issue."
If cost isn't an issue, I would buy a Smoke. I have worked on Avids, FCP and Smoke, and I think the Smoke is the best complete package if cost is not an issue.
BUT, i'll assume you mean the cost difference between AVID and FCP isn't an issue. In that case, I would go with FCP. Why? Because, they are relatively close in terms of capability, but $7k is a nice chunk of change that you can't really ignore.
I have to pipe in for Avid here. I haven't worked on a Mojo (if that's the system you're looking at) but have been cutting spots on the Media Composer and Symphony for over a decade.
I have the Final Cut Suite at home (I had to get it to work on a project someone else started). I clearly have more experience on Avid so I may (am) still be biased.
I've found many small things that Avid just handles, without the user having to think about it. I had to replace a shot that dissolved into another shot (in Final Cut). I marked the clip (X-key) and overwrote with the new shot. The dissolve disappeared. Not a huge problem, but in Avid, the dissolve stays in tact. I posted in several forums to find out how to get FCP to retain a dissolve and got no solution. Small, but this kind of thing can add up on some projects.
Avid still has far better media management (keeps track of footage and makes relinking and reducing unused footage easy). Plus you never have to "render" footage on an Avid timeline. I waste tons of time in FCP because my timeline is one format and I have to insert a clip from another... I render it... something changes... render it again. Avid handles file conversion when you bring the footage in so everything mashes nicely.
I'm trying to keep this short. OK. For me, if you want bang for the buck, you can't beat FCP. It does do a lot for the price, BUT in my opinion, prepare to become a bit of a system engineer. Apple makes the software, Kona makes the capture card, someone else makes the storage... you get the idea. My station's promotions dept. went FCP a few years ago and had a problem where Apple blamed Kona, Kona blamed the storage and the storage manufacturer blamed Apple. It took a while and several threats to get resolved.
Avid provides and supports all components of it's systems. If you have a problem, just call Avid and it gets fixed. That said, Avid support is NOT cheap, but they have bailed me out every time. I think it's worth it until you're more seasoned on the equipment.
I hope this helps some. Any FCP experts who have solutions to my complaints, bring it, I'm always trying to learn!
Freefall FX, LLC
Wow, these are some great responses. To clarify something, when I said money isn't much of an issue I was referring to the cost difference between Avid and FCP. The Avid quote we received was $22,000 and the FCP quote was about $16,000.
Looking over our quotes, the Avid system seems to offer less than our FCP system yet costs more. Both systems include M-Audio powered audio monitors. Yet the FCP system includes the Sony LMD2050W hi grade production monitor and two 24" NEC computer monitors and uses the Black Magic Mutltibridge Eclipse. The Avid system includes neither and has two 20" HP monitors, the cheap ones and uses the Avid Mojo SDI.
Am I just acting crazy pushing for FCP? I mean I see so much more for such a lesser price. This is just for suggestions, but how would I convince my higher-ups to go with FCP? And they are getting a deal on the Avid system but the deal price is higher than the regular price of the FCP. What am I missing here!?
I've used both and without knowing more about your system, I'd go with Final Cut. I used Avid Adrenaline HD systems for a few years and never had the kind of problems Grinner had, but the main reason we went with Avid at that time was to keep track of and share media. It can work very well, but Avid cost a lot more to ensure a robust system, especially when you add in the system support contract.
Our main cost with Avid was making sure people had the training to get the most out of the systems. For us, that training was mainly in the media management area, then later color correction and graphics.
The prices you've been given for both systems most likely doesn't include everything you really should have. Don't get me wrong, you can surely produce quality content with those systems, but the equipment priced in those quotes probably make it more difficult to ensure *consistent* audio and video quality - unless your editors take the time to be very vigilant about it. Are you editing HD content? What kind of scopes are you planning to use?
So, again, I'd go with the Final Cut system, but ask your management for that extra money you save for certified training and perhaps some extra hardware or software that will make your day to day jobs easier.
Whichever system you go with, you'll only get your money's worth if you really learn it inside and out.
No, you're not acting crazy at all.
I think it's amazing that FCP has done what it's done. It's become essentially an "equal standing" competitor at EVERY level of video content editing - from monster budget network TV to micro budget indy filmmaking.
