Video Editing Software for a Newb / Documentary Film Creator

Pocatello

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Apple or Microsoft? I'm not a "fan boy" ... I want the best.

Background: I am retiring in 2 years. I plan to create documentary films involving interviews with people and great location shots. I have never done this before.

I have never used any video editing software. I am quite familiar with MS Windows and Apple having used Windows for ever, and Apple / MacOS, iPhone, iPad for the past 3+ years daily at work.

I have heard great things about Final Cut Pro and I know it is only available for the MacOS.

I know how to build my own computer, and I could build a kick-ass box with tons of cores, memory, and SSDs. Money is not a big concern for me. But the MacBook is supposed to be able to edit video quite proficiently.

Unless you all feel otherwise, I plan to purchase a Canon Mk IV to film in 4K and I want to edit in 4K.

Please... I don't want to start a war between the Apple and Microsoft worlds. I like them both. But I could build something quite spectacular. But that would prohibit me from using Final Cut Pro.

Your thoughts?
 

IdiotInCharge

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Might check out some tutorials for using Adobe's Premiere Pro and Apple's Final Cut Pro (I don't know myself). I know both can be used for exceedingly professional results, but only Adobe's suite can be used on Windows. That sounds like your first decision point.

Hardware at the high end is roughly the same for mobile, though Apple has been a bit slower with updates across the board lately and has had the 'courage' to remove ports on their mobile products that people actually need, so I'd take that into consideration; further, price not being an object, I'd go straight for a Dell Latitude on the top end (skip the gaming DTRs). I mention mobile only because you mentioned 'MacBook' explicitly.

On the desktop there's no contest: you'll pay more for Apple and get less than you can build for yourself, especially with AMD shipping higher core counts at lower prices, for which video editing is one of the areas that they're superior for the money. You'll also need RAM, and Apple will probably gouge the hell out of you for it, on top of it already being expensive.

Beyond that- if you don't need autofocus during video, and I understand that may be a requirement and that Canon has the only production-ready video autofocus on the market, there are better 4k cameras within the 5D IV's price bracket and below. If you're willing to drop sensor size, which you're already doing on the 5D IV due to the 4k crop, you can also substantially drop size/weight of the whole system.

But if you need video AF and 4k, the 5D IV is as cheap as you're going to get.
 

UnknownSouljer

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There are many NLE's. There is no "best" NLE. It comes down to usage case, much like everything else.
For most people working on smaller productions, your two options are probably best. Just know there are others like Sony Vegas, Avid, and DaVinci Resolve.

I personally use FCP. I would say that it's the easiest, most streamlined to use. It's deceptively simple however as FCP actually has a lot of very deep editing options that it keeps out of the way to make the 'basics' of cutting simple. Adobe has the opposite approach of making everything seem and feel disproportionately difficult by jamming all the tools into the frame at once. Both can do the same jobs. Premiere will have a more difficult starting learning curve. I would say FCP will probably have a more difficult later learning curve (mostly due to having to learn where some things are). Both have hotkeys galore.

It's also worth considering what this stuff costs and also what the companion software for it all is. But suffice it all to say, Apple all in for the software alone is much less expensive than "buying" Adobe, basically forever through their subscription model. FCPX is 'only' $300.

===

I disagree with IdiotInCharge in regards to Apple pricing, but only up to a point of course. I personally think the iMac is the best editing machine in existence right now, in terms of something off the shelf. You'd be hard pressed to buy better. It only "deceptively" costs more.
Why? The iMac has one of the best displays on the market. At 5K, it wins the resolution war against most displays. It covers 100% of the Adobe RGB Gamut. Covers 100% of the DCI-P3 Gamut. And is 10-bit with a 100% 10-bit workflow (if you don't know what this is, just know it takes a lot to get full 10-bit on the PC side). Just the display on the iMac alone is worth the cost of admission. To get close to matching it, you'd need to buy something from NEC or Eizo that would be far more than $4000. And none of them will be 5k (although they will be DCI 4k and 32"). Considering that the whole purpose of this machine is video editing, the display CANNOT be minimized or ignored. Just buying a quality display alone, will exceed the cost of an entire iMac.

If you buy an iMac, max out ONLY the processor and just 'upgrade' the RAM yourself (which now can be upgraded to a handy 64GB), you would be extremely hard pressed to find any machine with matching specs for anywhere near the price. If you have some more money of course move up to the large capacity SSD only option, but if your goal is to have a quick machine and balance that with saving some money, then it isn't 100% necessary. Obviously for video, it will be more than brisk, provided you have the HD's to feed it.

