Curiouser and Curiouser

Snickers the kitten

The world of film editing is in turmoil.  Since Apple abandoned its loyal users with the introduction of Final Cut Pro X – often dubbed iMovie Pro – Filmmakers, editors, and post-production professionals have been roiling.  A few advocate going forward with Final Cut X, but many basic professional features are missing – such as accurate monitoring, facilities for sharing files with others (like laying off audio for a mix, etc), multi-camera editing, importing and revising older projects, and so on.  Most editors, then, have been looking for alternatives.

[Of course, I could just wait this out – I am still working two jobs, and though I had hoped to cut back to full time in January, I now have to earn extra for a bit longer to pay some legal fees.  But, never daunted, I am forging on, glacial pace or no…]

There are two main contenders as alternative video editing software, plus a number of minor players.  The Gorilla is Avid Media Composer, which had become the dominant film and video editing platform soon after the dawn of computer video editing.  Avid still owns major motion picture editing, as well as good chunks of TV news and the like, but had lost ground to Final Cut Pro among independent filmmakers, corporate and event videographers, and many other niches.  Avid was expensive, and closed to third-party hardware, so all the input/output cards and boxes or RAID storage solutions from Aja, Black Magic Designs, Matrox, Other World Computing, or G-Raid – often higher performing at much lower prices than Avid hardware – couldn’t be used.  This was the main wedge that let FCP in to the professional video editing market.

Avid has come back, though – the company has been working incredibly hard to win back customer loyalty, and part of this has been to become truly responsive to the needs and desires of editors.  So, beginning with Media Composer 5.5, and accelerating with the recently released Media Composer 6, the software has opened up – you can monitor, as well as capture or ingest and output, using any of the above hardware.  And prices have come down, though not quite as much as iMovie Pro has…

The other main contender in the battle for fleeing Final Cut users is Adobe, with its Creative Suite 5.5 Production Premium.  The editing application, Premiere Pro, has long been derided as not up-to-snuff for real professional work.  In particular, it tended to choke on bigger projects, and thus couldn’t handle long-form work.  Adobe, a media software company (they don’t make consumer gadgets), has been steadily working at this – the current version seems to have passed the bar, and many  editors and other post-production artists are embracing the well-integrated suite – which includes After Effects, a major compositing and special effects platform.

There are a few other players.  The one that really intrigues me is Lightworks, which was once a player in the film editing market, but had faded to black.  Loved (and designed by) editors, it has been resurrected as an open source project.  If it pans out, Lightworks may brush aside all of the above…

Stay tuned!  Before you know it, How-To will be cruising forward again, after several years of doldrums forced by circumstances beyond our control.


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