UPDATE: I’ve got some bad news for Windows fans who were hoping Final Cut Pro would run on a Windows operating system. With the introduction of Final Cut Pro X, it’s unlikely you will ever see a version that will run natively in Windows. Apple has rewritten FCP using more than just modern coding techniques like 64-bit programming. The new Final Cut Pro X is built on technologies exclusive to Apple’s Mac OS X operating system.
If you’re committed to editing on a Windows machine, Adobe Premiere is the most direct alternative to Final Cut Pro. Avid Media Composer also runs on Windows. It’s popular in high-end workflows, but more expensive and more difficult to learn. We teach Adobe Premiere and Media Composer classes for both Windows and Mac.
The good news is that moving to the most popular editing software in the industry is cheaper and easier than ever. Even an entry-level MacBook Air ($999 at time of writing) will run FCPX, albeit slowly—and the price of Final Cut Pro has plummeted to just $299 for a license good on every Mac you own or use. There’s even a free, full-featured trial available for your Mac if you want to test drive Mac OS and Final Cut.
Final Cut Pro WILL NOT run on Windows. However, you can still install a full copy of Windows XP / Vista or Windows 7 on any Intel Mac (that is, any Mac manufactured since 2006). When you start up the computer, you can decide whether you want to work with Final Cut Pro in Mac OS X or just work in Windows. In my experience, it’s actually easier to install Windows 7 on a Mac than on a PC. How crazy is that?
As far as Windows is concerned, your Mac is a PC just like any other since it has an Intel chipset. Theoretically, you could even delete Mac OS X and only run Windows on it. Trust me, at that point, your Mac will have no idea that it’s a Mac. Of course, if you delete Mac OS X, you can’t run Final Cut Pro any more, which is the reason you got the Mac in the first place!
The bottom line is…. Final Cut Studio will only run on Mac OS X (currently 10.7, “Lion”). I honestly don’t see Apple ever releasing Final Cut Pro for Windows 7. There are just too many variables in terms of hardware to make it worth Apple’s time.
A Mac isn’t as expensive as you might think. The majority of us can get away with a system in the $1500 to $2000 price range, including the cost of software. I recently purchased a 6-month-old MacBook Pro for under $1000 and loaded a copy of Final Cut Pro X that I’d purchased earlier for $299. I couldn’t be happier! At the risk of sounding biased, it will be the best money you ever spend.
Now, the first question you must ask yourself, should you purchase a Mac Pro tower, a MacBook Air, a MacBook Pro, or an iMac? An iMac system includes a screen and starts at $1199. With a student discount, it’s even less. The entry-level iMac is a great starter machine for editing. It’s powerful, its roomy display is built-in, and it’s got bells and whistles like the Thunderbolt port that will give you some room to expand as your business grows. It’s not as expandable as a Mac Pro tower, but by the time you bump against those limits you’ll be doing the sort of complex work that means you can afford the tower.
On the high end, a fully tricked out Mac Pro tower might easily run you $12,000–and that’s before you add broadcast monitors, an IO box, decks, and exotic peripherals. The total price could easily top $20,000 for a full-fat system, although that sort of system is absolutely overkill unless you’re doing more advanced visual effects work than Final Cut Pro X does.
If you’re shopping for Final Cut Pro, chances are you’re thinking about cameras as well. The majority of cameras available today use memory cards or disk drives instead of tapes. Go with the trend. Disk-based formats are easier and more efficient than tape. They involve fewer moving parts, they support higher-quality recordings, and they dramatically cut back the wait to bring your video into the computer for editing.
For the best balance of quality and price at the broad-market professional level, we really like the Sony EX1. With that $6000 camera, a $1500 laptop, and $300 worth of software, you have everything you need to produce top-quality video. And with any Final Cut Pro editing system the only additional hardware that you truly need is external storage. This will allow you to keep your media/project folder on a separate drive from the one running the OS & Final Cut, which will improve both system responsiveness & versatility.
If you’re after a cheaper camera solution, consider the Canon EOS 5D DSLR that has taken the professional production world by storm. This camera, available in kits with body and lens for under $2000, is first and foremost a still camera, and a fairly good one at that. But it also records full HD video. It’s not going to replace dedicated video cameras for serious work, but the 5D is an affordable and useful camera to have in your arsenal for that glossy work.
Our production pros teach both the EX-1 and the 5D one-on-one with you at your studio or business with our on-site training and consulting.
For those who are bound and determined to install Final Cut Pro on a PC running Windows, I’ve actually seen hacks using a Mac OS X emulator with Final Cut Pro installed. However, trust me on this….. it wasn’t anywhere close to functional in a real-world environment.
Finally, there is one other way to run Final Cut Pro on a machine running Windows…