Every time I think I’ll be able to get one of these out on schedule something comes up and forces me to push it back, at least this time it’s still the same week that I had intended.
We’re going to talk about something that is important to Editors but it is not the MOST important thing for Editors. we’re talking about software. The program that you will use every day while attempting to carve out a story from the massive amount of raw footage you will have to work with. I said it’s not the most important thing because no matter what software you choose, the basics of storytelling, creating mood, pacing the cut, and making sure the cuts work aesthetically, are all independent of software and can but done in any program you want.
There is a phrase that gets tossed around a lot in every field of business, it’s “industry standard.” When people say something is Industry Standard, they mean its what the majority of people who are working professionals use to do their work. that means quite a bit for those of us just getting started in the industry. the majority of the companies that do the hiring already use the industry standard tools so they want people who know how to use them. It also means a lot of tricks and tips have been developed for the tools to make the work easier, and those tricks might not work the same with something else. many times the industry standards have been in the business for years if not decades and have perfected the tools and molded it to the professional users. so it’s a good idea, as you start focusing on a program to edit with, to work with one or all of the industry standard software packages. I’m going to discuss the three top programs for editing which are. AVID Media Composer, Apple Final Cut Pro, and Adobe Premier Pro CS6. And yes these are in order of popularity in the industry.
AVID MEDIA COMPOSER
AVID has been one of the leading digital editing software companies since the beginning of digital film editing. That has given the company years of communication with the professionals and companies that use their program and they have made an amazing program that is not only powerful but also easy to learn and quick to work with.
Media Composer has a steeper learning curve than any of the others but if you can focus on how to use the software as intended you can learn to edit very quickly and efficiently. The program is designed to use keyboard shortcuts to do almost all the work. with practice you would be able to edit for long periods of time without having to touch your mouse at all. Cost-wise it is more expensive than it’s competitors but they do have a 30 day trial you can download to use. if you focus your time on learning the program you can become very skilled with it in that month’s time. I cut several small videos on it after only working with it for two weeks. I’ll admit, it helps if you have a keyboard that shows what each key does, but it’s not a necessary thing to own.
As far as performance goes, the developer has brought the software up by leaps and bounds to match and even outperform its competitors. I’ve seen it handle some massive video files without having to run on any special hardware. As far as I’m aware it is the program used most in television and film for the time being. It’s definitely a program anyone who want to be an editor should know.
APPLE FINAL CUT PRO
Ok, Final Cut Pro or FCP is a program with a lot of controversy around it. For years Apple was in the middle of the semi-professional editing industry, they were a staple for small production companies and film students alike. In that time they literally changed how people work with footage to standardize their own encoding software and to make the whole end to end process of editing easy for anyone to step into. Their software was easy to use yet powerful enough to create some really high end projects. and over the years they have pushed their way into the film and television industry. Then not too long ago they announced the next version of their software, Final Cut X, or FCX, in it they decided to simplify the simple things and make the complicated things even more complicated, they also slashed the price to practically nothing and changed the whole lay out to look and feel like their consumer level editing system iMovie. The changes were met with a mix of happiness, anger, frustration, relief and a boom in business for their competitors.
I can’t say much about FCX because I used it once and did not like how it handled things and “held my hand” so I’ve never tried picking it up again. one thing to remember with all versions of FCP, it is a Mac OS software only, so if you are running windows, you can’t use it.
ADOBE PREMIERE PRO CS6
Premiere Pro has been around for a long time as well but suffered a rough start as an editing program. the early versions were plagued by stability issues and minor annoyances that put it at the butt-end of these editing software. However, over the recent years and recent versions of the program it has become more powerful and more stable than even it’s competitors. At risk of sounding biased towards it, it is the only software that I own for editing and I use all the Adobe products for my Visual effects and graphics work.
Performance-wise Premiere is the most powerful editing software I’ve used hands down. It is more complicated to use than FCP and AVID when it comes to some parts of the process, but it makes up for it in other ways.
One of the downsides with it though is they have a lack of compatibility with other softwares that do the same thing as their own products. for example sending the audio tracks to Logic for editing was a headache and a half, and sending the footage to Apple color for color correction was the most difficult thing I ever had to do. But on the other hand if you’re an editor who is used to working with Avid or FCP you can tell premiere to use the same keyboard shortcuts as your program of choice.
Enough of my ranting about Premiere. The important thing to remember as you begin editing and working on learning the programs is that Knowing how to use the software doesn’t make you an editor. Just like not everyone who owns a camera is a cinematographer. What makes you an editor is how you use the software and the stories you tell with it. It’s the edits that you make that no one notices. or the edits that stand out and make them say “Damn, thats some good editing.” It’s being able to take a mundane conversation between two actors and turn it into an emotional chess game. Whatever you choose to work with, it is second to learning to truly edit. Good luck.