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Walter Soyka
Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 2:56:46 pm

We've had some discussion in previous threads about whether an editorial operation should be called destructive or not. In part, I guess this discussion boils down to a matter of perspective. It's true that the NLE is not modifying original media, but I don't think that's a complete definition for "destructive operation."

I'd argue that irreversibly eliminating project data (ex. Undo) is a destructive operation in the same sense as we'd use the term in an imaging or audio application.

I'd consider this an example of a destructive editorial operation:



I did this in FCP X, in part to be cheeky, but also to prove a point.

I've got a simple edit in the primary storyline and a connected clip above. Once I perform an overwrite, that data cannot be brought back without stepping the entire state back via undo.

Overwriting the connected clip into the primary is destructive to the project data; lifting that clip back up out of the primary does not restore the original edit and connection point -- and in fact adds a new gap and creates a new connection point.

Worth noting: "destructive" is not the same as "bad" and it's not the same as "unintentional."

Your thoughts?

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 3:12:58 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Your thoughts?"

An overwrite edit, is almost destructive even by the definition of the word.

At least FCPX gives you the opportunity to not be so destructive by adding the clip as an Audition, instead of overwriting to the primary. That way, you can store both decisions in the timeline simultaneously with near zero penalty.

This, of course, is because of the relational database that no other product available on the market is exploring today.

I'm just kidding about that last past, I just want to make Franz angry enough to start quoting conversations we had 2.5 years ago. ;-D

Jeremy


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Douglas K. Dempsey
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 4:05:15 pm

I agree Overwrite is by nature destructive within a work session, but unlike word processors or image editors, you are not limited only to the Undo or Step Backward remedies. In your example, a simple trim back to the original configuration makes it feel a lot less "destructive."

Doug D


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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 4:28:15 pm

[Douglas K. Dempsey] "unlike word processors or image editors, you are not limited only to the Undo or Step Backward remedies. In your example, a simple trim back to the original configuration makes it feel a lot less "destructive.""

Actually, with Word's Track Changes feature, word processing edits can be non-destructive, until you destructively commit them with "Accept Changes."

The point is not that the original state cannot be recreated by the user -- that means that any operation on Photoshop isn't destructive if I copy my image file before I begin -- it's that NLEs don't save data during overwrites, which makes some theoretically reversible operations irreversible.

Walter Soyka
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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 4:24:41 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "An overwrite edit, is almost destructive even by the definition of the word."

Overwrite is destructive on tape by necessity, but it's destructive on computers by convention.

If editorial decisions were stored transactionally in "layers" (for lack of a better term), then lift could perfectly reverse overwrite.

Walter Soyka
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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 4:31:35 pm

[Walter Soyka] "If editorial decisions were stored transactionally in "layers" (for lack of a better term), then lift could perfectly reverse overwrite."

Surely. You can do this now in FCPX, it just doesn't do it by default.

Plus, it would take a mess of coding to make that work reliably and accurately. Imagine if you had done 1000 overwrite edits over the course of a project, the database would have to call up the history of every edit made on that particular part of the sequence (which is probably now in a different time), and what if you didn't want the "overwite undo" to happen when you moved the original overwriter?

I think simply having the layers in front of you is better, and if you need to clean it up, use an Audition or some other convention.

I think Bill's overall point was that you can throw clips around in FCPX's magnetic timeline without really losing the relationship to other clips more easily than you can in a tracked environment. This statement is fairly true.


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Richard Herd
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 4:38:57 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "it would take a mess of coding to make that work reliably and accurately"

It's already stored as 99 undos on the wall, 99 undos, you take one down you restore the destructive edit...98 undos on the wall. ;)


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 4:50:57 pm

[Richard Herd] "It's already stored as 99 undos on the wall, 99 undos, you take one down you restore the destructive edit...98 undos on the wall. ;)"

Heh heh.

But when you close a program, that undo cache gets flushed.

What if I moved, using Walter's example, a clip back up out of the primary and that was originally placed 36 days ago? FCPX would have to remember, those 99+ undos, and where, specifically, that move was in the undo stack and what was happening with timeline around it, and then it would have to infer my intention of what I want to happen now.

No amount of beers on the wall would help me, except perhaps to lead me to forget what was going on the first place.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 4:59:49 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "What if I moved, using Walter's example, a clip back up out of the primary and that was originally placed 36 days ago? FCPX would have to remember, those 99+ undos, and where, specifically, that move was in the undo stack and what was happening with timeline around it, and then it would have to infer my intention of what I want to happen now."

Don't think of it as undo -- think of it as saving the information than a destructive operation destroys and being able to recall it on demand.

If this editorial information were stored transactionally and linked to affected clips, locating and recalling "old" data wouldn't be impossible or even particularly burdensome for a computer capable of up to 7 teraflops.

Walter Soyka
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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 5:13:10 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Don't think of it as undo -- think of it as saving the information than a destructive operation destroys and being able to recall it on demand."

I know what you're going for, I was just using RH's "99 undos".

[Walter Soyka] "If this editorial information were stored transactionally and linked to affected clips, locating and recalling "old" data wouldn't be impossible or even particularly burdensome for a computer capable of up to 7 teraflops."

I don't think it's that easy. It's not storing that information of that one move, it's storing the relationship of that move plus everything that happened before and after it, in relation to time, not only physical time of how long ago that action was performed, but time in the sense of where it was on the timeline and what was happening around it? What if, when I move that clip up out of the primary, I don't want it to restore what I did 36 days ago? Or there's now a different clip next to the clip I am moving, or that clip is now above the original clip?

It just seems like a massive resource hog when as an editor, I can place layers above (or place clips in an Audition, or whatever) and have that stored information at my fingertips.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 6:21:47 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "I don't think it's that easy. It's not storing that information of that one move, it's storing the relationship of that move plus everything that happened before and after it, in relation to time, not only physical time of how long ago that action was performed, but time in the sense of where it was on the timeline and what was happening around it? "

All you need to do is store a complete history alongside the current state. You'd need organize the history to make it easy and efficient to use, but that's not impossible. Even if it were too hard to do on the desktop, we could do it in North Carolina [link]!

There are certainly conflicts that could arise and require resolution; some subsequent operations should ideally block restoration of earlier ones. I think the hard part is a sensible UI moreso than the data management.

This would enable two killer features, which I'd think belong under the "Producer" menu:
1. Split the difference
2. Wait, I changed my mind on that other thing I said two days ago

For reference:
http://cgmemes.blogspot.com/2012/07/blog-post.html
http://cgmemes.blogspot.com/2012/11/efficiency.html

Walter Soyka
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Richard Herd
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 6:29:57 pm

[Walter Soyka] "This would enable two killer features, which I'd think belong under the "Producer" menu:
1. Split the difference
2. Wait, I changed my mind on that other thing I said two days ago"


That is funny!


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 8:27:24 pm

[Walter Soyka] "All you need to do is store a complete history alongside the current state."

I think this is fine for node based things, but it does not account for editing where (sometimes) multiple adjustments need to be made to one clip and the clips around it, to make the edit work.

It's an awesome idea, though, but the Producer menu is a terrible idea. Sorry.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 8:42:08 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "I think this is fine for node based things, but it does not account for editing where (sometimes) multiple adjustments need to be made to one clip and the clips around it, to make the edit work."

The same interplay between clips in an edit applies to nodes in a composite.


[Jeremy Garchow] "It's an awesome idea, though, but the Producer menu is a terrible idea. Sorry."

Fair enough. How about a Producer Panel? It'll make recording engineers with "producer knobs" [link] feel right at home.

I'm kidding, of course. Some of my best friends are producers.

Walter Soyka
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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 8:55:24 pm

[Walter Soyka] "The same interplay between clips in an edit applies to nodes in a composite."

Of course nodes all have an effect on each other, but nodes themselves don't have the same relationship to time as an edit does.


