Final Cut Pro was used to edit many a Hollywood movie including “The Social Network”, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “No Country for Old Men”, and the effects-heavy swords and sandals epic, “300”.
Could a program that you can run on your MacBook really do the job these productions require? Yes. So it must cost a fortune, right? No.
I started using Final Cut Pro to make home movies, because it was an affordable program that offered more features than I (at the time) could imagine using.
But as the years went by, and I began to both use more of those features – and get paid to do it – I’ve thought back to the gulping noises I made when I clicked “buy” in the App store without a hint of regret.
Note: All prices and offers listed are as of October 2022.
Table of Contents
- Final Cut Pro costs $299.99.
- Adding on the Motion (visual effects) and Compressor (advanced exporting) programs will add another $100.
- But the total price compares favorably to the cost of other professional video editing programs.
So What Does Final Cut Pro Cost?
The short answer is: A one-time payment of $299.99 gets you Final Cut Pro (installable on multiple computers) for use in perpetuity with all future upgrades free of charge.
To be clear: There are no subscription charges or additional fees to use Final Cut Pro. Once you buy it, you own it.
Now, the fine print does say that Apple can change its mind and decide to charge you for the newest version of the software, but they haven’t invoked this right in the decade since Final Cut Pro X has been around. (They dropped the “X” in 2020 – It is just “Final Cut Pro” now.)
However, it is worth clarifying that while Final Cut Pro is a fully featured professional editing program, many users will need to or choose to buy the companion programs, Motion and Compressor, which each cost $49.99.
While both of these programs are helpful in making movies, neither is really essential until you get deep into special effects (Motion) or need industrial-strength options for exporting your movies (Compressor).
Is $299.99 a Lot for a Professional Video Editing Program?
The short answer is “no”, but sadly the question is not a simple one to answer.
Final Cut Pro is, along with Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro, and DaVinci Resolve, one of the big four professional video editing programs.
But each one of these programs prices itself differently, with different features and/or content included, which makes it hard to compare apples (no pun intended) to apples.
Avid Media Composer, or just “Avid” as it is commonly known, is the granddaddy of video editors. But it is sold as a subscription, which starts at $23.99 a month, or $287.88 a year. While you can buy a perpetual license (like Final Cut Pro) for Avid, it will cost you a whopping $1,999.00. Students, however, can get a perpetual license for just $295.00, but after the first year you have to pay for upgrades.
Similarly, Adobe sells Premiere Pro on a subscription basis, charging $20.99 a month or $251.88 a year. And After Effects (a visual effects program similar to Apple’s Motion) costs another $20.99 per month.
Now, you can pay Adobe $54.99 each month to subscribe to the “Creative Cloud” and get not just Premiere Pro, but After Effects and all of Adobe’s other apps. Which are a ton.
Adobe Creative Cloud includes every Adobe program you’ve probably heard of (including Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, and Audition) as well as a bunch more you may never have heard of, and may love, but also may find useless.
However, $54.99 a month adds up to $659.88 a year. Which is not chump change.
For students, Creative Cloud is heavily discounted to $19.99 a month ($239.88 a year) but as soon as school is over, you will be charged $659.88 a year to use all these Apps. This is one reason I didn’t stick with Premiere after leaving school. I just couldn’t afford it.
Finally, DaVinci Resolve has the most attractive pricing: It is free. Really. Well, the free version doesn’t have all the features the paid version has, but it doesn’t lack much, so you’d have to be a pretty serious movie maker to find you needed to upgrade to the paid version.
And what does the paid version of DaVinci Resolve cost? Today, just $295.00 (it was $995.00 not too long ago) for a perpetual license that, like Final Cut Pro, includes all future updates.
And, DaVinci Resolve includes its equivalents for Apple’s Motion and Compressor programs right into DaVinci Resolve so, assuming you eventually want that functionality, you can save almost $100 over the total cost of using Final Cut Pro.
In conclusion, Final Cut Pro and DaVinci Resolve are clearly the cheapest of the four professional editing programs if you plan to use one of them for more than a year.
So, no, $299.99 is not a lot to pay for a professional editing program.
Final Cut Pro’s Special Bundle for Students
Currently, Apple is offering a bundle of Final Cut Pro, Motion, and Compressor as well as Logic Pro (Apple’s audio editing software) and MainStage (a companion app to Logic Pro) to students for just $199.00!
This is a $100 discount on the price of Final Cut Pro itself, and gets you Motion and Compressor for Free, and throws in Logic Pro – which sells for $199.00 on its own – as well as MainStage. The savings is, well, huge.
As you get perpetual licenses (with free upgrades) with all of Apple’s software regardless even after you leave school, those of you who are currently students should give this bundle some serious thought.
And for those who left school a long time ago, can I suggest signing up for a Final Cut Pro editing class at your local community college so you can qualify as a student?
You can read more about Apple’s current bundle offer here.
There is a Free Trial for Final Cut Pro!
If you are undecided about whether Final Cut Pro is right for you, Apple offers a 90-day free trial.
Now, you won’t get everything the paid version offers, but you will have all of the core functionality without limitations, so you can get started editing right away, get a sense of how it works, and see whether you love it or hate it (most people are in one camp or another).
You can download the Final Cut Pro trial from Apple here.
Final (Pun Intended) Thoughts
Final Cut Pro costs $299.99. For that one-time payment you get a professional video editing program and a lifetime of upgrades. Compared to Avid or Premiere Pro, the low cost of Final Cut Pro is compelling.
While DaVinci Resolve is similarly priced (okay, $5 cheaper and $105 cheaper if you assume you will eventually buy Motion and Compressor) these are very different programs. Some editors love one and not the other and some (like me) love them both, but for very different reasons.
Ultimately, the editing program you choose to buy should be the one that works best for you, now, at the price you can afford today. But I hope this article has given you some clarity on what Final Cut Pro costs, and how that cost compares to its competitors.
And, please, do let me know if this article helped you or if you have corrections or suggestions to improve it. All comments – particularly constructive criticism – are helpful to me and our fellow editors.
Prices change, and bundles and other special offers come and go. So let’s stay in touch and help each other find the best editing program at the right price for each of us. Thank you.