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Allow me to introduce myself... and a bit of NLE history.

COW Forums : Apple FCPX or Not: The Debate

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David LawrenceAllow me to introduce myself... and a bit of NLE history.
by on Jul 5, 2011 at 8:15:01 pm

Hello Fellow FCP Enthusiasts,

I've been a member of The COW Community since 2005 but only recently filled in my profile and started getting active in these forums. Nice to meet you all.

By way of introduction, I'd like to share a document I co-authored in 1987 when I was a designer/producer/researcher at Lucasfilm Ltd. It is the functional spec for what would arguably become the world's first database managed, object-oriented, non-linear editing system.

http://www.propaganda.com/xTV_Production_System.pdf

This document was a deliverable for our partner/client, Apple Computer, Inc. It was part of a research and production collaboration between Lucasfilm, Apple and our third partner, The National Geographic Society. The purpose of the collaboration was to design the future of digital media experience as well as the tools to create those experiences. We targeted education and built with the most cutting edge hardware technologies we could get our hands on at the time. We developed and grew this system over a roughly thee-year period and I used it to produce actual products that were sold nationally.

One of the project's big insights was the realization that a physical world metaphor - for example, digitally modeling the physical characteristics of a Steenbeck, as George had done with EditDroid - was unnecessary. The document above is the first spec we produced and references a "digital light table", but over the course of the project it evolved past this, becoming an object-oriented system complete with a bin-like workspace for collecting media objects and an open timeline for sequencing media events. While much functionality was specific to our unique authoring needs, at its core, we thought of the Econodroid (later renamed MPS - Multimedia Production System) as a general model for the digital representation of time-based media, as well as the tools needed to fluidly manipulate and structure this media into time-based experiences.

We got a lot of things right. Today, nearly 25 years later, many UI conventions we identified are taken for granted and still in use.

The shock of what Apple did the other week is finally starting to wear off. I've had some time to kick the tires on X and gather my thoughts which I'll share in another post. But I wanted to start by giving you an idea of where I'm coming from. I hope you'll find this stuff interesting and I look forward to further conversation.

__________
propaganda.com
publicmattersgroup.com
facebook.com/dlawrence
twitter.com/dhl


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Mark RaudonisRe: Allow me to introduce myself... and a bit of NLE history.
by on Jul 5, 2011 at 8:33:22 pm

David,

Wow! The dawn of the NLE! Thanks for sharing.

You should send a copy here:
http://www.vtoldboys.com/editingmuseum/index.htm

We've come a long way since then.

Welcome to the cow.

Mark



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Michael LargéRe: Allow me to introduce myself... and a bit of NLE history.
by on Jul 5, 2011 at 8:51:54 pm

Welcome aboard David. Would love to hear your thoughts on FCPX.


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Fredy SchwerdtnerRe: Allow me to introduce myself... and a bit of NLE history.
by on Jul 5, 2011 at 9:03:33 pm

Very interesting document ... and since you "were" there, I really would like to read about your thougts.
Welcome aboard !

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Andrew RichardsRe: Allow me to introduce myself... and a bit of NLE history.
by on Jul 5, 2011 at 9:31:49 pm

I'm very much looking forward to your post, especially in light of your prior work and Apple's controversial new GUI metaphor, the trackless Magnetic Timeline.

Best,
Andy


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Scott ThomasRe: Allow me to introduce myself... and a bit of NLE history.
by on Jul 5, 2011 at 10:56:09 pm

Thank you for sharing. I find this kind of historical info fascinating.

Wasn't it around this time that Robert Abel was working on interactive laserdisk? I'm assuming they had their own tools for authoring?


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David LawrenceRe: Allow me to introduce myself... and a bit of NLE history.
by on Jul 6, 2011 at 3:43:59 am

[Scott Thomas] "Wasn't it around this time that Robert Abel was working on interactive laserdisk? I'm assuming they had their own tools for authoring?"

Yes, as a matter of fact, Bob Abel and his team showed us a demo of Guernica at the ranch. It was a HyperCard-based interactive laserdisc. IIRC, the disc itself was created the old school way (linear tape and CMX) with HyperCard driving the interactivity. I remember it being a very cool project!

__________
propaganda.com
publicmattersgroup.com
facebook.com/dlawrence
twitter.com/dhl


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David Roth WeissRe: Allow me to introduce myself... and a bit of NLE history.
by on Jul 6, 2011 at 4:03:02 am

[David Lawrence] "Bob Abel and his team showed us a demo of Guernica at the ranch. It was a HyperCard-based interactive laserdisc. IIRC, the disc itself was created the old school way (linear tape and CMX) with HyperCard driving the interactivity. I remember it being a very cool project!"

Did that become E-Pix, or any part of the E-Pix laser disk editing system?


