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NLEs--What's the difference.

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Carlton Rahmani
NLEs--What's the difference.
on Apr 27, 2011 at 3:56:40 pm

I am an editor who uses Adobe Premiere CS5 at work and Sony Vegas for my own projects. I also had to work--after getting started with non-linear editing--as a linear editor on DVC-pro setups.
I like Sony Vegas; don't have a problem with it at all, or that I can really complain about. But I'm not dogmatic about it either. . .I just haven't gotten any real opportunity to do much more than observe Avid and Final Cut in action.
My question is a very REAL one: What makes Avid and Final Cut so 'superior' to Vegas, or even Premiere?
I'm looking for an answer other than "Whatever you can make work for you is what you should use. . ." I need to know WHY editors and production houses have such high regard for Avid and Final Cut. What makes these NLEs preferred by so many, or what makes them so powerful, etc?

For instance, I can tell you what I like about Vegas:
--It's rugged and more 'computer agnostic'. I don't have to buy a lot of expensive peripheries--or a needlessly expensive computer--to make it work. I started editing using a 2meg-ram laptop, and like the idea of keeping things light.
--Ease of use
--Continuous playing even while adjustments are being made, so you can check your work in real-time. Premiere, for instance, will simply STOP playing if you so much as adjust the volume levels.
--Great audio functions. . .I don't have to leave the program to do even (semi-)sophisticated sound work.
--I can decide where and how I want to lay out my audio and video tracks.

What I DON'T like:
--Doesn't really make good use of the GPU.
--Codec issues, particularly with Panasonic media.
--Limited number of plug-ins available for it, and doesn't really integrate into a larger 'creative suite' the way Adobe lets you take stuff in and out of its various programs.

So with that in mind, those of you who have the experience, please offer me some of your insight. . .concrete stuff.

Personally, I'm beginning to suspect more and more that Sony (and even Premiere) is getting a bad rap, and that the reason why Avid and Final Cut have their positions is largely do to early consensus on the matter: AVID was the first NLE, the Walter Murch did "Cold Mountain" on Final Cut. Also, I'm beginning to suspect that the reason editors are so dogmatic is because they've only used so-and-so brand of NLE--specifically FCP users--and don't want to risk making themselves irrelevant. I would like more substantive reasons. I don't have anything 'against' FCP or Avid--in fact, I'm pretty sure I HAVE to learn them--but some real answers are necessary.

Thanks.


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Scott Sheriff
Re: NLEs--What's the difference.
on Apr 27, 2011 at 5:08:21 pm

Carlton,
This type of thing can turn into a flame war, but I'll try and address the FCP angle with a few highlights.
My editing background goes back to linear online editing on CMX, Sony and Paltex. When I decided to buy my own gear, I had used the Avid and Media 100 some, but eventually went with FCS. And I'm not one of these drooling Apple fanboys that live at the Apple store and have to buy everything Apple releases on day one. My Mac Pro is the first Mac I have ever owned. And the only other Apple gadget I own is an iPod.

Final Cut Studio is actually a suite of applications, one of which is Final Cut Pro. Each one of the apps has it's own use with an optimized workflow and UI. Each one of these apps has unique selling points that when combined together make the FCS package a bargain.

Once you're inside the Mac family the list of 'qualified hardware' to run FCS is easy to meet and understand.

FCS gives you the Apple Quicktime Pro and ProRes codecs.

There are a lot of I/O cards for Mac/FCS that allow the use of calibrated monitors to do serious color correction.

The UI is enough like the other guys that it isn't hard to move to FCP.

FCP has a unique, but seldom used feature called FXScript. This allows you to write your own plugins, and modify a lot of existing plugins. This is why there is so many plugins for FCP.

FCS has a lot of third party control surfaces for those that prefer 'real' controls.

FCP is super easy to configure the ingesting of new material with a ton of preset formats, and the ability to design your own.

There are a lot of things that FCS does well, and some things that could be better. But in the long run the Mac/FCS combo does what I need it to do with almost zero maintenance and downtime.

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com

I have a system, it has stuff in it, and stuff hooked to it. I have a camera, it can record stuff. I read the manuals, and know how to use this stuff and lots of other stuff too.
You should be suitably impressed...


