Choosing an editing suite is one of the most important and defining decisions a video producer has to make. The software you choose will be based on a) what you want to do and b) how much you have to spend. There are editors that come free with computer purchase, like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker, but if you want to do any complex edits you’ll want to invest in a bit more.

For the past 6 years I’ve been using Apple’s high-end editor, Final Cut Pro HD Studio—truly one of the professional leaders. I use it on a MacBook Pro and it works great for everything I need.

The latest Studio package includes Final Cut Pro 7 for editing, Sound Track Pro 3 for audio, Motion 4 for animation, LiveType 2 for graphics and titles, Color 1.5 for color grading, Compressor 3.5 to compress and convert output, and a DVD maker called DVD Studio Pro. The whole package costs about $1,000.

I like the high-quality edits Final Cut provides, including camera-native editing of a wide range of leading SD, HD, and 2K formats. It allows me to mix frame sizes, frame rates, and formats in the same timeline all in real time, and has capability for multicam editing of up to 128 sources with real-time playback of up to 16 angles.

Final Cut Pro HD provides a full-support video editing solution for prosumers or professionals who need its advanced features. If you don’t have that much to spend, there’s a lower-end Apple edition called Final Cut Express. Express doesn’t have as many advanced capabilities, but it’s a respectable consumer-level editor.

 

What you need to run Final Cut Pro HD:

  • Mac computer with an Intel processor

  • Platform: Mac OS X v10.5.6 or later

  • RAM: 1GB (2GB of RAM recommended when working with compressed HD and uncompressed SD sources; 4GB of RAM recommended when working with uncompressed HD sources)

  • 128MB of VRAM

  • VGA: ATI or NVIDIA graphics processor

  • Display with 1280-by-800 resolution or higher

  • QuickTime 7.6 or later

  • Hard Disk Space: 4GB