Mac users: which video editing software?

I use iMovie 6 to put all my Animate Pro scenes together, but have noticed that iMovie desaturates all the colours in my animation and really washes it out. I upgraded to a newer version of iMovie and the colours look fine in the program but on export the colours get all messed up again. Research on the web has told me this is a bug with iMovie apparently, and I’ve found a work around but it’s a pain. (I’ll post the workaround in tips and tricks shortly).

So… what other video editing software is out there for us Mac users? So far I can only find these programs and some of them aren’t suitable:

Quicktime Pro. I do have and use it alot but I’m looking for something that allows me to add transitions, chapters etc.

Adobe Premiere Pro. My MacBook Pro is not quite good enough to run it (requires a 64 bit OS).

Final Cut Pro is a little bit out of my price range right now ($999).

Final Cut Express looks good but they don’t offer a free trial and it costs $268. Would it be worth just taking a leap of faith and buying it? Or is there another program out there that I’ve missed?

Thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to help me out :slight_smile:

It sounds like you’re having a codec problem rather than a problem with your editing software. In particular H.264, which is a great codec, tends to desaturate colors. You might want to try outputting with MPEG4 or something like it.

Well, Final Cut Express is just a slightly stripped down version of FC Pro…
The interface between those two is “almost” identical…
(stepping up later to the Pro version would be very easy)…

Final Cut Express, certainly is the most affordable option for a “semi”-professional video editor…,
and it still ships with LiveType, a sophisticated tool for creating animated titles…

Since moving from iMovie to Final Cut Express, I have never looked back…,
and I would “wholeheartedly” recommend this tool in any way…


Thanks Stanrick, initially I thought it had to be a codec problem too. I always export from Animate Pro as Quicktime, Animation compression. When I noticed the colours were remarkably different in iMovie I exported from both Animate Pro and iMovie using all different formats and different compression. I even tried exporting the scene as an image sequence but the results were always the same. I started thinking it was an iMovie problem because the colours are fine when the .mov is opened in Quicktime Pro. I tried to find an answer on the web and found a site discussing this problem with iMovie:

I’m keen to get my animation into a different video editor to confirm whether it’s iMovie or not, but it’s so hard to find an affordable one for Macs. I was leaning towards Final Cut Express and thanks to you, Nolan, I’ve been swayed. I’ve always loved iMovie because of how simple it is but now I’m ready to move on to a more advanced editor. It sounds like FCE is just what I’m after. Thankyou!

I think you’ll find that video encoding is a hassle regardless of which video editor you use. You definitely will need to do some experimentation.
I use FCE on the Mac, and it works fine.
Usually, I output an uncompressed (okay, slightly compressed…) temporary QuickTime file in Apple Intermediate Codec with all the necessary color compensations already made (increase the brightness and contrast, set the color profile to sRGB, etc.). Then I compress it using a separate program (Apple Compressor or Adobe Media Encoder) to the H.264 codec, which takes a while and messes up the appearance slightly, but results in a much more manageable file size.
If I am using mpeg or the “Animation” codec, I wouldn’t need to make the initial color compensations, but I’ve never been able to get the same results with QuickTime files as when using H.264.

Well I hope you get this problem settled :slight_smile:

All I can say is that I tend to output from whatever program first as uncompressed (sometimes uncompressed 10 bit). Later the video is knocked down to a web codec, which usually changes the color. But it’s good to get the video out of the animation/compositing program with accurate colors, so that then you at least know where the problem is occurring. You could be right about iMovie, but I can’t imagine how the program could be altering the colors. It has to be a codec problem :smiley:

Final Cut Express is NOT a good choice if you plan to make web video. It is limited to only outputting TV resolution - that is, you can’t specify that you want your video size to be 640x480, or 1280x720, or whatever. Only Final Cut Pro will let you specify project resolution, and it’s ridiculously expensive to upgrade just for that feature.

As for the problem you’re having - I export from Animate in Animation codec, load it into Quicktime and use Quicktime to export out into a smaller codec - H.264 and MPEG-4 are good choices - and the colours come out identical. If you need to do video editing first - scene transitions or camera cuts for example - you can do that inside Animate as I did for my recent “Holy Grail” video. Ask me if you want more details of how.

~ Lindsay

In Final Cut Express, many options and settings in the dialogs you view during capture, import, and export are accessed directly from the QuickTime framework installed with Mac OS X.

FCE actually uses the same QuickTime export functionality that “Compressor” uses…
Of course “Compressor” offers considerably more control…

If you are using a third-party video interface, the manufacturer usually provides QuickTime components that add the proper codec support for the interface.


Thanks everyone for you help with this annoying problem. I’m happy to say that I’ve got my hot little hands on a copy of FCE4 and have edited and exported my video with no loss of colour! I used exactly the same compression settings that were desaturating the colours in iMovie and everything worked beautifully. So it seems that something is going wrong in iMovie somewhere afterall.

