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The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?

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David Lawrence
The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 7, 2011 at 9:04:28 pm

Thanks again for your interest everyone. If you’re new to this thread you can learn about my background here:

http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/335/9060

I originally started writing a brain dump of everything I was thinking about FCPX. It quickly snowballed into more than would make sense for a single post so I'm breaking it up into a short series. This is the first with a few more posts to follow.

Standard disclaimer – Everything in all my posts is my opinion only. I have no special insider knowledge or connections with Apple. I’m just calling it the way I see it, having thought about this stuff for a while. If I get something wrong or if you have information I don’t, please feel free to correct me and/or add your knowledge to the pile. I’m all ears.

One more thing, I’m going to focus on the meta - more so than you’ll probably find in most of the other threads. This forum has many outstanding discussions on nuts and bolts issues and many smart participants. I want to dive into the more conceptual and philosophical realm. Any user interface reflects the assumptions, priorities and values of its designer. How does the philosophy behind a tool’s design determine how we’re able to work? What does "better" mean in the context of usability? These are the sorts of issues I want to tackle.

Let’s dig in and start with the basics. This is stuff you already know but I think bears repeating.

Let’s start with Time.

Time is linear.

Our experience of time is linear.

We can subdivide it however we like, but our normal perception is that time always moves forward. This is hardwired into our bodies and brains.

Editing is the art of structuring media experience in time.

When we edit, what we're actually doing is making intentional, creative, decisions for every moment of the experience of our piece. We intentionally choose exactly what the viewer sees, hears, and consequently feels. Most importantly, we control how and when this happens. This precise sculpting of time-based experience is the essence of the art of editing.

In an NLE, the timeline is a fixed, spatial representation of time itself.

The beauty of the “open” timeline is that it gives editors unlimited flexibility in placing media - represented as objects - exactly where they want in the linear timestream. Objects are freely, precisely placed in time to create linear experience. It works exceptionally well. This is why the timeline metaphor has been in use since the invention of NLE almost 25 years ago.

Tracks are layers of timelines dedicated to specific media types. They’re a great organizing tool. An important thing to remember about tracks is that all tracks share a fixed frame-of-reference in regards to time.

The other important thing is that all tracks follow a common spatial model. The timeline is a direct, one to one mapping of spatial position to temporal event. When you look at a complex timeline at the wrap of a project, what you’re seeing is an exact, crystal-clear 2D map of every creative decision you chose for every frame of your piece. It’s a map of experience in time.

FCP 1-7 is designed around the “open timeline” paradigm. It has a fairly robust toolset for manipulating objects on the timeline(s). The tools aren’t perfect, but overall they’re very good. IMO, they just feel better than the tools in other systems -- personal taste I suppose. The main thing is once internalized, they do the most important thing a digital tool can do – clearly express user intention and stay out of the way.

OK. So now Apple drops FCPX in our laps and introduces a fundamental change in the NLE timeline model -- the “Magnetic Timeline”. It’s a whole new paradigm that will change how we edit! Tracks are gone! Clips are sequenced and synced with “connections.” It’s locked in ripple mode! I can see the gaps! WTF!!! And so on.

There’s no in between -- right now you either love or hate this thing.

But what is it exactly? Why does it provoke such a visceral reaction in so many?

On the surface, there’s nothing groundbreaking or even new about the magnetic timeline. As others have correctly pointed out, it's a 1V 2A fixed ripple mode timeline -- with lots of other seemingly arbitrary constraints.

So what?

But under the hood it’s actually deeply radical. In FCPX, Apple has abstracted time away from space. The timeline is now a container-class object. It is no longer just a fixed spatial representation. The implications and potential are huge. Once you wrap you head around it, a lot of things fall into place – things like the new names (“Storylines” instead of “Timelines”), the lack of tracks, even the gaps.

