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Compare 15 Digital Workflow Programs: Is Adobe Premiere the Best Bang for Your Buck?

Sareesh Sudhakaran workflow software dit ingest dailies grading adobe premiere apple final cut pro fcp x blackmagic davinci resolve red cine chartYour on-set digital workflow can vary wildly depending on your camera, budget, and schedule with each variable uniquely affecting the others. But, is there a flexible, multi-purpose software package that can truly cover all the bases, and at a better price than all the rest? Wolfcrow has sought to answer this question in a recent, very detailed, post. Click through for a few more details, and to see if you agree with its findings. Could Premiere & Adobe CC have the overall best value?

Wolfcrow writer Sareesh Sudhakaran compiles a chart of info about programs spanning the general-purpose NLE zone, across dedicated media management, all the way to specialized graders, including: Adobe Premiere CC, Apple Final Cut Pro X, Davinci Resolve, Red Giant Bulletproof, Redcine-X, Sony Vegas — among several other programs I’ve never even heard of. The goal is to determine the usefulness of each in the various facets of on-set media management. Thanks to Wolfcrow for the exhaustive chart below (click to enlarge.)

Wolfcrow table

Says Sareesh by his own conclusion:

As far as I’m concerned, Adobe Premiere Pro CC is probably the only software that I feel truly comfortable with. It can do everything:

  • Ingest any kind of file natively.
  • Logging.
  • Transcoding via Adobe Media Encoder.
  • Audio syncing, editing and conforming.
  • Color correction.
  • Metadata support.
  • Editing!
  • All this can be done on a laptop, on both Mac and PC.
  • Export to anything.
  • Round-trip with anything.

There are two things it can’t do:

  • Checksum verification – which Prelude does, and it comes free with Premiere Pro when you purchase the entire CC suite.
  • Digital Asset Management – which Bridge does, and it comes free with Premiere Pro CC.

It can do everything. All this is for $49.99 per month. That’s unbelievable. If a project ran for 60 shooting days, and I needed Adobe CC for five months total, I’d still only spend $250. Why on earth do I need any other software? Adobe Premiere Pro CC wins my vote for the best on-set ingest, logging, dailies, grading and backup software.

Now, it’s definitely worth reading the entire post, as there is much more information to be sifted through. Your mileage may vary significantly — the chart is just a start in the right direction. These findings are Sareesh’s, and as always, specific applications may demand better-suited software. That said, metadata support and poly-lingual round-tripping basically mean you can incorporate any other tool you need into your Adobe CC workflow — and, if the show can’t afford other software, you can still pull together something more-than-solid with the tools confined to CC.

I also think Sareesh’s example raises a possible defense of the subscription-only Adobe Creative Cloud: it can be treated like a ‘rental’ on a show-by-show-basis, so you don’t have to own it indefinitely to use it. Here’s a hypothetical scenario. Let’s say a DIT owns and rents out gear for income additional to their standard rate, but doesn’t pay for CC regularly. The show hiring that DIT, on the other hand, requires a fully-Adobe workflow. Thanks to the monthly subscription, that DIT could still rent out their own package — merely using Adobe CC for the duration necessary — instead of having to sub-rent a whole new rig just for the right software suite, which would lose that DIT their potential extra pay.

One again, be sure to check out the full post over at Wolfcrow, and give some props to Sareesh if you found his info-wrangling helpful!

What do you guys think of the findings? Among these apps, is Premiere, along with its cousins, the best multi-purpose value? If you disagree, what are your points of contention?

Link: A Comparison of 15 On-set Ingest, Logging, Dailies, Grading and Backup Software — Wolfcrow


We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 61 COMMENTS

  • This is simply a “features-first” comparison. It is almost as meaningless as comparing camera specs. As any creative will tell you, it’s the artist, not the tools. The Adobe CC may have the most features, but does that mean it’s actually the best tool?