For that I'd recommend getting a Thunderbolt DAS of some sort. If you have tons of money to throw at the problem, Promise's Pegasus is well known as is the G-Technology Studio and Lacie Big series.

===

As for cameras, I do agree mostly with IdiotInCharge on that. If you want to shoot with a much lighter rig, I'd probably go to Sony for the full frame. And shoot on an A7R II. I know the A7R is "supposed to be for stills" but in usage it has significantly better autofocus than the A7S II (due to it coming out later). The difference between both cameras at high ISO is negligible. You get the benefit of being able to get double stabilization through in body and also lens stabilization. Paired with a gimbal, you'll be able to do a lot of light weight running and gunning.
Sony cameras in general have a lot of cinema features that non-cinema Canon cameras don't have. One of the big ones being focus peaking. Canon's don't have zebras. Or scopes. Or anything. Sony's don't necessarily have all of the cinema features either, but they have some, and that's better than Canon's zero.

The other major mirrorless option is definitely the Panasonic GH5. This won't have the benefit of sensor size, but it has the most record options (like purportedly, future 6k), decent AF, wide lens selection, small size, and many bit rates. And once again things like focus peaking that the Canon doesn't have.

If you want to get serious about cinema, and want an actual cinema camera, I would highly recommend waiting and getting a Canon C200. I think the C200 will be the defacto camera for basically any budget production. And it WILL be a favorite amongst those doing documentary, music video, and anyone that can't afford an Arri or Red, while still being able to be, shall we say, more than competitive with image quality.

It is Super 35. DCI 4k. Canon Raw. Canon Dual Pixel AF. 10 and 12bit. 13 stops of dynamic range. EF mount. Going to retail for around $6k. That is basically unbeatable for the quality and the price by any camera system probably under $15k. Canon's cinema team has finally made a system that makes cost and quality sense and I expect it to sell like gang busters. Basically it has all of their proven tech at a very competitive price point. Even if it has no other features other than the ones I listed (which it does of course), it would be worth the money. I can't think of ANY other camera system that allows for the native shooting of RAW at 4K at anywhere near this price. It's going to pump out incredibly good footage, for 'cheap'. (and of course this camera being a part of Canon's cinema line, will have all the scopes you'll want and need on a production).

===

Finally, I'd only recommend the 5D IV for video only if you're invested in Canons ecosystem (like you have a bunch of EF lenses) OR you want a single camera for both video and stills. Otherwise, I think there are other, better, cinema cams for the money. Namely the Sony's listed above or the Panasonic if you prefer that.
 
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IdiotInCharge

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Seeing as you cannot get the Dell monitor with the same panel as the 5k iMac new, I'd have to agree so long as it can meet performance requirements, regardless of the software suite you use- and if FCP is easy for good results, I wouldn't turn up my nose to that either. I've used Premiere briefly but not Apple's solution, so a side-by-side for the same typical project might be on order.

For cameras, do note that there's only one real reason to go Canon, and that's for video focus, be it on a 5D IV or a Cinema EOS like the C200 that combines 4k, "RAW", and Canon's industry-leading Dual-Pixel Autofocus for production-ready video focus.
 

Khahhblaab

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There are many NLE's. There is no "best" NLE. It comes down to usage case, much like everything else.
For most people working on smaller productions, your two options are probably best. Just know there are others like Sony Vegas, Avid, and DaVinci Resolve.

I personally use FCP. I would say that it's the easiest, most streamlined to use. It's deceptively simple however as FCP actually has a lot of very deep editing options that it keeps out of the way to make the 'basics' of cutting simple. Adobe has the opposite approach of making everything seem and feel disproportionately difficult by jamming all the tools into the frame at once. Both can do the same jobs. Premiere will have a more difficult starting learning curve. I would say FCP will probably have a more difficult later learning curve (mostly due to having to learn where some things are). Both have hotkeys galore.

===

Finally, I'd only recommend the 5D IV for video only if you're invested in Canons ecosystem (like you have a bunch of EF lenses) OR you want a single camera for both video and stills. Otherwise, I think there are other, better, cinema cams for the money. Namely the Sony's listed above or the Panasonic if you prefer that.
....just used a partial quote because couldnt "like" twice.

