written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 3/26/2010
Final Cut Express is the central part of Final Cut Pro at a fraction of the price.
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Final Cut Pro has been a revolution for video editing. The Final Cut Studio compiles enough professional programs, wraps them in interfaces that are accessible to the non-professional, and makes them relatively available to the general consumer masses. With Final Cut Pro you got a full non-linear editing system that allows for multiple formats, dozens of audio and video tracks, a catalogue of video effects and video transitions, and everything you would need to make a legitimate film. At the same time Final Cut Pro rested on a certain logic that was accessible to most people, and basic tutorials could be used to learn the more simple functions. Unfortunately, the full version of Final Cut Studio still costs more than a thousand dollars. This does include other software, like Compressor and DVD Studio Pro, but this entire package may not be what the normal video editor is looking for. In an effort to shift their focus from iLife’s iMovie to the more professional home feel, Apple created Final Cut Express.
Final Cut Express is Final Cut Pro missing a few of the more complex features. It still maintains the multiple video tracks, the entire Viewer and Canvas video format, the Browser containing bins for your video, and almost every customizing function available from cropping images to advanced video effects. For almost any video editing project, including feature film construction in most cases, Final Cut Express is going to have everything you need. It is missing some things from Final Cut Pro, yet it is debatable how important most of them are. The most central differences are that Final Cut Express is really only in favor of digital video formats, meaning DV and HDV. It does not support NTSC or PAL formats, which indicates a lack of support for more filmic frame rates. At the same time Final Cut Express does not support third party capture cards or delayed video capture. Most of the differences are in technical features that Final Cut Express does not support, such as Audio OMF export, FXScript, RS-422 control, and Batch Export. Though you do want these things in your non-linear editing software, is it worth paying around a thousand dollars more to have them?
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Final Cut Express is the heart of Final Cut Pro without the extra extravagance. You are not going to end up with the entire Final Cut Studio software package, but if you just want the editing software then Final Cut Express is perfectly fine. For around $199 you are not going to find better video editing software and you will definitely see how the price differential works out.