Differences Between iMovie, Final Cut Express, and Final Cut Pro HD???

Discussion in 'Professional Video Production' started by Quasar X, Mar 17, 2006.

  1. Quasar X

    Quasar X Guest

    I'm making a documentary from 125 hours of 1080i HDV footage.

    I've only used iMovie 5 HD before.

    Barely touched Final Cut Pro 4.5... and FCP is confusing to me compared
    to iMovie HD.

    What are the major differences I should be concerned with between
    iMovie, FC Express HD, and FC Pro HD?

    My documentary is a very serious project, but I am totally new to Final
    Cut Pro HD.

    I also have limited $$ to buy Harddrives to edit down 125 Hours of HDV
    1080i footage to 3 hours of documentary.

    Is iMovie HD enough, since it is so easy --- or do I really need to
    learn FC Pro HD? (Also will the FC Express version do instead?)

    Also, any recommendations for importing 125 Hours of 1080i HDV footage?
    Should I just downgrade it to regular DV? I heard Apple changes 1 HOUR
    of HDV into almost 50GBs per hour! That means 6.25TBs just for the
    footage itself!

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    Quasar X, Mar 17, 2006
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  2. Quasar X

    GrassDog Guest

    Are you really going to import the whole 125 hours? Wouldn't it make
    more sense to import just the bits you need?

    I agree with you on FCP and iMovie HD. It takes a lot of time to learn
    and use all the features of FCP. If you don't have or don't want to
    take the time, I'd stick with what I know: iMovie HD or iMovie.

    By the way, a friend that does documentaries of various dancers uses
    Vegas (it has more tracks available for sound. I believe he said it had
    99 tracks available for sound vs iMovie's 2. Big consideration if your
    documentary is heavy on sound.)

    GrassDog, Mar 17, 2006
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  3. Quasar X

    Specs Guest

    Absolutely GrassDog!!

    125 hours????? Bloody 'ell a shooting ratio of 40:1. 3 weeks of solid
    logging more like 4-5 weeks actual. Good luck.

    The only way to do this is to do a "paper edit" then capture the footage you
    need. From your copius notes you will have taken while logging you'll be
    able to go back for addition footage once you've got the narrative or the
    back bone of the documentary on the timeline.

    If you try and capture 125 hours of footage you'll kill the project off and
    waste money on drives you don't need. Your project wll die. You will have
    to be absolutely ruthless when choosing the footage so be absolutley clear
    what the narrative is before you start. Only choosing the right footage to
    support the narrative and drives it forward.

    Whoever though 125 hours of footage was needed for a 3hr doc needs their ass
    kicked. I've never seen a 3 hour doc either its going to have to be pretty
    compelling to keep people interested for that length of time. What is the
    doc and what are you hoping to do with it?

    Forget iMovie. You need minimum FCP and better hope the Media Manager
    doesn't mangle your project.

    Specs, Mar 17, 2006
  4. Quasar X

    Kill Bill Guest

    While I like iMovie, and I think it has it's due for small projects..
    I'm afraid your going to have to just step up to the plate and go with
    FCP (or express) for this kind of project.

    Control for one. FCP over iMovie will let you manage the data a lot better.

    Any community colleges in your area? They probably have a FCP class.
    Or just buy a training DVD.

    Correct me if I'm wrong.. but lets say you really do have 125 hours of
    HDV footage. You can get 63 minutes of HD footage on a HD miniDV tape.
    125 times 60 is 7500 minutes. You have 123 tapes to digitize?

    123 tapes at 12.95 each is 1,592.85 worth of tape that you purchased.

    So, you bought one and a half thousand dollars worth of video tape, and
    there's no money to buy a 500 Gig hard drive?

    If your going to learn Express, just go FCP then.

    Get a HDV deck, and get used to many many nights of changing tapes in

    HDV is actually highly compressed MPEG2 video compression at the exact
    same bit rate of DV at 3.5 mb/s. Hence the reason why you can use
    minidv tapes. Upcompresing it doesn't do anything for the quality.
    Whether your working with DV or HDV, the same numbers apply.