Consider this an additional "like" because of the information that it presented. I am not planning to shoot any documentary any time soon, or anything other type of video - appreciate good info that seems reliable.
 

Zepher

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I've been using Premiere for editing since the late 90's and really haven't had any issues with the program over the years.
Also, the latest version of Premiere Pro CC is subscription based, so you pay monthly for the program or programs you want from Adobe. You can pay for one month to edit a project and then cancel and then just resub the next time you need to use the program.

My friend made this documentary a couple of years ago, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3956984
Shot it on his Canon 7D (he has a 5D MK III now) and edited with Premiere Pro CS5.5
 

Pocatello

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Thank you for the responses.

I do not have much of anything invested in Canon, so I could make the switch. I have some reading to do from the posts above to get caught up on what you have offered and discussed. Thanks for the input! I will check out the prices of some of the items mentioned.
 

mnewxcv

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i like premiere pro. also give davinci resolve a look. the public beta is free for davinci, and premeiere you can download a trial.
 

IdiotInCharge

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Thank you for the responses.

I do not have much of anything invested in Canon, so I could make the switch. I have some reading to do from the posts above to get caught up on what you have offered and discussed. Thanks for the input! I will check out the prices of some of the items mentioned.
For the camera decision point: if you just want to point a camera at a subject and hold focus regardless of movement, you're going with Canon. Sony is the closes second but their cameras will still 'jump' from time to time. Panasonic is even less useful, as their focus technology is based on stuff going out of focus, as fast and accurate as it is for stills. This will be most useful if you're going to be limited to just yourself as your crew.

If you're going to be able to pull focus manually, your options up, and price and system size may go down.
 

Pocatello

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Thanks for the link to the Canon Cinema C200. Looks pretty amazing.
 

Pocatello

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I expect that I will be the only crew person, as well as the interviewer.

My first project will center around my beliefs that the "war on drugs" has been a complete failure. This war is not meant to be won, or finished, or completed. But I assert that we should declare victory (or defeat) and stop what we are doing as it does not work.
 

IdiotInCharge

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If your intention is to interview people involved in the drug trade, alone, you might consider compromising toward cheaper and smaller to make yourself look less like a target...

Also, buy more insurance, for you and your equipment :D
 

Khahhblaab

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I expect that I will be the only crew person, as well as the interviewer.

My first project will center around my beliefs that the "war on drugs" has been a complete failure. This war is not meant to be won, or finished, or completed. But I assert that we should declare victory (or defeat) and stop what we are doing as it does not work.
Sounds interesting, but will probably be hard to distinguish enough and separate fact from fiction along the lines of the popular urban legend that diseases like cancer will never be totally cured because much money is being made looking for it.

Along the lines of running debt is profitable. The flow of cash inside the underworld winds up "somewhere". At one times "Forbes" used to publish an accounting of the most profitable companies in the world and the drug trade was among the top five. Maybe top three. Somewhere behind the oil and gas industries. Crazy amounts of cash flowing around. <side note, I stil cant believe that a smart phone company that used to be known for a good computer has at times been worth "more" than exxon.>
So its an interesting idea.

I just bet that folks on the anti drug trade, dont realize that they are involved in something that profits them both. The anti force goes out and slows down the trade in specific areas, the trade force moves somewhere else and the catch-up goes on.

When this cancer is eliminated, only the manufacturer that has figured it out makes money - including the licensee's. The other firms involved in finding it closes their doors like all of the mortage companies that shut down when the bubble burst. Where would the money that goes to the drug trade go if there were no psychotropic drugs? Would folks start donating to save the whales? Or would someone say" "hey". If you drink enough water you can get high. I bet the latter.

I wonder what you will find. Good luck.
 

Pocatello

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Thanks for the replies.

I don't have any plans to speak to drug dealers in the community. That will not be my focus.

I do plan to speak to our elected leaders and ask them about the agenda I am wishing to promote... which is that the drug war is a failure.
 

Pocatello

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My limited perusing of the internet did not result in glowing reviews of Hackintosh systems. Am I wrong?
 

UnknownSouljer

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My limited perusing of the internet did not result in glowing reviews of Hackintosh systems. Am I wrong?
You are not. I wouldn't recommend it. It basically is a trade for some speed and price at the cost of reliability (in many forms). Including drivers (lack there of, which also means a lot of the automated systems stop working, including plug-n-play), crashes, difficulty with updates, etc.
If you want to use macOS, buy a Mac. Otherwise, just buy and use a PC.