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Bill Davis
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 8:52:37 pm

[Walter Soyka] "This would enable two killer features, which I'd think belong under the "Producer" menu:
1. Split the difference
2. Wait, I changed my mind on that other thing I said two days ago"


This made my day, Walter.

We need the FULL "Producer menu" developed for this mode...

3. Replace fonts with something "friendlier"
4. Adjust all audio levels so that viewers hear them as correct.

; )

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Richard Herd
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 4:36:33 pm

[Walter Soyka] "then lift could perfectly reverse overwrite."

But it could. It just hasn't been programmed.


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Franz Bieberkopf
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 9:17:29 pm
Last Edited By Franz Bieberkopf on Jul 10, 2014 at 9:32:12 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "I just want to make Franz angry enough to start quoting conversations we had 2.5 years ago."

Jeremy,

I assure you that my chronic habit is never based on anger.

Franz.


Edit:
[Jeremy Garchow] "Well, I'm a weird one."
http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/335/25198
(2.5 years ago)


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Herb Sevush
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 4:01:31 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Overwriting the connected clip into the primary is destructive to the project data; lifting that clip back up out of the primary does not restore the original edit and connection point -- and in fact adds a new gap and creates a new connection point."

In the wider usage of the word, I agree that overwrite edits are destructive, although you under-estimate the importance of being able to "undo" the operation. However, in the particular world of media work, the adjective "destructive" has a more specific meaning - it refers to making changes to files, whether audio or visual, that cannot be reversed and become "baked"into the file. This word is used to distinguish how different operations of the same software effect the underlying media and comes from DAWs and Photoshop primarily. Such and such is a "destructive" effect, such and such is a "non-destructive" effect. It is a very useful distinction, and by throwing around the term "destructive timeline", which does not really distinguish between anything, one is muddying a very useful descriptive phrase purely for sophistry.

The original conversation was in response to labeling something a "destructive timeline." Since all timelines, by the necessities of editing, can destroy information, what did it meant to call a given timeline destructive? Creative destruction is one of the basic elements of editing but no experienced editor routinely overwrites edits he doesn't wish to. If your having a bad day and screw something up you hit undo and there you are, right as rain.

[Walter Soyka] "Worth noting: "destructive" is not the same as "bad" and it's not the same as "unintentional.""

While destructive doesn't mean bad, it often has negative implications. In the case of the previous thread, the word "destructive" was being used to imply bad, but hiding under the cover of it's more descriptive DAW usage.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
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Douglas K. Dempsey
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 4:09:02 pm

Sorry, wrong, thought I was looking at an overlap, not a complete clip overwrite. Yes, that's always a pain which is why, even in track NLE like Legacy, tend to leave upper/connected or secondaries in place until picture lock (and maybe a Snapshot of edit) before cleaning up via overwrites.

Doug D


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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 4:39:41 pm

[Herb Sevush] "However, in the particular world of media work, the adjective "destructive" has a more specific meaning - it refers to making changes to files, whether audio or visual, that cannot be reversed and become "baked"into the file."

Consider Photoshop. I blur a rasterized layer; that's considered a destructive filter because it irreversibly alters its source, even if I have a backup copy of the original image.

Now if I blur a smart object instead, it's non-destructive because the blur can be changed or removed at any time.

Here, I am showing an editorial operation that irreversibly alters its source (the timeline, not the media files), cannot be reversed and becomes baked into the file: the project file that is, not the media files.

David Lawrence has very reasonably declared the project file as the true digital master; I think that along these lines, the use of the word destructive to apply to media changes only is overly narrow, is inconsistent with its use in other media applications, and undervalues the data in the project file.


[Herb Sevush] "The original conversation was in response to labeling something a "destructive timeline." Since all timelines, by the necessities of editing, can destroy information, what did it meant to call a given timeline destructive?"

Yes, I think the concept of destruction applies to operations, not to timelines.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
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Herb Sevush
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 6:10:46 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Here, I am showing an editorial operation that irreversibly alters its source (the timeline, not the media files), cannot be reversed"

Hit undo, and it's reversed. Most "destructive" operations don't have an undo feature.

[Walter Soyka] "I think the concept of destruction applies to operations, not to timelines."

We agree, and this was the essence of the other thread.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


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David Lawrence
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 8:00:35 pm

[Herb Sevush] "Hit undo, and it's reversed. Most "destructive" operations don't have an undo feature."

Exactly right.

If it has undo, by definition it is not destructive.

Operator error is a poor argument for the redefinition of technical terms.

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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 8:25:49 pm

[David Lawrence] "If it has undo, by definition it is not destructive."

We are clearly working with different definitions or scopes.

I'm a designer, so I'm influenced by image editing. By your definition, there is literally no operation in Photoshop, other than save, that is destructive, because anything else has immediate undo. That makes the word destructive practically meaningless in many of these contexts, because a history stack is now so common.

I think that's an incredibly restrictive definition that fails to capture the critical differences between tools that reversibly and irreversibly alter data -- but I assume you think my definition is incredibly broad and fails to capture the seriousness of rewriting assets on disk.

Walter Soyka
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David Lawrence
Re: Destructive edits - words matter
on Jul 10, 2014 at 9:01:26 pm

[Walter Soyka] "I think that's an incredibly restrictive definition that fails to capture the critical differences between tools that reversibly and irreversibly alter data -- but I assume you think my definition is incredibly broad and fails to capture the seriousness of rewriting assets on disk."

I get where you're coming from but the term "destructive" has a very specific technical meaning that has been understood and agreed upon since the invention of digital media tools.

Bill's argument still boils down to redefining a technical term around operator error. Sorry, that's just ridiculous.

Words matter. Especially in a highly technical art form. It would be much more useful to coin a new term to describe an irreversible sequence of operations that alters a project. What else might you call it?

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Franz Bieberkopf
Re: Destructive edits - words matter
on Jul 10, 2014 at 9:14:31 pm

[David Lawrence] "It would be much more useful to coin a new term to describe an irreversible sequence of operations that alters a project. What else might you call it?"

David,

I can only think of "committed" vs. "uncommitted" decisions, or something along those lines.

Franz.


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Richard Herd
Re: Destructive edits - words matter
on Jul 10, 2014 at 10:25:42 pm

[Franz Bieberkopf] "[David Lawrence] "It would be much more useful to coin a new term to describe an irreversible sequence of operations that alters a project. What else might you call it?"

David,

I can only think of "committed" vs. "uncommitted" decisions, or something along those lines.

Franz."


How about a nice acronym, something that rings true as PIOPs does (pronounced pie-ops). ECTS (pronouces "ex") for editor committed too soon.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits - words matter
on Jul 11, 2014 at 12:01:14 am

[Richard Herd] "How about a nice acronym, something that rings true as PIOPs does (pronounced pie-ops)"

IAD (eye add) for irreversibly altered data?

Walter Soyka
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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits - words matter
on Jul 10, 2014 at 9:20:57 pm

[David Lawrence] "I get where you're coming from but the term "destructive" has a very specific technical meaning that has been understood and agreed upon since the invention of digital media tools."

I'm all for precise terminology, but Photoshop's differentiation between so-called destructive and non-destructive workflows, and the differences between that and your use suggest that the term is not as globally agreed upon as you are saying.

How exactly would you define the term destructive? Why should it apply to media only and not the representation of your project?

What term besides "destructive" might you suggest for an operation that "bakes in" or overwrites information?

Walter Soyka
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David Lawrence
Re: Destructive edits - words matter
on Jul 11, 2014 at 12:18:32 am

[Walter Soyka] "How exactly would you define the term destructive? Why should it apply to media only and not the representation of your project?"

Simple. Destructive = no undo at the moment the operation is performed.

This is why you typically see an "Are you sure?" dialogue box before any destructive operation.

If you can undo it, it's not destructive in the specific technical meaning of the word.

Franz's suggestion - "commit changes" - is actually a much more accurate and useful term for what we're talking about here.

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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits - words matter
on Jul 11, 2014 at 12:47:50 am

[David Lawrence] "Simple. Destructive = no undo at the moment the operation is performed."

I see and appreciate your logic, but this is not the way these words are used across all DCC.

For example, an image manipulation is considered destructive if you are directly altering a raster; it's considered non-destructive if you are altering it indirectly, such as via RAW metadata, an adjustment layer or smart filter.

Words change?

Walter Soyka
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David Lawrence
Re: Destructive edits - words matter
on Jul 11, 2014 at 12:55:15 am

[Walter Soyka] "For example, an image manipulation is considered destructive if you are directly altering a raster; it's considered non-destructive if you are altering it indirectly, such as via RAW metadata, an adjustment layer or smart filter."

My point still stands.

Can you hit undo? If yes, by definition, it's nondestructive.

Changing raster is a committed change, not a destructive one. There's a difference.

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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits - words matter
on Jul 11, 2014 at 1:53:13 am

[David Lawrence] "My point still stands. Can you hit undo? If yes, by definition, it's nondestructive. Changing raster is a committed change, not a destructive one. There's a difference."

I didn't intend that attempt to disprove your definition, but rather to point out that the entire Photoshop-using community has a different definition of destructive than you do, and I don't think you're getting your definition back.

Personally, I think the term can be reasonably overloaded so long as it's clear what the scope of the destruction is.

To actually argue against your point, I'd ask if having a backup copy of a file makes an otherwise non-undoable change non-destructive. Put differently, does Time Machine make almost everything non-destructive in your view?

Walter Soyka
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Franz Bieberkopf
Re: Destructive edits - words matter
on Jul 11, 2014 at 2:11:55 am
Last Edited By Franz Bieberkopf on Jul 11, 2014 at 2:16:31 am

Walter,


I think the distinction you made earlier is something crucial to recognize ... the difference between operations on media and internal project operations.

In NLE land, media operations are destructive or non-destructive; internal project operations are something else - let's say "committed" and "undoable".

Maybe there are better words, but if I were teaching someone, there's a meaningful difference to be learned there.

I can't speak to the Photoshop distinctions, but I am sure they are trying to transmit some conceptual framework that has practical implications.


Franz.

Edit: It strikes me that your Time Machine question reframes things (to a data / OS level) and thus the language is context sensitive - ie. Time Machine is meta to the project and shifting the question there is shifting the frame of reference (against which we measure recoverable / non-recoverable changes).


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David Lawrence
Re: Destructive edits - words matter
on Jul 11, 2014 at 2:51:42 am

[Walter Soyka] "I didn't intend that attempt to disprove your definition, but rather to point out that the entire Photoshop-using community has a different definition of destructive than you do, and I don't think you're getting your definition back."

Actually, if you go thru the Photoshop UI, you'll find that the term "commit changes" actually originates in Photoshop. I wasn't aware that the Photoshop community even thinks of things in terms of "destructive" and "nondestructive". In Photoshop, I think in terms of "commit changes" or not.

[Walter Soyka] "To actually argue against your point, I'd ask if having a backup copy of a file makes an otherwise non-undoable change non-destructive. Put differently, does Time Machine make almost everything non-destructive in your view?"

Nope, that's called "having a backup". ;)

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Andy Neil
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 4:15:53 pm

I'm probably going to regret posting to this thread because the last argument over what was destructive or not was really annoying (and off point to the topic). But since this IS the topic, here's my thought on the matter.

First of all, I could easily return the clips in your example back to their original configuration without undo. Although, for the record, I consider the ability to undo an action as part of a way to determine when an action ISN'T destructive.

All you have to do is use the trim tool to roll the edges of the clips in the primary back underneath the connected clip and then reposition the connection point for the connected clip so it's back over it's original. Does it take several steps? Sure, but it's still non-destructive in my mind. More importantly, you don't lose the connection between clip and master at any point. Additionally, if you place a marker on either of the primary clips before overwriting with the connected clip, you'll find they are still there when you roll the clip back with the trim tool. Completely non-destructive.

Now, contrast that with the Audio Mixdown in Avid. Here you set in/out and active tracks and then Avid makes brand new media with no relationship to the original clips, even combining multiple clips from different sources. The result is something that can't be matched back to the original masters, has no relationship to anything other than itself and therefore is a truly destructive edit.

Andy

https://plus.google.com/u/0/107277729326633563425/videos


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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 4:53:28 pm

[Andy Neil] "All you have to do is use the trim tool to roll the edges of the clips in the primary back underneath the connected clip and then reposition the connection point for the connected clip so it's back over it's original. Does it take several steps? Sure, but it's still non-destructive in my mind."

So as long as you remember the way everything was, you can manually restore it and it's a non-destructive operation?


[Andy Neil] "Now, contrast that with the Audio Mixdown in Avid. Here you set in/out and active tracks and then Avid makes brand new media with no relationship to the original clips, even combining multiple clips from different sources. The result is something that can't be matched back to the original masters, has no relationship to anything other than itself and therefore is a truly destructive edit."

As long as you remember the way everything was, you can restore it, right?

My point in all this is that we largely have been thinking of NLEs as non-destructive because they are non-linear, but that's not the case. FCP X has shown how interesting non-destructive rearrangement can be. What if there were more operations that were non-destructive?

I suggested heat-mapping timelines [link] a while back, showing you which areas of a timeline have seen the most work. In Apple-speak, imagine if you could instantly make any edit a revision-tracking Time Machine Audition.

Idle chatter, but I think there's still enormous room for innovation with editorial timelines. I'll go file a few patents and we can come back to the discussion in 5 years.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
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Andy Neil
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 5:18:33 pm

[Walter Soyka] "As long as you remember the way everything was, you can restore it, right?"

If you want to argue semantics then fine. I'm not saying you can't do a destructive edit in FCPX, I'm saying your example is poor. I don't have to remember anything about the previous position of your clips to restore them since in both cases the resulting video is the same. If at any time you want to delete that connected clip, all I have to do is roll those clips back together and check a singular edit point, the cut at which would likely be easily seen. It would the most minor of issues. The point is, I have full access to the original clips in the original cut and they can be restored with a minimum of hassle.

If, in your edit, you'd completely overwritten an entire clip, then that would be destructive because i'd have to manually go back through the clips in the browser and try to remember exactly what was there (as opposed to still having them there). Now, for this to be truly destructive, you'd need to overwrite audio as well as video. If the original audio is left in the timeline (which it typically is with Overwrite to Primary functions, then restoring the original edit is simply a matter of matchframing and replacing. To me, the issue at stake in a destructive edit versus a non-destructive one is the connection to original media.

Just like in the audio mixdown in avid. If you overwrite the original tracks with the mixdown, you have no way of getting those original tracks back because there is no longer a connection in the timeline for them.

Andy

https://plus.google.com/u/0/107277729326633563425/videos


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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 6:10:55 pm

[Andy Neil] "If you want to argue semantics then fine."

Sorry, Andy, I'm not trying to be a jerk. Bill really got me thinking when he threw out the "d-word" in the other thread and got such a strong reaction.

FCP X has piqued my interested about the way that our applications try to encode our intent and help us with common problems. I'm not sure my posts have any practical value whatsoever, but after some really geeky theoretical threads a few years ago, this seemed like the place to discuss the theory.

I am looking at the information available in the timeline before and after an operation and its inverse. I am noting that it is altered, not perfectly restored.

I absolutely understand that this destruction is intentional and may even be desirable -- but I am sincerely surprised that there's debate over whether eliminating information from a project file is destructive or not.

In my example, destroyed information includes clip extents, a transition (cut only), and a connection point. Maybe it was poor -- I certainly could have made it more comprehensive -- but the point I was trying to make was that there's a set of information that goes away after some (many? most?) editorial operations.

Auditions are cool, but I think there still may be lessons to learn from other adjacent areas, especially around proceduralism and version/change management.

For example, NUKE has local, per-node undo stacks. You can go back on a change in one specific node, even if you since made a zillion other changes in other nodes, all without having to reset the global state of the script. I think that FCP X's magnetic timeline would be a unique advantage on per-clip undo, because reflowing the hierarchical timeline gives you clip collision avoidance for free.

