Whether you are just starting your editing journey or are looking to upgrade to a new editing platform, choosing which program to go with can be a complicated process. Ultimately, the platform you choose should do 3 things: work with your budget, be able to facilitate the videos you want to create, and feel comfortable and natural.
Part 1: Final Cut Pro vs DaVinci Resolve – Key Features and Differences
|Features||Final Cut Pro||DaVinci Resolve|
|Cross-Platform Editing||No, Mac only||Yes, works on Mac or Windows|
+ Free Trial
+ Free Version
|User Interface||Intuitive and easy to use||Can be complicated for beginners|
|Timeline||Multiple tracks on a magnetic timeline||Freeform editing on a stacked timeline|
|Color Correction||Some color grading tools: a color board, wheel, curves, and customizable color filter presets||Extensive and advanced color grading tools for colorists|
|Motion Graphics||Customizable templates, greater control options, keyframing for animation. |
Integrates with Apple Motion.
|Basic keyframing for animation integrates with Fusion for full VFX and motion graphics.|
|Audio||Full audio mixing settings: surround sound control, keyframing, customizable filters and presets.||Pretty good audio editing and mixing capabilities, but better control with Fairlight.|
|Plugins||A vast array of third-party plugins for all technical and creative aspects.||Some third-party plugins are available, with more being developed each day.|
The most significant difference between Final Cut Pro and DaVinci is the device you need to power it. Final Cut Pro is Apple software, and can only be used on a Mac, whereas Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve works well on both PCs and Macs.
Depending on where you stand on the Mac versus PC argument, this may not be of concern to you. However, if you are considering moving from a PC to a Mac to accommodate Final Cut Pro, you will need to account for the cost of a new laptop or computer as well as the software itself.
Pricing is a big decision-making factor when choosing a new NLE, and it’s essential that the price falls within your budget. Fortunately, the full versions of both DaVinci and Final Cut Pro cost precisely the same one-off fee of $299.
DaVinci does offer a fantastic free version of the program, which has some limitations but can give you an excellent feel for the editing flow of the program. Final Cut Pro does not offer a free version, however, they do offer a 30 day free trial period for the program.
Both programs have clean and straightforward user interfaces. Final Cut Pro offers a magnetic timeline, where each clip needs to attach to another to create your composition. DaVinci favors free form editing, where clips can be moved and placed around the timeline as you want.
Final Cut Pro also offers everything within one screen: the color and effects tools are all found under the main editing interface, allowing you to have all the tools at your fingertips. DaVinci has divided the workflow into separate tabs: Assembly, Editing, Color, Effects (Fusion), and Audio (Fairlight), allowing you to specify the tools you want at hand.
Color Correction & Color Grading
DaVinci Resolve started life as correction and color grading software, so it is fair to say that the color tools available are far more extensive than Final Cut Pro.
Final Cut Pro still has some great color correction and color grading tools, including curves, color wheel, and various presets, as well as the ability to use LUTs, but in this category, Resolve wins hands down.
Motion Graphics & Titling
Both programs offer a range of built-in titles and motion graphics templates that can easily be customized for your needs, and both have keyframing capabilities allowing you to delve further into animated formats.
Additionally, both applications have motion graphics integrations through Motion and Fusion. As separate programs, they can be quite tricky to use, especially if you have no previous experience with animation. A massive advantage to FCPX is the considerable number of templates you can download and use from the effects, titles, or generators windows. DaVinci Resolve templates and macro options are growing, as well.
If you are looking to add some fun titles quickly, Final Cut Pro might be the choice for you. But if you’re looking to create complex animated sequences from scratch, Fusion is probably a more straightforward application to learn. You can also check out some Motion tutorials to start to understand the program’s workflows.
Once upon a time, Apple had an audio editing application that integrated with Final Cut Pro 7, called Soundtrack Pro, which was a pretty fantastic piece of kit. In the move to Final Cut Pro X and the dreaded redesign, some of these audio tools were bought into Final Cut, while others disappeared forever. This has left FCPX lacking in the audio controls, with very basic noise removal, panning, and effects options.
DaVinci Resolve has a dedicated audio editing application called Fairlight built into one of the interface tabs. As a specialized piece of software specially designed for audio editing, Fairlight has far more in-depth fixing and mixing capabilities.
Both programs can facilitate Multicam editing up to 16 tracks, and both have a variety of syncing methods, including using timecode and audio cues. There is very little difference between the Multicam tools in Final Cut Pro and DaVinci, and it comes down to the editor’s preference.
Final Cut’s primary integration is Apple Motion, which allows you to create some fantastic motion graphics which work as customizable templates in Final Cut Pro. Apple Motion is quite a complicated program to use and requires an entirely different skill set to standard editing.
DaVinci Resolve has 2 main integrated applications: Fairlight and Fusion. Fairlight offers a range of audio editing tools that far exceed those built into FCPX. Fusion is Blackmagic Design’s answer to Motion, but the comprehensive VFX and motion graphics capabilities exceed the Apple program and are closer to After Effects.
While both programs allow for third-party plugins, the range available for Final Cut Pro is awe-inspiring; you can get cost-effective plugins for everything from Motion Titles to LUTs.
Resolve has a good range of plugins available, but they tend to be more project-focused, allowing you to add additional color viewers or stabilization. When it comes to plugins, Resolve offers you ways to better do things yourself, whereas Final Cut Pro offers premade customizable elements.
Part 2: Which Should You Choose – DaVinci Resolve or Final Cut Pro?
Both programs are great pieces of software, and both have loyal fans in all corners of the world. The biggest difference between the two is the Mac limitations of Final Cut Pro, but that depends on the device you are using.
Final Cut Pro has a much more app-based feel to its editing, with the default magnetic timeline that may limit your free-form editing, and keep things super organized. This feature could be a huge bonus to a beginner or a professional editor who needs to put clips together quickly. If you are a corporate filmmaker producing website videos and promotions, Final Cut Pro might be the perfect quick and easy editing solution.
DaVinci Resolve has a much more film-based feel to it, for serious filmmaking, where every corner of the production process needs to be perfected. The color grading tools far exceed those in Final Cut Pro, and the addition of Fairlight and Fusion creates a full end-to-end post-production suite. DaVinci Resolve is an excellent option for anyone who wants to work in film and television, rather than digital content creation.
There is no doubt that both programs have a lot of pros, but the reality is, each will only be as good as you are an editor. As you learn and grow your editing skills, you may find you need to change editing applications as the limitations prevent you from creating the content you want.
The truth is there is no right answer to the DaVinci Resolve vs Final Cut Pro argument. Each editor will have their preferred workflow, and their preferred application to edit in, it will just take a bit of time to find yours. Either way, DaVinci Resolve offers a free version of the software, and Final Cut Pro has a 30-day trial, so why not download them both and give it a go before making your decision.