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Video Editing Apps: Premiere Pro vs Final Cut Pro X vs Media Composer

Video Editing Apps: Premiere Pro vs Final Cut Pro X vs Media Composer

Deciding between Adobe Creative Cloud, Final Cut Pro X & Avid for pro video editing? Here are a few thoughts and opinions to help you make that call.

As a decade long loyal and faithful FCP editor the time seems to be coming (maybe I’m the last to realize!?) of the true death of FCP7. When you start to encounter workflow slow downs and workarounds that would not otherwise be needed when working in up to date applications, it feels like its time to start looking around at other options.

which editing software should I learn

The options are still basically what they were 5 years ago (the big three A’s – Apple, Avid, Adobe) so that hasn’t changed, but at the same time a lot has changed.

Apple dropped the FCPX launch so spectacularly it is still embedded in the popular consciousness (even though FCPX has come a long way since then). Adobe are freaking people out with their Cloud move.  And Media Composer is chugging along, possibly with company wide financial difficulties, but is seemingly still seen by many as the only choice for large ‘institution’ sized outfits.

There have been many discussions online and off in the last two years about the merits of Final Cut Pro X vs other video editing applications.  This post is not intended to prove which video editing system is the best, but rather look at a considerations of each and how it may effect your ultimately choosing a primary application.

So what is an editor to do?

Well my first thought would be to download the free trial of each app, cut something on it and see how you go. Googling articles like this one probably won’t supply you with the information you’re really after, which is – what’s it like to actually use the video editing program! However articles like this one can supply you with other useful information and resources – so do keep reading!

Adobe Creative Cloud:


If you’re a cost conscious creative then what does the scenario look like?

Avid Media Composer is now available for a steady $999 and comes with Sorenson Squeeze thrown in. You pay once and you can keep it forever. Avid are still releasing point patches for old versions for free and upgrading between versions will cost you a small fee (the upgrade from Media Composer version 6.5 to 7 is $299).

The cost of Final Cut Pro X, purchased via the Mac App Store, is only $299.99. Motion 5 and Compressor 4 are both $49.99. Again you get to keep the software for as long as you like and so far all of the updates to FCPX have been free.

Adobe currently have two options available. Buy a suite of software like Production Premium CS6 for $1899 or move to the Creative Cloud versions for $49.99 a month. With Adobe CC you’ve got access to every single Adobe application plus 2GB of online storage. So, how does that shake out in the long run?

If you bought Production Premium CS 6 and kept it for 3 years it would cost you $1899. $49.99 a month for three years is $1,799.64.

If you only want one application like After Effects CS6 ($999), Photoshop CS6 ($699) or Premiere Pro CS6 ($799) as a single app CC rental ($19.99/month) after three years that would be $719.64.

What you get in the cloud

In product development terms even three years is a long time. So if Adobe does not increase their monthly prices, and this quote from VP of Professional Business in Adobe’s Digital Media Business Unit Mala Sharmaseems to try to allay those fears, then moving to the Cloud could save you a few bucks and keep you up to date. But Adobe’s Creative Clous is still more expensive than either of the other two competing video editing options (though not a fair direct comparison when you consider the number of applications involved).

“My only rational response to that is that we can’t [push up prices]… It’s in our best interests to win our customers’ trust – as every month they’re going to be choosing whether they want to stay engaged with us or not. We have never been more vulnerable, in my opinion, than in [moving to a subscription model]. It’s a really big bet.” 


The Internet is awash with opinions on whether or not to move to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, just check out the number of comments each of these articles has generated. Oliver Peters, who’s usually right on the money, offer this cautious recommendation:

My suggestion for most users in similar shoes would be to buy one of the CS6 bundles now as a perpetual license.  This gives you a fallback position. Then if you want to move forward with the Cloud, run the numbers. If you are a power user of Photoshop, Premiere Pro or After Effects and want to have the latest version of that one application, simply buy a single-application subscription. If you use three or more applications on a regular basis and want those all to be current, then the full Creative Cloud subscription makes sense. You still have the CS6 versions if needed, as long as you’ve maintain backwards project compatibility. – Oliver Peters

Aharon Rabinowitz has written a couple of excellent blog posts that cover his opinions, interactions with Adobe and his readers thoughts in quite some detail. It’s worth reading through the blog posts (if not all the comments) as Aharon covers quite a few of the common concerns creatives are raising. Aharon on Creative Cloud Part 1 and Part 2Jahron Schneider from Fstoppers also walks through the Adobe Creative Cloud maze and comes out in favor of it:

 If the software and delivery of that software makes your life easier, it’s a good thing right? That’s what you should focus on when contemplating the Creative Cloud, because it does make your life easier. I’m comfortable saying that the Creative Cloud is better for Adobe and better for the consumers. It’s a great service, and one I’ll continue to use.

