OPINION : Non-linear Video Editing

I never learned iMovie or Elements or any of the simple to use video editors.  I learned on Final Cut Studio, a monster application with incredible power and a definite learning curve.  I got to a level of not completely dangerous competence.  Then Apple released Final Cut Pro X.  Apparently iMovie users loved it.  I found the transition somewhat difficult and certainly real Professionals had issues with FCP X.  Apple has enhanced the product since release and added in many of the missings that were in Studio and not in X. FCP X works fine and is definitely priced competitively and the Motion application at $50 is a stunning buy.  Regardless, I was regularly frustrated by two things.  If I shot anything on a Canon digital camcorder it had to use this dumb transcode thing just to get the media into a project and then when I was finished, compressing and exporting video was a pain in the butt, many of the direct uploads did not work properly and the encode took a LONG time.

So I was looking around www.lynda.com one day and saw a class by video guru Rich Harrington on moving to Adobe Premiere Pro for Final Cut users.  Mr. Harrington has forgotten more about video editing than I will likely ever know but his teaching style is easy to follow and I worked through the training and was very impressed.  To me, it looked like Premiere Pro had the same kind of structure as Final Cut Pro Studio from an editing perspective.

Since I owned the Master Edition of the Creative Suite (for other reasons) I already had Premiere Pro so I thought I would give it a shot.  It has a learning curve, like any serious product but having the background of sorts in older non-linear editors it wasn't all that hard.  I also took the Lynda class on Premiere Pro with Abby Shapiro, the instructor I had learned Final Cut Studio from.

Usability is incredible and I'm sure I have not even scratched the surface of the product.  What I know is that editing video and audio is straight-forward for me and performing corrections and adding effects is dead simple.  Adding credit rolls and title sequences and lower thirds is very simple.  As with FCP X there are a number of templates included and veritable slew of external offerings available on the web.

What really sets Premiere Pro ahead for me is how it leverages my hardware for high performance.  FCP X could use my Matrox Mini video coprocessor, some of the time, but it didn't seem to add much in the way of performance.  Premiere Pro sees the Matrox automatically and easily leverages the Matrox assisted compression algorithms.  This was like pulling teeth in FCP X.  There was also no real consumption of the GPU in the Mac Pro that I could see.  I recently changed out the ATI 5870 in the the Mac Pro for an nVidia GTX 680 (it works fine with 10.8.x but no boot screen) and I changed a couple of text files in the config and now Adobe's Mercury engine fully leverages that stack of Cuda cores in the GPU.

I also found that the Import in Premiere Pro was instant.  No transcoding or modifications required.  Massive time saver.  Once the editing is done, I select Export, pick the compression type and hit Queue.  The export job goes directly into Adobe Media Encoder and it really screams along.  This is so much more reliable and so much faster than the FCP X or Compressor alternatives that to a working pro, the time savings would pay the price difference in no time at all.

I am not a professional video editor.  Premiere Pro rocks it for me.  I am told that the current release of Premiere Elements is also very quick and very easy, an improvement over prior versions.  I have no personal experience with it but if as rumour has it, Elements contains a lot of the functionality of the Pro release, it might do the job for you.  I'm going to stick with Premiere Pro.

Now to learn enough After Effects so what I make doesn't suck enormously.