Publishing in the 21st Century
2 March 2017
The Future of NLE’s in the Post-Production Stage
Just as every industry has their popular staples, so does the production, and post-production stage. Since my introduction to video cameras and Non-Linear Editing Software when I was 12, Apple, Adobe, and AVID were and still are huge players in the “game.” Though since, it’s been a battle to see who can create the most comprehensive, efficient and user-friendly NLE money can buy.
In the first few months of 2011, Walter Biscardi of Biscardi Studios discussed his thoughts on the future of editing that AVID seems to be changing with the times, but have not created anything tangible yet. In my defense, he had some very nice things to say about Final Cut Pro X, even considering the 10.1 update was the only thing on the horizon. Even considering FCPX was built on the foundation of iMovie, the interface is actually appropriately efficient, with options like, background rendering, magnetic timeline, an open timeline with no hard tracks that appear and disappear as needed, corrected audio skimming, improved color correction, audio fade controls, simple retiming in the timeline, one-click color matching, and no more transcoding and matching of any formats in the timeline so you can pull from several different cameras if need be.
On the other hand, Biscardi noted, “At $299, well now it’s cheap so nobody can complain. Apple will absolutely build more market share for the product because at $299 every single hobbyist, school, and anyone who wants to edit video will purchase the product. That very well seems their goal with the price.” (Biscardi)
Additionally, he predicted that “Apple will “win” the NLE battle simply by sheer numbers of installed users. As they pointed out in the presentation, based on installed user numbers alone, Avid and Adobe are “fighting” for second place.” (Biscardi) As I’m reading this article and piecing together the years spent at SOCAPA, it only makes sense that at the time FCPX was industry standard for small production companies, independent filmmakers, and hobbyists simply because it was affordable. If I can draw any conclusion from Apple’s debut release of Final Cut Pro X is that they intend to sell more copies, but miss a market in terms of larger scale production.
However, as I graduated high school in and transitioned into college, things started to change as far as NLE (Non-Linear Editor) software was concerned. After my freshman year in 2013, Champlain College dropped their licensing with Apple and adopted the Adobe Creative Suite for all computers on campus. Around that time, Noam Kroll, a very well-known videographer/blogger, gave his opinion on the “Battle of the NLE’s FCPX vs. AVID vs. Premiere Pro,” essentially going through each NLE, and listing the pros and cons to each one. Without getting excessively technical, I’ll try my best to sum up his perspective on the usage of each platform.
Premiere Pro has developed nicely and gained solid ground in the last few years with indie filmmakers and smaller production companies because it picked up the “professional” slack left behind when Apple moved onto FCPX. It has a good chance of sustaining, evolving, and maturing as a prominent NLE over the next decade. Nonetheless, it still has issues, especially with the introduction of Creative Cloud. Since Apple has left Final Cut Pro 7 in the dust, Adobe has essentially taken editors concerns, and applied them to the new Premiere Pro software. Or in other words, a lot of current users are seeing Premiere Pro as a temporary fix to the NLE transition and are waiting to see future development and distribution among other companies like Apple, and Avid. “In a lot of ways Premiere Pro feels like a hybrid of FCP X and Avid to me, both in terms of the design characteristics and general functionality. Adobe is very aware of what it’s users want and take the best features and ideas from other NLE’s and integrate them into Premiere Pro.” (Kroll)
Noam also noted that this (2013) was a confusing time for editors, especially those switching from Final Cut Pro 7 and don’t foresee another program with a similar interface. In his opinion, AVID Media Composer has never been, and will never be radically different from the past versions. It is generally less interactive than FCPX and Premiere Pro and feels clunky in comparison. The only difference that sets it apart from Apple and Adobe’s NLE, is collaborative editing. So for that reason, it does what it’s supposed to do and does it very well.
So, that leaves us with Final Cut Pro X, which its predecessor Final Cut Pro 7, was used in larger scale markets. Though, FCPX has some features that take some getting used to, but eventually they seem to grow on editors and convert even the most critical users of the product. With time, the hope is that Apple will address the issue of a collaborative environment. “In my opinion, FCP X is the most evolved, efficient, and forward thinking system out there. And with the upcoming 10.1 release in December, things are going to get really interesting… Avid is what you want. But if you want a really powerful and affordable tool for your own work, then FCP X is hard to beat.” (Kroll)
Since my school’s transition in 2013 from FCPX to Adobe Creative Suite, I chose to stay with FCPX as I had already paid for it from my freshman year and could not afford another NLE at the time. There has been some difficulty with project files formats, transferring projects, and training on another platform. However, it’s given me the opportunity to be proficient on two different non-linear editing platforms incase the future ever calls for that.
Fast forward to 2016, now my last full year at Champlain College. Robert Hardy posted an article discussing how “Adobe might shape the future of Post,” observing the belief that more and more consumers will adopt the Creative Cloud Model, giving post-production a potential for “cloud” or mobile editing. Mentioning that the updated Premiere Pro has harvested good qualities from several different applications such as Lightroom, Photoshop, Final Cut Pro 7, and implemented them within the software. Adobe’s latest update introduces a new way of experiencing visual media, and it may be the push they need to be at the top. The process will feel more “official” and the ability to pull and drag your way through the image inside the preview panel is a big plus. These simple advancements will push the trend of “jack-of-all-trades” for every video professional as they grasp and solidify further knowledge of the post-production process. Not to say, colorists and audio engineers will be out of jobs by the end of the decade, but freelancers and independent filmmakers will be able to accomplish more with their work. As Robert Hardy said, “There’s no doubt that other companies are making strides in the post-production world, but Premiere Pro’s features and are exciting and intricate, while maintaining the aspect of being simple.” (Hardy)
Building off the “cloud,”or online editing model, Premium Beat also posted an article posing the question, “Is online video editing the future?” I sat there for a few moments and tried to process the possibility of logging onto any computer, anywhere, and picking up where I left off on a project. Whether that’s through Adobe, Apple, or AVID, it doesn’t matter, having an online editing feature is an insane presumption in my mind.