For a short video tutorial of the major new features in Adobe CC and a few extra thoughts on the future of FCPX, check out this post NAB 2013 comparison between FCPX and Adobe CC. Also take a look at Strypes in Post’s great article explaining some of the similarities and differences between the three big NLE’s.

choosing your next NLE


A lot of pros still claim FCPX is unusable, and although the Coen Brothers might be moving to Premiere for their next feature, plenty of other folks are cutting 4K feature films in FCPX. Apple are working hard to frequently update FCPX, and with the growth of third party apps more and more ‘one man band’ operations are embracing the affordable app. One of the people who has shared their FCPX workflow in detail is Sam Mestman. If you want to see FCPX with fresh eyes, check out Sam’s presentation below.

Again, Oliver Peter’s has offers good considerations when choosing your next NLE, like what kind of hardware and OS would you be best advised to run it on, workflow considerations and how each app feels under your fingers.

As a quick nod to Avid Media Composer 7 you can check out the official MC7 site listing all the new features from Avid here and also this quick round up from NAB 2013.

new features in avid media composer 7

As the FCPX launch proved, things in this industry can change quickly and dramatically. So, as a freelance film editor like myself, knowing every system well has distinct advantages. If you’re a one man band, or small post house you’ll want to choose a video editing application and stick with it for a few years.


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How To Make Time-Lapse Video – Ultimate Guide

How To Make Time-Lapse Video – Ultimate Guide

Time-lapse photography is an interesting technique that records a scene or objects that has a slow state-of-change and turns it into a video that plays back in high speed. The easiest way to do it is to have your camera stationary on something that changes slowly (e.g. clouds, plants growing, etc) and start taking series of photo for hours or even days. Hours and hour’s worth of photos are compressed into a video with merely few minutes playtime, thus creating a time lapsing effect.

dslr camer

In another word, it allows us to see the progress faster without having to wait along the actual time. Spotting sun’s movement from sunrise to sunset takes about 12 hours; it’s boring and you probably won’t notice the changes. But seeing it rise and set in 10 seconds, that’s pretty interesting!

In this article, we’ll show you how to create your own Time-lapse video. To make things easier to digest, we’ve split the content up to several sections:

  1. Understanding Time-lapse fundamentals
  2. Choosing your camera for Time-lapse project
  3. Post-editing your Time-lapse photos
  4. Combining photos into Time-lapse video

Ready? Let’s do it!


1. Understanding The Fundamentals

We’ll start by understanding some fundamental rules. Under normal circumstances, every one second in a video comprise of 24-30 frames of photos, calculated with the unit fps (frame per second). If you watch a 2 minutes video at 24 fps, that means it’s made up of 2880 photos (frames) animating at high speed.

To create Time-lapse effect, you basically reduce the interval for each shot and merge them into a 24-30 fps video. E.g., if the sun takes 12 hours to set and you take a photo every 1 minute, you will have 720 photos. With a 24 fps compression, you’ll have a video of sun rise to sun set in 30 seconds. Isn’t it amazing!

Your Subject

You probably already have some ideas in mind, but here’s what we can think of just in case you left your creative cap at home.

  • Sunrise, sunset, or from sunrise to sunset
  • Fruit rotting
  • Flower blossoming
  • Growth of plant
  • Ice melting
  • Clouds movement
  • Stars movement (clear sky required)
  • Movements of a busy city street

Smooth Or Blocky?

Before you get all excited and try out your first Time-lapse photography project, we’d recommend that you start by thinking ahead the interval of each photo, i.e., the pause time between each photo; is it going to be 1 second? 10 second? 1 minute? 1 hour? Etc.
Let’s get into more details.

