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Ryan Santos
off line editing definition
on Nov 8, 2008 at 11:16:17 am

Was reading an ad agency magazine and saw production houses' ads telling they do both "online" and "offline" editing. I don't know the difference so I searched the net. According to what I've read, offline editing is editing without permanently altering the original footages. But today where editing is non-destructive because they're digital (Premiere Pro, Avid, Final Cut), what is the purpose of editing offline? Why would those companies offer them? God bless.


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Bryan Banks
Re: off line editing definition
on Nov 8, 2008 at 8:21:26 pm

Offline editing refers to editing at low resolution during the creative stage of editing. Once the cut is finalized, it is "onlined" and brought to full resolution for color grading and final output. It comes down to cost. If you are editing a show with 100hrs of footage, it's much easier and cheaper to import it at low-res first (in terms of storage and processing power) and then re-capture at full-res later.

-Bryan


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Ryan Santos
Re: off line editing definition
on Nov 8, 2008 at 11:47:35 pm

Do they do that with SD? I use a standard definition DV camcorder and edit with Premiere and After Effects. How do I capture in lower resolution? God bless.


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Bob Zelin
Re: off line editing definition
on Nov 9, 2008 at 1:06:37 am

the term on line and off line came from the linear editing days. At one time, linear editors would edit with CMX editing systems. These were computers that controlled tape machines (computers made by Digital Equipment Corporation or DEC, like the PDP-11). When Sony released the U-Matic 3/4" VTR (like the BVU-200), people that did not have that much money, would purchase two 3/4" BVU-200's and do rough cuts of their show. Because they were not controlled by a computer (but by a small edit controller that simply shuttled the BVU-200's around, and allowed you to cut these together), this process was called OFF LINE EDITING, because it was not computer controlled. When you went to conform your show with 2" Quad VTR's or 1" Sony or Ampex VTR's, you used a CMX computer to ON LINE your show, because these VTR's were controlled by a computer.

If you look at many printers today, they still use the word "on line" because this means COMPUTER CONTROLLED.

Today, everything is done with computers, but when someone works in a low resolution, and they reconforms their show with the original higher resolution media, the low resolution edit is called an "offline", and the conform to hi res is called an "on line". These were just terms that linear editors used, and was adapted by the original AVID editors.

With AVID editing, the resolution was very poor at the beginning, so once again, people would "off line" a show on the AVID (even though it was computer controlled) and would "on line" a show in a linear editing room. When AVID became broadcast quality (which is a huge heated debate as to when it was good enough) - the definition of off line and on line became more cloudy.

Today, when people work with DV cameras, some people consider this crap quality, and would never put this "on air" for final release. Others feel that it looks great, and there is no need for better quality (espeically if the show was shot with a DV camera !). So they question the need for an "off line".

Of course, when you work with huge amounts of footage, where you simply can't fit all of your media onto your disk drives, you work in the lowest possible resolution (an off line), and then redigitize the show in the best quality (to do an on line).

This process will not end any time soon. Even as storage gets bigger and bigger, new hi end camera models keep getting built - most notably the RED camera that shoots at 4K resolution. These files are simply too large to fit onto most disk drive arrays, so proxy files are created to do an "off line edit", and the show is later conformed - or ON LINED - using only the full resolution media - of the clips that were actually for the final show. It's simple - IT JUST DONT FIT after a while (especially if you have hours of hi res footage - you just can't digitize all that media).

SO, when will all of this be over - probably never, because there will always be something better - even when you think that what you have now is "good enough".

BobZelin




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Mark Suszko
Re: off line editing definition
on Nov 10, 2008 at 12:13:54 am

Bob's description is right on, I just wanted to add that back in the day this was generally an economic decision because the online rooms charged fabulous costs per hour to do your finished cut. So for any medium or large project, it made sense to do a rough edit first on cheaper equipment you could afford to own or rent, where the taxi meter wasn't running, then, only when you had everything really locked down to a final version, you took your tapes, log sheets and your "paper edit" EDL into the "big room" to "online" it with the effects only the Big Iron could do.

In one way, this was a good thing. Like composing a haiku poem forces you to be creative within very tight constraints, the offline/online process forced producers and editors to really organize their material and perfect it as much as they could in advance before the final edit happened. The final online then was almost a non-event after that: start the auto-assembly and keep feeding the tapes into the machine when it asked for them, you were mainly a spectator at that point (except for adjusting levels and audio on the fly).

A side effect of this process was that a lot of producers and clients decided the cuts-only umatic offline edits were "good enough" for a lot of low-stakes, lower-budget projects, and skipped the online step, so you had a number of mini-suite boutiques open up where you only edited umatic or VHS or, later, BetaSP footage that didn't need the "million dollar suite".

Of course "feature creep" happens everywhere; some guy doing cuts-only on umatic decides he needs to be able to fade to and from black to make things nicer. So he adds a simple switcher. A little later, "hm, maybe a simple keyer and character generator would be nice".... and so you saw a parallel line of development start in imitation of, then later in competition with, the sophisticated online broadcast suites, bringing in smaller, cheaper switchers and effects devices to match many of the higher functions of a big suite.

Can't afford an Abekas, ADO or Paintbox? Pinnacle Alladin or the Electrohome Jazz to the rescue. And of course the game-changer, the Video Toaster as well. The clients couldn't tell the difference in many cases, but the accounting department sure could.

These two tracks of development began to merge in the 80's and the offline/online distinction began to blur more when NLE systems started to become more commonplace and capable. And prosumer video for academic and industrial use came into a golden age of sorts. When the former "offline" suites gathered enough capability to do what the "Big Rooms" could, but for half the hourly rate, it signaled an economic shift in post production not unlike the rise of small mammals as dinosaurs began to die off. You see this today, I see it in Chicago where it seems one huge, well-respected post outfit of many years is dying off every couple of months due to out of scale costs and competition from small operators and boutiques. Few dinos remain, the market is overrun with mammals driving down prices.

Today, for under five grand (sans decks) you can own a system that does way more than a "million dollar room" in the eighties could, and faster too. So the discipline of the offline/online process has in many cases fallen away because the hourly cost to edit is now really cheap. So you can experiment with footage, noodle around for hours picking a font or a color shade or a filter treatment or a special effect, and follow blind alleys and try things you never could have afforded to play with in the old days. The creative fun is all in that noodling around. You can also afford to be ignorant and learn as you go, instead of leaving the edit to a small priesthood of technically adept machine tenders. Now everybody's cousin Freddy edits video. It's a tectonic shift.




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Bob Zelin
Re: off line editing definition
on Nov 10, 2008 at 2:44:10 am

Marks response is 100% accurate of what happened -
Mark writes -
"These two tracks of development began to merge in the 80's and the offline/online distinction began to blur more when NLE systems started to become more commonplace and capable."

This is exactly what happened. With the advent of the Sony D2 VTR, I was in the position to be able to remove the Sony BVU800 3/4" VTR's from an "off line room", and put in Sony D2 machines in the same slot, and turn a "cheap" off line room, into an on line room that did not cost a million bucks.

But at this exact time of the D2 VTR, the AVID appeared, and the film editors in NY decided that it was a better investment to buy an AVID than to buy D2 VTR's. I was VERY AGAINST this philosophy, as the AVID was a piece of junk, and the D2 machines were great. But I lost, and everyone bought AVID's, and I started to learn the AVID, and how to build these rooms, and integrate all the "left over equipment" from these old "off line" 3/4" rooms (with mixers, patch bays, VHS machines, etc.). All the "on line" places thought the AVID was a joke (I thought it was a joke too, at $80,000 for an AVID that made cuts only, with horrible pixelized images). But this is how I earned my living, and so I stuck it out. When AVID released AVR26, and said it was "broadcast quality", this was the beginning of the end of "on line/off line" - even thought AVID AVR26 was horrible.

AND LOOK WHAT HAPPENED !

Bob Zelin




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Mark Suszko
Re: off line editing definition
on Nov 10, 2008 at 3:11:50 am

Drifting OT but since you brought it up Bob, I'm facing much the same situation now as you did. We have a main control room/linear edit suite that was great all thru the 80's and passable into the 90's, but now the big push is on for HD and I'm trying to feel my way thru an evolution of the room that makes the most practical sense economically and operationally. The problem is so much of the plant is old analog, getting it all to "play nice" with digital HD gear may be a case of "stepping over dollars to pick up dimes", but to just tear everything out to the bare walls and replace from scratch is not within the budget.

For now, my idea is to "not put new wine in old wineskins", and leave the analog parts of the shop in place to do the SD work they are still good at and that clients still call for, and to build up a "layer" of HD topology on top of and separate from the analog plant, as and when the pieces become affordable, starting with one camera and a deck, then a Panny 400 SD/HD switcher, then a CG system, and more cameras as the budget fits. The HD layer will be portable, so it can go out on remotes, but also be used in our studio eventually. The hard copy of the shows and spots we produce would be archived and distributed by FTP and BluRay.

Meanwhile I got a 3+ camera studio with Grass 200 that works well in SD, mastering to DVCPro25 and beta SP. With a one-inch RTR sitting gate guard duty for the occasional archival tape that needs resurrecting. We'll see how the clients and the economy drive the addition of the HD layer.






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Bob Zelin
Re: off line editing definition
on Nov 10, 2008 at 4:50:54 pm

I have installed 2 Panny 400HS switchers - and this is the most cost effective switcher on the market. For CG's, we used a MAC Pro running Adobe software, and a Blackmagic decklink card that could use one of it's outputs to generate a key signal (no chyron for these budgets !). It all works, and is a fraction of what the GVG200 used to cost.

Million dollar control rooms - no longer in my market !

Bob Zelin




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Mark Suszko
Re: off line editing definition
on Nov 10, 2008 at 5:46:41 pm

I hear you there, man. Saw a good review of the Sony Anycast today By Bruce Johnson, it happens to do HD as well... so now I have more things to consider.


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Charlie King
Re: off line editing definition
on Nov 10, 2008 at 6:48:24 pm

Bob and Mark,
I lost my last job and partner in the business because I kept saying Avid wasn't ready for broadcast finalization. That was 1996. I finally got into non-linear editing for digital signage in 1999. Quality is not quite as important, although the term broadcast quality IMO has totally lost its meaning. When you can broadcast home videos as a main source of a program, and anyone with a home computer is able to create video from their home movie camera. Broadcast Quality is a total misnomer.

I have now retired and I can sit back and say, I gave it all I could to keep quality number one in my career.

Thanks guys for the opportunity to vent.

Charlie

ProductionKing Video Services
Las Vegas, Nevada
Charlie@proking.net


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