Luckily, the folks over at Premium Beat didn’t stray to far from that opinion either. The limited online video editors available now are not very technical and don’t allow you to go into much detail with your edits. For those reasons, they’re fantastic and extremely useable for simple projects. “If Adobe Creative Cloud finds a way to let Premiere Pro and After Effects use online footage, there will be a huge shift in the industry. Same goes for FCPX” (Premium Beat) Currently only massive studios and production houses can handle online video editing internally, on their own servers. Nevertheless, if that becomes universal, sharing projects with other editors or clients will be hassle and risk-free, with much more time saved from not having to export unfinished projects and or exchanging hard drives. Obviously with all the advancements currently happening, 4K is on the rise and soon to be history as 8K has already started to move in with RED cameras.
The last and most recent post I came across was actually on REDSHARK, written by a “Guest Author.” To my surprise, especially after reading the last bit of text from 2016, this article was entitled “Why FCPX is the NLE of the Future.” So don’t be expecting some drastic turn of events and Adobe comes out on-top as Champion. From what I learned, this is that many editors felt betrayed with the introduction of Final Cut Pro X, mainly because layout was so radically different than the previous Final Cut Pro 7 and Final Cut Pro Express. NLE software that took users years of experience to master. At the time of launch, many people jumped “Apple’s” ship and switched over to Adobe Premiere Pro, like Champlain College. But that all changed October 31st, 2016 when the 10.3 update was released. It has increased workflow to the point where something that could take a week on Premiere Pro, can be completed in four days or less using FCPX. Apple completely ripped out the engine of the application, constantly re-working the tools and eventually putting it back together. “It’s become clear that FCPX was for editors who didn’t have any perceived notions on how to piece together a project and ultimately, editors who have been in the game for a long time this was too much of a jump. Personally, I didn’t quite get FCPX at first, but you know what they say; people hate and resist change. So I caved, swallowed that massive pill, reconditioned my thinking and haven’t looked back since.” (REDSHARK)
Throughout research and personal experience, it seems as though the future of non-linear editing platforms in the post production stage has been narrowed down to, two large competitors, Adobe Premiere Pro and Apple’s Final Cut Pro X. At this point in time, choosing between the two is simply a matter of preference. Regardless of which software you choose, remember that they are all just tools. None of them will make your film better, they will only help you achieve your vision.” (Kroll) Or in other words, try both, try them all, see what works best for your needs and the type of content that you’re pushing.
Sometimes it’s best to have your hands in several different programs because each one can benefit you in different ways. Final Cut Pro X is efficient, and over the last few years Apple has played with the bugs and completely reengineered the interface and tools. Background rendering, Magnetic Timeline with audio always moving out of the way, open timeline with no hard tracks that appear and disappear as needed, pitched corrected audio skimming, improved color correction, audio fade controls much better, simple retiming in the timeline, one click color matching, and no more transcoding and matching of any formats in the timeline. Not to mention, it’s affordable and easy to learn on your own. Adobe Premiere Pro looked at what Apple did, and structured the format of their NLE to incorporate the best parts of Final Cut Pro 7, while using some of their own tools from other Creative Suite Programs. Neither of these NLE’s have the capability of collaborative effort, but AVID does and it’s mainly used by larger scale production companies. The future of editing could quite possibly have an online aspect, but with the advancements in video cameras, keeping up with the size of certain files without compression would be daunting. “The bottom line is that there is no wrong answer, here. Apple, Adobe, and Avid continue to develop and support their products, providing filmmakers with a variety of world class tools.” (Light Film School)
Biscardi, Walter. “The Future of Editing.” NAB Show. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2017. <https://library.creativecow.net/biscardi_walter/Future-of-Editing/1>.
About Robert HardyRobert Is a Filmmaker, Writer, and Musician Currently Based out of Denver, CO. He Also Runs The Filmmaker’s Process, a Website Dedicated to Teaching People How to Make Films That They Genuinely Care About. “Robert Hardy.” FilmPost. FilmPost, n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2017. <https://filmpost.co/2016/04/how-adobe-might-shape-the-future-of-post-breaking-down-the-2016-updates/>.
“Is Online Video Editing the Future?” The Beat: A Blog by PremiumBeat. N.p., 29 July 2015. Web. 02 Mar. 2017. <https://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/is-online-video-editing-the-future/>.
Author, Guest. “Why FCPX 10.3 Is the NLE of the Future.” RedShark News. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2017. <http://www.redsharknews.com/post/item/4287-why-fcpx-10-3-is-the-nle-of-the-future>.
Kroll, Noam. “Battle of the NLE’s: Which Editing Software Will Prevail? FCP X vs. Avid vs. Premiere Pro.” Noam Kroll. Noam Kroll, n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2017. <http://noamkroll.com/battle-of-the-nles-which-editing-software-will-prevail-fcp-x-vs-avid-vs-premiere-pro/>.
“Whats the Best NLE for Professional Video Editing.” Light Film School. N.p., n.d. Web. <https://www.lightsfilmschool.com/blog/whats-the-best-nle-software-for-professional-movie-editing-2+(>.