David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles
http://www.drwfilms.com

Don't miss my new tutorial: Prepare for a seamless transition to FCP X and OS X Lion
http://library.creativecow.net/weiss_roth_david/FCP-10-MAC-Lion/1

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Business & Marketing and Apple Final Cut Pro forums.


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David LawrenceRe: Allow me to introduce myself... and a bit of NLE history.
by on Jul 7, 2011 at 8:07:14 am

[David Roth Weiss] "Did that become E-Pix, or any part of the E-Pix laser disk editing system?"

That I don't know. Not much info about E-Pix out there!

__________
propaganda.com
publicmattersgroup.com
facebook.com/dlawrence
twitter.com/dhl


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David Roth WeissRe: Allow me to introduce myself... and a bit of NLE history.
by on Jul 5, 2011 at 11:27:21 pm

As Mr. Jobs might say: awesome!!!

It's hard to believe you've have been right here among us, hearing out inner most thoughts about this thing you helped to birth twenty-five years ago.

As the others have said, hearing your thoughts on FCP X should be most enlightening for all to hear.

[David Lawrence] "We got a lot of things right. Today, nearly 25 years later, many UI conventions we identified are taken for granted and still in use."

You clearly got a lot of things right, and many UI conventions you identified were certainly taken for granted... It's the rest that many of us are concerned about, and it will be darned interesting to hear what you think.


David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles
http://www.drwfilms.com

Don't miss my new tutorial: Prepare for a seamless transition to FCP X and OS X Lion
http://library.creativecow.net/weiss_roth_david/FCP-10-MAC-Lion/1

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Business & Marketing and Apple Final Cut Pro forums.


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Rich RubaschRe: Allow me to introduce myself... and a bit of NLE history.
by on Jul 5, 2011 at 11:48:49 pm

In the article the term "The Econodroid operator" is used. Sounds like exactly what Apple wants us to be....users who just use their software because they told us to. Um, droids.

Very funny and yet informative. Like YouTube.

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Founder/President/Editor/Designer/Animator
http://www.tiltmedia.com


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David LawrenceRe: Allow me to introduce myself... and a bit of NLE history.
by on Jul 6, 2011 at 3:33:14 am

Thanks for your interest everyone!

I'm working on a series of posts that will mostly focus on the meta -- paradigm, metaphor, UI. That kind of stuff. Will try to get the first out soon. Stay tuned...

--David

__________
propaganda.com
publicmattersgroup.com
facebook.com/dlawrence
twitter.com/dhl


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Aindreas GallagherRe: Allow me to introduce myself... and a bit of NLE history.
by on Jul 6, 2011 at 1:32:38 pm

Good god, you were keeping that under your hat a bit there David. Pretty avidly keen to hear your gathered thoughts on FCPX.


http://www.ogallchoir.net
promo producer/editor.grading/motion graphics


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David LawrenceRe: Allow me to introduce myself... and a bit of NLE history.
by on Jul 7, 2011 at 7:45:45 am

[Aindreas Gallagher] "Good god, you were keeping that under your hat a bit there David. Pretty avidly keen to hear your gathered thoughts on FCPX."

@Aindreas

Thanks! BTW, I'm enjoying your threads. Especially amused by posters who put us in the "luddite" camp, lol. It was fun watching in the background but I knew I had to eventually say something.

First post is ready and will go up sometime Thursday.

__________
propaganda.com
publicmattersgroup.com
facebook.com/dlawrence
twitter.com/dhl


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Lee BergerRe: Allow me to introduce myself... and a bit of NLE history.
by on Jul 6, 2011 at 8:04:20 pm

Around the same time I was a producer for an interactive media project at Florida State University. The delivery system consisted of Pioneer 12" laserdisc player controlled by the Apple IIGS with graphic overlay card. We produced four interactive programs for Middle School Science under a grant from the NSF and Houghton Mifflin Publishing. We offlined (3/4-inch U-matic) using a PC based program called Edit Lister (remember 8" floppy discs) and then onlined to One-inch tape at a CMX facility. Those were the days.

Lee Berger
http://www.leebergermedia.com


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David LawrenceRe: Allow me to introduce myself... and a bit of NLE history.
by on Jul 7, 2011 at 8:16:37 am

[Lee Berger] "Around the same time I was a producer for an interactive media project at Florida State University. The delivery system consisted of Pioneer 12" laserdisc player controlled by the Apple IIGS with graphic overlay card."

That's the exact same delivery system we targeted as well. It's entirely possible our products appeared together in the same catalogs.

[Lee Berger] "We offlined (3/4-inch U-matic) using a PC based program called Edit Lister (remember 8" floppy discs) and then onlined to One-inch tape at a CMX facility. Those were the days."

