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Music Production

A Complete Review of Final Cut

Photograph of the blog post author, Simon Green

Simon Green

20.2.2023

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In today’s digital world, sleek and professional-quality visuals are an increasingly important cornerstone of any release or music marketing campaign. Whether you are creating content for the big screen, small screen, or even handheld devices, capable video editing software is one of the most essential tools at your disposal. And while there are plenty of options out there, Final Cut has been among the frontrunners for years. But does it still cut the mustard? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Apple’s flagship video editing software and tell you everything you need to know.

What is Final Cut Pro?

Final Cut Pro is Apple’s latest professional-level video editing software. First launched in 1998, it has evolved over the years to become an industry-standard TV and film production tool. Final Cut Pro is designed to handle intense, professional use, with a host of powerful tools to match. Despite this, it is user-friendly enough for enthusiasts and even beginners to get to grips with the software’s non-linear editing tools.

Final Cut Pro’s incredible video editing abilities, excellent colour grading tools, 4K and 8k compatibility, and advanced audio editing capabilities make it a more than capable one-stop shop for any video editing project.  

Final Cut

What Features Does Final Cut Pro Have?

As a favourite tool of production professionals, you would expect Final Cut Pro to pack plenty of tools and features under the hood – and upon loading the software for the first time, you won’t be disappointed by what it offers. Apple has thoughtfully curated Final Cut Pro’s range of functions to simplify your video editing task and include the following highlights.

Interface

The software’s simple but effective interface helps you to always stay on top of your project, with the browser, timeline, viewer, and quick access sidebar all accessible. The straightforward iMovie-style timeline dominates the bottom half of the screen, where you can quickly add and arrange clips to piece together your video. Meanwhile, the Libraries sidebar and the Browser section make importing and organising your media a doddle.

Video Editing

Final Cut Pro’s powerful video editing tools begin with the excellent Magnetic Timeline. Here, you can intuitively arrange and trim your video clips with a simple click-and-drag functionality. The software also includes a wealth of clever features to add sheen to your project. The drag-and-drop Object Tracker matches effects to movement, depth of field and focal point can be controlled in videos shot using iPhone 13’s Cinematic Mode, and automatic syncing is supported for up to 64 camera angles.  

Out of the box, Final Cut Pro comes with hundreds of video effects, audio effects, and transitions. But if you’re looking for even more, there’s a world of third-party extensions with which you can further enhance the software to better suit your needs.

Audio Editing

The software’s audio editing abilities make adding sound to your video a piece of cake for producers thanks to integrated effects borrowed from Logic, Apple’s incredible music production suite. Enhancing your sound is simple, with many effects, including EQ, distortion, reverb, compressor, and limiter. The included software also has your back if you need to fix audio problems, with a de-noiser, de-esser, pitch corrector, and pitch shifter all available. And, as with applying video effects, adding audio effects is simply a matter of choosing your product and dragging and dropping it onto your target music video clip in the timeline.

If you’re looking to start from scratch with your video’s audio, the software also offers a library of over 1,300 royalty-free sounds to enhance your production.

Final Cut

Media Organisation

Good organisation is essential for staying on track when you’re working on a complicated or lengthy project. And thankfully, Apple hasn’t forgotten the importance of organising your files in Final Cut Pro. The program’s Libraries feature allows you to effectively manage and combine your clips, even across multiple projects. You can create proxy copies of your files for portability and easy collaboration, while the Smart Collections feature means you’re never more than a few clicks away from any of your content.

Colour Grading

Colour correction is a joy in Final Cut Pro. Alongside the clever automatic balance tools for colour, saturation, and exposure, you can manually fine-tune your video’s appearance for greater control. The intuitive colour wheels help you to carefully make precise adjustments, while the colour curves allow you to take things up a notch for more specific colour edits.

Final Cut Pro’s HDR compatibility extends to take full advantage of the display capabilities of the MacBook Pro and the Pro Display XDR. Standard, Rec. 2020, and HLG colour spaces are also supported.