    FYI, I use Adobe products every single day and think they are fantastic. Does that mean that CC is the best tool out there? In my personal opinion, I would never use CC as a one-stop shop for my work.

    I edit faster in FCPX (been an editor for over 10 years now, and I’ve used them all with the exception of Sony Vegas). Premiere is a fine tool and works for a lot of people, but for me, there is simply nothing faster than FCPX.

    Though I have used After Effects for grading before, it doesn’t hold a candle to Resolve for me. Not interested in Speed Grade.

    The list goes on.

    I think articles like these are more harmful than helpful when taken out of context and presented from a “features-first” mentality. It can really mislead new filmmakers from the start.

    • Well… it’s a features list comparison, but the features listed are the sort one would want for a specific situation: on set. With that in mind, it’s a little more specific and appropriate than you’re making it out to be. Even if you prefer to edit in FCPX, you can still do that with files that were ingested/organized/roughed upstream with CC, but it would be harder to do that if it were done with FCPX (or vegas). That’s their point, and I think it’s valid, assuming the downstream workflow isn’t already organized for whatever output one might generate on set.

      • For the crowd nofilmschool typically attracts, providing features and specs only without context isn’t very helpful. I can understand this list a little better when you are a seasoned veteran, but not if you’re a beginner or novice.

    • I’ve also used them all- including Sony Vegas, I liked Premier when I had to use it on a job, but I prefer Vegas Pro for my personal projects since I find that *I’m* much faster using it. [horse before cart]

      Just wanted to add that the price points on this chart are all screwy too, with an obvious slant favoring Adobe CC: it does not cost $49. It costs $49 PER MONTH… FOREVER.

      Considering a 12 month upgrade cycle, both FCP and Vegas Pro [which were the only NLE solutions present, and the likely target of the OP's Adobe-favoring straw man chart] represent a 2X value, or a 4X value when upgrading every 2 years, when just looking at dollars and cents- also a slippery slope, but one that was misrepresented by this chart.

      I’m with you: edit with what works for you, and if you need plugins for checksum verification, then get them, but don’t buy an NLE package based solely on a single, often under-utilized tech spec, or just because you’ll save $200: buy what works to earn you money or realize your client’s vision.

      • I agree with you about Vegas. I found it incredibly easy to learn and efficient to use, since it’s first video editor came out. It reminded me of a digital flatbed. I gained the confidence to move away from linear editing and go completely digital. I disliked the early interface of Premiere, and the Avid options at the time were very expensive. Now I do most of my work in PPro, but Vegas was a godsend to me when I was just starting out.

    • Is it “the artist” that provides the checksum verification, metadata editing and codec support?

  • It’s my understanding that you can only do CC with a year-long commitment, like a cell phone contract. I don’t think you can just use it for a few months, then turn it off, then come back in a few months later and “switch” it back on. you have to agree to pay $600 billed in monthly installments.

    • Robert Hardy on 07.2.13 @ 3:09PM

      Actually you can do a month-to-month version of the Creative Cloud. It just costs $75/month instead of $50.

  • These Adobe article are getting silly.

    How on earth are you even relating the issue of CC with a feature set? The issue is not the “price” of the service and its features – it’s the “Cost” of the service and the software’s future.

    Price and Cost are very different and some of you folks are missing how “cost” of cc passes on not just the monthly fee – but your time to deal with how the upgrade process works and the additional features which may cost you more in your workflow down the road.

    Also I put my money where my mouth is and signed up for CC – The only thing that kept popping in my head is I’m using (3) programs – I get to pay 19 bucks monthly for a year. They get to play jack up the price at the end of the year and when I thinking oh crap that’s too expensive – my software will stop working and I can’t open the files in CS6.

    So I gave it a shot and it’s not worth the “cost” even if the “price” is currently not too bad.

    AKA sticking to CS6 til they figure out how to cut me off at a “release” rather just outright cut me off.

