Need help on whether to buy Final Cut Express 4

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by medicinejar, Jun 14, 2011.

  1. medicinejar macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2011
    Hello. I am going to be buying an I-Mac fairly shortly and I am debating about whether to get Final Cut Express 4 or whether imovie will suffice. I have reviewed some previous threads on here and other information on the net and I believe imovie will serve my purposes but I would like to make sure. Here is what I will be using it for:

    1) I own a Sony hdr-cx110 imovie. From what I understand, I cannot use imovie to directly convert MTS files but, if I understand things correctly, as long as I download the contents through an usb connection to the camera (I think) or archive the entire SDHC card, imovie can pull the contents into format it can use. Is there any big advantage to Final Cut Express I am not seeing other than directly using the mts files? Is it a real pain/time consuming to use the usb connection or archive a 16GB SDHC card?

    2) We are using HD televisions in our home (1080), the camera takes HD video and we have a sony blue ray player. In short, I want to be able to watch the HD movies I make on our television. I was a little taken back when I first found out that I could not easily burn blue-rays on the mac, but a salesman I met with pointed out I would be able to produce some high definition discs that most blue-ray players could play (this was a casual conversation and I did not get the exact name he used for the disc). Is there any advantage to Final Cut Express over imovie to do this? As well, can anyone suggest a good link on how to go about producing the HD discs? (I was putting this off until I got the mac but would certainly appreciate any suggestions for further reading).

    3) I am going to be converting some vhs and camcoder videos. Given what I have read, and my budget, I will be most likely going with EyeTV Hybrid to convert the videos to editable video files. I have seen nothing to suggest that Final Cut Express would make any difference on this. Is there anything I am missing?

    Any suggestions, recommendations etc. would be much appreciated.

  2. Sirmausalot macrumors 6502a


    Sep 1, 2007
    Final Cut Xpress is being replaced by the forthcoming Final Cut Pro X. I think you should start in iMovie and then if you need more features, upgrade to Final Cut Pro X for $299.

    Blu-ray support in a Mac is a nightmare. It does and will exist in some form. Final Cut Pro X will be released within 2 weeks, so we'll know more then. You'll need an external Blu-ray burner -- though honestly it might be just as easy to make DVDs and no one will really be able to tell the quality difference for what you are doing whether it comes from a DVD or Blu-ray. And the Blu-ray disks are expensive.

    Again, I'd start with iMovie and DVDs and then perhaps move up to Final Cut Pro (some training videos and/or classes would be advised) and Blu-ray authoring once you get video savvy on your machine.
  3. xStep macrumors 68000

    Jan 28, 2003
    Less lost in L.A.
    First some terminology.
    It is iMac, not I-Mac.
    It is iMovie, not I-Movie or imovie.
    It is Mac, not mac.​

    Also, you don't have a "Sony hdr-cx110 imovie". Perhaps you have a Sony HDR-CX110. ;)

    1) Looks pretty much correct in that the content needs to be in its original file structure. I believe that is also true for the curent version of FCE. Sorry, I don't know about the time to convert.

    2) You can make Blu-Ray discs on your Mac but it requires either an option in the current and expensive Final Cut Pro Studio package, an app from the Adobe Premier suite, or Toast 11 Pro. Also note, that if the content is short enough, you can burn Blu-Ray HD material to a common DVD. As far as I know, there is no advantage of FCE or iMovie for producing HD to Blu-Ray material. In both cases you would want to create an HD file for further processing.

    For some tutorials on Blu-Ray burning, try Blu-Ray Burning Primer
    and Fast Path to Blu-ray for Mac.

    3) if your camcorder has a Firewire (Sony i-Link, or IEEE-1394) port then FCE would be the better tool to read the stream straight from the camera rather than going through a device such as EyeTV Hybrid. The Hybrid will degrade the picture twice; once for the import, and then the act of having to convert that file to something friendly to your editor. Not to say it isn't a decent solution in cases where you need a middle device, although there are better and more expensive devices.

    I have concerns regarding using iMovie 08-11 for importing interlaced DV material.

    Don't think of converting SD material up to HD. Just make a standard DVD for the SD material.

    Other thoughts...

    I'd start with iMovie and Toast 11 Pro. One you learn how to use that, buy an appropriate external Blu-Ray burner (writer) for your HD material, and it if can't fit on a DVD.