Apple is going all-in on a pure object model for media representation. They’re building around an object and database driven architecture. The FCPX UI and toolset directly reflects this shift. It’s radical. It’s innovative, and IMHO, it’s seriously flawed for advanced editors. Because there’s a fundamental truth that not even Randy Ubillos can avoid. Even in FCPX, it’s right in front of your eyes.

We’ll talk about that in my next post.

_______________________
David Lawrence
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Francis Robertson
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 7, 2011 at 9:43:24 pm

Very interesting post, can't wait for the next installment.

Thanks


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Craig Alan
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 7, 2011 at 10:46:00 pm

David,

This is the first cliffhanger post I have ever read.

Well done!

OSX 10.5.8; MacBookPro4,1 Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz
; Camcorders: Sony Z7U, Canon HV30/40, Sony vx2000/PD170; FCP certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Nikola Stefanovic
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 7, 2011 at 10:54:11 pm

Pure reverse engineering.

Nikola Stefanovic
http://www.vimeo.com/nikolastefanovic/reel


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Greg Burke
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 7, 2011 at 10:57:25 pm

I dont get it, I mean did apple think that Track based editing was "So yesterday"? Avid has ripple witch works exactly like this Magnetic timeline.

I wear many hats.
http://www.gregburkepost.com


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Michael Aranyshev
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 7, 2011 at 11:27:49 pm

You see, CoreData and AVFoundation are parts of the system, so they are sort of "free". The real plan was probably to kill Pro Apps for good but someone said he can do a complete rewrite on the cheap and got a greenlight. Of course he had to use spare parts and iMove sketches to make a deadline.


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Greg Burke
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 7, 2011 at 11:31:51 pm

wow.....this is awful

I wear many hats.
http://www.gregburkepost.com


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Michael Gissing
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 12:03:08 am

If only Apple had taken a good look at how audio DAWs have tackled the same issue. The big problem is destructive overwriting. A magnetic timeline just pushes things out of the way. In audio DAWs (good ones like Fairlight) you can stack clips on top of each other on a track. So your other edits are safe underneath. You always hear the top layer.

Furthermore you can have interaction between layers on tracks - simple case in point is a crossfade to the lower layer. This is the same concept of top to bottom layering in video, just on a single track. So Apple could have done the same thing. Non destructive overwrite and complex layering WITHIN tracks and between tracks. This would solve nesting messiness as well.

Instead Apple have tried a new paradigm which is functionally messy. If it is a hybrid between a linear approach and a node style then lets see where they goes and if it it is more powerful than stacked layers within tracks which retains the good old linear time feel.


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Craig Seeman
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 7, 2011 at 11:40:09 pm

David, I'm glad you've posted this. I've been trying to explain to people how AV Foundation impacted the fundamental changes in FCPX GUI/paradigm but couldn't have said it as elegantly as you. Trying to model FCPX with tracks would have been an awkward and technology defeating shoehorn. I'm looking forward to your next post.



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Greg Burke
Re: The Magnetic Timeline Whats The Paradigm?
on Jul 7, 2011 at 11:44:34 pm

[Craig Seeman] "trying to model FCPX with tracks would have been an awkward and technology defeating shoehorn"

Wasnt It Steves Job said.... " The Foundation is already there....and to change it would make it 10% Better, but 50% worse..."

Non track Based editing could very well be the future, and so could flying cars, but we dont stop making cars if "someday" new ones are coming out. Just my Thoughts.



I wear many hats.
http://www.gregburkepost.com


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Craig Seeman
Re: The Magnetic Timeline -- What's The Paradigm?
on Jul 7, 2011 at 11:53:44 pm

Quicktime which is 32bit had to go so there was no foundation to take FCP to 64bit. Apple is working with an interesting concept which has advantages (I think) but I'm sure David will do a much better job explaining it. I've been using NLEs since the late 1980s and have always felt I was working around the limitations of tracks. While FCPX needs lots of work, I think the fundamental concept and the framework AV Foundation provides holds promise.



