Final Cut Express review

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Final Cut Express

Apple has taken the knife to Final Cut Pro to bring us Final Cut Express. Is there any meat left on the bone?

Apple is introducing a trimmed down version of its highly-regarded video and effects application, Final Cut Pro 3, priced at £240 (inc VAT) instead of £750, and going out under the name of Final Cut Express.

Apple clearly hopes that users will see this as a logical, and affordable, upgrade from its iMovie editing program that has been bundled free with FireWire equipped Macs for the past few years. And, of course, FCE is a direct competitor to Adobe Premiere 6.5 - further putting under strain Apple's relationship with one of the most committed supporters of the Mac platform.

Tempting folk into owning a piece of Final Cut Pro at a third of the price, Final Cut Express may just turn out to be a money spinner for Apple - and possibly the death knell for the Mac version of Premiere, unless Adobe takes a long, hard look at Premiere and gives it a serious make-over.
Two things give Adobe some hope. The large installed user base of loyal Premiere users can upgrade to the latest version for less than £135. And, Final Cut Express, unlike Premiere and Final Cut Pro, only supports DV format material captured via a FireWire connector. Adobe Premiere, in contrast, works with the many video capture cards installed in Mac editing systems, and either digital or analogue sources.

Final Cut Express has a privileged pedigree - born of the Emmy award-winning Final Cut Pro 3, and making it a special program. Yes, some of the advanced features of the flagship application are missing, and there's no batch capture, key-framable effects or After Effects plug-in support, but we reckon that most users won't miss them - at least not at this price.
For £240, Apple has put the core of its professional NLE application in the hands of budget-conscious hobbyists and semi-pro users. Having said that, professionals with a DV-based studio will be hard pressed to ignore Final Cut Express, least of all because of its full-featured editing ability, real-time previews and animatable motion effects. And, to top it off, Express projects open in Pro. Overall, it's difficult not to be impressed by Final Cut Express - it is such a well rounded, powerful editing and effects application in its own right.

Steven Hood

Read the full review in June 2003's Computer Video magazine.



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