Again -- not trying to ruffle feathers, just trying to think outside the box a little.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
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Andy Neil
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 6:18:06 pm

My feathers remain unruffled. I think the best way I can put this is that I feel your definition is too broad and my argument is for a more specific definition. I agree that destructive doesn't mean bad per se, but it should refer to irrevocable or at least immune to a quickly changed mind.

Andy

https://plus.google.com/u/0/107277729326633563425/videos


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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 6:28:03 pm

[Andy Neil] " I think the best way I can put this is that I feel your definition is too broad and my argument is for a more specific definition. I agree that destructive doesn't mean bad per se, but it should refer to irrevocable or at least immune to a quickly changed mind."

That context helps me understand your position better, thanks.

Merging in Herb, who seems to share this position:

[Herb Sevush] "Hit undo, and it's reversed. Most "destructive" operations don't have an undo feature."

This would mean that the only destructive operation in Photoshop (or nearly any application, for the matter) is Save. And even then, with Time Machine or Dropbox...

I guess now that image editing leans toward a broader definition of the term than editorial?

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
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Andy Neil
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 6:49:57 pm

Sort of, except I wouldn't go so far as to say a destructive edit is only destructive if you can't hit undo. My reasoning behind this is that undos are linear (except in your Nuke example). So while a mistake quickly discovered can be undo'd with little hassle, one not notice for hours or longer it can be more work to undo since you must undo all the elements prior.

I like your idea of per clip undos although I confess it might be a nightmare to get used to or implement in something other than node based programs.

In Photoshop, I treat that definition the same. If you flatten two layers and undo it immediately, then no harm, no foul but it was a destructive edit just the same because you leave no original media in place. Just like that Avid audio mixdown, or completely overwriting a clip in X. But, if you Merge several layers to a new layer, leaving the original layers and turning them off, then I don't consider that destructive since I have easy access to the original layers.

Make sense? At least to me it does.

Andy

https://plus.google.com/u/0/107277729326633563425/videos


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Bill Davis
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 8:43:27 pm
Last Edited By Bill Davis on Jul 10, 2014 at 9:00:29 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Sorry, Andy, I'm not trying to be a jerk. Bill really got me thinking when he threw out the "d-word" in the other thread and got such a strong reaction."

Since I'm ostensibly the cause of all this, I think it only fair to give everyone a look at the thinking that caused me to use the term in the first place.

When I started learning Legacy back in 1999 - I had to come to grips with the reality that if I had the urge to paste a 4 minute audio clip into track 3 at, say, the 1 minute mark while zoomed into a view that only showed me the track between 1 minute and 1:30 - I had to learn to STOP myself, and zoom out and make sure there was nothing useful or important on that track beyond the 1:30 mark.

To fail to do that meant that the paste operation totally obliterated any and everything downstream in the target zone of that track. Gone were all my decisions along with the timing of them. If I blindly continued to edit - I could bury that MISTAKE behind a bunch of further edit refinements. If I exceeded my Undo limit, and if my auto save parameters were too short - all my prior decisions became well and truly DESTROYED in the sense that they were completely and utterly irretrievable.

This is the context that I was employing when I used the term "destructive" That there was an extremely common functioning mode where the program was being used EXACTLY as indented by the designers where the proper operating of the program could OBLIDERATE - permanently and without recourse - editing decisions that I had not wished to lose.

In X - precisely because of the magnetic timeline and clip collision avoidance - that is now IMPOSSIBLE.

It was in that context that I used the term DESTRUCTIVE. To be precise: because a reasonable user - operating the software exactly as it's designed - could expect in common circumstances for their prior editing decisions become completely and irretrievably permanently GONE unless they learnt precautionary behaviors and practiced them religiously.

The USER had to learn to avoid the situation. The program did not do it for you.

Timed auto saves and settable levels of UNDO are pointers to this reality. These were NOT "program malfunction" protections. They were "user screw up hedges" that were built into the very software.

So I stand by my use of the term.

Others will disagree. Fine.

That's the point of debate.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Herb Sevush
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 9:18:01 pm

[Bill Davis] "When I started learning Legacy back in 1999"

When I started driving when I was 17 I didn't look carefully when I was backing up and hit my father's car. Was the Chevy I was driving a destructive automobile, or was I an inexperienced driver misusing a powerful machine?

When a friend of mine first used a computer back in the 80's to work on a script he was writing, he turned the machine off at the end of the day without saving his work, because he didn't understand the concept of saving. I assure you he never did that again. Was Wordstar a destructive word processor, or was he an inexperienced user.

And my guess is that in the last 10 years of your using Legacy it was a rare day, if ever, that you mistakenly deleted your clips the way you did in your anecdote. Does that mean that FCP became less destructive, or simply that you learned how to use it properly.

[Bill Davis] "This is the context that I was employing when I used the term "destructive" That there was an extremely common functioning mode where the program was being used EXACTLY as indented by the designers where the proper operating of the program could OBLIDERATE - permanently and without recourse - editing decisions that I had not wished to lose."

Of course there are functioning modes where FCP could allow you to overwrite clips - doing so intentionally is called editing. How better to replace old audio with new audio, or old video with new video, or both, than to overwrite one with the other. Both FCP and FCPX allow you to do overwrites when you want to, both allow you to avoid overwrites when you want to.

Does X make it faster and easier to avoid overwrites while moving clips on a timeline - yes, absolutely. Does Legacy make it possible to do any kind of clip movement you want without overwriting - yes absolutely.

So the difference is in speed, not in destructiveness. Call X the "easy to learn" timeline, call Legacy the Tetris timeline - no argument from me. But labeling something by how it behaves when the operator screws up - that's ridiculous.

[Bill Davis] " because a reasonable user - operating the software exactly as it's designed - could expect in common circumstances for their prior editing decisions become completely and irretrievably permanent. "

I don't know about you Bill, but I can't remember the last time I did an unintentional overwrite. Seriously now, what experienced editor does that kind of thing?

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


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Bill Davis
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 10:41:42 pm

[Herb Sevush] "Does that mean that FCP became less destructive, or simply that you learned how to use it properly. "

What I spent those 10years learning was how to work around the limitations of Legacy's program's design.

And that's precisely what YOU did to become an experienced editor in Legacy. And I presume what you're going to do to become an experienced editor in Premier or Avid or whatever.

You're likely NOT going to do that with X, because you're constantly conditioning and reinforcing yourself to see it as the thing that presents barriers to the way you expect editing to happen. To the point where you go semi-postal over something as minor as proper descriptive word usage.

I mean it's fun to bitch and debate, but at the end of the day, we all simply have to adapt. With X I had to learn that they used Storyline for some instances of the array of clips - and then turn around and use Timeline in other uses. (Draw a box around a Primary Storyline, a secondary storyline, and the result of an open in Timeline command in X, and at first blush, you've got very, very similar things. What's up with that?)

I can get frustrated all I like about why, how and what's the difference. Or I can just use the program enough to figure out whether it's a difference with a distinction or not.

Clip collision avoidance might not mean anything to you.

But it does to me. It means I no longer have to go on any more imaginary mental treks "down track" in order to assure that I don't screw things up.

CAN I do that? Sure. I did for 10 years.

But now I can jettison that thinking and use the mental time and energy for other things.

My having to remember the Legacy persnickedlyness is over. Now I can concentrate on the FCP X persnickedlyness.

And since X will be VERY likely still be relevant to me in 2025 and Legacy will not - I can comfortably feel like I'm making progress.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Herb Sevush
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 11, 2014 at 1:38:41 pm
Last Edited By Herb Sevush on Jul 11, 2014 at 1:43:02 pm

[Bill Davis] "What I spent those 10years learning was how to work around the limitations of Legacy's program's design. And that's precisely what YOU did to become an experienced editor in Legacy. And I presume what you're going to do to become an experienced editor in Premier or Avid or whatever."

