Today I performed the same test using Premiere Pro CC as I did with Final Cut Pro X a few days ago. In the process I learnt a few things.
I translated the Final Cut Pro X project back to Final Cut Pro 7 XML for Premiere using our Xto7 app. There was a little tidying up to do. To use the same media (managed in the Final Cut Pro X Library) I added an alias to the Original Media folder on the desktop so that I could relink in Premiere Pro CC, ensuring the fairest possible test.
Where Final Cut Pro X has Best Performance and Best Quality settings, in Premiere Pro performance is controlled by the resolution setting.
With the recommended 1/4 – which I’m told by my Adobe associates is the closest equivalent to Apple’s Best Performance – the sequence played easily. There was no perceptual difference in performance. I’m told from those same Adobe sources, that I could expect to get another couple of streams at that setting, with the option of even more if I dialed down the resolution to 1/8th. Fades, rotation, composite modes – none of it phased the Mac Pro.
The different approach to controlling performance typifies the approach each company takes. Adobe gives fine control, down to using different resolutions for playback and paused (where you would use Full in most cases). The control geek in me likes that, and in the right hands it’s a good tool, but it requires the user to understand the connection between playback resolution and performance.
Apple take an approach that requires less technical understanding giving the simple selection of “Best Quality” or “Best Performance” making it clear to the most novices which one to select.
I tried to find a significant enough difference in the image quality to draw a distinction between either of these approaches, but frankly it’s only going to be visible on an external monitor if at all. On the 27″ Cinema Display, with the display window of both apps set to 50% of UltraHD, i.e. displaying a 1080 size image.
If I watched very carefully, at the moment of making the change I could see a jump in quality one way or the other. The distinction was a little more subtle with Final Cut Pro X, but not enough to be significant.
Bottom line is that the Mac Pro 2013 is a very fine computer for Premiere Pro CC given an optimized release (mid December 2013, version 7.2.1). The performance of both Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro X on this hardware is way more than most people need, most of the time. The hardware is powerful enough that it will just get out of our way, when we’re editing, regardless of your preferred NLE, using media up to 4K and greater in real time, with performance way beyond what a reasonable edit might require.
It is not often we do ridiculous composites like the Final Cut Pro X/Premiere Pro CC test piece. It’s a very ugly test piece to try and make a point. That point is that the hardware is enough to be out of our way. That’s the bottom line with the Mac Pro.