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Andrew Rendell
Re: NLEs--What's the difference.
on Apr 27, 2011 at 5:46:25 pm

There's a bunch of things like having inputs and outputs that match other equipment (things like SDI for vision feeds and RS422 for controlling vtrs) and interchange with other systems (like importing and exporting omfis) which become important in a professional environment. So the professional choice isn't so much whether you like a particular toolset, but whether the system integrates with other aspects of a workflow which will have other technical specialists doing certain parts of the job (graphics, dubbing mixers, and so on). Avid and Apple have that kind of thing pretty well sorted.

From an editor's point of view the big thing to ask about a system is: will this enable me to do anything that I might be asked to do? It doesn't matter whether you like the look of the screen layout if you can't handle some complicated issue, say multicamera (synced)clips where there are breaks in the different feeds or the requirement to mix 20 tracks of audio so that you have a stereo mix coming out of tracks 1&2 and an m/e coming out of 3&4 at the same time.

You may also have to make files, either viewing or project files, available to someone else so you have to be able to provide files that are compatible with whatever others are using (or use the same systems).

If you are freelance, there's a good deal of work where you go and use someone else's equipment, so if you're very comfortable with the most common systems (which are, let's be honest, Avid and FCP) that's a damn good source of living. [When I left my job as a staff editor and became freelance I didn't own any of my own kit at all for the first 5 years, I was very busy using Avids at facility/production companies who had the kit but not the staff].

(I'll probably think of more reasons to go with the established kit after I post this, but liking the toolset in any given software package won't be one, unless it's because it gives me an edge in a technical or business sense).


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Nigel Beaumont
Re: NLEs--What's the difference.
on Apr 28, 2011 at 5:08:38 am

I wouldn't worry about it until you actually need to change. CS5 is excellent by all accounts and if you're able to do what you want with Vegas, why change?
I was a very contented Avid user in my last staff job, but when the time cam to go freelance and buy my own kit, FCS seemed the best option. In particular the stability and reliability of the Mac platform was important and I liked the way FCS covered everything I would need to do (and much more) without getting other software. I've become a big fan of Motion for graphics creation for example and I love the way the different aspects of the suite fit together.
I've done a lot of work with companies that had FCS, so it's been essential that we could swap projects and files, but if that isn't something you expect to do then it might not be so relevant.

New clients are rarely interested in what kit I edit on - they just want to see a great final product.

Nigel Beaumont

Mac Pro Quad 3.0Ghz 10GB FCS 3 OSX 10.6.6, Aja IO, some black cables, shiny firewire drives

"Ofcourse it'll be finished in time for tx"


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grinner hester
Re: NLEs--What's the difference.
on Apr 29, 2011 at 4:47:24 pm

What makes Avid and Final Cut so 'superior' to Vegas, or even Premiere?

the editor.
Many a masterpiece has been created with only a chisle and stone. It aint the tools... it's the artist that makes the art.



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Scott Sheriff
Re: NLEs--What's the difference.
on Apr 29, 2011 at 7:46:24 pm

[grinner hester] "It aint the tools... it's the artist that makes the art."

Right. Thats why were still all using flatbeds, or going machine-to-machine.



I haven't done mag pulse/blade quad editing, but I have done quad, 3/4 and 1" machine-to-machine, and done a variety of online EDL linear based editing and some 16mm. I will agree that you can tell your story with any of these tools. But if you don't think that having the best the tool for the job makes some difference, you just haven't done enough linear editing.
"Artist" is such a subjective thing, it's virtually meaningless. There's da Vinci, and then there's the unknown guy that paints those "giant sofa sized paintings, for only 60 dollars", the guy that thinks a crucifix in a jar of urine is art and a 5 year old doing finger painting. There's even a trained elephant that sold some paintings. All are 'artists'.
I prefer to think of myself as a craftsman. And a good craftsman doesn't use dull or inferior tools. Part of his skill is in evaluating and choosing the best tool for the job.

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com

I have a system, it has stuff in it, and stuff hooked to it. I have a camera, it can record stuff. I read the manuals, and know how to use this stuff and lots of other stuff too.
You should be suitably impressed...


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grinner hester
Re: NLEs--What's the difference.
on Apr 30, 2011 at 3:50:02 pm

Maybe I was just a better linear editor that you, Scott. ;)



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Shawn Bann
Re: NLEs--What's the difference.
on Apr 29, 2011 at 7:23:46 pm

when i was using vegas 5+ years ago, i ran into issues with XML/OMF support.
they may have addressed this in the newer versions.

FCP/AVID are more widely used, so if your working with other people, you may find it
becoming a headache.

there are alot of things i though vegas did exceptionally well, more so than FCP

if it's not broke, don't fix it!


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