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Benchmark Tests: Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 vs. Apple Final Cut Pro X

There have been lots of comparisons between Final Cut Pro X and Premiere Pro CS6, with most focusing on features and workflows. This article discusses a series of multiple-format benchmark tests that analyzed comparative performance between the two programs.

ProRes Footage

I wanted to run one multicam test, so I borrowed 720p 23.976 ProRes 422 footage from the DVD that comes with Mitch Jacobson's excellent book, Mastering MultiCamera Techniques: From Preproduction to Editing and Deliverables. While it's probably unusual for a Premiere Pro editor to be working with ProRes, it's certainly not unheard of, and I work with ProRes sources frequently in my consulting and general production work.

In this series of tests, I used the footage shown in Figure 6 (below) from a Paul McCartney project (there's also SD footage from an Elton John concert), and in the first test, created a 2.5-minute multicam clip in each editor and changed camera angles every 15 seconds. For the second test, I created a one-minute project in each editor, then overlaid one clip over another, adjusting the top clip to 30% opacity.

In the final test, I stacked five tracks over the bottom track and created five picture in picture effects, each 35% of original size, so there was some overlap. I applied a drop shadow to the clips in Premiere Pro, and a border to the clips in Final Cut Pro, since there is no native drop shadow in Final Cut Pro X (or border effect in Premiere Pro).


Figure 6. ProRes footage from a Paul McCartney project.

Table 5 (below) shows the result. Note that the first project was 2.5 minutes long, which throws off the math in the 60-minute column compared to the other one-minute projects. Again, we see some benefit with a simple, single-stream project, that increases with project complexity.


Table 5. Results from ProRes footage.


These results are targeted primarily for streaming producers, and apply to a much lesser degree to longform producers, if at all. Within the streaming media production community, however, these tests reveal that the Adobe CS6 encodes faster than FCP X, and can shave hours of rendering time off longer, more complex projects.

Benchmark testing for this article was sponsored by Adobe Systems and Streaming Media, with results confirmed and attested by Doceo Publishing and Streaming Learning Center.

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