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What are your NLE non-negotiable must-haves?

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Simon Ubsdell
What are your NLE non-negotiable must-haves?
on Apr 19, 2011 at 9:21:07 am

I don't mean the things you like or would like to have, but rather that things that you absolutely must have or else you can't deliver what your clients require of you. I suspect these are very different depending on the type of work you do but I imagine everyone will have their own absolute imperatives.

I work primarily cutting movie trailers (originally on AVID, now almost exclusively on FCP, the only systems in use in this field) and I have only three, in no particular order.

1) Robust implementation of OMF, AAF and EDL. (XML I almost never use and wouldn't substitute adequately for any of these.) These are essential for transfer to and from AVID systems, final sound mixing in ProTools, sharing edit data with DI facilities, and so on. The nature of my business means I could never stay "in the box" for finishing no matter how sophisticated the NLE, so this is absolutely essential.

2) The ability to edit from one sequence to another simply and quickly. (Both MC and FCP can do this but in different ways, neither of which is ideal but both work well enough.) There is no satisfactory work-around for this and it's a type of editing I am having to do every day all day long. It might seem like a small thing to many editors, but for those of us in my field it's a real biggie!

3) The ability to sync multiple audio channels to a video source and then edit from the result as if it were a master clip, preferably establishing a sync reference in the process. (In my case, this involves syncing multiple non-interleaved DME mix stems to feature reels.)

I think it will be obvious why I am posting this thread in this particular forum!

I'd be really interested to hear what anyone else's must-haves are. And no, the cosmetic appearance of the UI doesn't count as a must-have ;-)

Simon Ubsdell
Director/Editor/Writer
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Brian Mulligan
Re: What are your NLE non-negotiable must-haves?
on Apr 19, 2011 at 11:55:44 am

You should edit on Smoke, it has everything in your list and more.



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Eric Jurgenson
Re: What are your NLE non-negotiable must-haves?
on Apr 19, 2011 at 1:40:39 pm

tracks.



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Simon Ubsdell
Re: What are your NLE non-negotiable must-haves?
on Apr 19, 2011 at 1:43:33 pm

No you see, Eric, you're just greedy!

Simon Ubsdell
Director/Editor/Writer
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Richard Herd
Re: What are your NLE non-negotiable must-haves?
on Apr 19, 2011 at 4:43:29 pm

Regarding Smoke, is it an editing suite or is it specialized for finishing, compositing?


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Alan Okey
Re: What are your NLE non-negotiable must-haves?
on Apr 19, 2011 at 5:06:30 pm

[Richard Herd] "Regarding Smoke, is it an editing suite or is it specialized for finishing, compositing?"

All of the above. Although its perfectly possible to cut and finish a spot in Smoke, it has traditionally been used most often for conforming and finishing because it's a pricey tool to use for basic editing. That may have changed somewhat now due to the less expensive Mac version being released, but Smoke is still in a completely different price category than that of FCP or even Avid. Smoke for Mac is $15K for the software alone plus a yearly $2K maintenance fee, and it requires very beefy certified hardware to run properly (Quadro FX, 500MB/sec. RAID, Kona 3, etc.).

As others have pointed out, Smoke isn't necessarily the best tool for any single tasks alone - there are better standalone editing and compositing tools available. What Smoke has in spades is a highly integrated toolset and advanced user interface designed to speed workflow. For fast-turnaround client-attended sessions that require high quality and a broad toolset, Smoke is pretty much unique.

Check out the Smoke forum on the Cow for more details.


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Walter Soyka
Re: What are your NLE non-negotiable must-haves?
on Apr 19, 2011 at 6:39:29 pm

In addition to Alan's comments, I'd add that Autodesk has marketed Smoke on Mac very heavily as an addition to an FCP workflow, not a direct FCP replacement. Many of their demos begin with Smoke importing an FCP XML, and working natively with FCP's media.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: What are your NLE non-negotiable must-haves?
on Apr 19, 2011 at 6:59:06 pm

I'd absolutely agree that Smoke is a great finishing tool and I've used it quite a bit for that purpose - but that's what it is, not a basic editing tool, and it's much too expensive, and in a way over-featured for what I need to do which is to eb able to cut sound and pictures very, very fast and flexibly. With my must-haves!

I don't really need to grade as I edit, or even do fancy sound work, and I'm much happier skipping out to a dedicated app if I need either of these. I'm always going to be happier creating motion graphics in a dedicated application and I can't see that ever changing, and the same holds true for VFX work. Which is not to say that other people don't absolutely need all of these fully integrated into their editing app in order to meet their clients' needs. Again, everybody's needs are different, sometimes very different indeed. The world of pro editing is not in any way uniform or homogeneous.

My point is, I think, if you're designing an NLE from scratch, how are you going to correctly assess all the potential very specific ways that many, many different editors will need to go about their very varied editing tasks?

There are going to be NLE's that just so happen to specifically and precisely address the specific editing needs of the very, very lucky few (!), and there are going to be others that give you a sufficiently wide range of editing strategies that you're going to be able to find your always less than ideal workflow in there somewhere. For better or worse, in my world, because of the need to interchange projects in very specific ways, there are only two options currently in use - MC and FCP (as currently incarnated).

Simon Ubsdell
Director/Editor/Writer
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Chris Kenny
Re: What are your NLE non-negotiable must-haves?
on Apr 19, 2011 at 1:51:02 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "1) Robust implementation of OMF, AAF and EDL. (XML I almost never use and wouldn't substitute adequately for any of these.) These are essential for transfer to and from AVID systems, final sound mixing in ProTools, sharing edit data with DI facilities, and so on. The nature of my business means I could never stay "in the box" for finishing no matter how sophisticated the NLE, so this is absolutely essential."