Smooth (Shorter interval)
A shorter interval between each photo gives you a smoother video output. It is usually use to shoot something with a slightly faster state of change, e.g., ice melting, clouds movement or busy city street. Shorter interval is usually around the range of 1-1hour per image.  (See an example)

Blocky (Longer interval)
Longer interval between each photo tends to give you a more blocky video output. It is usually use to shoot something with a slower state of change, e.g., progress of a building rotting of an apple that could take days or construction take could take years. The pause time between each photo can be quite subjective, it can be 1 hour per photo, 6 hours per photo or even 1 or few days per photo depending on the subject. (See an example)

Now that you’ve choose a subject for your Time-lapse, and have a rough idea on the intervals, let’s take a look at how it can be done with various types of cameras, be it dSLR, point-and-shoot camera or webcam.

2. Choose Your Camera

I – DSLR Camera:

dSLR (Digital Single-lens Reflex) camera is a better choice for Time-lapse photography compared to point-and-shoot camera or others. It has higher output quality and better control. If you are a dSLR user, you probably know better. Let’s take a look at some of the equipments needed.

dslr camera Image credit

Essential Equipments:

It is important to make sure your camera is stationary and consistency taking photos of the exact same location without moving here and there. Of course, you have do it without a tripod, but the choices of subject will be limited and challenging to have your camera maintain stability.

Intervalometers (some call it remote control) is a device, an add-on that usually doesn’t come with your dslr. what it does is it allows you to set your dslr to hit the shutter button at the interval your prefer, e,g., every 1 second, every 10 second or every 1 minute.


Intervalometers is almost essential because you don’t want to manually click on the shutter yourself, not with Time-lapse photography.

Intervalometers varies from brands and it is priced around $40 – $60. And if you are unsure where to get one for your camera, we’ve got you it covered.

Software (alternatives to Intervalometers)
If don’t have an Intervalometers, here’s an alternative solution. There are softwares out there that allows your laptop to take control of your dSLR’s shutter interval. They work like Intervalometers, allowing you to set the interval between each frame. But that means, your laptop will have to be connected to your dSLR via USB cable the entire time during the Time-lapse project.

Here are some recommended softwares capable of doing Time-lapse photography for various camera.

Nikon users:

Sofortbildapp (Mac)
Sofortbild currently supports all newer Nikon digital single-lens reflex cameras including the high models D3s, D3x, D3, D700 and the consumer D300s, D300, D90 and D5000.


D-Software Cam Control (Win)
Allows the user to remote control a Nikon DSLR digital camera from a personal computer.


Nikon Capture 4.0 (Win & Mac)
Powerful and intuitive image-editing software that optimizes workflow and maximizes potential.

Nikon Capture 4.0

Canon users:

DSLR Remote Pro (Win & Mac).
Check out Mac’s version here.

dslr remote pro

inPhoto Capture (Win).
Works for Olympus camera too.

inPhoto Capture


II – Point-And-Shoot Camera.

Point-and-shoot camera, also known as compact camera usually comes in pocket size, with lesser functions compared to SLR but that doesn’t means they can’t do Time-lapse photography. If you’d like to try doing a Time-lapse experiment and does not own a dSLR, this is probably your best bet. Let’s take a look at some essential equipment you’ll need for Time-lapse photography:

Essential Equipments:

Tripod / Gorillapod
Point-and-shoot cameras are smaller in size, however that’s also one of its disadvantage to maintain stability while shooting. Small tripod is recommended, or a Gorillapod would be good to counter obstacles and uneven surface.


Time controller device / software
Pclix is a portable that is capable of triggering your camera’s shutter every second or every hundred hours plus anywhere in between all in one second increments. It does not work with all point-and-shoot cameras, but covered pretty a lot of models. Here’s a compatibility list of Pclix supported cameras.


Note: Some point-and-shoot cameras do come with Time-lapse function. Always check with your camera’s instruction manuals first.

III – IPhone

You can even do it with an iPhone. Here are two iPhone applications that allows you to do Time-lapse photography.

  • iTimeLapse.
    This is a all-in-one application that allows you take Time-lapse photo, and choose the background music, edit individual frames and renders the final video. It even allows you to upload to youtube on the fly. You can purchase iTimeLapse for $2.99 in the App Store.
  • Gorillacam.
    This app is free, and it allows you to do Time-lapse photography as wel. However, it does not do the video rendering part. Gorillacam

On A Side Note…

Like everyone else, we tend to fail on the first attempt. Even when we are well prepared, some things somewho tends to fail or dissapoints. Here are some tips, drawn from our experience so you be aware of and reduce the chances of failing in a Time-lapse photography project.