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Michael Gissing
Re: The Magnetic Timeline What's The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 12:09:32 am

Craig, I see no reason why AV foundation versus quicktime should make any difference to how a GUI displays something as basic as a timeline. It may allow interesting new approaches to editing but as I just posted there are numerous ways to visually represent and manage assets in a timeline.


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Andrew Richards
Re: The Magnetic Timeline What's The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 12:33:33 am

[Michael Gissing] "I see no reason why AV foundation versus quicktime should make any difference to how a GUI displays something as basic as a timeline."

Nor should you. AVFoundation is Apple's new framework for dealing with time-based media. It replaces their deprecated QuickTime frameworks and is Apple's preferred framework for handling time-based media moving forward. It does four basic things: read media, play media, assemble media, and export media. It allows a developer to do these things without writing their own code to do so. There is nothing about calling upon AVFoundation that would necessitate the Magnetic Timeline.

Best,
Andy


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Paul Dickin
Re: The Magnetic Timeline What's The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 9:55:55 am

[David Lawrence] " I'm primarily interested in what AV foundation, i.e. an object data model means for FCP UI in broader terms. "
Hi
This is, I think, the $64,000 question.

[Michael Aranyshev] "CoreData and AVFoundation are parts of the system, so they are sort of "free"."

Apple have nailed their colours to the mast, and bet the crown jewels on their new (iOS-derived) core technologies. For better for worse... ;-)

[Andrew Richards] "AVFoundation is Apple's new framework for dealing with time-based media. ...It does four basic things: read media, play media, assemble media, and export media."

QuickTime has allowed media to be 'assembled' within a .mov file, in a manner very similar to Michael Gissing's layered single track methodology - lots of tracks (video, audio, timecode, chapter points, text overlays etc). But its been a very clunky technology.

[Michael Gissing] "I see no reason why AV foundation versus quicktime should make any difference to how a GUI displays something as basic as a timeline."

Apple has totally transformed the old QT legacy concepts with their new foundation - this is what they say about how AV Foundation is used to assemble media:
Editing
AV Foundation uses compositions to create new assets from existing pieces of media (typically, one or more video and audio tracks). You use a mutable composition to add and remove tracks, and adjust their temporal orderings. You can also set the relative volumes and ramping of audio tracks; and set the opacity, and opacity ramps, of video tracks. A composition is an assemblage of pieces of media held in memory. When you export a composition using an export session, it's collapsed to a file.


It seems to me that the section I've emphasised is an excellent description of a basic FCP X timeline.

This being so:-
i) There is no 'Project' as such to define a timeline - its description is all being recorded by the OS and CoreData.
ii) FCP X is just a GUI and a toolkit to build and modify these AV Foundation 'mutable compositions'.

[Michael Gissing] "In audio DAWs (good ones like Fairlight) you can stack clips on top of each other on a track. So your other edits are safe underneath. You always hear the top layer."

That in itself is a complex methodology in a 2D interface, as you have to visually represent the hidden layers in some meaningful way. If you shift the axis of your 'viewpoint' by 90º then the tracks are all visible again - all layed out side-by-side or above and below...

FCP 1-7's Project-based data structure made a traditional timeline an excellent GUI paradigm.
The very different essence of an AV Foundation mutable composition I think requires as different a control GUI,
as say an aeroplane does compared to a car. Joy stick compared to a steering wheel ;-)

As to the linearity of time. Musical notation has traditionally had to deal with the progress of time in a flexible way - how fast do the pages of a pianist's sheet music have to be turned during a Chopin Prelude for the fast and slow movements. The old NLE timeline paradigm is very inflexible in this respect


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Andrew Richards
Re: The Magnetic Timeline What's The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 11:43:20 am

[Paul Dickin] "It seems to me that the section I've emphasised is an excellent description of a basic FCP X timeline.

This being so:-
i) There is no 'Project' as such to define a timeline - its description is all being recorded by the OS and CoreData.
ii) FCP X is just a GUI and a toolkit to build and modify these AV Foundation 'mutable compositions'."