For my 2 cents, it's VERY hard for someone wedded to one software approach to fairly judge another.
We're all creatures of habit. Chris Heuer was annoyed about not yet having found a way to replace a clip without messing up the transition - but in point of fact, FCP has more than one way to do exactly that. (Chris - check the manual for "Paste Attributes - Content" which replaces only the content and leaves EVERYTHING else about a clip - including transitions, filters, audio levels, whatever - intact - and you can assign an F-key or any other keyboard command you like to invoke it.)
I happen to be an FCP guy and have been since version 1. But there's not a month goes by when I don't find other ways (hopefully, more efficient ways) to do many routine editing tasks even now, after nearly a decade of constant FCP editing! I suspect that the Avid folks, the Vegas folks, and the Premier folks can say EXACTLY the same thing.
These are systems you GROW with. Constantly. So all I can tell you is that FCP is a VERY safe choice today given the fact that there are more than a MILLION paid, registered seats out there using it. (and maybe a couple million more unpaid copies in circulation for all we know.)
Your company may not care about the 16k verses 22k cost difference. If so they're idiots. Any accountant will tell you that spending nearly a third more for something is only reasonable if you get something tangible for that difference.
Maybe they ARE getting something for the extra money like Newscutter integration or access to some kind of special Avid support. But that something won't have anything to do with basic to advanced video editing capabilities - cuz none of the programs I've mentioned in this post have any problems with state of the art video editing. Period.
Bill, can I get your number!!! Seriously. I spent the better part of the night on forums looking for that answer. I edited around the problem after about 10 minutes but still wanted to know if there was a solution. The treads I started still have no answer.
You are right about us growing with a software. Avid is as easy as breathing for me, and I'm trying to give FCP a fair shake (since I am A Mac FREAK!) but (a) I'm older and learning slower than when I picked up Avid and (b) I'm too busy to train an anything. I have to learn software on jobs. Not the best way to get a thorough education!
Anyway, back on task. With people like the Cow has at your fingertips, either system will work... and training might cost less!
Freefall FX, LLC
[Eric Nicastro] "Am I just acting crazy pushing for FCP? I mean I see so much more for such a lesser price. This is just for suggestions, but how would I convince my higher-ups to go with FCP? And they are getting a deal on the Avid system but the deal price is higher than the regular price of the FCP. What am I missing here!?"
What you are seeing is at least part of what Grinner was sort of referring to...
Avid, when it first appeared...(1994? 1995?) was changing how video was edited. Adobe Premiere was around at the time, but was a QuickTime editor without the tight integration for video ingest and attention to things like timecode handling, etc. Avid was designed to get old guys like us to feel comfortable coming off our CMX and Sony machine control editors and (at least at first) offline cut on a computer. They were immensely successful. Of course, as time went on they improved their video compression and added some features and were the undisputed leader in the field for a block of time...
But they took their eye off the ball...
Through the period when Avid was very financially successful selling 100,000 USD editing systems along with maintenance plans that also took a significant financial committment...manufacturers like Adobe, Apple, Pinnacle, Canopus, Sonic Foundry (Vegas), as well as Media 100 and DPS were adding features and dropping prices. (as happens in technology based products).
Within the last handful of years, Avid has tried to right the ship, but the issue is how to quickly respond to the market changes that took 10 years to evolve. How do you add features and lower the price of your 100,000 dollar editing system to compete for sales with 10,000 dollar systems, and not make the recent customers who bought the 100,000 dollar systems feel a little 'taken?'
I happen to think that what made Avid strong...
service...support...just stratight up editing efficiency...very competent networked asset sharing should have been their focus in these trying times. Instead, I get the distinct impression that they're chasing everyone else to the bottom. Historically, nobody has had the support that Avid had...but laying off many of the people who were the support fabric of the company and lowering the prices on products that already can't compare on the basis of a 'feature list' alone to lower priced options...simply makes them like everyone else. Except of course that even the newest, most aggressive pricing structure isn't directly competitive with the other options out there...and the feature list is still a step or two behind the other two 'A' companies...playing catch up is challenging.
Avid makes a good product, but they just didn't advance much when what they had was selling...in my observation anyway.