    Kill Bill, Mar 17, 2006
  5. Quasar X

    bbbacres Guest

    You have lots of good advice from fellow readers, now let me give some.
    Learning final cut pro is NOT easy. Its not that any single step is
    hard, its just that if you wait any amount of time before revisiting
    that step, you lose it. If you throw yourself into FCP for this
    project it will work. But prepare for huge amounts of time conquering
    little stops. (how do I create a new folder?, how do I move from
    browser to canvas). Those things are simple to do once you know them,
    but you will have to conquer them each several times at first, hard to
    do if you have any time constraints at all. But I do know several
    people who were forced into FCP during one project, and they just
    fought their way into it. Its a good way to learn, but very

    One argument is why choose? A documentary in good taste can have just
    straight cuts and dissolves, and almost nothing else, perhaps an
    occassional slow zoom onto a still photo. All those things you can do
    in Imovie. Why not build the 99% interior of the movie, but then use
    FCP for some fancy and production heavy beginning, or for other key
    points? You could even hire someone from the local college for that.
    For example, have them build you a nice beginning. Have them build
    you a "lower 3rd) to put on screen to ID each interviewee. Use them
    both. Use what you know for the part it can easily do.

    One warning though that no one has mentioned. When you use Imovie, it
    does not edit in native HDV, or even native DV for that matter. It
    changes things when you download into the Apple Intermediate Codec.
    Now in fact, the codec did not cause the image quality loss some
    feared. It looks very very acceptable. You download and it converts
    to the intermediate codec, you edit, then when you come out of the
    computer it reformats the video into DV or HDV. This process is why
    Imovies stunningly beat almost every other editing system in the race
    to have HDV editing.

    I am convinced its a good way to edit. But there is one draw back.
    HDV is a "big" signal. It takes up lots of disk space. But get this:
    when you transcode into Apple's intermediate Codec, the HDV signal is
    made even bigger. Lots bigger. 10 minutes of HDV becomes a HUGE
    signal. When you edit in native HDV at least it stays the original
    size. This becomes prohibitive when editing as much footage as you.

    So the other writers are right. You must 'pre-produce' the video a
    first time, then finish it a 2nd time in the good format. If you can
    only edit on your Apple because those are your limits (eg paper editing
    does not click to you" you could probably download the stuff into
    Imovie a little at a time, then quickly use the "share" (compress)
    program to make it into a very tiny email Quicktime movie. Those (i
    believe) can be imported into Imovie and edited. You might see if when
    downloading the footage that first time you can make the time code show
    on the video image for your logging. Make the full video, then make
    it again, this time with full production skills.

    Again, use both editing softwares, why not? Who says you can only use

    bbbacres, Mar 18, 2006
  6. I have tried a number of NLEs and Final Cut Pro is one of the simpler,
    more straightforward ones IMO. It's not really that big a jump-up if
    you're already in imovie. The advantages would be as has been said in
    better bin and clip management, which is no small consideration when
    you're dealing with somethign this big. You get more audio tracks to
    layer, more compositing choices and better graphics, thre ability to
    nest sequences and hold many multiple versions and iterations that you
    can compare and mix between.

    On a project of this size, you indeed need to make the first rough cuts
    at the digitizing stage, screening everything, but only digitizing the
    best takes. Another consideration is, you could theoretically have
    more than one person work on this at the same time, cutting one section
    towards the end while you work on the beginning and things like that.
    Such an approach will save time but create a certain 'feel" in each
    person's work, unless all hold to strict criteria on style.

    Three hour docs are not impossible: you just air them as three one-hour
    chapters on successive nights or etc.
    nobody special, Mar 19, 2006
  7. Matthew Zodrow, Mar 23, 2006
  8. Matthew Zodrow, Mar 23, 2006
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