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Old July 27th, 2010, 06:03 PM   #1
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Avid MC5 vs. FCP: The old debate made new

Ever since posting the "coming soon" notice for reviews of all the current NLE's (including the PC-only Edius 5) I've had countless questions about the age-old question of Avid vs. FCP "which is better" being asked incessantly. Typically the "which is better" debate is totally pointless because it always comes down to both personal preferences and what the budget/production needs are. However, this time things are a little bit different and not what most are expecting.

There are two ways to make this head to head comparison:

1. Comparing just the actual editor itself, Media Composer to Final Cut Pro and;

2. Comparing the entire suite offerings.

It will be a few weeks before I have time to drill down into the actual editing comparisons between these two however Avid has made sweeping changes both to interface handling, opening up the architecture to third-party offerings such as external monitoring with AJA or Matrox devices and making the software overhead more efficient (faster rendering). But I already have enough info to make a *suite* comparison, and it's still in the FCS favor. Why?

First, Avid's DVD authoring program is nothing more than a re-branded Sonic DVD-it Pro HD offering; it's the exact same interface and features with the Avid name attached to it - and it's a PC-only program. Yes, it does handle Blu-Ray but considering "real" BR authoring isn't ever going to be available on a Mac (according to the latest rants from Steve Jobs, who has said "no native Blu-Ray ever on a Mac..." in a recent interview scooped by Apple Insider) BR is a non-starter anyway.

Considering the plethora of DVD-based work for the indie market and that Avid does not offer a native Mac OS X DVD authoring option well... that's just damned silly. Not to mention that Sonic DVD-it Pro HD is a pro-sumer application and does NOT have all the high-end features - especially for replication-standard mastering - that DVDSP4 has. To wit, I know many Avid editors who cut on Media Composer and then export their MPEG-2 and AC3 files to then author in DVDSP4 simply because it's such a well-rounded application.

Speaking of exporting, Avid ships with the latest version of Sorenson Squeeze, which did not fair well in my head-to-head comparisons of Mac-based encoders (you can see that review on my site). For quality (not speed) it was last on the list with Compressor and Episode Desktop beating each other for tie-breaker. Yes Sorenson is much faster than Compressor but it's quality of MPEG2 and H.264 encodes do not match Compressor's quality, period. And these days MPEG2 and H.264 are just about the only 2 types of encodes being made; you're either going to make a DVD or post up to the web, rarely anything else.

And then there's price: The MC5 suite is more than double the cost of FCS "3" at $2495 retail. That's hundreds more than even Adobe Production Premium CS5. Worse of it all, for all that money you're NOT getting a native Mac OS X end-to-end solution - no DVD authoring! Really?

As I say, I've yet to make a direct comparo between Media Composer vs Final Cut Pro but if you're thinking that MC5 might be a viable Mac OS X replacement for the entire FCS suite the answer is a solid "no".

More coming soon...
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Old July 31st, 2010, 05:25 PM   #2
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The 'old' debate made new should really include Adobe CS5. Just in terms of an entire suite, NO one can match Adobe Production Premium even if you only use Photoshop and AE.
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 05:51 PM   #3
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Look for the head-to-head comparo of all the current pro NLE's I'll be posting on my review site in a few weeks; there you'll see Adobe's fair share of limelight.
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 08:21 PM   #4
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You are decicsively declaring a winner of which is the better NLE based upon DVD authoring capabilities??

Also, Squeeze is a budled program, but you don't need to use it to create MPEG or H.264 files--you can do this right inside MC. I'd venture that most Avid users have never launched Squeeze. So your tests of Squeeze's perfomance don't apply to how good a job MC 5 does natively.

(Also, what version of Squeeze did you test?)

But anyway, I know you said you're going to do more testing, so why on earth would you declare a winner now?
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Old August 3rd, 2010, 01:03 AM   #5
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and it looks you are speaking about MC5 on OSX, MC5 isis good on a PC , not on a Mac. Same for premiere
(what about comparing these suites running on PC and FCP running on an Hackintosh ?).
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Old August 3rd, 2010, 04:35 PM   #6
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Hi Robert,

I agree with much in your post, but it seems a bit onesided to say that since MC5 has no end-to-end workflow to DVD in Mac, it falls short. It's only true if you can prove that working in Mac is somehow better. It's like me claiming that MC5 is better because FCP has no end-to-end workflow to DVD on the PC platform.

I find the argument of little use in these days of Boot Camp. For example, I routinely reboot into Windows on my Mac to use ProCoder, because I find the interface of Compressor so awful. The output of ProCoder looks better to me as well.