Similar for us except we had MPS (Econodroid) for offline. The system would generate an EDL and we'd do an online auto assembly at a 1" CMX facility.

__________
propaganda.com
publicmattersgroup.com
facebook.com/dlawrence
twitter.com/dhl


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Michael GissingRe: Allow me to introduce myself... and a bit of NLE history.
by on Jul 7, 2011 at 8:32:38 am

Interesting paper David. A year earlier than your 1987 paper, I was invited to hear the guys at Fairlight in Sydney talk about making a post production audio tool, basically an adaptation of their famous Computer Musical Instrument.

At the meeting there was much discussion about screen layouts. I put in a request for vertical track layouts as that mirrored industry experience with dubbing charts. Fairlight said it was committed to horizontal to follow musical notation. Even then the idea was to have a static 'head' with the audio waveforms traveling right to left across screen with clip names displayed, something that Final Cut Pro finally offered two years ago!

Within ten years of those talks I was alpha testing multi track audio editing and mixing systems with dSP an offshoot from Fairlight. I pushed very hard for ergonomic custom controllers as the nightmare of multi colored ASCI keyboards on early CMX editors gave me the horrors.

So I have always marveled that the direction and methodologies of audio editing DAWs have so rarely found their way into video editing. Simple things like sample based editing, track based levels, EQ & effects as well as clip based levels etc. But ergonomics is the biggie. How has the industry gone so long with such an awful interface as the keyboard and mouse. Gesture pads and touchscreen, I mean really?


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David LawrenceRe: Allow me to introduce myself... and a bit of NLE history.
by on Jul 8, 2011 at 6:21:22 am

[Michael Gissing] "Within ten years of those talks I was alpha testing multi track audio editing and mixing systems with dSP an offshoot from Fairlight. I pushed very hard for ergonomic custom controllers as the nightmare of multi colored ASCI keyboards on early CMX editors gave me the horrors."

Great stuff Michael, sounds like you were in the deep in the trenches too. My theory about why DAW software UIs evolved faster than NLEs is that processor, memory, compression and storage technologies of the time were able to handle production quality audio much sooner than they would be ready to do video. It would be years before all the pieces needed for video would be affordable. So sound came first. As you mentioned in the other thread, there's still a lot of good ideas from DAWs that still apply.

_______________________
David Lawrence
art~media~design~research
propaganda.com
publicmattersgroup.com
facebook.com/dlawrence
twitter.com/dhl


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Michael GissingRe: Allow me to introduce myself... and a bit of NLE history.
by on Jul 8, 2011 at 6:26:56 am

[David Lawrence] "It would be years before all the pieces needed for video would be affordable."

True for processors but not for ergonomics. I still don't get why the need for custom controllers never translated. With the hours spent at the tools, it is more important to me than what color the timeline is.

It is just that problems that are being argued about here and now for video editing were solved so long ago. I find it frustrating to move between Fairlight and FCS. For Color I bought the Tangent Wave and what is obvious to graders still hasn't hit home to video editors.


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David LawrenceRe: Allow me to introduce myself... and a bit of NLE history.
by on Jul 8, 2011 at 6:39:23 am

[Michael Gissing] "I still don't get why the need for custom controllers never translated. With the hours spent at the tools, it is more important to me than what color the timeline is."

Good point. Custom controller hardware really does make a difference. I never invested in a control surface for FCP even though it would probably help me move faster. But what I did do is map my five-button logitech mouse to FCP. Huge improvement. With custom mouse buttons and the keyboard I feel like I really fly.

_______________________
David Lawrence
art~media~design~research
propaganda.com
publicmattersgroup.com
facebook.com/dlawrence
twitter.com/dhl


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Michael GissingRe: Allow me to introduce myself... and a bit of NLE history.
by on Jul 8, 2011 at 6:43:44 am

[David Lawrence] "But what I did do is map my five-button logitech mouse to FCP."

Interesting. A five button mouse was my first purchase. I tried the Contour Shuttle Pro but it jogged like a dog. I even tried a tablet and pen. All pretty ordinary.

I have dual keyboards - one with all the colored keys like a CMX ASCI and a second one to type on. I was told two keyboards wouldn't work so I tried it and it does. I don't edit, just grade & then online in FCP. If I edited, I would look for something better than keyboards and mice.


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David LawrenceRe: Allow me to introduce myself... and a bit of NLE history.
by on Jul 8, 2011 at 6:50:36 am

Every Avid guy I know swears by the keyboard. It's legendary. Maybe I'm weird but I've never personally cared. For me, editing with a keyboard and mouse (my mouse that is) feels like playing a video game.

_______________________
David Lawrence
art~media~design~research
propaganda.com
publicmattersgroup.com
facebook.com/dlawrence
twitter.com/dhl


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