Yes. And that's what you're doing with X today.

[Bill Davis] "You're likely NOT going to do that with X, because you're constantly conditioning and reinforcing yourself to see it as the thing that presents barriers to the way you expect editing to happen."

Yes. I also choose to use spoons without holes because holes present barriers to the way I expect soup to be eaten.

[Bill Davis] "Clip collision avoidance might not mean anything to you. But it does to me. It means I no longer have to go on any more imaginary mental treks "down track" in order to assure that I don't screw things up. CAN I do that? Sure. I did for 10 years. But now I can jettison that thinking and use the mental time and energy for other things."

Sounds good to me.

[Bill Davis] "And since X will be VERY likely still be relevant to me in 2025 and Legacy will not - I can comfortably feel like I'm making progress."

Given the working model of your favorite company, its a good bet that X will be dead as a door nail by 2025, they'll be on to FCPZ by then, at which point your X skills will be as antiquated as your Legacy skills. But life is for learning, so enjoy.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


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Franz Bieberkopf
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 10, 2014 at 9:13:22 pm
Last Edited By Franz Bieberkopf on Jul 10, 2014 at 9:23:19 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Once I perform an overwrite, that data cannot be brought back without stepping the entire state back via undo."

[Walter Soyka] "Here, I am showing an editorial operation that irreversibly alters its source (the timeline, not the media files), cannot be reversed and becomes baked into the file: the project file that is, not the media files. David Lawrence has very reasonably declared the project file as the true digital master; I think that along these lines, the use of the word destructive to apply to media changes only is overly narrow, is inconsistent with its use in other media applications, and undervalues the data in the project file."

Walter,

I follow your reasoning here, but for reasons well explained by Herb I think the word "destructive" is misleading. I'd suggest something more like "committed" vs. "uncommitted" decisions which suggest more of a sense of whether it can be reverted or changed later (ie. whether some initial state is preserved and can be returned to).

[Walter Soyka] "By your definition [David], there is literally no operation in Photoshop, other than save, that is destructive, because anything else has immediate undo. That makes the word destructive practically meaningless in many of these contexts, because a history stack is now so common."

I don't see the problem here. Photoshop makes "uncommitted" changes until you save and lose the ability to undo them. Why can we not call this non-destructive?

Franz.


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Rich Rubasch
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 11, 2014 at 2:11:25 am

Doesn't the term destructive edit come from the film days when an actual slice was cut from the negative, thereby destroying the original linear piece of film? So it carried forward into the AVID which used a lot of film nomenclature and here we are.

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


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Franz Bieberkopf
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 11, 2014 at 2:13:51 am

[Rich Rubasch] "Doesn't the term destructive edit come from the film days when an actual slice was cut from the negative, thereby destroying the original linear piece of film?"

Rich,

It may have, ... but my first exposure to the term was via early audio editing (DAW) software; I'm not sure it would have inherited any nomenclature from neg cutting.

Franz.


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David Lawrence
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 11, 2014 at 2:31:22 am

[Franz Bieberkopf] "It may have, ... but my first exposure to the term was via early audio editing (DAW) software; I'm not sure it would have inherited any nomenclature from neg cutting."

This is correct.

The term destructive come from the DAW world because DAWs were invented before all digital NLEs were technically possible.

Side note - when I was at Lucasfilm, Digidesign gave us one of their prototype Sound Accelerator boards to use for audio on the NLE we were developing. It was a big deal at the time because it was the only hardware available that could digitize and playback audio at full CD quality - 16bit/44.1khz

The DAW software that developed around this and other similar hardware could permanently write changes directly to disk, overwriting the original media file with no possible undo. This is where the term "destructive" originated and its meaning still holds today.

_______________________
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Mark Suszko
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 11, 2014 at 7:33:18 pm

As a guy who learned to cut and splice 8mm film as a child, then to edit B&W video by manually punching in and out on two open-reel EIAJ video recorders, using a stopwatch and china marker, and about 15 years doing linear A/B-roll umatic and beta to 1-inch editing, I look at your discussion of "destructive" editing and all I can say is:

"Aren't they cute."

:-)





NLE editing is destructive only to the list of pointers to the media, not the source media itself. If I edit my ipod playist, I've "destroyed" the old playlist version unless I saved off a copy. But the songs weren't affected.

If you guys are so concerned about the ability to wind-back edit decisions infinitely, why are you not saving off complete versions of the EDL's to a drive every 100 or so undos?


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Michael Aranyshev
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 11, 2014 at 11:54:51 pm

If the edit was good it doesn't usually take much time to recreate it from a scratch. That's why I stopped using "versioning" by saving projects or keeping several sequences of the same scene with different variants long time ago. I only keep the versions with client's comments.


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 12, 2014 at 2:04:54 pm

[Michael Aranyshev] "If the edit was good it doesn't usually take much time to recreate it from a scratch. That's why I stopped using "versioning" by saving projects or keeping several sequences of the same scene with different variants long time ago. I only keep the versions with client's comments.
"


This brings up good points.

When Apple engineers added Snapshots to fcpx, it made me think about why Apple chose the word "Project" for a sequence that we have debated on this forum.

These days, I barely make a new timeline, I simply keep working on the same Project, and make snapshots. This also fits in to (for now at least) the one timeline open a time design that is currently present in fcpx. My timeline really is a Project instead of a sequence.

If I need multiple Projects per Library, I, of course, make a new Project and snapshot that one as well.

To Walter's point about Time Machine being a way to negate the undo, Snapshots certainly have that capability as long as you remember to snapshot often.

Now, some might say that Apple has walked back these capabilities after that initial X backlash at launch, but this design, when you really step back and take a really good look at it, seems pre-conceived to me, right down to the windows that snap open and closed (scopes, angles, inspectors, etc). It's a pretty efficient use of space and you can open or close exactly what you need.

Not everyone may not like the design or capability, but it doesn't feel like a haphazard development effort as the pundits may claim. It's still a younger application.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 12, 2014 at 12:54:53 am

[Mark Suszko] "As a guy who learned to cut and splice 8mm film as a child, then to edit B&W video by manually punching in and out on two open-reel EIAJ video recorders, using a stopwatch and china marker, and about 15 years doing linear A/B-roll umatic and beta to 1-inch editing, I look at your discussion of "destructive" editing and all I can say is: "Aren't they cute.""

I learned to edit on linear Umatic systems (where you had no undo, but where you could redo as many times as you wanted). That background is actually part of my line of thinking here.

A video track on tape is a physical thing that can only hold one stream of video, so edits to that tape are necessarily destructive in the DHL sense of the word.

NLEs treat tracks (and lanes) with the same single-stream limitation by convention, not by necessity. They are assuming a limitation of their predecessor system that is not inherent in their own design.

We can argue the semantics of the word destructive all day. I think there's plenty of supporting evidence for David's use and for mine, approaching the matter from different backgrounds as we are -- and as Jeremy rightly points out, a complete history may well be too unwieldy to be practically usable -- but at the same time, I think there's a lot of operational data we generate that's way more ephemeral than it needs to be. Computer systems can change the way we work here, if we care to build them that way.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
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Bill Davis
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 12, 2014 at 8:43:30 am

[Walter Soyka] "I think there's a lot of operational data we generate that's way more ephemeral than it needs to be. Computer systems can change the way we work here, if we care to build them that way.
"


Exactly. And isn't that precisely how the designers coded X?

The way it handles standard editing operations - with the ability of the program to move timeline elements out of the way to eliminate a common way that a user might destroy their prior editing intent - is "less destructive" than the way other NLEs operate?

That's where this started, after all.

In X, Position mode is OFF by default. Ergo, X is designed to be less "destructive" of the editors intent by design.

My initial argument, writ clear.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Herb Sevush
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 12, 2014 at 4:10:31 pm

[Bill Davis] "The way it handles standard editing operations - with the ability of the program to move timeline elements out of the way to eliminate a common way that a user might destroy their prior editing intent - is "less destructive" than the way other NLEs operate? That's where this started, after all."