But that emphasized section can also describe traditional timelines. How these compositions are presented to the user via the GUI is all happening "above" the framework level, on the UI level.

AVFoundation is the media handling guts, but the decisions that direct the assemblage of the compositions are all input at the UI level and stored via CoreData in the Project database. I can't see any structural dependency between the Magnetic Timeline UI concept and AVFoundation or vice versa.

[Paul Dickin] "The very different essence of an AV Foundation mutable composition I think requires as different a control GUI, as say an aeroplane does compared to a car. Joy stick compared to a steering wheel ;-)"

Don't get caught up in the CompSci jargon. A "mutable composition" only means that the arrangement of the media being arranged might change, as in editing. The traditional timeline represents a "mutable composition" just as much as the Magnetic Timeline.

[Paul Dickin] "As to the linearity of time. Musical notation has traditionally had to deal with the progress of time in a flexible way - how fast do the pages of a pianist's sheet music have to be turned during a Chopin Prelude for the fast and slow movements. The old NLE timeline paradigm is very inflexible in this respect"

Tempo is pace, and what is inflexible about a single scale timeline written on paper (sheet music) is flexible when you can zoom the scale on a NLE timeline. This is true for both traditional and Magnetic timelines. For your music analogy to hold, an NLE timeline might shift from 60fps to 24fps and back within the same timeline. This isn't done on either style of timeline, both ask for a FPS time scale as a starting parameter, and rightly so.

Best,
Andy


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Paul Dickin
Re: The Magnetic Timeline What's The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 12:49:41 pm

[Andrew Richards] "...that emphasized section can also describe traditional timelines.
...The traditional timeline represents a "mutable composition" just as much as the Magnetic Timeline."

Hi
Can, yes.
In the old project terms what it represented was the Project. Hence the inflexibility inherent in the layout of the traditional NLE timeline.

In the new scheme of things the GUI could be released from such inflexibilities.
In what way the interface should best be developed is what needs our attention :-)
In my view staying the same as it has been is a retrograde option.

[Andrew Richards] " ...is flexible when you can zoom the scale on a NLE timeline."
Sure, But make the zoom-level keyframable so the timeline is always presented at a non-linear magnification. That would save manually controlling the view of the work-space every time you play that section.

[Andrew Richards] "...an NLE timeline might shift from 60fps to 24fps and back within the same timeline. "
In the old days - Premiere v3/4 before Media 100 came along - in the QT .mov exported from the timeline a freeze frame could exist as one variable-length single frame, however long it was.
Which was cool and efficient ;-)

Playing at a constant frame rate is only mandated by the broadcasting chain, and the inflexibility of tape technology.
Doesn't mean that a modern-looking NLE should be limited so as not to be flexible enough to deal with future distribution technologies.



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Andrew Richards
Re: The Magnetic Timeline What's The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 2:22:13 pm

[Paul Dickin] "In the new scheme of things the GUI could be released from such inflexibilities. In what way the interface should best be developed is what needs our attention :-)
In my view staying the same as it has been is a retrograde option."


Don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing against the Magnetic Timeline or suggesting it isn't an effective visualization of an edit. I'm just pointing out AVFoundation isn't the reason for the Magnetic Timeline. If Apple were so inclined, they could add "views" to the Magnetic Timeline that would morph the presentation into different patterns. For instance, I submitted a Feedback asking for one where the audio, once it can be tagged with metadata for output, is collapsed a la Compound Clips into however many discreet channels are defined for the sequence- all with one click. This would aid in QC, master mixing, and so on.

[Paul Dickin] "Playing at a constant frame rate is only mandated by the broadcasting chain, and the inflexibility of tape technology. Doesn't mean that a modern-looking NLE should be limited so as not to be flexible enough to deal with future distribution technologies."

