2.09.2013

Mac or PC for Beginning Filmmakers? Early 2013


Mac or PC

Five years ago, there was no question: If you were an aspiring filmmaker, you got yourself a Mac. Final Cut Pro was awesome and much smoother to use than Adobe's Premiere Pro. And if you were just getting started, iMovie HD with iLife gave you most of the tools you'd need... and even normal iMovie was light-years ahead of Windows Movie Maker. You could, of course, do video on a PC, but you'd be fighting your machine the whole time. Sometimes the huge price difference made it worth it go with Windows, but not often.

What does the video editing landscape look like today, here in early 2013?

Free options: Mac
There still isn't a truly solid free Windows-based editor. Windows Movie Maker is more of a joke than ever. So, if you're only going to make cat-videos, iMovie offers many more options. But Apple has also dumbed-down their tool, so it's not nearly enough for someone seeking to progress as an editor. Apple is the clear winner, but if you're editing at this level, you could make either system work. In fact, you may be better off using YouTube's editor or one of the many other web-based video editing options emerging. So, Apple wins this round, with growing web-based browsers coming in a close second. I hope that, within the year, we'll see online tools that far outpace the current offering, making this part of the discussion obsolete.

Inexpensive options: Windows
Apple does not have an intermediate level editor. Sony's latest Vegas Movie Studio editing suite costs less than $50 right now, and it gives you almost everything you could want in an editor. The major drawbacks: No customizable hotkeys and no great keying/masking options. Other than that, it gets the job done. Vegas, and others like it, are only available for the PC. So, if you're serious about making movies but don't have a ton of money to drop on a setup, you can purchase a killer machine and fantastic software for well under $900... that's simply not possible if you go Apple.

Professional options: Windows
Five years ago, Apple had FCP7... and it was fantastic. I used it regularly and created lots of professional DVDs and web videos. Then Apple killed--and then quietly brought back--their flagship editing program. In it's place, they offered a $300 app that, while slick, removed key professional features. Now dubbed "iMovie Pro" by professional editors, this tool does not yet "cut it" when you need to cut, and deliver, content. Adobe stepped up to fill this gap while Apple fumbled, and their suite is better than ever. Avid also continues to compete in this space.

Other thoughts:
  • Both Adobe and Avid can work on a Mac, but for the price, you get far more horsepower with a custom PC.
  • OSX continues to be a fantastic operating system, but Windows 8--building off the solid 7--is now a real challenger.
  • Final Cut Pro X will continue to improve. It takes a refreshingly open approach to the timeline, which is fantastic. In years to come, I believe Apple could again make it a staple for prosumer editors--like myself. Will they? That remains to be seen, but there is some interesting discussion on this front. For now, Apple is still on the high end of the price point, pushing out aspiring low-budget filmmakers.

The good news? While Windows is more a contender than ever, if you have a Mac, you can still make movies. So, it remains true in early 2013: As a beginning filmmaker, start with the tools you have and only upgrade when what you have limits your ability to tell your stories.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

No comments: