Choosing the right NLE for corporate work
I work in a school where I create promotional videos, educational videos and 'souvenir' videos of events. This falls (in the context of the forum catagories here) under corporate work in my eyes.
At present I'm using a seven year old Pinnacle Purple system that has served me well but I want to upgrade to something more up-to-date.
The obvious choice would be the latest version of Avid Liquid (which superceded Purple). However, I want a system that will allow me to produce the best results possible as well as develop my skillset. As no-one seems to use Liquid I'm thinking of Avid Media Composer or Final Cut Studio 2. I'm ignoring Avid Xpress Pro as at education prices there's no significant difference in cost.
Now... I want something that will allow me to work from start to finish without having to bring extra programs in. My workflow doesn't involve an offline, I'm straight into online and then burn to DVD and archive to tape.
My understanding is that Avid is a great editing system but requires the purchase of something like Avid Studio Toolkit for creating a finshed piece to a high standard whereas Final Cut Studio is all-inclusive.
I've discounted Adobe's Creative Suite as, Audition and Dreamweaver aside, I don't like working with Adobe software.
My boss also has a big say in what's chosen. He wants to go for Avid for the simple reason that it can run on Windows. We've been burnt by Macs in the past (lots of bad experiences with iMacs running iMovie for the students and a lack of in-house expertise with troubleshooting Mac problems).
He doesn't want to buy a Mac which we won't be able to fix easily - he'd rather stick with Windows.
I prefer working with OS X Leopard (which I use at home) to Windows and have explained that a Mac Pro is a much more reliable beast than an iMac but he's still trying to nudge me in the Windows direction.
So - what would you suggest? What's the best NLE for me and any thoughts on the OS issue?
The best NLE is the one you like the most.
They are all more or less equal now in features but all have slightly different implementations and interfaces, and perhaps one area that they excel in, be that graphics, file organization, rendering speed, audio capabilities, whatever.
You are going to have to live and work with the machine every day, so try the free evaluation copies of each candidate system your hardware can run and see which ones feel most intuitive to use FOR YOU. Are you a mouse-clicker or a hotkey-tapper? Do you like film style bins with picons or a list? Do you like everything in one screen, or a modal interface, where you do one step at a time?
Because the only way to get good or get better at editing is to do a lot of it, and if you love the machine and the interface and feel comfortable, your learning curve is going to be easier and you'll have more confidence to try new things and experiment to build even better skills. Even if your machine is not as powerful as another person's, you will do better work because you will have pushed beyond the boundaries of just the canned effects and procedures to really KNOW the system inside and out and MASTER it.
If you hate the machine and how the software works, you will just put in the minimum amount of effort into the work. It will show.
NLE systems are like shoes. If they don't fit your feet, no matter how pretty or expensive or fashionable they are, they won't get out and be seen much.
For your evaluation period, try to do the exact same project with identical footage on each of the platforms. Since you are mac-averse, look at Sony Vegas, Avid, Premiere Pro for Windows, Edius, and Incite, to start with. Keep notes on how hard or easy and how fast each system was in doing the same tasks of import, file management, accesing the media, working in the timeline, transport handling, effects and compositing, graphics, audio, export options that fit your needs, things like that.
Then pick the pair that fits like a well-broken-in pair of mocs.
I like Macs as much as PCs, but my advice is to get comfortable with both. You will get your money's worth with either Final Cut, Avid or Premiere as long as you take the time to get comfortable with the software.
You mentioned that you don't like Adobe software. I don't know how much time you've spent with After Effects and PhotoShop, but in my experience, it's best to be comfortable with those programs if you want to flourish in this industry.
Don't get me wrong... I'm not saying that you HAVE to use them to get your projects done. (I still use Boris RED as much as I use After Effects), but if I had to go back 10 years, I'd spend more time with each of those Adobe programs. Considering that it's not much of a price difference to get the Adobe CS Master Collection than it would be to get just a few of those individual programs, you might as well get the whole thing.
Even though we used Incite, and later both Avid Media Composers, and Final Cut Pro for editing, it's still SO nice to have Premiere, PhotoShop, After Effects, Flash and Encore at our disposal. Having familiarity with and the capabilities of all those programs will help you become a more rounded media production professional - and we all know that it's not just about broadcast TV anymore.
So... while I can't tell you whether to go with Final Cut or Avid, I would recommend that if you use a PC to go ahead and get the Adobe bundle - whether you use Premiere or not. We got the Studio Toolkit bundled with our Avids and I like it... but it doesn't mean that I still don't use both PhotoShop and After Effects almost everyday.
Whenever you have the chance to get comfortable with both platforms, take advantage of the opportunity. That will matter more in the long run than which software you choose to get by for the next 3 to 5 years.
If you go with Avid you'll have the option to install it on Mac or PC, so that's a plus, and Media Composer for $295 can't be beat. But with the educational purchase you won't get third party programs like Sorenson Squeeze and Avid's DVD program, so making DVDs will require an additional purchase. Plus, the hardware requirements to run Media Composer are very strict--if you boss just wants to install it on any PC you have lying around, you'll probably have a system that won't run or won't run well. Something to consider, and it's currently not approved for Leopard so a new Mac won't run it (unless you have a Tiger disc lying around and can get it installed).
FCP is locked to the Mac (Grrr!), so convincing your boss will require more effort, but it's an all inclusive package that is very, very powerful for what it can do (which is pretty much everything). When you buy Final Cut Studio you get everything you need to edit, color correct, fancy graphics, burn to DVD, compress to just about any format, etc... It has its drawbacks, and I don't care for it because it seems more mouse-oriented than keyboard focused, but it's a very powerful program for a great price. The biggest problem--it runs on OS X (which I really don't like, but different strokes for different folks). :-)
Like everyone else has said, it's really up to what you're most comfortable with and what will let your best work with the least headache/heartache. For me, that's Avid, but I often suggest FCS2 when people ask me because it is an all inclusive package. Plus, it's much easier to learn than Avid so (if you haven't used it or Avid) you'll be up and running faster. The user base is huge and the FCP forum here on the Cow is probably the most active of all of them.
One last thought--as others have said, look at Adobe again. Premiere has gotten much, much better (it's basically FCP for the PC, and runs on Intel Macs now). Plus, with the addition of Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Audition, and Encore, you get everything you need (like FCS2, but with better integration and compositing capabilities). I believe the eductational discount is great, too.
Good luck on your decision. And remind your boss--with the new Macs you can dual boot into Windows if you want/need, so it's the best of both worlds.
Thanks for all the responses! I think we're going to go for Avid Media Composer on specially built PCs. Having investigated the Avid interface I don't think I'll have any problems with it!