EDL is still pretty essential today, but it's worth noting that more and more DI and grading systems are starting to support FCP XML. Scratch, Baselight and Resolve have all just announced support recently, for instance (not necessarily shipping yet). Smoke has had support for a while. One hopes we'll be able to move past the limitations of EDL in the not-too-distant future.

And there are also things on the horizon like the Baselight FCP plug-in, which in conjunction with FCP X's linear float video processing, could make finishing direct from the NLE a lot more viable than it is today, at least for picture.

Speaking as someone who wasted about nine extra hours just yesterday on an online edit of a music video as a direct consequence of the limitations of EDL, you know, for all that people worry about future change, the status quo kind is not exactly ideal to begin with.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read What is FCP X’s relationship to iMovie? on our blog.


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Devin Crane
Re: What are your NLE non-negotiable must-haves?
on Apr 19, 2011 at 2:01:38 pm

Multiclip Editing. Plain and Simple, other than that I think it's time to think outside the box.



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Herb Sevush
Re: What are your NLE non-negotiable must-haves?
on Apr 19, 2011 at 5:49:36 pm

"Multiclip Editing. Plain and Simple."

Amen to that.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions


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David Burch
Re: What are your NLE non-negotiable must-haves?
on May 27, 2011 at 10:53:41 pm

Agreed. If FCX doesn't have this, it's a no-go, regardless of how much I may like the interface (and I do).


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: What are your NLE non-negotiable must-haves?
on Apr 19, 2011 at 2:24:52 pm

For better or worse, my work absolutely requires grading in a top end DI suite, usually matching back to original 2K or even 4K scans, very often with the colorist who graded the original movie - I can't see this ever changing to a situation where I did it myself on my desktop, even though I can actually do it at the moment. I have to accept that a feature film colorist know his job far better than I do. And DI facilities currently want to trade EDLs back and forth - maybe XML is the future, who knows?

As far as OMF/AAF is concerned, this is mandatory for my audio post work. I do a lot of prep work on my own ProTools system which obviously requires my using OMF/AAF depending on whether I'm coming from Media Composer or FCP. However, again I need to be able to go into a big Dolby approved feature film mixing room for my final mix - for my work there are no options, and that's why I absolutely have to have OMF/AAF (there are a bunch of other reasons as well which I won't bore you with). Again, it's not going to be happening on the desktop however cute the NLE might become. Just as with the DI stage, that big room with the big desk and the giant screen are components to the workflow that are not going away any time soon. Unless people stop going to movie theatres, that is, which I suppose is a possible scenario. I kinda think that would be a shame, though!

I think the interesting part of this is there have to be countless dedicated workflows out there depending on the kind of projects you work on. For example, I very rarely work on multi-cam projects but I can quite understand editors for whom this is a non-negotiable necessity.

Simon Ubsdell
Director/Editor/Writer
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Aindreas Gallagher
Re: What are your NLE non-negotiable must-haves?
on Apr 19, 2011 at 7:48:38 pm

I do broadcast promos, corporate stuff and some music cut stuff for design houses, a wee bit of long form..

for me:

*OMF and XML (for me the xml is automatic duck to AE on the cheap) no OMF is a bit of a dealbreaker..
*numbered tracks that are lockable, deactivatable(?) for GFX etc
*A dedicated clip viewer so that I can..
*Operate the multiclip for the 2 camera IV's in corporate things and well frankly, set decent in out points..
for me the multi clip is a real live absolute necessity.
*and same as you - I need to be able to swap stuff quickly between multiple versions/durations - I guess i'm saying preferably tabs, but it looks like we have the discreet edit version of that, which looks like a bit of an intermediate bus station...

..I'm the same on post - I wouldn't likely do it in the app, I'll generally XML my way to AE, and do shot to shot with masks dodge and burn, probably some class of magic bullet crunching the shots together globally with post design elements being fed to me with all then toddling back out to FCP as a baked out final picture master - that then meets the stereo mix down from the audiopost house, and then I go to the pub...

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


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Richard Herd
Re: What are your NLE non-negotiable must-haves?
on Apr 19, 2011 at 4:45:56 pm

Video and Audio. ;)

Actually, supporting of the ASC CDL would be nice.


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Doug Perry
Re: What are your NLE non-negotiable must-haves?
on Apr 19, 2011 at 6:14:20 pm

I want an easy and effective way to apply easy-ease/smooth to my keyframes.

An AVID Animatte equivalent would be nice as well.

X/Y position keyframing would be cool... sometimes I like to use sliders. The 'center' function is not good. Plus maybe my AAF transfers from AVID projects might work better.

No more trashing preferences when FCP goes haywire.


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John Heagy
Re: What are your NLE non-negotiable must-haves?
on Apr 20, 2011 at 3:44:05 am

Sequence XML in and out! Just give me the picture lock version minus all the spinning plates.

We link to media that FCP never "sees". Having to run every frame of video through FCP to be "blessed" would bring our productivity to a crawl! We need to work outside the box.

Aside from the price, the openness of FCP's XML is want kicked Avid's butt.


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Michael Aranyshev
Re: What are your NLE non-negotiable must-haves?
on Apr 21, 2011 at 4:07:34 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "I don't mean the things you like or would like to have, but rather that things that you absolutely must have or else you can't deliver what your clients require of you."

My clients require speed. That means:
- 3-point edit;
- match frame master to source, source to master, source or master to bin;
- replace edit;
- extend edit;
- roll, ripple, slip and slide;
- cut and paste on the timeline, both straight and ripple;
- gang source to master;

If those are present, accessible from the keyboard and not require calling specific interface modes I can deliver


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