  • Do test shots.
    Don’t start shooting right away. Always do some test shots to ensure you are getting the right angle and composition you want.
  • Take photo in basic JPG.
    Set your camera to take photos in the most optimum JPG quality else you’ll be running out of disk space very fast.
  • Manual mode for all.
    It is recommended that you shoot in manual mode with manual shutter speed, aperture, exposure and white balance to avoid camera trying to adjust itself when the environment of the subject gets unexpectedly darker or brighter.
  • Extra batteries. If you are time-lapsing outdoors then good batteries are essential. It’s good if your camera battery can be changed without removing the camera off the tripod. If the Time-lapse is taken indoors it is better if you use the camera’s main charger to avoid draining the battery. That includes taking care of your laptop’s battery too if you are depending on your software to control the Time-lapse interval.
  • Extra Memory cards. You need to make sure you have enough memory space for the Time-lapse. You can make your own calculations to get free memory amount you need for your desired Time-lapse. Just find out what’s the file size of one picture and then calculate how much pictures approximately will be taken, and you can do the math to get a result of memory space you need for your Time-lapse.
  • Choose a strategic spot.
    Set the tripod up securely and in a place where it will not be moved or knocked over easily, especially if you are shooting in a busy street.
  • Keep an eye on your camera. Always keep your camera and the equipments at sight during the shooting or at least make sure they are safe from filching.

3. Post Editing Time-Lapse Photos

After you are done shooting, you’ll be left with hundreds (if not thousands) of photos, depending on the length of your project. Sometimes there can be some small little things that you want to tweak before merging them into video, e.g., brightness, cropping, white balance, etc.

Editing a photo at a time can be really tedious. Here are two ways how you can tweak them at a way quicker rate.

1. Photoshop “Action” And “Automate” Function

Drag one of the photo into Photoshop and practice the tweaks you want on it. Once you are comfortable with the outcome, create a Photoshop “Action” (Windows -> Actions) and redo the entire process again so the action is recorded.

timelapse photoshop action

Next, batch automate all files (File -> Automate -> Batch) and telling Photoshop:

  • Which action to use
  • Source of your images (folder)
  • Source of your output (folder)

Hit the OK button and Photoshop will start editing all photos according to the pre-set action. You can now sit back and wait until the entire process is over.

photoshop batch processing

2. Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom is another good alternative to batch post-edit your photos. If you swear by Lightroom to manage your photos, you should already be familiar with this function. But if you are not, no worries – it’s easy.

After importing your photo into Lightroom, you can start by editing of of the photo in the Develop Mode. Once it’s done, select the photos (most probably all of them) you want to have the same effect and hit the Sync button. This will take all the effects you applied on the first photo and apply them on all the photos you’ve selected.

Hold the Control (Win) / Command (Mac) key with Sync button will turn it into Auto Sync.

For more details, check out this video tutorial – How To Sync Changes in Adobe Lighroom.

4. Combining Photos Into Movie

This is the last step, also the most exciting step as you’ll be merging all your photos into a beautiful Time-lapse video. There are few applications that will assist you to do that. We’ll talk about few of the common ones.

Apple Quicktime Pro 7 (Win / Mac)
Go to File -> Open Image Sequence, locate the folder of your Time-lapse photos, select the first photo and hit open button. You can then sit back and let Quicktime do the rest of the job.

quicktime 7 pro

Time-lapse Assembler (Mac)
This is a simple freeware that allows you to merge your Time-lapse photo into video as well.

time lapse assembler

These two are probably the simplest and easiest software we’ve tried. Assembling Time-lapse photos is also possible with Mac’s iMovie. If you have other software that will do the job, please leave your suggestion in the comment box below.


Beautiful Time-Lapse Videos

Last but not least, we’ll leave you with some beautiful and nicely done Time-lapse videos. Hope these will inspire you to create some, and if you do, please do share with us.

Small Worlds. Preview for the Small Worlds Exhibition at Customs house.

small worlds

Flowers. Beautiful video of flowers’ opening animation.


Fruit and Vegetable Decomposition. This video shows the process how fruits and vegetables are decomposing.

Fruit and Vegetable Decomposition

Tokyo Time-lapse. Stunning Time-lapse of Tokyo city.

tokyo time lapse

Uniqlo Calendar.

uniqlo calendar