Yes, this is where we started, and you call me obsessive. Where to stat - let's try this phrase - "where a user might destroy" - yes the mighty use of the word "might." You and I have already established that it is only a novice user who "might" destroy, that for many years you've ceased destroying anything at all. But now your back to characterizing something on the basis of what some unnamed and undefined operator "might" do - as opposed to describing what the timeline actually does.

Both timelines are destructive - you can delete clips in X, you can delete whole sections of the timeline. Both timelines give you tools to avoid clip collisions - X's tools are simpler to use and more automated, but we both know that clip collisions are totally avoidable with any timeline. The only difference is the speed of the action - yet of all the differences between the magnetic timeline and traditional timelines - auditions, connected clips, roles, lack of fixed tracks - your choosing to distinguish the 2 timelines solely on the basis of how they differ when a novice user chooses to move clips. I wonder why.

And to Walter - this is precisely why David L. and I have bee arguing for a strict and narrow usage of the term "destructive." In it's narrow use it actually gives essential information to an editor - if you do this operation, a permanent change in your media will be one of the outcomes. This information allows the operator to make choices, like making a copy of the media in it's present state, or choosing a different function that's non-destructive to achieve a similar end. The operations in question have names that do not indicate the nature of the change - "flattening" or "noise reduction" need the explanatory "destructive operation" to warn the user. Overwrite or delete need no such designation. Calling an "overwrite" destructive is a waste of eleven letters.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


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Mark Suszko
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 12, 2014 at 5:44:48 pm

In that context, "irreversible" or "irrevocable" is a better word than "destructive". You've permanently altered, not destroyed.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 3:17:06 pm

[Herb Sevush] "And to Walter - this is precisely why David L. and I have bee arguing for a strict and narrow usage of the term "destructive." In it's narrow use it actually gives essential information to an editor - if you do this operation, a permanent change in your media will be one of the outcomes. This information allows the operator to make choices, like making a copy of the media in it's present state, or choosing a different function that's non-destructive to achieve a similar end. The operations in question have names that do not indicate the nature of the change - "flattening" or "noise reduction" need the explanatory "destructive operation" to warn the user. Overwrite or delete need no such designation. Calling an "overwrite" destructive is a waste of eleven letters."

Herb, I understand and agree with David's request for clarity. I'm just opposed to his claim that there is one strict technical definition of "destructive" because his definition runs contrary to the way the word is used every day in image editing.

Now maybe the term has been misappropriated by the photography/design community, but it's out there in very common use, and much like begging the question versus raising it, I don't think you can get back the original meaning.

Before this thread, I naively assumed that we could have all agreed on a kind of colloquial definition that destructive operations "eat" their sources -- that a destructive operation alters the input directly, and that a non-destructive operation modifies an object's output.

I like this definition, because it fits the way "destructive" is used today across disciplines, whether we're talking DAWs or image editors. For clarity, we can still explicitly state the scope: "destructive to source media" (really extreme!) or "destructive to a layer" (maybe not so bad).

We can use the term "committed" here (though I think it can suffer the exact same imprecision that "destructive" does, and as I mentioned above, I don't think it will supplant usage of the word "destructive" outside of this thread). I don't really care what the language is -- what I'm interested in is the concept.

My first line of thinking, a way to keep everything live forever, does sound like a nightmare. But there's more here to explore.

My basic premise is that if you look around at other DCC applications, you will see that they are generally trending away from requiring that the user commit to decisions. They are building abstractions around their original, decades-old data models and allowing the user to build a structure around some values that you can change it any time, with that change rippling through the entire piece of work.

A quick example: in an image editor, I have two ways of applying a levels effect. I can apply it directly to a raster layer ("committed"), or I can apply it to an adjustment layer above the raster layer ("uncommitted").

In the first "committed" scenario, the original layer's pixels are altered, and my levels parameter are baked into the layer, and once I start building on that layer, undo history won't help me meaningfully get them back without also removing subsequent work.

In the second "uncommitted" scenario, the perceptual output is the same, but the original layer is not altered. The levels adjustment is kept fluid, and I can go back at any time, at any point in the work flow, and adjust the parameters.

From the perspective of the timeline, NLEs lack uncommitted toolsets. Every operation in the timeline is direct and committed (relative to the timeline, not to the media).

Imagine an L- or J-cut. With our committed NLEs, we may cut the two clips into the timeline, then roll and trim the video and audio separately. The original clip extents are eaten by these operations. All subsequent operations in the timeline are made relative to its current state, never to its original state.

With an uncommitted NLE, the L/J-cut could remain parametric. We could retain the original video and audio extents, and apply the L/J-cut on top of them, with the L/J-cut modifying the video and audio extents separately. All subsequent operations can be made relative to the original rough cut. (Something like this is easier in FCPX with its relative timeline because it has an easier structure for temporal reflowing than a traditional open timeline.)

Something along these lines would be in keeping with the trend I'm seeing in other DCC applications.

Walter Soyka
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Herb Sevush
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 3:57:49 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Before this thread, I naively assumed that we could have all agreed on a kind of colloquial definition that destructive operations "eat" their sources -- that a destructive operation alters the input directly, and that a non-destructive operation modifies an object's output."

This wider definition is fine so long as its understood that every time you modify a clips length or position on the timeline you are committing a "destructive" act - every time you trim, move, slip, slide, or delete a clip, or group of clips, every time you change an opacity level or color correction you have committed a destructive act. Under this definition pretty much anything other than assembly is destructive, at which point the phrase becomes close to meaningless, except when using adjustment layers or maintaining some kind of dynamic history, neither of which is very prevalent in most NLEs.

Adjustment layers are now in use with Ppro, but if I change a value in the adjustment layer, an opacity value lets say, isn't that destructive as well, since I no longer have the value of the original opacity setting in that adjustment layer? To me adjustment layers are non-destructive only in the narrower sense of the word - you haven't "baked anything in" to the way the media is presented. But you will lose information as soon as you change the adjustment layer itself, its just that this loss of information does not equal a loss of future choices.

I think I like this better; an act is destructive when it limits the future options you have in regards to both the media and its representation in the software. Once you've added a blur and flattened a layer you no longer have the choice to work with an unblurred image in that object - it doesn't have to have blurred the original media, but it does have to affect the object you are working on in an irreversible way. A deleted clip can simply be edited back into the timeline, you have that choice. A flattend image cannot become unblurred, no matter what you do. You can create a whole new object using the same media, but that's not the same thing. I think.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
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Franz Bieberkopf
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 5:41:40 pm

[Walter Soyka] "From the perspective of the timeline, NLEs lack uncommitted toolsets. Every operation in the timeline is direct and committed (relative to the timeline, not to the media)."

[Herb Sevush] " ... an act is destructive when it limits the future options you have in regards to both the media and its representation in the software."

Three further thoughts on this.

The first is that this revolves around the idea of a meaningful memory of decisions. Over the course of an 8 month edit, I am not sure that every past iteration of every clip and clip order and fine adjustments and filters and levels etc. necessarily represents a meaningful record (ie. one that can be put to use well). The idea of "versions", "snapshots" etc. stands at the other end of the scale - in other words, one is an automated recorded of everything, the other is a selective and intentional record of what the editor chooses as meaningful (something she might want to go back to).

Another idea (alluded to by Walter) is the contrast between a trail (an undo stack) and "random-access" uncommitted decisions. One only traces back things in the order you've executed them, the other allows you to change any decision at any time. I'm not sure image-editing is a good model for NLEs with respect to the implications of each method.

Finally, as I mentioned before, I think the current nomenclature is important.

If not "committed / non-committed" then "undoable" indicates a certain relationship with things you are doing in the software. "Destructive" indicates an action that affects media files which the software works with. "Recoverable" files indicate OS level or hardware level things you can do for protection. If I think about teaching, these words help someone to understand what is possible and the implications of their actions, and further, a meaningful model of the various levels at which they are interacting with an NLE and computer. The words lead to understanding, in a way that "destructive timeline" simply doesn't.

