Here is a guide to help you decide whether or not upgrading from Final Cut Express to Final Cut Pro is the right choice for you.
The price differential between Final Cut Express and the complete Final Cut Studio is around a thousand dollars. This makes the leap one that is more than casual for most editors, which is why many prefer to stay with Final Cut Express or some type of freeware non-linear editing package. When you are considering upgrading your Mac editing system from Final Cut Express to Final Cut Pro you have a number of things to consider to see if the price is really worth it.
Final Cut Studio Features
One of the main reasons to jump from Final Cut Express to Final Cut Studio is that Final Cut Studio is a complete package that includes not only Final Cut Pro but an entire line of video production software. If you really want to transform your home Apple computer into a post-production studio you are going to have to do a lot more than just have a workable video editing software. You are going to have to have professional video software to fit every need after regular video production. Final Cut Studio 2 provides so many different titles within the package that you will be hard pressed to collect a better set of software on your own. It includes DVD Studio Pro 4, a DVD authoring software that has an easy learning curve but is complete enough to do fully professional authoring jobs. Soundtrack Pro 2 is one of the best sound editing and sound production software that you can ask for. With Soundtrack Pro you can switch from producing your musical tracks to fixing sound problems in your video editing project to creating your own sound effects. Compressor 3, the newest version of Apple’s Compressor, may be the best video compression and video conversion software available. It makes monitoring the video compression process easy, let’s you choose video codecs from presets, and works on a dime. It even easily lets you convert for things like Apple TV, the iPhone and iPod Touch, and for internet distribution on websites like YouTube. This is not even to mention the fact that Compressor easily ties in with any use in DVD Studio Pro. Live Type is also included to help you make great titles and text boxes, often using animated text sequences that you could not do in Final Cut Pro. In recent years Color has been added to the package, which is an extremely high end color correction software used by professional post-production video effects houses to correct their final film product.
Beyond just the whole Final Cut Studio package are a number of other options that Final Cut Pro offers above Final Cut Express. Final Cut Express limits the types of files and source footage it accepts, which means that you can only use DV and HDV instead of actual film stock. It also requires you to only capture video as you go and does not support third party capture cards. Final Cut Pro will open up the ability to capture footage from a larger array of formats and media. If you are shooting on multiple formats or are trying to integrate third party equipment into your editing machine you are going to have to look more toward Final Cut Pro for support.
Video Editing Tools
There are a number of other tools and control formats that Final Cut Pro supports that Final Cut Express leaves behind. FXScript, Batch Support, RS-422 control, Media Manager, EDL I/O, Audio OMF support, Offline Real Time video editing, and Cinema Tools are all built in features of Final Cut Pro and left out of the consumer edition. You will likely not need any of these for simple projects, but once you begin to get into more advanced video production and video editing you may end up seeing that Final Cut Express is deficient in these areas.
One of the most important parts of the choice to upgrade from Final Cut Express to Final Cut Pro has to do with your Apple Computer’s capability. The entire Final Cut Studio package takes up both a lot of space and power. Programs like Color especially can have trouble running on even the fastest machine. If you are going to upgrade you are doing so to have the full advantage of the Final Cut Studio. If your computer cannot handle this power then you may want to stay where you are at.