Customisable Effects

Final Cut Pro makes customising your production a simple task, with hundreds of custom effects available right from installation. You can choose from a considerable number of 2D and 3D text styles, along with intuitive control of titles, transitions, and effects.

Performance and Compatibility

Apple has optimised the software to make full use of its powerful M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra chips. Final Cut Pro offers plenty of speed and responsiveness when paired with the company’s latest proprietary hardware. The program makes the most of multi-core processing, essential for such hardware-intense software – you shouldn’t be waiting long for your effects to process.

Final Cut Pro has also been designed to work with a host of different formats, including AVCHD, XAVC, RED, ProRes, HEVC, H.264, and Avid DNxHR®. Whatever your format of choice, there’s a good chance that your project will be well-catered for.

Motion

Motion is an add-on for Final Cut Pro that you can use to add incredible motion effects in 2D, 3D, and 360° videos. It uses clever machine learning software to track faces and objects in your clips, ensuring that your chosen effects stay on point and apply precisely where you want them.

Compressor

Another add-on tool that’s available to buy on the Apple website. Compressor is an effective encoding and delivery instrument with a wide range of options. Using the tool, you can quickly pick the perfect output settings for your project. It’s compatible with many popular formats, along with supporting HDR and 360° VR footage. Adding audio descriptions and closed captions is also a seamless task, while you can optimise files in-house for loading onto various popular streaming sites, including YouTube and Facebook.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Final Cut Pro

As a professional-grade tool, you can be sure that Final Cut Pro offers plenty of bang for your buck:

  • Intuitive layout
  • Powerful effects suite
  • Great customisation options
  • Excellent integrated audio editing features
  • Magnetic Timeline
  • Third-party add-on support
  • Speedy and efficient performance

While Final Cut Pro is a competent, well-rounded product, there are some things to consider before purchasing:

  • Only available for Mac computers
  • The non-standard Magnetic Timeline might not be to everyone’s taste
  • The software requires a relatively robust computer system to take full advantage of the system-intensive features
  • No option to export high-res JPGs – screenshots must be TIFF or PNG

Who Can Benefit from Using Final Cut Pro?

With its mammoth library of included effects, tools, and audio samples, It’s very much geared towards professionals. Filmmakers, video editors, and other industry professionals consider the software a viable video editing option. But a wide range of users will find the program to be the solution to their video editing needs. Vloggers of all levels, musicians needing to edit music videos and live footage for streaming or adding to their website, and students (an educational package is also available) will all find a friend in Final Cut Pro.

How to Get Started with Final Cut Pro

Getting started with the software is easy. After purchasing Final Cut Pro from the Apple website, download it to your computer and follow the simple steps to complete the installation.

After you’ve got the software up and running, It’s worth taking a moment to explore the features available fully. You can then dedicate time to learn how to use the integrated tools and effects. An extensive user guide is available on the Apple site, along with various articles on utilising some of Final Cut Pro’s more powerful features.

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How Much Does Final Cut Pro Cost?

Final Cut Pro is available directly from the Apple Apps site and costs £299.99 for a one-time purchase. Motion and Compressor are optional add-ons with which you can enhance your software anytime. They’re also available on the Apple website for £49.99 each.

Is Final Cut Pro Worth It?

Final Cut Pro requires a reasonably large initial outlay, and it isn’t currently available in a subscription model. However, the price is final; there’s no cost for future upgrades and no monthly subscription to remember. So you simply pay once, and the software is yours forever.

The number of excellent tools you get in return for your purchase is impressive for the price paid. Final Cut Pro is an excellent investment if you are a professional or enthusiast-level content producer or have any designs on starting video editing.

Our Score

With its intuitive interface, powerful and numerous editing tools, great integrated audio editing, and smooth performance, Final Cut Pro is up there with the very best video editing software currently available. However, while its optimisation for Apple hardware is undoubtedly a selling point, its Mac-only availability is disappointing for those who prefer all things Windows. 4/5.


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