Final Cut Pro to Premiere Pro – six months in
I switched from Final Cut Pro to Premiere Pro CS5 about six months ago and have been using it as my main NLE ever since. Due to Apples recent launch of the not so pro FCPX there’s a lot of FCP users considering the jump to Premiere Pro so I thought I’d give a quick run down of the things that I’ve missed the most from FCP and the benefits I’ve seen.
There’s a lot to prefer about Premiere but for me the main benefit is the ability to work with native file formats such as the H.264 files from my DLSR’s and the ability to utilise GPU processing with an nvidia CUDA enabled card. I very much prefer the Premiere GUI over FCP interface, probably after using Flash and Photoshop a lot in the past. The interface feels very familiar with its draggable parameters and very customisable workspace layouts.
I no longer have to create transcoded quicktime files for the edit stage and then back those up along with the original footage. This means that I can archive and re-open projects very easily and it saves a lot of time and expensive storage space.
There’s a lot of things that are similar between the two NLE’s, many processes work in a slightly different way and I’m not going to go into huge detail about those as it’s enough to write a book about. I’ve posted a few videos along the way as I’ve been learning which you might find useful.
FCP to Premiere pro CS5 – basic editing differences – check out that tasche!
This is really just a list of the things that I still miss after six months of learning. It may well be that I’m totally wrong with some of the below limitations and just haven’t discovered the right way of doing these things yet, if that’s the case please let me know via a comment.
Just the one project
One thing I find a bit limiting coming from FCP is that you can only have a single project open in Premiere. It’s quite useful when working in FCP to be able to launch another project and grab assets such as titles or clips and simply copy them into the project you’re working on. In Premiere you can copy items from one project to another but it requires you to close the project your working on, open the old one, copy the stuff you need and then reopen the newer project and paste the items in.
You can also import an entire project but that’s always going to be a really messy process, especially if all you need is a single title graphic.
Working with footage that’s been shot with four channels of audio can be a little problematic. I often shoot 4ch audio on my EX1, usually one mono pair with an onboard shotgun mic and the other pair recording from a wireless lav mic. When importing this into FCP it gives you access to all four channels straight away but in Premiere it only lets you access them as a stereo pair by default.
This can be corrected once the clips are imported, it’s just a case of changing the clips audio mapping from ‘Stereo’ to ‘Mono as Stereo’ in the project panel, you’ll then have two separate stereo tracks to work with. The big problem is that if you don’t do that before dragging clips to the timeline it’s too late. You can’t re-map the audio of a clip on the timeline or even go back and change the mapping of the same clip in the project window if there’s an instance of it on a timeline.
If you find yourself in this position then you can apply a ‘fill left’ or ‘fill right’ effect to make either of the channels run to both speakers, but that’s often not a desirable as having access to each mono pair as you may want to use both recordings.
Media linking & relinking
Unlike FCP Premiere doesn’t offer the ability to search for your media should you have to move the project to a new machine or move your media to a new location. In some instances I’ve found that moving my media to a new location results in a single file location being requested next time the project is opened and then Premiere magically finds the rest itself. Other times however, especially when moving the project between different machines you have no choice but to browse for every single individual clip when the project opens to relink it.
This has happened to me a few times with event projects shot on the EX1 and it’s an extremely painful process having to navigate through all of those BPAV folders to find the hundreds of clips in a project. One thing I’ve done a couple of times is open the Pr project file in textEdit and run a ‘find and replace’ on the file locations of each clip which does actually work okay but I’d never do it without backing up the project file first. It should be easy to search for media from within Premiere in the same way you can with FCP.
No through edits
In FCP if you cut a clip in the timeline you get those nice little red triangles that tell you the cut is a ‘through edit’ and you have the option to ‘join through edit’ at a later time if you decide you don’t need that cut. No such function is available in Premiere, if you cut a clip it’s permanent other than an undo or deleting the trailing part of the clip and extending the leading clip. There’s no markers to tell you that it’s a through edit in Premiere.
Copy, paste & remove attributes
FCP has a very useful feature that allows you to paste attributes from one clip to another, you can even be selective as to which attributes are pasted on to the target clips. Premiere does offer a paste attributes function but you cannot be selective, it copies all of the attributes. You cannot ‘remove’ individual attributes from clips in premiere either other than selecting each clip and removing the effects etc from it’s individual effects control panel or by using the ‘removing all effects’ option.
No dynamic titles
Even though the titling tool in Premiere is a vast improvement over what’s on offer on FCP it does lack one very nice feature. In FCP you can import a Motion template and assign a text item as being editable in FCP. This gives you the ability to use that motion file over and over again and simply change the text attributes for each instance. This is great for things like lower 3rd graphics where you can just assign two text variables such as ‘name’ and ‘role’ and then update those from within FCP. In premiere you have to create a separate text title for each lower third graphic. I tend to create a common background in after effects and then reuse that with individual titles placed above it but it’s still not as nice as the way it works in FCP and Motion.
When using the Final Cut Suite Compressor offers up the option to run Qmaster on multiple macs and then render out projects across all of the machines on your network. There is no such ability within the Adobe CS5 suite at all, you’re stuck with rendering on one machine only.
Doing multiple camera work and audio syncing within FCP was made very easy by Singular Softwares ‘PluralEyes’ plugin. Unfortunately PluralEyes does not work within Premiere. Singular software do offer a Premier version which involves exporting FCP xml files, syncing externally and then re-importing but I’ve not found that to be a good workflow and miss the integration that PluralEyes had in FCP.
Update: This problem seems to have been fixed by installing mac OS Lion, very random!
I really wasn’t sure whether to include this one as it appears to be a bug rather than a lacking feature. I feel I have to mention it though because as a mac user this is bound to cause you some issues. basically there appears to be a bug in the way the timeline is drawn resulting in the responsiveness of clip movements being severly effected by how big the timeline panel is. Hopefully this one will be addressed by Adobe soon.
Most of the relearning I’ve gone through over the last six months has been fairly painless, there’s a lot to like about Premiere Pro Cs5 and even with these points that I’ve listed I still prefer using it over FCP 7. Hopefully some of these features will make it in to future versions but even in it’s current incarnation I’ve not come across anything in a project that couldn’t be achieved with the tools available in the Production Premium CS5 suite.