If anyone has experienced this problem with iMovie and has had success with fixing the problem (apart from using the program JES Deinterlacer) I’d love to hear it! In the meantime I’ve started a topic in Tips and Tricks about using JES Deinterlacer with iMovie to get around the problem:;action=display;threadid=2113

@LPBaker: The reason I prefer using a video editor to add effects such as fade, cross-dissolves etc is that it’s a lot quicker to add or trash them. There are also some more advanced transitions/effects available in iMovie that I haven’t figured out how to do in Animate Pro yet. I just find a video editor gives me a bit more freedom :slight_smile:

Also I’m not sure what you mean when you say that it’s limited to outputting certain resolutions? When I export “Using Quicktime Conversion…” from the File, Export Menu in FCE I have all the usual settings that Animate Pro/Quicktime Pro offers don’t I? :-\

You do, but using Final Cut Express to compress videos is not ideal. For one thing, you loose all chapter markers.
I prefer to use Export…QuickTime Movie, which yields a large file that I can compress into different formats using a different program (Compressor or Adobe Media Encoder CS5). In the past, I used QuickTime with H.264 compression exclusively on my website, but recently I have be changing over to Flash (.f4v) video, as the Flash Player is easier to use and allows for full-screen playback.

If one exports from Final Cut Express as “QuickTime Movie” not “QuickTime Conversion”,
all applied “Chapter Markers” in FCE are exported…
(please make sure that “Chapter Markers” or else are selected in the Save window…)

Importing those movie-files into iDVD or Toast, for creating and burning a DVD,
all Chapter Markers are recognized…


It’s all about the way FCE handles video when you import it.

FCE will only allows projects to be created in 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio, and only at 25 or 30 fps. These are the TV standards. So if your source video is in some other aspect ratio, it’s going to be pillar- or letter-boxed to fit the project. If it’s not at a framerate that’s a direct multiple of the project framerate, audio can get out of sync on large projects.

But what really drives me crazy is what it does with exported video.

Try this: Import a 1280x720 video into an FCE sequence that’s set to one of the 16:9 ratios (eg, Apple Intermediate Codec 720p-25). Drop it onto the timeline and immediately export it.

You would think you’d get the exact same video out, but you don’t. For some reason, FCE stretches the video and cuts off all the edges. Play the movie in Quicktime and look at the Inspector - you’ll see it’s listed as 1280x720 (1248x702). It’s cut 32 pixels from the sides and 18 pixels from the top/bottom, and then stretched the rest of the video back out to 1280x720. WHY???

You can see the same thing in advance if you use Export->Using Quicktime Conversion. Go into the Options and you’ll see the same thing under Size - 1280x720 (1248x702).

Update: Why is it that the minute I post a problem, I find the solution?! Anyway, here’s the thing: when you go through “export using quicktime conversion”, then select “size”, there are two sets of resolutions in the dropdown. If you select “HD 1280x720 16:9” as I was doing, it trims and stretches the video as I described. BUT, if you select the option higher up that just says “1280x720”, it does not, and the exported video is identical to what you imported. Why the “HD” options do this I don’t know, but that’s the solution.

~ Lindsay

I learned alot from this post, thanks to all!

Any idea how to tackle this same problem on the pc side?

I’ve been exporting my movies as then editing in Adobe Premiere Pro, and burning to DVD through Adobe Encore. I’ve experienced the following obstacles:

1.) diminished color quality
2.) jumpy image (it seems to skip just slightly, hard for some people to notice…but I do)
3.) DVD only plays in 1 of 2 DVD players (both are manufactured by Sony)

I’m exporting my video as follows:

Compression: DV/DVCPRO - NTSC
Quality: Best
Scan Mode: Progressive
Aspect Ratio: 4:3

Under these settings Animate does not allow me to change the Data rate…it is currently set to Optimized for: Download.

Am I using the wrong export settings?

Should I be using the MPEG-4, or Animation compression types?

After exporting the move from Animate, I then combine all the scenes and additional audio in Adobe Premiere Pro. The quality remains the same there (at least in the playback window). Finally I export to Adobe Encore for DVD burning using the NSTC Medium Quality Encoding Setting (NSTC 720x480, 29.7 non-drop fps) - this may be where my problem occurs. Going to do some test, but if anyone has already discovered the answer to this problem I will appreciate your advice.


While writing this post I started playing with the encoding settings in Adobe Premiere Pro. I can edit the bitrate (VBR vs CBR), TV standard (PAL vs NTSC), Frame rate, and GOP settings.

Question, PAL vs NTSC? (this movie will be viewed primarily on DVD)
Bitrate: VBR, 2 Pass, vs CBR?

Finally, can anyone explain the importance of the Minimum, Target & Maximum bitrate?



Just a quick thanks to everyone who helped me out with this problem! Until us forgotten Mac users have a few more video editors to choose from I’ll stick with Final Cut Express and Quicktime. When I’m rich and famous I’ll upgrade to Final Cut Pro :wink:

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