Last night the highlight of the HD in Motion event was Charles Koppelman talking about his new book, Behind the Seen, in which he describes how Walter Murch edited Cold Mountain with Final Cut Pro.
While the talk was interesting, Charles continued to promote some facts that are no longer true, specifically, that Final Cut Pro editing systems are an order of magnitude cheaper than Avid systems. In 1999 when Final Cut Pro was first released it was revolutionary in that it allowed DV editing with simply a Mac and no additional hardware. At that time you could, in fact say, that an FCP editing system costs much less than an Avid. However, today it is a different story: Avid has responded with Avid xPress Pro and it’s no longer true that an Avid costs many times the cost of an Final Cut Pro system. Consider this comparison: The Final Cut Pro production suite costs around $1,300 while Avid xPress Pro costs about $1,700. Just Final Cut Pro costs about $1,000 while Avid xPress DV comes in actually lower at $900. Each has some unique features. So how can Charles Koppelman say things like, “you can buy several FCP systems for the cost of an Avid system”? The only way this could be true is if you compared systems with radically different capabilities. And soon Avid xPress Pro will have an HD version… so we’re back to the reality of the situation: both Final Cut and Avid offer fine editing solutions, the choice, in the end, is one of preferences, each is a very capable system with many features in common and some unique to each. Try cutting a multiple camera project in need of lots of color correction with Final Cut… and you’ll soon wonder why you’re not using the Avid which has an excellent multi-camera and automatic color correction capability. On the other hand Final Cut has a more attractive interface and it runs very efficiently on Mac hardware… this debate can go on and on… but let’s not be making claims that are outright false as we compare the systems, please.