  • john jeffries on 07.2.13 @ 3:43PM

    You forgot UI design and usability. Of which, FCP X destroys all.

    • Speaking from someone who is a UX Designer, I completely agree. I just didn’t want to start an Apple vs Adobe fight. Features listed without context isn’t very helpful.

      • That’s not factual to put on a fact sheet. It’s personal preference; I think MAC UI sucks.

    • Oh yeah, here we go with pretty vs. function, because a pretty Mac design saves the world! FCPX is not being used by professionals for reason.

      • Hey look – it’s another random guy on a message board who can apparently speak on behalf of all professionals!

      • I know a ton of people using FCPX professionally, myself included. You’re simply spouting the same tired and false lines as all the others that have never used it / aren’t actually working professionals.

        • @Nicholas Zimmerman, I agree. One of the ‘nets biggest problems is that there are a lot of people who have never used a product, who quote other people who have never used the product, to back-up their argument 8-D

          I’m about to take a three month vacation from the internet. I’m sure that when (if) I comeback it will a case of SSDD!! 8-D

  • I’d take anything from Wolfcrow with a fist of salt. He tends to write articles that support a pre-concieved opinion. Even admitted as much on twitter.

    That he has an opinion is fine of course, but I have a problem when the writing style suggests that he is “investigating” an open scenario, when he knows what the conclusion will be all along. In that case it’s better to just come out and say: these are the reasons I like/favor product “X”.

    This comparison becomes a joke no later than when you reach ‘price’. If you compare FCPX and PPro you can state the price as either $299 for FPCX vs $1800 for PPro (based on three years use), or $7 vs $49 (based on monthly charge for that duration).

    You can’t compare a license you own forever to a product you rent in the way he does above. At least not without making a fool of yourself.

    There is no such thing as a one month editor. You will never stop paying for CC. I’m sure it’s a fine service, but when you look back on your software costs in 5-10 years time from now, you’ll know why Adobe made the move.

    • “You can’t compare a license you own forever to a product you rent in the way he does above. At least not without making a fool of yourself.”
      Beg to differ- You just have to weigh how important each respective benefit and liability is to you personally. The way you phrase the above statement is that you would be foolish to ever try to justify renting above out right ownership. For me personally, I lease one car and own another. The repair bills drive me nuts and I love my leased cars newer features. I also cringe at the mileage I am racking up on the lease car. With the Adobe CC suite- the idea of getting constant feature upgrades and new products to try at no additional cost is worth the long term high cost. For me its just a business tool expense. The real rub is that a number of Adobe users now have no choice but to rent. I understand there frustrations, for until a year ago me and thousands of others only had one choice and that was to put out a few thousand dollars.

      • Hi there!

        That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying if you want to compare prices between a premium car and a cheaper one, you can’t take one of you leasing rates for the premium car at $500 and say that car is waaaay cheeper than the cheaper one since that one costs $30k.

        The comparison above lists one month of CC against full price of FCPX. See my point?

        And my reasoning builds on the assumption that here is no such thing as a “one month creative”. While you get the full CC product even for that “low” monthly rate, it takes some seriously twisted logic and a pre-concieved agenda to say its a serious comparison.

  • Title should include ‘On Set’, then it at least would makea little sense…

  • In re to Adobe CC, there is an annual commitment. $600/yr is the min.

  • Hehe got it for 19.99 a month on June 25, perks of being a business student (or a student in general). Switched to Windows cause basically got tired of Mac soldering all computer components together for a hefty price. If you plan on using Premiere just build a computer. SO MUCH BETTER. I still love the Mac OS more than windows. But oh my God is adobe faster with Windows cause of the range of components you can buy. Just don’t watch porn and illegally download on Windows

    • “Just don’t watch porn and illegally download on Windows”
      :D :D make a dual boot machine and use ubuntu linux for illegally download, or even for a safer web surfing, e-commerce life too. Don´t watch porn, remember, Jesus died to pay for the sins you didn´t make yet! :P Or as the enlightened hindu master Ramana Maharshi used to say, don´t masturbate, go for the real stuff or clean the mind! :D Or as Robert Saporski demonstrate with his research with chimps, vain ejaculation produces dopamine and cortizol addiction: long term STRESS. Or as Fappy, the christian dolphin says: it´s a SIN! :D

  • I noticed a great missing in the list: lightworks.

