Apple did it again and packaged an incredibly powerful software application into an affordable package.
Sorry, Windows users. There’s nothing quite like Final Cut Express on a PC. It’s Mac only.
Apple has a high end video and audio production suite called Final Cut Studio which sells for a whopping $1,299. That price tag is tiny when you begin looking at the professional level applications inside. Video. Audio. Color. Compression. Digital effects.
For the rest of us, Apple packages most of what is in Final Cut Pro into the Final Cut Express application for a mere $199. I’ve been a final cut user since version 1.x, and the whole digital playground just gets better and better.
Final Cut Express extends professional level video editing and production to the Mac users who want more than iLife ‘08’s iMovie, or even iMovie HD. Add a good digital video camera and quality microphone, and Final Cut Express could be the start of a video production career.
Importing video into Final Cut Express is almost as easy as in iMovie, and all the same video formats are handled with ease. In fact, you can do rough video cuts in iMovie, then suck the whole thing right into Final Cut Express for even more precise cuts, transitions, effects, and audio enhancements. Two clicks.
Express imports video from the newly popular AVCHD devices, memory cards, even DVDs.
Capturing DV and HDV video is iMovie simple—standard def DV and high def 1080i and 720p.
Editing in Final Cut Express is more reminiscent of previous versions of iMovie, which uses a video track and audio track. If you don’t like the new iMovie’s edit precision capabilities, and few of us do, then FC Express will catch your hair on fire.
Express lets fledgling videographers mix different video formats in the new Open Format timeline, just like in Final Cut Studio. The basics in Express are intuitive and familiar. Drag and drop video or audio elements onto a timeline, adjust by dragging and dropping left or right, even stacking video and audio tracks.
Professional level trimming and editing tools are built into Express, including more advanced techniques like “L cuts” where audio and video tracks begin at different times in the timeline. Don’t look for effects in iMovie, but be prepared to go ga ga over compositing and effects in Express.
Mac users with faster Macs beware. Express provides Dynamic Real Time playback of most effects without waiting for a preview to render. Perhaps the most professional level feature in Express is multiple layers—compositing layers of multiple video tracks to create effects. Titles. Montages. PiP. Transitions. All the effects and features you can’t do in iMovie are a click away in Final Cut Express.
To be fair to iLife, Garageband is a very capable digital audio editor and production application, with effects and capabilities suitable for near professionals. Final Cut Express offers up to 99 audio tracks for editing and mixing audio, but also integrates and imports audio from Garageband.
No video production for broadcast or DVD is complete without titling, and Apple included LiveType for animated text in Final Cut Express.
Many of the same features found in Final Cut Studio 2 are in LiveType.
What’s remarkable about this package is the value. It’s arguably more capable that previous versions of Final Cut Pro, but for a fraction of the price. $199. The Final Cut community is large and growing. One of my favorite forums is the Los Angeles Final Cut Pro Users Group. It’s a great place to lurk and learn.
Apple has set the stage for a steady migration of Windows PC users to the Mac. There is no key word which explains what is happening, rather a series of words which describe what Apple has set in motion. Value. Quality. Ease of use. Dependability. Stability. Security.
If you find iMovie lacking in features, stop by the nearest Apple Store and ask to do a test run on Final Cut Express.
Do you use audio and video software on the Mac or a PC? What do you use and why? Got an opinion to share on Final Cut? Talk Back to Mac360 in the Comments section below.