The ‘Triple A’ of Non-Linear Editing Software
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The ‘Triple A’ of Non-Linear Editing Software

Digital editing, also known as non-linear editing (or NLE), is performed on standard computers using media files and is used in both film and video production. It’s also comparable to the way word processing works, given functions like drag-and-drop and cut-and-paste which are common to both disciplines.

However, unlike word processing – where Microsoft Word still dominates – editors are presented with a choice of video editing applications available today that can be confusing, especially for a new editor deciding which package is the most cost-effective to learn.

When it comes to video editing, three key players dominate:

Avid Media Composer v Apple FCP v Adobe Premiere; AFX

Competition among these three manufacturers’ offerings is hot and things have changed a lot since FCP X was released in 2011.

Adobe video editing packages Premiere and After Effects (also known as AFX) are becoming increasingly popular, as we discussed in this post.

However, Avid Media Composer remains the application that’s most commonly used by Frame 25’s extensive pool of editors who work for many broadcasters and across numerous productions:

“Avid remains the main tool used by our freelancers,” says Tom Pammenter, Frame 25 Recruitment’s MD and Lead Consultant.

“Editors…are becoming required to have After Effects skills [AFX]. Traditionally this was kept separate, with an editor doing their work and then having a motion graphics editor come in to do the graphics. This shift is largely down to reducing overheads and also developing editors’ skills,” he adds.

Apple’s flagship editing software, Final Cut Pro X (also known as FCP), is another non-linear video editing software and was introduced by Apple in 2011. FCP has its admirers but also, it appears, plenty of professional editors who are no longer fans of the software.

“We are not amused.”

Editors who’d grown used to working with FCP were not amused: “After years of loyalty to your product – you just forced all real editors to go back to Avid. Way to destroy 10 years of work,” said one.

“A home movie editor and nothing more. Not a professional program and never will be…simply an editing program for people with no ambition to learn a profession non-linear editing program,” added another.

A third said: “I work full-time editing video and after getting the new Final Cut X, I first sent Apple an email expressing my complete disappointment and utter shock that they would turn such great software into a glorified version of iMovie. Then I trashed the software and went back to using the old version. They really screwed the pooch on this one!”

Perhaps Apple’s core target market is now the ‘prosumer’, defined as someone who buys electronic goods that are of a standard between those aimed at consumers and professionals.

“FCP is slowing down into more of a consumer product due to Apple making it cheaper and limiting the features of their latest release,” says Tom.

This video, uploaded in the same year as FCP was released, sums up the feeling among professional editors:

The release of the new Mac Pro, at the end of 2013, presents the final test of whether or not FCP will be given another shot on a large scale, according to some. And that release will probably impact both Avid Media Composer and Adobe video editing software.

The future of editing, as with many things in life, will be driven by money. As budgets dwindle and numbers of channels and productions grow, editors will use (or be forced to use) the software package(s) that can deliver more for less. People will need to acquire new skills and combine them with existing talents.

Growing pressure on producers to deliver more places editors are at the heart of such changes.

Whichever software an editor works with, it’s worth returning to the word processing comparison. Ultimately, it’s not so much the tools that matter; what’s more important is the ability of the editor to make full use of them. Microsoft Word did not spawn a glut of great authors.

Are you an editor? Get in touch with Frame 25 today to give your career a boost