    I’m using it when I work at home instead of PrPro or FCP7 (which I use at work) and I’m feel very comfortable with it. Now he can import quite every codecs and export in the main codecs. And it’s only 60$!!

    • Lightworks is a dogs breakfast IMO – its buggy, crashes often and is overall infuriating to use. Forcing you to select one frame rate for an entire project and not being able to edit anything different??? Really? Sorry but its 2013 and practically every other NLE is ‘light-years’ ahead of lighworks.

  • I know you guys think Adobe new business model is swell, but the onslaught of these types of articles is starting to feel like promotion.

    I’m an Adobe Suite CS6 user, but one should really look at the kind of work they do, and do the proper research to find out what application, workflow, interface, etcetra is best for them. A lot more goes into it than a chart can show.

    • john jeffries on 07.2.13 @ 10:12PM

      You are forgetting the fact that videographers love to argue over specs and stuff on website like these. Logic has no place in this.

    • Actually I’m feeling like the articles that trickle on to the site are starting to become more monetary driven – Or Fluff on slow days.

      Might be just me though… I’m old and grouchy…

      I just remember I used to enjoy the articles and links posted on this site more in the past…

  • trackofalljades on 07.2.13 @ 9:15PM

    Adobe Premiere and the Creative Suite in general used to be, arguably, an amazing deal…especially the “Production Premium” package. However now that Adobe REQUIRES you to pay every month for the rest of your life with no other option, not so much.

  • Where is Avid, Smoke and lightworks?

  • anonymus filmer in NL on 07.3.13 @ 4:11AM

    90% of the broadcasting and film industry works with Avid products. This makes it hard to take this article serious which excludes Avid.

    • Incorrect statistic. A majority of large workgroup-sharing post houses use Avid, not 90% of the industry. There are thousands of small shops and freelancers in the industry that use FCPX, Premiere, Vegas, etc.

    • This is for on-set, which Avid does not have any good solutions. OSD or Resolve would be the tools to go with AVID most likely.

  • Sony Vegas for ∞ years ~~ $299
    Premiere Pro for ∞ years ~~ $∞

    Sony Vegas 60 shooting days ~~ $299
    Premiere Pro 60 shooting days ~~ $250

    Sony Vegas next project ~~ $0
    Premiere Pro next project ~~$250

    Don’t start to give me shit justifying CC.

  • Sean Connolly on 07.3.13 @ 10:35AM

    What about Assimilate Scratch. This is not featured in the list?

    • As a DIT, the Adobe workflow is still kludgy. The chart is incorrect as Prelude does not support second system audio – you can’t even ingest audio WAV files. Speedgrade comes close if you have a comtek feeding your camera mixed audio, but has buggy export if you allow audio (when slicing a timeline by clip as described in their support documentation for dailies, if you allow audio you’ll create files with huge portions of blank video and audio if exporting any kind of MOV file). It’s obvious this is a feature comparison with no real world experience or insight.

      Cortex Control is also more affordable than it seems with tiered pricing based on output needs. I’m also amazed Assimilate Scratch Lab also wasn’t on the list as it’s pretty affordable for what it offers as well.

  • 35,000 folks have signed.They don’t like Adobe CC licensing.Show @Adobe how you feel.

    Another more fiscal way to show @Adobe you dont like the CC licensing scheme. #adobe2014

  • SkippyTheMarine on 07.3.13 @ 2:54PM

    The lack of Avid, and to a lesser extent Smoke, is quite odd. Avid is the primary platform for Television editing, and most shops that are still FCP have stayed with the 7 platform and have ignored the release of X. This is a pretty glaring omission.