I generally advocate for Macs doing this sort of work, but if you're going to use Premiere, Avid or Da Vinci Resolve anyway and your goal is to save money then just do it on PC. Once in software there isn't a lot of differences. Generally the reason to use macOS vs Windows is either for specific Mac only software or for the workflow that surrounds the software (and I suppose to a degree, the hardware itself).

As much as critics want to insult Apple for the 'so-called' Apple Tax, a lot of these machines cost what they do due the consideration of the 'whole package'. Which I think at least some Windows users are starting to figure out. Hence why the Surface Studio and Surface Pro cost what they cost. Because form factor, reliability, battery life and nice displays aren't free. But for whatever reason they're often ignored in the PC community versus the trinity of CPU, GPU, and RAM. Anyway, rant over.
 

Khahhblaab

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PC vs Mac vs Amiga :) , just a lil note to see if you have decided on a solution.

Hackintosh isnt the answer but what did you find out about your needs vs the machines that will do it.

Are you going to keep us informed as to where you are on your mission? Website? Blog?

thanx and Good luck.
 

N4CR

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Lots of people jumped to Premiere in last few years after crapple cucked FCP and 'typical apple user interfaced it', they realized it's actually perfectly fine replacement if not better now... I heard a lot of bitching in the professional industry as I worked closely with them over those years (movies/TV/advertising level customers). The fact you can do it on a rig that costs less often nowdays is also pretty enticing.
The real kicker is the apple hardware upgrades are costly as fuck usually. People were flashing AMD GPUs and marking them up 200 bucks on ebay because appletax. Lmao.

I've been using it since pre CS3, can't even remember what version it was now. Love it and wouldn't go anywhere else. Does everything I need it to and the UI is decent, file format support is good too even in older versions. I'm on CS6 (older now) and only thing I have had issue with is can't import webm and a few other very obscure formats.

Because form factor, reliability, battery life and nice displays aren't free. But for whatever reason they're often ignored in the PC community versus the trinity of CPU, GPU, and RAM. Anyway, rant over.
Form factor is almost meaningless for most professionals. Dustbin mac case in point..
Sometimes though the Apple hardware can actually be pretty good value for money in the higher end, e.g. you couldn't build it for cheaper.
Often not the case though.

And apple does not have the best screens any more, you can go buy them almost anywhere. Sometimes yes they get exclusivity on LG panels but this is loosening, as more manufacturers are competing with 10bit, over9000 pixels, HDR and the rest of the bullshit, so they can't lock multiple manufacturers with competing tech.

I'd also keep an eye on the Black Magic cameras if you don't want to enter the highly segregated and software gimped canon product stack. Sure they have their limitations (really need studio light etc) but if you're not doing outdoor filming, could be a cheaper way to get 90% of the goodness of the canon at half the price.
But if you want it to work out the box, go canon/etc.
 

UnknownSouljer

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Form factor is almost meaningless for most professionals. Dustbin mac case in point..
Sometimes though the Apple hardware can actually be pretty good value for money in the higher end, e.g. you couldn't build it for cheaper.
Often not the case though.
In case you didn't figure it out: we both cherry picked. You're obviously only looking at the Mac Pro. I was looking at the line more holistically. The Macbook Pro, iMac, and Macbook also exist. All of which have form factors that matter a lot to end users.
Additionally Apple themselves is very aware of their mistake about the Mac Pro. Yes, billion dollar companies make mistakes. But even with their problem at the top end, the rest of their line (I suppose with the exception of the neglected Mini) is solid.
At the time of the Mac Pro launch however, it was basically impossible to get another machine with matching specs for less. For 'fun' at that time, or more accurately, because of an internet argument, I basically priced out a competing machine from HP and Dell. Couldn't be done for less. Now of course it has aged and Apple hasn't bothered to give it minor spec bumps in favor or creating an entirely new form factor which purportedly is upgradeable. We'll see what that looks like in 2018.


And apple does not have the best screens any more, you can go buy them almost anywhere. Sometimes yes they get exclusivity on LG panels but this is loosening, as more manufacturers are competing with 10bit, over9000 pixels, HDR and the rest of the bullshit, so they can't lock multiple manufacturers with competing tech.
You should've read my other post in the thread. But also to directly contradict you, they do. Name one other manufacturer that is doing 100% Adobe RGB Color Gamut, 100% DCI-P3 Color Gamut, 10-Bit displays across their product lines. Or offers a 5k screen as standard. The answer is: nobody.
To buy a monitor that competes with the display in the iMac, it'll start at well over $2500. Not just because it's 10-bit or 5k, but because of the DCI-P3 coverage. Paying money for that coverage is costly. So, if you meant there are other competing manufacturers that cost a lot, yes they exist. But strictly better/faster/cheaper? Apple is still ahead in terms of dollars to performance.