The price difference between the two suites means little as well. Spend a few extra hours of downtown (due to whatever problem) in either suite and the difference quickly disappears. I think you might touch on the aspect of reliability of workflow in your up coming reviews, or whether time savings in either suite impact value for money.

All the best, and thanks for the great insights and reviews.
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Old August 3rd, 2010, 07:09 PM   #7
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First, where in the world did I ever declare a "winner" anywhere? All I said that PP would get it's SHARE of the limelight, meaning, all the NLE's including the offering from Adobe will get a thorough going-over, not just MC5 vs. FCP.

And to those who ask for, "How about reviewing X-Y-Z in the review...". I've already got the topics laid out that are relevant to this review process. If you want specific information compared that I don't cover in my review please feel free to take your own free time, make the relationships with the manufacturers and do this stuff au-gratis for public viewing.

Hackintosh? Give me a break already...

When the review is online - in about 2 weeks - I'll update the forum.
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Old August 4th, 2010, 10:54 PM   #8
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Well let's be fair to Robert here. He said this:

"As I say, I've yet to make a direct comparison between Media Composer vs Final Cut Pro but if you're thinking that MC5 might be a viable
Mac OS X replacement for the entire FCS suite the answer is a solid no".

So you see, he is saying that IF you work in Mac OS X, THEN you are not going to replace everything
that FCS suite can do with MC5. That's pretty much all he is saying as far as I can tell.
This is pointed towards people who edit on Mac's, using Mac OS X as their operating system.
He does not 'declare a winner' merely states some information, information that could be very
helpful to a Mac OS X editor thinking about buying MC5 instead of FCS suite, or switching
over. I am almost certain, that in his full review, he will point out places that MC5 is better than,
as well as worse than the other editors. None of them is perfect and they all have strengths and
weaknesses. He was only pointing out ONE of many things he will talk about I am sure.
And it is certainly relevant to Mac OSX editors to KNOW that there is no end to end
workflow to DVD in MC5. Why would he have to prove that working in Mac OSX is better?
Some people would rather work in OSX than a Windows system. And those people would
probably like to know, if they cannot have an end to end workflow to DVD in MC5.

Your argument that MC5 is better because FCS does not offer an end to end workflow to DVD on PC would
probably be relevant IF FCS actually RAN on a PC! Obviously if you are a PC based editor, MC5 is going to
be a better choice for you! Say you were writing a article about Adobe Premiere and Sony Vegas for PC editors.
You said Premiere did not offer some feature that Vegas did. Then someone said 'well Premiere offers that feature
on the Mac platform!' That probably wouldn't really matter a lot to your PC editors....since they are not running
Premiere on the Mac platform. Hence the importance of the included phrase 'viable OSX replacement' in
Robert's post.
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Old August 5th, 2010, 07:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabe Strong View Post
"As I say, I've yet to make a direct comparison between Media Composer vs Final Cut Pro but if you're thinking that MC5 might be a viable
Mac OS X replacement for the entire FCS suite the answer is a solid no".
Yes, believe it or not, I read his post, and I understand what he said.

Quote:
So you see, he is saying that IF you work in Mac OS X, THEN you are not going to replace everything
that FCS suite can do with MC5. That's pretty much all he is saying as far as I can tell.
This is pointed towards people who edit on Mac's, using Mac OS X as their operating system.
Absolutely, and I can see that argument working for say, a freelancer who has no choice but to use the system of the studio he's working at, but for almost anyone else, it's a simple matter of deciding what you need to accomplish, and getting the tools to do it.

I bought a mac and FCP not long ago because I was losing jobs not being able to take clients who wanted me to use it. I didn't say "oh, well, I work on PC, guess I'm screwed."

Quote:
Your argument that MC5 is better because FCS does not offer an end to end workflow to DVD on PC would
probably be relevant IF FCS actually RAN on a PC!
Sorry, I thought the implication was clear in my post. I knew when I wrote it that FCP won't work on PC. That was my point.

Quote:
Hence the importance of the included phrase 'viable OSX replacement' in
Robert's post.
Absolutely. But another point is that this is basically irrelevant now. Get the software best suited for the job, on whatever platform, install both Windows and OS X on a Mac, and you are living in the best of both worlds. It seems a no brainer to me.

I took the time to respond to Robert's post because I enjoy and appreciate his input, and am grateful for the time he puts in to provide valuable info to the community. When you post here, you have to be ready to get responses. That's part of the idea of sharing. If he doesn't agree with my opinion, or thinks I'm a compete idiot, I'm okay with that.

Thanks again, Robert. It's always a pleasure to read your posts.
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Old August 5th, 2010, 08:49 PM   #10
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Well, I know what you are saying about getting a Mac and having both Mac software and PC software on
it because you CAN actually do that. And sure, people who are 'independent studio' types can
do that. However, a lot of people (including me!) do not see this as irrelevant.
I have a hard enough time keeping up to date with the software I already have FCP, Motion,
After Effects, Livetype, Photoshop, DVD Studio Pro, and then there are the plug ins, Sapphire, Magic Bullet, the Furnace suite,
all the Red Giant stuff, CHV, Boris Continuum, CGM, Nattress, all the Noise Industries stuff, and so on. Not to mention Color
and Soundtrack Pro......the absolute LAST thing I want to do is to learn a whole different operating system!! So the whole 'which
OS the software runs on' is still relevant to me. I COULD install Windows and learn a new OS and still more software. However,
I would rather not, I already have too many things eating up my time.....like three little kids (my kids are 6, 4 and 2) that want to
stuff quarters into my Mac! So anyways, I see your point that to YOU it doesn't matter because you will install both on your computer.
That is a valid argument. However, I suspect there are some of us crazy types like me that are just too busy with everything else
in life and do not really have the extra time to deal with learning a new OS on top of everything else we do. My wife thinks I already
spend too much time on doing this stuff, compared to the income I get from it. So at least to SOME of us (maybe a small minority)
the OS still does make a difference.

That being said, I think all of us (definitely including me!) look at things and assume that everyone looks at them the same way.
So we then wonder why certain things matter. So, maybe most people are doing exactly what you say, and I am just out
of touch (I suspect I probably am). I certainly probably know less about production than many here, as I live in an isolated
town and don't have any peer feedback and interaction. I am the only independent that I know of in this town, so blame
my lack of 'being up to date' at least partly on that.
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Old August 6th, 2010, 10:17 AM   #11
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You know, at some point somebody could have simply asked me directly to clarify the direction of my postings, but watching you guys try out your mind-reading skills is more entertaining. So let me try and clear up the motivation/direction of this particular post - which is in 2 parts:

Part 1:

Many people - like myself - have been and are very disappointed with Apple's lackluster development of the FCS suite and have also become very disheartened that the competitors offerings have now boldly eclipsed FCS in several areas with no hint of a "real" FCS update on the horizon or, any clear message from Mr. Jobs as to what he plans to do with Apple NLE offerings, other than his insanely vague and over-simplified publicized response of, [What will the next FCS be like?]: "...it will be great!".

So part of what I've been doing for Mac users specifically is testing out *all* the current NLE platforms, be it PC or Mac-based and stacking them up against FCS to see if in fact there is a viable FCS replacement currently out there.

Part 2:

Despite claims by the media and the US government the economy still sucks. Independent producers and most especially one-man-band operators have been hit extremely hard, many have been forced out of the industry for lack of work. One of my most well-respected and talented camera operators had to give up his equipment and get a "real job" because he couldn't pay the bills anymore doing video work.

With the current economic situation in mind it seems paramount to look at this "FCS vs. everything else" review from a cost-effectiveness perspective, not just a technological one.

Specifically with the MC5 to FCS comparo its makes absolutely no sense at all for someone to consider MC5 to be a FCS replacement - at any cost, simply because in order for you to you ALL of it's software forces you to use Windows, either in Boot Camp or on a stand-alone PC. Either way that means on top of MC5's premium cost you'll also be forced into purchasing Windows-specific software. The thumbs-down for MC5 is specific to Mac users who don't want to be forced into purchasing more software to have a full and complete suite and want to stay in a native Mac OS X environment.

And why not? Adobe Production Premium only has one OS X incompatibility, "On Location", which quite frankly is not mission-critical application for anyone (there are other options) and the rest of the suite including AE is totally Mac OS X capable. So why shouldn't MC5 be exactly that way?

In todays economy there's no way I'd ever recommend any NLE - or other product for that matter - that would *require* a dual-OS environment to be viable. Now that Mac's have become so integral into the pro post-production environment manufacturers have no excuse to *not* provide a Mac-native application for an NLE suite.

I want everyone in our chosen industry regardless if they're PC or Mac based, to be successful and make as much money as possible. That means I'll always steer you away from spending money when you don't have to.
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Old August 14th, 2010, 04:34 AM   #12
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On Location has been running fine on my Mac since CS4. Audition is the only notable omission.

http://www.adobe.com/products/premiere/systemreqs/
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