Apple Final Cut Express 4
- AVCHD compatible, ability to edit different formats in the same timeline, huge array of useful options
- Interface may intimidate novice users
With iMovie becoming a dumbed-down shadow of its former self, Final Cut Express is now the Mac's best video editing option for amateur enthusiasts. Enthusiastically recommended.
Price$ 268.00 (AUD)
Until very recently, Final Cut Express has always felt like a superfluous addition to Apple's video editing family. With Final Cut Pro taking care of the upper echelon of the market and iMovie catering to everyone else, there seemed to be little reason for the 'bridging' upgrade's existence. Simply put, if you wanted semi-professional results at a reasonable price, iMovie could get the job done with flying colours.
However, in a move that can only be described as 'a bit sneaky', Apple has substantially stripped down iMovie 08 in an attempt to make Final Cut Express more appealing to mid-level users. In other words, if you want to use advanced editing techniques without shilling out for the full professional suite, Final Cut Express 4 is now the only option you've got. (...Poor iMovie -- we hardly knew ye'.)
For those unaccustomed to digital video, Final Cut is the premiere non-linear editing application for Macintosh computers. Since its inception in 1998, the software has swiftly grown in popularity in both the professional and consumer markets, until its sales now rival established suites such as Avid and Premiere Pro. The user interface follows the usual template; comprising of a timeline (where separate clips are assembled), viewing window (for previewing footage) and media bin (for storing data), as well as a 'canvas' where edits in the timeline can be viewed.
Unlike the full 'Pro' version, Final Cut Express does not offer certain features designed for professional filmmakers, such as film database or time code options, but otherwise the interface remains the same. Being Mac-only, it is naturally only suitable for Apple users, which says a lot for its phenomenal success -- no doubt if it were available on PC, its sales would be even greater.
Being more or less identical to previous versions, we found the interface to be incredibly intuitive to use. Clips can either be dragged straight into the timeline, or dropped into the canvas to perform edit overlays. Adding real-time effects (which can be instantly previewed at the click of a button) and animated titles is a relatively pain-free process that most people will grasp in short order. While not quite as user-friendly as other editing applications we've looked at -- including the aforementioned iMovie HD -- your experience should remain fairly cruisy and textbook-free.
So what does this fourth iteration offer over its seemingly identical forbearers? In addition to its vastly expanded range of editing options, including 50 brand new filters, Final Cut Express 4 also supports the latest range of video formats and codecs, including AVCHD. This is basically essential in today's digital world, particularly for those who own non-tape-based cameras; such as HDD or DVD. Without getting too technical, the memory demands made by high-definition video means that data needs to be highly compressed. Unfortunately, a lot of editing software cannot read or capture these compressed files.
Thankfully, Final Cut Express 4 gets around this by converting AVCHD to a more manageable format. Selecting which data to capture off your camera couldn't be simpler; with a Log and Transfer window supplying a list of available clips. Each clip can then be previewed and assigned an In and Out point to ensure you only capture the footage you need. (Handily, you can continue to search through clips during data transfers.)
By now, high-definition compatibility is old news, with Final Cut Express being HD compliant since 2003, but this is the first version to allow different formats to seamlessly co-exist in the same project. It is therefore possible to edit AVCHD, HDV and MiniDV all in one timelime, which is a boon for people who own more than one camera. Otherwise, this remains the same well-crafted product it was in the past -- and thanks to the demise of iMovie, we now have a better reason to buy it.
Final Cut Express 4 retails for $268, but existing Final Cut Express owners can upgrade for $129.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Acer Swift 7
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Lexar® Portable SSD
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Huawei Mate 9
Google Daydream VR headset
Surface Pro 4
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
HP Pavilion x360 13”
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 2 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- 3 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 4 Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 5 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
Latest News Articles
- 10 powerful, obscure Windows keyboard shortcuts you should know
- Microsoft delays tools for third-party Cortana integrations
- Samsung unveils Bixby voice assistant for upcoming Galaxy S8
- Pwn2Own hacking contest ends with two virtual machine escapes
- It's time to turn on HTTPS: the benefits are well worth the effort
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 phone: Full, in-depth review
- Subaru XV 2017 review
- LG G6: unboxing, hands on review and detail shots
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- CCSystems EngineerACT
- TPIT Service Desk AnalystVIC
- CCOrganisational Change Manager - Banking/Financial ServicesNSW
- FTSeeking all Java Developers!NSW
- FTICT Change AnalystSA
- FTBusiness Development ManagerVIC
- FTDevops EngineerVIC
- FTService Desk Operations AnalystNSW
- CCCommunications Network EngineerWA
- TPProject SchedulerVIC
- CCSolution ArchitectNSW
- CCFull Stack DeveloperQLD
- FTLinux Systems AdministratorNZ
- CCIT Project Scheduler- Port MacquarieQLD
- FTReporting Analyst - HR / PayrollNSW
- FTIT Business Process Analyst x 3 - (government background)NSW
- FTSenior Web DeveloperNSW
- TP.Net Software DeveloperQLD
- FTData Storage Support Consultant (EMC)QLD
- FTSOE Team LeaderNSW
- FTSenior Capacity Planner | Contract through till DecemberVIC
- CCProcess Improvement Specialist - TelcoVIC
- CCDeployment GraduatesSA
- FTEnterprise ArchitectQLD