So...that's why FCP is cheaper...and of course, those who are comfortable with Avid could sit down with FCP and talk about what they feel is lacking as an FCP editor could do with Avid...
What I would recommend that you do is investigate the AJA Kona option with the FCP system as well as the Multibridge. AJA products are quite solid and a worth a look as you set up the system.
There's a lot of misinformation in this thread regarding the stability Avid. This is from users that either have never actually used an Avid or haven't used an Avid since the Adrenaline days. Avid's Adrenaline systems were slow to respond and often buggy. Because of all the problems with Adrenaline Avid made it a top priority to fix these problems with the next release, MC 3.0 which they rolled out about a year ago. I've cut on Avid's for over a decade and I must say that Avid has succeeded making MC a rock solid editor again. The current MC is as stable as the Meridiens and as responsive if not more so.
I use both systems. The Oliver Peters article that Robert posted does a good job spelling out the various strengths and weaknesses of each system. I think the right choice of a NLE is dependent on the type of work done and the scale of the facility. Setting up shop at home or a small boutique cutting docs I would choose FCP. In a broadcast environment I would choose Avid every time.
[Gary Hazen] "Setting up shop at home or a small boutique cutting docs I would choose FCP. In a broadcast environment I would choose Avid every time.
gary... puhleeze. I get so tired of this "Avid" for big shops line of crap.
We're running FCP/X-SAN with almost 100 seats, creating reality TV shows for six different networks, on urgent broadcast deadlines. We share over 80 terrabytes of storage, spread across ten different shows. We have off-line, on-line (color correcting) and ProTools mixing all interconnected. We've been doing it for almost five years now. Haven't missed a deadline yet.
FCP can certainly thrive in a large "Workgroup" environment. If you don't believe it, just contact me and I'll give you a tour.
Your opinion please.
I have a VERY SMALL prod co and I do my own editing. I've done small projects that have sold and don't edit to make a living. That being said, I want to be able to get the best I can for the money I can afford to spend on editing software.
I'm in a positions to spend a few bucks on either FC Studio 2 or Media Composer. I can get"Avid Media Composer 3.0 with Videoguys Exclusive Software Bundle & Bonus Training DVD $495.00 EDU" (quotes very much intended) but I've been told it IS in fact the complete $2500 version
Final cut studio 2 for somewhere in the range of $1200. (education pricing not available)
I'll be editing with a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2 GB 1067 Mhz DDR3 Macbook Pro with 2 G or Ram (I may upgrade to 4) split between OS X V. 10.5.5 and Windows XP Pro. Will likely only allow XP about 20 G when I add the new editing software.
I'm leaving the country for a couple of years and don't mind spending the money on the best editing suite I can afford for what I'm going to be shooting... (which in this case may amount to nothing more than some really great HD video of the pyramids / India / Maldives / Iran) which may become nothing more than home movies... so be it.
In the mean time I'll keep shooting graduations, weddings and my own indie stuff.
I'm currently using Avid liquid 7... yup that's where I am now. Not a pro like many here, but I need some bottom line advice. I'm good with the learning and don't need my hand held. For the record though, I've found Avid's support (knowledge base) to be excellent... and free.
So... professionals, I need your advice. Based on the prices listed above, which is the best deal for me.
"Our newsroom however uses Avid Newscutters and shoots on P2. The only time we would need to work with the newsroom is to grab footage for promo spots which we should be able to access there server from either system."
This may be part of the reason they want to go with Avid. I would think it would be easier to get files transfered from Avid to Avid than from Avid to FCP. Having worked in a newsroom, if they need video for a promo, they need it right now and if the p2 cards have gone back to the field to cover another story (along with the camera they are in) it might just take too long to do any conversions.
There is something to be said for keeping all the systems the same in-house.
Storming in rather late for the party!
Where I work we have 6 Media Composers (Mojo) and 7 FCP (Decklink). Unless you can get an Adrenaline Box my choice would be FCP (Color is very nearly a great bit of software). With the RED camera we have stayed firmly with FCP for our offline editing.
Horses for courses really... I'd be happy with either. Any one want to buy me one?
Hi Mads (If you get to see this). Hope you are well!
As a professional editor who has used both extensively:
Avid is like driving a Ferrari. Final Cut Pro is like driving a Ford Fiesta.