Apple themselves don't have external monitors anymore. But something tells me they'll rectify that with the launch of the new Mac Pro. The LG Ultrafine 5k just isn't up to the standards of their own hardware. It's a stopgap at best. It doesn't meet their rigid color specifications, nor does it have Thunderbolt 3 passthrough. Both things that Apple themselves would never neglect (ignoring aesthetics).


I'd also keep an eye on the Black Magic cameras if you don't want to enter the highly segregated and software gimped canon product stack. Sure they have their limitations (really need studio light etc) but if you're not doing outdoor filming, could be a cheaper way to get 90% of the goodness of the canon at half the price.
But if you want it to work out the box, go canon/etc.
Documentaries don't generally have the luxury of setting up lights, outside of interviews. I think the Black Magic Ursa Mini was well priced about 2 years ago, now there is too much competition. This is especially considering the quirks it has in usage. I'd rather spend more and buy a Sony FS5 if I wasn't going to go Canon C200.
 
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GhengisKhan

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So far as software for newbs, I've had pretty good luck with Wondershare Filmora. It's cheap, easy to use, and has a ton of addons.
 

UnknownSouljer

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Philip Bloom shares his initial impressions of the C200.


The long and the short is: he wouldn't replace his Sony FS7 for it, but he thinks it's fantastic. Particularly in it's autofocus and look both in 8-bit compressed and RAW both using C-Log.
He also is working with a pre-production model and didn't get to spend a lot of time using the camera to give a full comprehensive review. It's just his "initial impressions".
 
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Pocatello

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Hello.
Thanks for your replies.

I am trying to get my priorities straight. For an example of my backwards thinking... this post I created. What am I doing worrying about editing software & hardware when I need to:
1) retire
2) create a film plan
3) *?
4) profit

Editing hardware/software is fun for me to think about, but not really where I need to focus my attention.

I think I have some great ideas but I need to put together an action plan to make things work. I've been writing down ideas for my primary film about the criminal justice system and the failed war on drugs, while some other film ideas have been percolating.

I bought some online learning courses / tutorials from Udemy https://www.udemy.com/ to help me learn about film making, photography, audio, etc. Udemy had all of their courses for only $10 on Black Friday.

I first posted this thread in July, and since then I have decided to retire much earlier than two years. I am thinking about next April instead. I am looking for new challenges.

Once again... thanks for your replies.
 

UnknownSouljer

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Hello.
Thanks for your replies.

I am trying to get my priorities straight. For an example of my backwards thinking... this post I created. What am I doing worrying about editing software & hardware when I need to:
1) retire
2) create a film plan
3) *?
4) profit

Editing hardware/software is fun for me to think about, but not really where I need to focus my attention.

I think I have some great ideas but I need to put together an action plan to make things work. I've been writing down ideas for my primary film about the criminal justice system and the failed war on drugs, while some other film ideas have been percolating.

I bought some online learning courses / tutorials from Udemy https://www.udemy.com/ to help me learn about film making, photography, audio, etc. Udemy had all of their courses for only $10 on Black Friday.

I first posted this thread in July, and since then I have decided to retire much earlier than two years. I am thinking about next April instead. I am looking for new challenges.

Once again... thanks for your replies.

If your goal is to create a great documentary, actually how good the film looks isn't a priority. It 'helps' but it isn't a primary motivation. I think Ken Burns more or less proves that content is king.
Granted, we all want our: "Jiro Dreams of Sushi", but if you create unreasonable bars, you'll never get anything done.

You could do this whole film on an iPhone and a $300 gimbal with a $100 mobile shotgun mic. Capturing the moment > awesome cinematography in documentaries.
So yes, I agree with you. Flesh out your ideas. Know clearly what you're trying to accomplish, and worry much less about the gear or even the techniques. If you can get help along the way, that helps a lot too, as you sound more like a writer or director than a cinematographer. But if you have no option than to do it all yourself, then be reasonable in your own personal expectations on what you can accomplish.
 
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