  • I hate the CC way. I rather go with Sony Vegas which is the most easiest software to learn and once you mastered it all, you can do advance ways of editing and there are many plug-ins for Sony Vegas.

  • It’s amazing how forgiving you guys have become when it comes to leasing software. No one wants to own software anymore, you geniuses would rather pay every month for the rest of your professional lives. Yet, this site keeps trying to push Adobe CC on us without even charging Adobe for advertising (or not disclosing it), either way it stinks.

  • And Canopus Edius…..?

  • Thank you, Dave and nofilmschool, for publishing my work. I have been a loyal reader since the beginning.

    To be really honest, I wasn’t even aware there were so many tools for on set data wrangling! Apologies for any mistakes or omissions in the chart. What began as a five app comparison turned into a 15-app investigation, after which point I had a brain freeze and decided to stop – which is why worthy applications like Avid and Smoke were left out.

    Here’s why I wrote this particular post:

    “This article compares 15 on-set tools in one big chart, so you can start your investigations (that’s what it is) without pouring over hundreds of pages of features that hide weaknesses. Hopefully, the chart will reduce your workload to only about 50 pages of features and a couple of manuals. No big deal.”

    Finally, I’ve been using Premiere Pro since 2002, long before professionals or post houses took it seriously. My decision has nothing to do with the Creative Cloud. I chose Premiere Pro CC as my on-set wrangling tool of choice, based on my needs.

    Here are the takeaways as written in the article:

    I know the chart is overwhelming. The task of selecting the right tool is overwhelming. All I can offer are words of consolation:

    If you’re using Red cameras, I guess it’s hard to beat the free Redcine-X Pro.
    Most of us can’t afford On-set Dailies.
    The Sony SRPC4 is hardware, and is a special case.
    Monkey Extract has ceased all support and have slashed prices considerably.
    The chart lists which features are supported and which aren’t, but might not be completely accurate. At least, it’s a starting point.
    List which features are important, mark them on the chart, and your choices will boil down to a manageable number.
    Sometimes, the word ‘limited’ or ‘seriously limited’ might not bother you, because that’s exactly (and only) what you need. Don’t let those words get in the way.

    Hope this helps.

    • Welcome! It’s good to have the original author at nofilmschool.

      In my personal opinion, I think you can make your article stronger by providing more context than just a feature list. There is a lot more that needs to go into some of these purchases than just going down a spec sheet.

      The chart is a good start though!

      • I agree.

        I did publish a Prelude guide and a Bulletproof beta guide, which formed the basis for this article. But as you said, it is unfair to compare software based on a chart.

  • Great comparison and writeup! We were looking into transitioning more into Adobe and this certainly helped make our decision a little easier. We are just getting into video and editing so no fancy red cameras or anything. Just some youtube editing and FCP X has been working great for us. But not all own a Mac on our team so…ya. Thanks for sharing guys!

  • A couple of years back I started working for myself and decided to go legit with all my software (not that I did otherwise previously – big brother might be reading this). At the time there is no way I could afford the Adobe Production Premium which is what I needed so the creative cloud was a godsend for. At the time I had decided to move away from FCP which I had used for over 2 years and never really liked (always preferred Adobe Products as they are more intuitive to me -come from a graphic design background). My point is ultimately your circumstances will determine what works for you. Yes the stats and price are important however the CC met my need 2 years ago and still does today. The moment I decide otherwise I will look for an alternative. In the end it is just a tool I use and not the sole determinant of what I produce.

  • I honestly don’t know what everyone is complaining about. If you cannot afford a measly $50 a month to keep your business running you should use something cheaper. For me personally, I cannot afford to buy the programs outright but I do work (editor/videographer) consistently enough to afford the subscription. I consider it a necessary investment. Otherwise it would take 3+ years to afford all of the programs I normally use.

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