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Final Cut Express
Final Cut Express Screenshot.png
Final Cut Express HD (3.5)
Developer(s) Apple Inc.
Initial release 2003
Stable release 4.0.1  (August 29, 2008) [+/−]
Preview release none  (none) [+/−]
Written in Objective-C
Operating system Mac OS X
Available in English, French, German
Type Digital video editing
License Proprietary
Website Final Cut Express

Final Cut Express is a non-linear video editing application created by Apple Inc. It is the consumer version of Final Cut Pro and is designed for advanced editing of digital video as well as high-definition video, which is used by many amateur and professional videographers.



Final Cut Express 1.0, based on Final Cut Pro 3, was released at Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco in 2003. The second version, based on Final Cut Pro 4, was released at Macworld San Francisco in 2004. The third version, capable of editing high definition video, was also announced at Macworld San Francisco a year later, and was released as Final Cut Express HD in February 2005. It was based on Final Cut Pro HD (version 4.5) and included LiveType 1.2 and Soundtrack 1.2.

Final Cut Express version 3.5 was released with little fanfare in May 2006 as a Universal Binary. In addition to improving real-time rendering with Dynamic RT, version 3.5 upgraded LiveType to version 2.0 and Soundtrack to version 1.5.

In November 2007, Apple released Final Cut Express 4, which supports real-time editing in the AVCHD format (currently for Intel processors only), imports iMovie '08 projects and includes 50 new filters. It does not include Soundtrack 1.5, but it does still include LiveType which enables users to create advanced text for the movies they create in Final Cut. The price was dropped from $299 for version 3.5 to $199 for version 4.0.


Final Cut Express's interface is identical to that of Final Cut Pro, but lacks some film-specific features, including Cinema Tools, multi-cam editing, batch capture, and a timecode view. The program can perform 32 undo operations, while Final Cut Pro can do 99 [1].

Features the program does include are:

  • The ability to keyframe filters
  • Dynamic RT, which changes real-time settings on-the-fly
  • Motion path keyframing
  • Opacity keyframing
  • Ripple, roll, slip, slide and blade edits
  • Picture-in-picture and split-screen effects
  • Up to 99 video tracks and 12 compositing modes
  • Up to 99 audio tracks
  • Motion project import
  • Two-way color correction.
  • Chroma key

One feature of Final Cut Express that is not available in Final Cut Pro is the ability to import iMovie '08 projects (though transitions are not preserved).


RT Extreme

Inherited from Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Express features RT Extreme, which allows previews of some video filters and transitions without rendering. Audio that is not in the native AIFF file format needs rendering before it can be played back. RT Extreme has three modes: 'Safe', for seeing multiple video layers at a quality that more or less guarantees a smooth playback; 'Unlimited', which allows the maximum number of composited video layers to be viewed at the same time; and 'Dynamic', which alternates between these settings depending on how many simultaneous video tracks are present. Frame dropping may result from using 'Unlimited' on low-resource machines.

Boris Calligraphy

Like Final Cut Pro, Express also comes with Boris Calligraphy, a plugin for advanced titling and scrolling/crawling titles more sophisticated than the ones that can be created with the built-in title overlays. Calligraphy has a WYSIWYG interface and features wrapping, alignment, leading, kerning and tracking features, as well as allowing up to five custom outlines and five custom drop shadows to be defined for a selected portion of the title.


Final Cut Express includes Soundtrack 1.5, a program similar to the consumer-level GarageBand, but designed for videographers. It comes with around 4,000 professionally-recorded instrument loops and sound effects that can be arranged in multiple tracks beneath the video track.

To use Soundtrack, users export their Final Cut Express sequence, or a marked portion thereof, as a reference file, which can include scoring markers defined in the timeline. This reference file can be imported as the video track in Soundtrack.

Soundtrack is functionally and visually identical to Soundtrack Pro's multitrack editing mode, but includes fewer Logic plugins and lacks the highly regarded noise removal tool.

Soundtrack was cut from Final Cut Express 4 to lower its price and encourage people to buy Logic Express.[citation needed]

Criticism Of FCE 4

  • Soundtrack has been removed from the Final Cut Express Box
  • The Export feature to soundtrack has also been removed
  • Final Cut Express version 4.0 export option for Flash Video is very buggy with Leopard 10.5.4 / Quicktime version 7.5 (149.5).
  • No support for 1080p



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