I'd argue time-based media needs a set cadence, but that is another discussion. Even FCPX requires you to pick a FPS setting for any given timeline. What you're describing is actually much more like the old QuickTime's event-based media framework, where any set cadence is essentially a workaround. This is why the old FCP in its early versions had so many sync drift issues.

Best,
Andy


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Paul Dickin
Re: The Magnetic Timeline What's The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 2:36:11 pm

[Andrew Richards] "I'm just pointing out AVFoundation isn't the reason for the Magnetic Timeline."
Hi
Agreed.
But I think it is an underlying reason for FCP X's Project = Timeline (singular) = 'one complex big mutable composition' structure, which is more of a sticking point to me than the magneticness of the timeline display.



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Andrew Richards
Re: The Magnetic Timeline What's The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 2:47:32 pm

[Paul Dickin] "But I think it is an underlying reason for FCP X's Project = Timeline (singular) structure, which is more of a sticking point to me than the magneticness of the timeline display."

Why though? Why couldn't they have just as easily gone with their old structure of sequences in a project? The whole organizational structure of Events and one-timeline-per-Project is independent of the underlying APIs being called to stitch the video data together (which is all AVFoundation does).

I think the new Events & Projects structure is absolutely a nod in the direction of the iMovie crowd looking to move up (the former Final Cut Express crowd), it creates a conduit to FCPX up from iMovie with 1:1 organizational methods. Apple seems to have merged FCE and FCP into FCPX, and the feature set in the current release is heavily skewed to the FCE end of the spectrum.

Best,
Andy


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Paul Dickin
Re: The Magnetic Timeline What's The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 2:59:28 pm

[Andrew Richards] "Why though? Why couldn't they..."
They didn't :-(
Designer's whim.
As old FCP always had its Capture Scratch folder set by the application's preferences, not by the project.

[Andrew Richards] "...the new Events & Projects structure is absolutely a nod in the direction of the iMovie crowd..."
As is having still graphics in iPhoto and audio assets in iTunes.
In this iteration of FCP X - beta 0.9? - the media management design philosophy seems no further developed than iMovie.



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David Lawrence
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 3:06:26 am

Thanks Craig. I'll do my best although I hope this doesn't mean I have to read the framework guide now ;)

To be honest, my understanding of AV foundation not deeply technical so I'll be looking to you and other experts to fill in the gaps. I'm primarily interested in what AV foundation, i.e. an object data model means for FCP UI in broader terms. Where I go with it may not be where you expect but I hope it will be of interest.

_______________________
David Lawrence
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Walter Soyka
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 3:51:35 am

[Craig Seeman] "I've been trying to explain to people how AV Foundation impacted the fundamental changes in FCPX GUI/paradigm but couldn't have said it as elegantly as you. Trying to model FCPX with tracks would have been an awkward and technology defeating shoehorn."

Craig, I'm still not sure I follow here -- what is it in AV Foundation that suggests a required magnetic timeline to you?

You have been so adamant about this that I've dug through the AV Foundation documentation a bit to try to understand this better. I suspect you're looking at AVMutableComposition [link], which has the very magnetic-timeline-like features of being able to ripple-add and ripple-delete time ranges -- but there's also the lower-level AVAsset [link] and AVComposition [link] classes, in which tracks exist in specific time ranges almost exactly as they do in QuickTime.

In any case, aren't these are just the frameworks that the applications use to read and write the media? Why would they necessarily dictate an application's own internal data model for media?

What am I missing?

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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Franz Bieberkopf
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 1:18:22 am

David,


i was compelled by the recent controversy and your general approach to join the forums and contribute some thoughts. i think this is a fruitful level of discussion, and important to editing as craft and art.

first i think it is important to to point out that the idea of time as linear is, in itself, a certain mental model which recording media in general (and film in particular) have contributed to. in fact, it is such a pervasive way of conceiving of time that most will accept it as a given without a second thought.

but i think for the purposes of the discussion it's not a bad starting point.

i think the real question that your post ignores, however, relates to the marketing of the new software, and specifically the idea of the "trackless timeline".