Franz.


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David Lawrence
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 6:02:58 pm

[Franz Bieberkopf] "If not "committed / non-committed" then "undoable" indicates a certain relationship with things you are doing in the software. "Destructive" indicates an action that affects media files which the software works with. "Recoverable" files indicate OS level or hardware level things you can do for protection. If I think about teaching, these words help someone to understand what is possible and the implications of their actions, and further, a meaningful model of the various levels at which they are interacting with an NLE and computer. The words lead to understanding, in a way that "destructive timeline" simply doesn't."

Well said, Franz.

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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 6:25:30 pm

[Franz Bieberkopf] "Finally, as I mentioned before, I think the current nomenclature is important."

I agree, but if I start talking about "committed edits" to a photographer or a 3D artist, they'll think I should be committed.

Sorry to keep bringing this up. I'm really not trying to be precious about the word "destructive." It's just that the word is already in use in an adjacent discipline in a way you guys don't like. We are tilting at a windmill here, arguing about the way "destructive" should be used and not acknowledging the way it IS being used. I will have to go back to talking about "destructive vs. non-destructive workflows" as soon as I'm somewhere else.

But in either case, I do think the term "destructive timeline" is meaningless, and it's part of why I chose FCP X to illustrate what I had originally considered to be a "destructive edit" but will now call a "committed edit."

After a little more thought on nomenclature, I think I might prefer the term "one-way operation" where we are using "committed" in terms of intuition; I think it captures the mathematically irreversible nature of the operations we're discussing.


[Franz Bieberkopf] "I'm not sure image-editing is a good model for NLEs with respect to the implications of each method."

Of course, this is not the same as saying that you're sure image-editing is not a good model for NLEs. :)

For me, this is one of the things that is most interesting about FCP X: the timeline reflows with every single editorial operation. As you manipulate the objects in the timeline, it is dynamically rearranged according to a few organizing principles (basically down and left until you hit something that blocks you).

The existence of this organizing system (which is fully manual in a traditional open timeline) could more easily accommodate parametric, uncommitted editorial.

I risk an analogy: FCP X's addition of this organizing system is a bit like adding compositing layers to a simple double-buffer paint system. The added layer of abstraction makes new kinds of tools practical.

Walter Soyka
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Franz Bieberkopf
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 6:35:02 pm
Last Edited By Franz Bieberkopf on Jul 14, 2014 at 6:37:36 pm

[Walter Soyka] "It's just that the word is already in use in an adjacent discipline in a way you guys don't like."

Walter,

I've been more or less limiting my thought to NLEs, but actually I am not familiar with exactly how "destructive" is used in image editing - did you outline it? What are the parameters for use? Examples?

Franz.

Edit: for example, I have trouble finding a contradiction of my understanding here:
https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/using/nondestructive-editing.html


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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 7:27:29 pm

[Franz Bieberkopf] "Edit: for example, I have trouble finding a contradiction of my understanding here:
https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/using/nondestructive-editing.html"


That's a list of non-destructive workflows, so we should consider the so-called "destructive" workflows with which they stand in contrast.

For example, from your link:

Transforming with Smart Objects: Smart Objects enable nondestructive scaling, rotating, and warping.

When you transform a smart object, the original underlying asset and the transformation applied to it are preserved. So for example, scaling a smart object down to 50% and then back up to 100% in a subsequent operation restores the original.

When you transform a raster layer, the transformation is applied directly to the layer, and the new contents of the layer reflect the results of that transformation. This is considered destructive because the output of the operation replaces the input of the operation.

When you scale a raster layer down to 50%, "committing" the change rewrites the raster and bakes in the transformation. 50% becomes the new 100%, so if you scale up to 200% in a subsequent operation (to attempt to restore the 50% scale to its original 100%) you do not get the original back, but rather an blocky blown-up raster.

Undo (or Step Backward) will get you back where you started, but (with some exception) manipulating the history stack is a global document-wide state change, not a local layer-specific one.

Walter Soyka
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Franz Bieberkopf
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 7:48:14 pm

[Walter Soyka] "That's a list of non-destructive workflows, so we should consider the so-called "destructive" workflows with which they stand in contrast."

Walter,

Well, maybe.

I don't travel in enough image-editing circles to know. But as I point out below Adobe.com seems pretty specific when it uses the term "destructive".

Franz.


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David Lawrence
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 6:42:51 pm

[Walter Soyka] "I'm really not trying to be precious about the word "destructive." It's just that the word is already in use in an adjacent discipline in a way you guys don't like."

It appears the only difference between how we're using the term "destructive" in the context of DAWs and NLEs and how photographers use the term has to do with where the source data is stored.

In DAWs and NLEs, an operation is considered destructive if it overwrites original media stored on disk with no undo.

In photography, an operation is considered destructive if it overwrites original pixel information stored in memory with no undo.

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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 6:59:41 pm

[David Lawrence] "It appears the only difference between how we're using the term "destructive" in the context of DAWs and NLEs and how photographers use the term has to do with where the source data is stored.... In photography, an operation is considered destructive if it overwrites original pixel information stored in memory with no undo."

No, undo does not factor in, which was the source of my original confusion and the reason I objected to your stringent definition.

A levels adjustment is considered destructive when applied directly to a layer, even though the operation may be undone via the history stack. A levels adjustment is considered non-destructive when performed via an adjustment layer, modifying the output of the original layer without actually directly altering it.

Likewise, any RAW manipulation is non-destructive, because all RAW adjustments are output-side modifications, not input-side alternations. Making the same manipulation to a raster image is destructive, because it's baked-in/input-side/committed/one-way.

I understand the importance of the distinction you're drawing. To Franz's point, I would have used the word "unrecoverable" for your "destructive."

I hate to be so bogged down in the terminology. I'd hoped we could have discussed what useful data in an edit is ephemeral by convention, not necessity, and if any of it is worth preserving better through the editorial process.

This is especially interesting to me in the context of FCP X, where we build a structure that, through the consistent application of magnetic reflow to the read-write storyline, systematically compiles a read-only absolute timeline.

Walter Soyka
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David Lawrence
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 7:29:45 pm
Last Edited By David Lawrence on Jul 14, 2014 at 7:32:41 pm

[Walter Soyka] "No, undo does not factor in, which was the source of my original confusion and the reason I objected to your stringent definition."

Yes, with a bit more research, I see photographers consider destructive any operation that bakes a change into the pixels. I guess that makes sense since they're primarily concerned with the contents of the frame buffer.

I should add, this difference in concerns is a good argument for why the terms' meaning must be considered in context, and kept specific to each context. Blurring the meaning between DAWs/NLEs and photography is confusing.

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Franz Bieberkopf
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 7:43:45 pm

[Walter Soyka] "A levels adjustment is considered destructive when applied directly to a layer, even though the operation may be undone via the history stack."

Walter,

Well, one thing that is interesting is that I can't find the term "destructive edit" at adobe.com except with references to "modifying file information".

http://www.adobe.com/cfusion/search/index.cfm?loc=en_us&term=destructive%20...
(I didn't search through more than one page, so I may have missed more)

"Non-destructive" editing is used often and interchangeably with phrases like "the original image layer is not altered. You can go back and tweak the adjustments and no image information is discarded."

So I'm not sure that "destructive editing" is such a widespread term in image editing base on that (very limited) sample. In any case, Adobe seem to be careful about it's use where they often use "non-destructive" as a term.

Franz.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 8:21:53 pm

[Franz Bieberkopf] "So I'm not sure that "destructive editing" is such a widespread term in image editing base on that (very limited) sample. In any case, Adobe seem to be careful about it's use where they often use "non-destructive" as a term."

Fair! Communicating with other designers, these words have pretty specific meanings, but it will be very hard for me to convince you of that based on the number of times it appears in Adobe documentation.

