An editor’s world today: technology nightmare

The ability to edit video has become downright cheap in the past year. Just a few years ago, if you wanted to use an AVID nonlinear editor, you’d stroke a check for at least 30 thousand dollars. Today, you can load AVID Studio onto your iPad for five bucks. Five dollars and you could literally edit a short film. Now, to be fair, the iPad app doesn’t offer any of the power or sophistication of high-end editing solutions, but it’s still pretty amazing.

Equally amazing is the amount of confusion that today’s nonlinear post production world has created. Recent discussion threads on LinkedIn and other community websites have pitted Apple’s Final Cut Pro X against Adobe’s Premiere CS6 against AVID Media Composer 6. The issue? Is AVID the only solution that is of professional quality – and used by professionals, as that is apparently a separate requirement.

Professional editor #1 believes that only AVID is used by professionals, writing that, “Avid is committed to post production, and Apple abandoned us.” Professional editor #2 writes, “I’m using CS5.5 and I’m gonna switch to CS6 soon and AVID sucks.” Professional editor #3 writes, “Final Cut was only created at Pixar to save Apple,” and, “FCPX is just an upgrade to iMovie.”

Without pointing any single individual out, anyone who thinks FCPX is an iMove upgrade doesn’t get it. It is not an upgrade to iMovie. If you haven’t used FCPX and just watched a demo, you might (incorrectly) think that it is. And it is true that there are elements of iMovie that made their way into FCP X. However, early versions of iMovie had similar track-based editing elements found in FCP 7, Premiere, AVID, etc. Oh, and Final Cut Pro was not written at Pixar. It was originally a Macromedia product.

All of these tools are designed to manage media – moving imagery and sound specifically. The concept of “winning” or “best” is really related to the sharing of media, the ability to hire people who don’t need specific training to execute their jobs, and the efficiency of the workflow that results in a quality product.

AVID is clearly focused not only on the above, but on collaborative editing – putting multiple editors into the same project workflow.

Adobe’s solutions are fun because they’re so nicely linked from one app to the other. Moving from AfterEffects to Premiere is terrific – but typically you’re doing this as a “single seat” editor. I do like the comments made referring to CS6 as FCP 8 – that really does fit in multiple ways.

FCP X is whatever you want it to be (as are all the rest). Everyone’s opinion is valid for them, but not necessarily for every other editor or film creative. If you believe that FCP X is not a professional tool, then it isn’t – for YOU. That doesn’t mean that others aren’t making money with it. My firm is. But we also use FCP 7, CS5.5, and other tools. Above all, we work to make certain our ability to tell the stories our clients hire us to tell are well received. Anything that interferes with our ability to do so reduces our competitive ability to sell our services (even internally).

Above all, as professional editors, the challenge is staying informed, while also polishing skills and staying “current.” Not only does that include the software solution required, but the appropriate graphics card, media storage, PC or Mac, etc. I think the most interesting thing about the various online discussion threads is the huge amount of misinformation and wrong foundation about what products do or don’t do. So much of what’s been posted by “professionals” is factually incorrect.

The biggest challenge in the technology world is change – we’re entering a phase where the UI and workflow of editing applications will change two or three times a year – notably as CODECs, screen and delivery formats, and media requirements change. So, while the conversation is nice, I think many professionals just don’t have the time any more to rethink things, and yet, rethinking (and changing) how things are being done is inevitable. That’s the future. And not only is the future already here, it’s already obsolete.

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