and so we should ask first - is this timeline really working without tracks?

i haven't worked with the software. i've seen some demos and screenshots and read a lot of discussion. so far as i can tell, the software does, in fact, organize media in tracks. there are tracks of video. there are tracks of audio. sometimes they are married. they have borrowed the idea of multi-channel tracks and applied it to clips (some clips are stereo; some are mono; i assume that an 8 track HDCamSR would yield an 8-track clip - if you could figure out a way to get it into the software), but when there are two or more clips playing at once, they look very familiar - two parallel tracks. … correct me if i am wrong with any of that.

what it does seem that they have tried to do - and this is the new part - is make the management of tracks automatic. so marketing has called it "trackless" but in fact it seems to the "auto-track manager".

this seems to me to be the fundamental question that editors have with the software - how well does it manage this task?

one thing that struck me about your first post was that you claim that, in the project discussed, there was a realization that "a real-world metaphor … was unnecessary" in designing the editing software. while i admit that i didn't thoroughly read the accompanying document (very interesting though), it does seem to fundamentally rely on a real-world metaphor - that of tracks. tracks are physical models - after film reels and mag sound, or channel strips in a mixer (both references apply to NLEs, i think).

tracks as a paradigm of editing have been around for a long time - so far as i can tell, NLE's inherited the idea from the audio world (or perhaps dual system projection), but the idea was expanded upon. tracks offer a very simple and yet flexible and powerful way to organize and arrange media. in fact, you will find many editors use tracks in different ways to solve different problems and organize their ideas and approaches and solutions in different ways.

it seems this software doesn't really throw out a model - it just proposes that auto-management is a better way to do it (and the only way). and that is the question that it will be tested against - does it answer the needs that an editor has? does it offer the same flexibility and power as the old, self-managed model? does it offer more?

it seems that it was developed to solve the problem of clip collision. i think this is generally a problem for people new to editing.

personally i can think of many tasks that i wish were more (or better) auto-managed in FCP; track management wasn't one of them.


Franz.


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David Lawrence
Re: The Magnetic Timeline -- What's The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 3:21:38 am

Great comment Franz!

You've touched on so many huge issues. I don't have time to get everything now but I hope to address the question of what a trackless timeline means in a future post. I think that's a key question and you've made some interesting observations.

Re: Physical world UI models. You're correct, the document I posted very much depicts a physical world model. It went away in the next version.

Re: mental models of time -- that's a conversation I really need a beer for! ;)

_______________________
David Lawrence
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Chris Kenny
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 3:54:09 am

[Franz Bieberkopf] "it seems this software doesn't really throw out a model - it just proposes that auto-management is a better way to do it (and the only way). and that is the question that it will be tested against - does it answer the needs that an editor has? does it offer the same flexibility and power as the old, self-managed model? does it offer more?"

The new model is clip relationships.

Let's say you have some interview footage. The speaker mentions some subject, and you cut away to a shot of whatever he's talking about. That cutaway is timed to... what? To an absolute time index within the sequence? No. It's timed to the underlying shot of the interviewee.

In a conventional track-based timeline, the software understands only the former. Any relationships between shots are only implied (to the human editor) by the fact that the shots are positioned at particular absolute time indexes. The software knows nothing about such relationships.

In FCP X's timeline, such shot relationships are explicit. The editor communicates them to the software in a way the software understands.

[Franz Bieberkopf] "
it seems that it was developed to solve the problem of clip collision. i think this is generally a problem for people new to editing."


Avoiding clip collisions is not, by itself, the primary design consideration. It's merely one instance where the software can act more intelligently because it now understands shot relationships. There are many others. Moving a clip, for instance. Connected clips come along. Or performing a slip edit; connected clips follow right along there as well.

But even beyond these behaviors, the clip relationship model simply makes sense conceptually. It brings the software's understanding of the edit closer to the editor's own mental model.