Here are a few other references where non-destructive is used the same way I outline above:
https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/how-to/make-non-destructive-edits-camera-...
http://tv.adobe.com/watch/learn-photoshop-cc/nondestructive-crops/
http://tv.adobe.com/watch/adobe-evangelists-russell-brown/using-lighting-ef...
http://blogs.adobe.com/jnack/2012/12/demo-non-destructive-burndodge-in-phot...

"Destructive" is probably almost undefined here, because all image editors would have been de-facto "destructive" at their inception a couple decades ago. "Non-destructive" is frequently used to refer to the newer workflows which accomplish the same thing as the original raster-based workflows, but with greater flexibility.

But non-non-destructive is an awkward construct...

Walter Soyka
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Franz Bieberkopf
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 8:27:29 pm

[Walter Soyka] ""Destructive" is probably almost undefined here, because all image editors would have been de-facto "destructive" at their inception a couple decades ago. "Non-destructive" is frequently used to refer to the newer workflows which accomplish the same thing as the original raster-based workflows, but with greater flexibility.

But non-non-destructive is an awkward construct..."


Walter,

Yes, but I think we are both interested for the same reasons here - the history of the lexicon.

I just think that the careful non-use of "destructive" contrasts with widespread use of "non-destructive". It suggests they're not comfortable with the label and probably for reasons that David has outlined.

Or, to put it another way, not non-destructive doesn't necessarily mean destructive.

Franz.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 8:34:47 pm

[Franz Bieberkopf] "I just think that the careful non-use of "destructive" contrasts with widespread use of "non-destructive". It suggests they're not comfortable with the label and probably for reasons that David has outlined."

I don't disagree, but that might also be a marketing decision. Who wants to sell a product with a destructive workflow?

People do talk about "destructive filters" although it seems it's not documented by Adobe as such.


[Franz Bieberkopf] "Or, to put it another way, not non-destructive doesn't necessarily mean destructive."

As a logician, I know it must have pained you to write that.

If not non-destructive doesn't mean destructive, maybe we should start a semantic discussion of the words "not" and "non."

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 8:38:11 pm

[Walter Soyka] "If not non-destructive doesn't mean destructive, maybe we should start a semantic discussion of the words "not" and "non.""

But naan is so good!


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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 8:38:38 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "But naan is so good!"

It's not bad!

Walter Soyka
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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 8:42:05 pm

[Walter Soyka] "[Jeremy Garchow] "But naan is so good!"

It's not bad!"


And Non-naan is a tortilla!

OK, I'll see myself out, back to the debate.


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Shawn Miller
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 9:20:12 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "[Walter Soyka] "[Jeremy Garchow] "But naan is so good!"

It's not bad!"

And Non-naan is a tortilla!

OK, I'll see myself out, back to the debate."


You guys are giving me flashbacks of that show "Life"! :-)

[Det. Charlie Crews] "I don't not say things that other people don't not say, but most other people don't not say the same things I don't."

http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0028830/quotes

Shawn



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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 15, 2014 at 3:57:54 pm

[Shawn Miller] "You guys are giving me flashbacks of that show "Life"! :-)"

I have never heard of this show. I watched an episode on Netflix. I will admit, I might watch another.

Jeremy


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Shawn Miller
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 15, 2014 at 6:06:57 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "[Shawn Miller] "You guys are giving me flashbacks of that show "Life"! :-)"

I have never heard of this show. I watched an episode on Netflix. I will admit, I might watch another.

Jeremy"


It's a fun show. The setup is a bit slow IMO, but I think it starts to pay off near the middle of the first season. I have a bit of an off-beat sense of humor, so this show really appealed to me. I hope you find it entertaining as well. :-)

Shawn



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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 15, 2014 at 6:24:51 pm

[Shawn Miller] " I have a bit of an off-beat sense of humor, "

You sound like a terrible person.


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Shawn Miller
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 15, 2014 at 7:45:54 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "[Shawn Miller] " I have a bit of an off-beat sense of humor, "

You sound like a terrible person."


lol - yes, my mother used to say that too. I'm bucking for Steve Connor's former title of "Class Bully"... I mean, since he's not using it anymore. :-)

Shawn



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Franz Bieberkopf
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 10:22:09 pm

[Walter Soyka] "As a logician, I know it must have pained you to write that."


Walter,

Yes, but as an epistemologist I'm tickled pink.

Franz.


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David Lawrence
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 7:41:49 pm

[Walter Soyka] "For me, this is one of the things that is most interesting about FCP X: the timeline reflows with every single editorial operation. As you manipulate the objects in the timeline, it is dynamically rearranged according to a few organizing principles (basically down and left until you hit something that blocks you)."

This is a great argument for why I consider the FCPX magnetic timeline highly destructive.

If your editing workflow requires placing media objects in an absolute, external frame-of-reference for time, having the NLE rearrange those objects with every operation feels like editing in quicksand.

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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 8:26:21 pm

[David Lawrence] "This is a great argument for why I consider the FCPX magnetic timeline highly destructive. If your editing workflow requires placing media objects in an absolute, external frame-of-reference for time, having the NLE rearrange those objects with every operation feels like editing in quicksand."

And here's a great argument for why you considered the word "destructive" sacrosanct, or why I'd always want to see its scope explicitly stated. :)

My question: is an NLE that recalculates absolute clip timing for you (according to strict rules and based on user input) analogous to an image editor that recalculates absolute pixel values for you (according to strict rules and based on user input)?

Walter Soyka
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David Lawrence
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 8:39:31 pm

[Walter Soyka] "And here's a great argument for why you considered the word "destructive" sacrosanct, or why I'd always want to see its scope explicitly stated. :)"

Bingo! ;)

[Walter Soyka] "My question: is an NLE that recalculates absolute clip timing for you (according to strict rules and based on user input) analogous to an image editor that recalculates absolute pixel values for you (according to strict rules and based on user input)?"

Interesting question. In my mind, these are very different types of editorial operations.

I would argue that the NLE is the superset, because it allows both the processing of absolute pixels on a frame (image) level, as well as a collection of frames on a temporal level.

I don't think of these operations the same way so for me personally, they're not really analogous.

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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 8:42:34 pm

[David Lawrence] "don't think of these operations the same way so for me personally, they're not really analogous."

That's fair.

My follow-up: what is unique about a temporal operation that you would consider it differently than a spatial one?

Walter Soyka
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David Lawrence
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 9:24:42 pm

[Walter Soyka] "My follow-up: what is unique about a temporal operation that you would consider it differently than a spatial one?"

Fantastic question. Let me think about that over lunch and I'll get back to you.

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Walter Soyka
Re: Destructive edits
on Jul 14, 2014 at 5:54:37 pm

[Herb Sevush] "Under this definition pretty much anything other than assembly is destructive, at which point the phrase becomes close to meaningless"

Agreed, but this is why scope is important. Not all data has the same value, but the same piece of data may have different values to different people in different situations.

I don't think we can escape the idea that eventually we have to make a decision on something and eventually we are going to make some point-of-no-return data alterations. With most software, even non-destructive/uncommitted workflows require committing to parametric data at some point and removing the previous instance of parametric data.

Just like in physics, point of reference is important. We can change the volume of a clip in the timeline by keyframing, then change it again. This is non-destructive/uncommitted to the clip, but it is destructive/committed to the volume keyframe curve.

It's turtles all the way down.


[Herb Sevush] "I think I like this better; an act is destructive when it limits the future options you have in regards to both the media and its representation in the software. Once you've added a blur and flattened a layer you no longer have the choice to work with an unblurred image in that object - it doesn't have to have blurred the original media, but it does have to affect the object you are working on in an irreversible way. A deleted clip can simply be edited back into the timeline, you have that choice. A flattend image cannot become unblurred, no matter what you do. You can create a whole new object using the same media, but that's not the same thing. I think."

I get where you're going, but I think that re-importing the unblurred original image object into your composite is analogous to re-editing a deleted clip object into your timeline.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
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