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I use motion a lot for quick stuff with limited budgets. It's very fast for that kind of work. If you're into any serious compositing or complex motion graphics, then AE is by far the most affordable and feature rich application out there.
Hope that helps. If all of your budgets are tight you need to just get something done then Motion is a very valuable tool. If you want to have complete control over everything, then you should lean more to AE.
As far as the difference between FCP and PPro, for me, they are about on the same level right now. I edit on day on FCP and the other on PPro. There are some differences in file management, and some of the effects and plug-ins are different so your mileage may vary there. Both have been very stable on my intel Macs. The only reason I could ever see for moving to something more powerful like Avid would be if you had a whole team of editors working on a project and were sharing a ton of files. For just making cuts PPro and FCP are on pretty level ground.
>I know I'll get a lot of pro-After Effects comments here, but I'm
>trying to figure out which is better.
Ah yes, the old, but wrong question that a pro should never ask. Depending on your workflows, neither is "better". Both have their merits and ideally you are in the best position when you have the opportunity to use them combined. However, it should be duely noted that even people, who use FCP and Motion on a daily basis, feel that they can't do without AE.
Most obviously Motion begins to feel rather slow and uncomfortable with a certain complexity in your projects, which can be attributed to it being totally and completely aimed at using hardware accelleration and having little or no fallback measures. On the other hand it has some nice particle and behavior stuff which AE can't compete with. Also roundtripping is of course quite evolved.
AE's failings mostly lie in using hardware resources inefficiently and being quite touchy in terms of non-optimally configured environments. In other areas it beats Motion in terms of flexibility, even though arguably some of the tools still look weak compared to even more sophisticated programs. For instance many of the artists I was mentioning earlier still prefer AE's 3D to that of motion for the single reson of it having shadows...
Well, anyway, get the tool you feel most comfortable with. If you're more of an editor rather than a motiongraphics/ effects guy, probably updating FCP and getting Color along with it will be more valuable to you than a newer version of AE. If it's the other way around and you are looking for certain workflows that would require Shape Layers, 32bit processing, Puppet Tool or you already have a lot of AE plugins which you want to make better use of, than updating Ae would probably be smarter.
I use Motion as kind of a big plug-in for AE (generate particle FX for compositing). AE is used for everything else to create complete spots. Neither one is "better".
When lack of $$$ is involved, usually someone ends up settling for less. I would save more $$$ and upgrade both.
BTW...I don't upgrade the entire Creative Suite...just AE / PS / ILL.
The AE/Motion question is not as relevant as you think. It's the value of the whole package that must be calculated.
I would have no use for Premiere but Final Cut Suite 2 was a crucial upgrade for us. The fact that I got Motion 3 was cool but not related to the Final Cut upgrade we really bought.
AE and Motion are only simlar on the surface as compositing tools. They have distinctly different applications in the shops that have both. If you can only afford one, you must evaluate your decision based on your ability to pay for the upgrade with your work. For crying out loud, don't rely on anyone else's opinions or suggestions. I'll be all too happy to tell you how to spend your money.