    Not that FCE is old and Apple has said that they are releasing the new Final Cut Pro X in June 2011. For $100 more than the price of FCE is now, you could get that latest and greatest. Not much is known about FCPX so you'd need to wait and see for a few weeks to learn how it would fit your requirements. Also, Apple has not given any hints if there will be a less expensive Express version. So far, no one thinks so. FCPX is expected to require OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) which you would get if buying a new machine now.

    In July, Apple is releasing OS X 10.7 (Lion). No exact date on that. You'd be entitled to the upgrade if you buy a machine now but have to sign up for it. If you wait long enough, the machine would have it already installed.

    There lots for you to learn. :)
  4. cgbier macrumors 6502a

    Jun 6, 2011
    I love(d) FCE, but iMovie11 is rather powerful again, even though I still haven't figured gotten used to the ways it works. At this point of time, I wouldn't sink any money into FCE any more. From the previews FCP X's GUI has a lot in common with iMovie11.
    Therefore, I'd get my iMac, get used to iMovie and spring for FCP X only if I thought I really need it... and not before Apple has released the second update.

    This way you won't need to learn two different GUIs and workflows.
  5. martinX macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2009
    Got a network? Even wi-fi? Take a look at AppleTV. It's basically a conduit to movies on your Mac.

    To wit, have an AppleTV hooked up physically (via HDMI) to your TV/amp etc and to your house-wide network (wi-fi or ethernet). Make the movies on your Mac. Export/share to iTunes at the AppleTV spec. Trot down to AppleTV. Watch movie.

    And if I were you, I'd hold off on buying FCE. Just like previously suggested, iMovie 11 is the way to go for now. FCP X will be out soon for a little more than FCE costs now so if you need the extra capabilities of Final Cut, just wait a while and spring for the new version.
  6. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    Check if your Sony BD-Player has Internet and file based media capability. We have a BD-S370 here that can hit the network and read DVD media for HD files.
  7. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    Using Toast, we find the BD file to DVD not sufficient. The codec quality gets so squished no matter how short the clip. Tried other options in Toast and no go. Still a good tool for quick one off BD burning.
  8. medicinejar thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2011
    Thanks to everyone for your helpful suggestions. I think I will stick iMovie for now and upgrade to the new version of Final Express Pro if I find that I need it. Will need to get my macintosh terminology up to speed too!

    I really appreciate all of your help.

    Cheers :)
  9. xStep macrumors 68000

    Jan 28, 2003
    Less lost in L.A.
    The problem with AppleTV is the 720p limit.
  10. martinX macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2009
    Speaking of terminology ... it's "Final Cut Express" (standalone application) and "Final Cut Pro" (which can only be purchased as part of Final Cut Studio). The next version of FCP is called as "FCP X" and is available as a standalone application.
  11. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

    Sep 24, 2008
    Boon Docks USA
    I just checked to see if your camcorder is compatible with the latest iMovie, which it is....

    As was suggested, learn in iMovie. BUT, when importing to iMovie, your footage will be transcoded into AIC since iMovie cannot edit AVCHD natively. Everyone is hoping that the new Final Cut X will. The transcoded files will get very large. You will want a scratch disc (external drive) to render to as this will speed things up. This finishes in DVD format though. For Blu ray, unless apple pulls a rabbit out of it's hat to burn to blu ray (don't count on it), toast will be your best bet. Otherwise, bootcamp windows and get an external blu ray drive. You will need to figure out your work flow to decide how you want to proceed.
  12. AppleDroid macrumors 6502a

    Apr 10, 2011
    I would highly suggest not getting Final Cut Express as others have mentioned. It's old, doesn't support multicore/hyperthreading, only uses up to 3GB of your RAM, lack of import/export options etc.
  13. Soura2112 macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2008

    Like everyone else said, wait for FCX. Plus FC Exress is a serious pain with AVCHD. If you can pull off the college deal you get 100.00 $ for the store, making FCX only 20.00 more then Final Cut express.
    As we dont know everythig about FCX yet, it appears AVCHD will work much better on FCX.....It better!
    Plus learning iMovie is a great way to understand editing before jumping to a more complicated editing program.....IMO.

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