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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

More Hollywood Editors Working on PCs

One of the things that movie editors love about PC-based software for editing is that they can work on a laptop while they're on the road -- just like all the rest of us.

The Wall Street Journal has a story today headlined 'Editing on Big Films is Now Being Done on Small Computers.' That's only news to folks outside the industry, and the piece doesn't capture the sea change that I think is happening right now -- big-name editors shifting from Avid's software to Apple's Final Cut Pro. (Am I wrong? Walter Murch edited 'Cold Mountain' on Final Cut back in 2003, and I've only been hearing more about Final Cut since then.)

Lee Gomes writes:

    ...[E]ven relatively low-end personal computers, laptops included, are now so powerful that Hollywood pros have joined student filmmakers and indies in taking advantage of them.

    It's one more example -- along with music recording and graphic design -- of the way cheap computers are blurring the distinction between professional and amateur tools. Not that just having software makes you good at something, as a quick trip around the Web makes clear.

    ...[T]he typical Hollywood feature film these days is an analog-digital hybrid. Reels of film might be developed at a lab such as Technicolor, but then $1.5 million scanners digitize them and put them on a $100 generic USB hard drive. From there, it's on to the editors.

    Editing on computers is so much easier than editing physical film that it's how nearly all movies are now cut. USC's film school once had 50 editing consoles; now it has only two. Indeed, editing may have become too easy. "You can easily recut your movie 10 times a day," says Matt Furie, who teaches editing at USC. "Some students go off the deep end and cut, cut, cut. We tell them they need to discipline themselves to push away from the desk, drop the mouse and just think."

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  • "...the piece doesn't capture the sea change that I think is happening right now..."

    absolutely. i had this discussion with steve cohen. he posted the results of an ace survey that indicated that fc penetration has remained constant for three years in that group.

    but i believe it's generational. every single peer of mine uses final cut (at least on their own stuff - some still have to use both at work). once our generation (x) becomes the dominant demo in the editing world i believe you'll see a big shift.

    By Blogger deepstructure, at 1:31 PM  

  • Way more so than feature film editing Final Cut Pro is making in-roads in the corporate video world as well as most all "low end" markets. "Low end" being anything below feature films. FCP's success has been its price point. Both Avid and Apple produce great tools and they are just that... tools. I can edit a show on either and produce the same result in the same amount of time. It's just my preference as to how I get there.

    By Blogger editblog, at 2:32 PM  

  • It was proven a while back that Final Cut could do feature movies. Back in 2000, we did "Month of August" using Final Cut (it never got distribution, though).

    By Blogger CharlieJ, at 7:25 PM  

  • Hey Scott,

    I can tell I'm in the minority amongst your blog comments here, but Avid is still a vastly superior editorial platform than FCP for one reason - media management. Yes... I'm sure the FCP fanboys' blood is already boiling.

    Apple has been aware of this for years while piling on other features but for some reason they have not yet addressed this one underlying problem with the software.

    In an Avid, you log/digitize and forget about the media - you move on to the edit. In FC, the logging process is extremely laborious, and there are not many standardized ways of keeping track of information about clips/takes. There are far too many specifics to get into in this space, but predominantly it is only the people who are outside of the intense pace of the high-end commercial, television and feature film markets that are using FCP.

    FCP is a great application and has many exceptional features - but it will remain outside of the "platform of choice" until Apple can integrate workable media management.

    I am beyond skeptical of editblog's comment that both Avid and Final Cut can produce the same result in the same amount of time. I'd have to see that to believe it.

    And wiredcoach: You can technically edit a feature using something as simplistic as Quicktime Player and Excel to create EDLs - but I sure wouldn't want to. Just because you can do something doesn't make it the right choice for that specific purpose.

    Love to hear people's comments...


    By Blogger Steve, at 6:27 AM  

  • The Ultimate future will be a product called Forscene from Forbidden Technologies ( ) that will eventually do most things for most people.

    It's been around many years, but it doesn't seem to be on the radar of most editors.

    try at:

    Yours kindly,

    Shakir Razak

    ....and no, i don't work for them, just know good technology!

    By Blogger Unknown, at 3:48 PM  

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