However, you’ll still need to manage the clips, and in many cases copy these to local storage. Final Cut Pro 7 performs this task automatically in the background with P2 media, but Avid Media Composer lets you link to SxS and P2 media directly, so you can use footage straight away without the need to store it locally.

Work it, baby
However, the core task of editing footage is only one aspect of production. For a speedy workflow, you need to be able to integrate assets created in other applications, and edit them seamlessly when required. Adobe leads the pack in this respect, with Photoshop and After Effects files dynamically linked when imported into Premiere Pro.

Apple’s round-tripping between Final Cut Pro 7 and Color 1.5 is also impressive. The ability to make changes to your graphics and sound assets without having to re-render the end results before you can use them in your video-editing application again is a huge time-saver.

When moving projects between programs in a suite, it’s essential that you have the ability for not only your clips and cuts to move seamlessly between the two – but, where possible, for your effects to be editable too. And that includes third-party plug-ins, too.

Apple and Adobe use largely consistent plug-in formats across their editing and compositing tools to allow smooth movement between suites, while Boris Red runs as an AVX plug-in for Avid’s Media Composer.

Most Adobe AE filters won’t run in real-time in Premiere Pro – some won’t run at all – but Apple’s newer FxPlug format has been designed from the ground up, to work without rendering across both Final Cut Pro and Motion. However, some heavy-duty plug-ins such as GenArts Sapphire place too much strain on the host processor to run in real-time, and some – such as Trapcode Particular – are AE-only.

Not all of this month’s apps take such a comprehensive approach, though. Both Sony’s Vegas and Thomson Grass Valley’s Edius are still primarily standalone editing apps. This doesn’t make them inherently worse than Adobe or Apple’s suites, but they are more focused on specific areas of production. For example, Edius’ supreme real-time editing makes it ideal when speed is of the essence, while Vegas is strong with audio mixing.

So whilst we’ve rated each of the following five packages overall, each one will appeal to a certain type of creative, depending on the kind they video work you do, and their budget.

The packages reviewed are: