Adobexit: The switch from Premiere to Final Cut Pro (Part One)

In 2016 when the UK was in the thrust of an epic debate between good or evil staying or leaving the European Union – which the British tabloids, and later the whole British media, labelled Brexit – we at Viva La Zoom had our own vital piece of decision making going on: whether to stick with Abobe Premiere Pro or to leave for pastures new in the editing world. Taking lead from the British press we also coined a word that would divide us into two distinct camps: the brilliantly poor ‘AdobExit’.

Joking aside, as a video production company based in Manchester, UK this was a big decision for us. We had used Adobe products for video editing for the entire life span of the company (founded in 2008) and changing our video editing system could have had big effects on our workflow, both good and bad.

The seeds of Adobexit

After roughly eight years of using Adobe Premiere Pro as our preferred NLE system, a few months ago we made the transition to Final Cut Pro X. This was not an easy decision, we debated amongst ourselves and as a result came up with many pros and cons for staying with or leaving Adobe Creative Cloud. We found that there were really two debates taking place when we discussed leaving Creative Cloud: firstly, the hardware debate of making the switch from PCs to Macs, and secondly the software debate of making the switch from Premiere Pro to Final Cut X.

Throughout this time of consideration we made use of many google searches and web articles to inform us and our decision, and now having made our decision we decided to write our own article about our switch from Adobe Premiere Pro to Apple’s Final Cut Pro X in the hope of helping others in a similar situation to the one we found ourselves in.

If you’re wondering why we switched from PCs to Apple Macs for our editing suites then we hope you’ll enjoy reading this article; however, if you want to cut right to the chase and see how we weigh up Adobe Premiere Pro then we deal with that in-depth in Part Two of this blog post.

from adobe premiere to final cut pro x

A little linear history of my NLE system experience

For as long as I can remember editing, I have used Adobe products. It all started back in 1998 when I first used Premiere 4.2  for editing home videos and re-editing famous sequences from my favourite films on my brand new Pentium III. Back then it was all a game, and I was happy to use anything but Windows Movie Maker (or whatever version of video editing software came with Windows ME those days).

adobe premiere 4 and windows movie maker

It seems like yesterday except it wasn’t

The days of AVID

After that film school and university came, and I briefly moved to AVID, mainly because back in the early noughties they offered a free version of their NLE software (limited to two video and two audio tracks). I loved AVID (maybe because I knew it was used by professionals in TV and film and as such made me feel more professional), but eventually I found it maybe too much and quite confusing in terms of media storage and backup. I ended up losing entire projects as I didn’t have a clue how to properly backup all the media generated by AVID. This was obviously largely my own fault for not understanding the software, but it did seem to me to be overly complicated to store and keep control of media in AVID. Losing files or projects at university is obviously annoying and stress inducing but it became a whole different situation after the university years, when my video production company Viva La Zoom was first formed.

Hard to believe but Avid had a free version of its software not that long ago

When we (as other editors joined the company) started to get paying customers, everything became a bit more real which meant we needed to have a reliable system that would give us the flexibility and power to make the customer deadlines and finish projects.

I remember experimenting with lots of different systems. We had a brief affair with Sony Vegas Pro for a while, which was a very robust system and, most importantly, faster than any other system at the time; however, it was often ignored by the industry and users because of its awkward (as ugly as Windows) interface and the lack of support for Apple computers. It also didn’t allow for some very obvious storage options that other systems did.

Sony Vegas was a great piece of software left down by its poor looks and marketing behind it. I’m still to find a better NLE for audio though

It was at this time that we noticed that a lot of people in similar situations to us were migrating to Final Cut Pro 7; however, as we had always been Windows users, we couldn’t use Final Cut even If we wanted (and we did really want to at the time). So instead we stopped using Sony Vegas and went to try Adobe Premiere again, and this is when we fell in love with it again. It looked clean, elegant and it seemed to work really well. These were also the early days of Dynamic link which meant Premiere integrated with After Effects and Photoshop pretty seamlessly.

At the time Premiere was always a reliable system. The first version of the Master Production Suite that we bought here at Viva La Zoom was CS2, and we loved it. It just worked. It filled all our needs for NLE and allowed us work more seamlessly with Photoshop and After Effects: a really exciting change to our workflow which allowed us to more easily incorporate graphics, titles and photos to our video production work.

dynamic link fails

Early dynamic link was quite revolutionary but it didn’t always worked as intended

However, there was a turning point in this story (like in every story really) and that was Adobe’s announcement of the move to a subscription based model, Adobe Creative Cloud. I can still remember the amount of controversy that decision created in the post-production world. Some people thought it was great as their products would be constantly updated and become ever more reliable. I must admit we didn’t have too many reservations at first except for maybe the legacy issue: what if one day we decided to move to an alternate system? Could we still access our old projects? Or would we simple lose access to all our archive of projects?

Well, we ignored that problem for a while and dived right into Adobe Creative Cloud, and it was pretty great at first. We could use any software we wanted, learn new skills, sharpen our old ones with the most up-to-date software, and on the whole it all worked OK. But there were niggling things which weren’t so OK. Little bugs like render fails or crashing computers, but this may be due to our ageing computers we thought, so we looked into upgrading our PCs. And here is another twist in the story as after a whole life of being a convinced Microsoft Windows users, we decided to step into the realms of Apple and buy our first Mac.

Why? Simple really we had always worked with big workstations that although very powerful and reliable, occupied lots of space, were noisy and required constant fiddling with hardware (graphics cards, internal drives etc.). Yes, you could get a lot of power for your money with a PC, but at times I felt like a slave to the hardware. We were eager for simplicity. And who does simplicity well? Yeah, it was hard to admit for a Windows fan like me, but Apple did seem to make some nice machines.

Apple…me? what? really?

Around this time Apple released their new iMac 5K and it couldn’t have come at a better time for us. It didn’t seem to be a powerhouse in terms of specs but that screen was to die for and the whole package looked slick in its simplicity. No hesitations, we got one and thought we’ll test one before deciding whether to upgrade our whole editing suite with iMacs or not.

pc vs apple computers

Not biased at all : )

The move quickly proved to be a real winner in many ways. For one, iMacs don’t occupy much space, and as they only have one (relatively small) hard drive inside this also shifted our paradigm of work. We went from having numerous internal drives in one large workstation PC to relying solely on many (USB 3 and Thunderbolt) external drives. This meant that we could collaborate on projects easier by sharing hard drives, and also we could have a simpler workspace with smaller computers and hard drives. We can now also work on a project at our studio and take a thunderbolt drive home in case I need to work over the weekend, whereas before I would have to have copies and duplicates of media, making it much more difficult to keep track of projects and media.

In regards to FCPX our initial reactions were very positive also. To be brief, the best thing we found about FCPX was simply: it works. That’s it really. It was fast to respond, we found no quirks (at first anyway) and it was simple to understand. We didn’t waste time with annoying bugs and it didn’t crash randomly. Six months down the line now from our switch from Premiere to Final Cut Pro and while FCPX is not without some faults we are still using it today for all our video editing projects, and after using it everyday we feel we are now in a good position to compare the two NLEs for their pros and cons. How do they compare six months down the line? Well, you can find out in Part Two of this blog where we look at some of the pros and cons of both Premiere and Final Cut 🙂