In many respects, FCP X is simply following what has been a consistent trend in software design over the last decade or more: the trend of adding more structure to data. Whether you're talking about the 'nav' tag in HTML5, or Spotlight's metadata importers, or IBM's Watson QA system, creating structured data where only unstructured data previously existed is a major focus for computer science these days. Sometimes it's done though automated data mining techniques. Sometime it's done by having humans help computers out by adding a little structure themselves. Both of these approaches are used in various places in FCP X.

The more structure there is, the more the software understands, and the more the software understands, the more it can display and manipulate data in ways that make contextual sense.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Walter Soyka
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 4:33:56 am

I agree with Chris that the primary goal of the magnetic timeline is to make the implicit relationships between clips on a timeline explicit.

Since the universe could explode if I admitted to unqualified agreement with him, though, I'd add that I don't think clip connections would be incompatible with a more traditional multi-track timeline. In fact, I think that arbitrary freeform clip connection on a multi-track timeline could be incredibly cool -- though you would need some mechanism for resolving potential clip-track collisions on moves.

Looking at my own work in motion graphics and animation (also track- and time-based), I'd love to try applying the connection notion to keyframes, so moving one element in time could also move properties in other elements which should remain synced. As it stands now, I have to remember which keyframes in a timeline should be connected and which should remain separate -- or I have to continually re-discover that through trial and error on more complicated shots.

David, thank you for starting a conversation on how our NLEs think, instead of just another thread on what we think of our NLEs. I can't wait to see where this goes!

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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Michael Gissing
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 4:43:34 am

[Walter Soyka] " I'd add that I don't think clip connections would be incompatible with a more traditional multi-track timeline. In fact, I think that arbitrary freeform clip connection on a multi-track timeline could be incredibly cool -- though you would need some mechanism for resolving potential clip-track collisions on moves."

Exactly what I was saying about how the audio world has already solved this problem over 15 years ago by allowing clip layering within a track.

No need to have a magnetic timeline as it seems to me a clumsy way of solving such a non issue if you have non destructive clip overlaying on a track. But I see that no-one in the video world seems to want to take advantage of the problems solved so long ago by DAWs. Curious myopia methinks.


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Walter Soyka
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 4:54:42 am

[Michael Gissing] "Exactly what I was saying about how the audio world has already solved this problem over 15 years ago by allowing clip layering within a track."

That's certainly one approach, and the more I think about it, the more I like it -- but it would require the same sort of non-tracked rethinking that the magnetic timeline does. For example, not all supers could lie on the same video track if they were layered over other clips.


[Michael Gissing] "No need to have a magnetic timeline as it seems to me a clumsy way of solving such a non issue if you have non destructive clip overlaying on a track. But I see that no-one in the video world seems to want to take advantage of the problems solved so long ago by DAWs. Curious myopia methinks."

Those who cannot remember (or never knew) the past are condemned to repeat it, right?

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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Michael Gissing
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 5:10:06 am

[Walter Soyka] "For example, not all supers could lie on the same video track if they were layered over other clips."

There are issues for layers with transparency for sure, but I so often stack supers on tracks to control their behaviors so stacking on a single track does seem like a problem. Depending on the clips composite mode I see no reason not to have a layered clip behave just like a nest.

In fact it could be collapsed down to display as a nest and you could apply filters or keyframe global behaviors but it can expand in place into its layers for individual tweaking or plugins.


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Michael Gissing
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 6:00:25 am

[Michael Gissing] "so stacking on a single track does seem like a problem"

Should have read "doesn't seem like a problem"


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Michael Aranyshev
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 9:26:21 am

[Chris Kenny] "Let's say you have some interview footage. The speaker mentions some subject, and you cut away to a shot of whatever he's talking about. That cutaway is timed to... what? To an absolute time index within the sequence? No. It's timed to the underlying shot of the interviewee."

Interview audio is rarely left unedited under a cutaway. Often interview audio is edited first to a rather final cut before cutaways are overwritten.


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Chris Kenny
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 3:42:02 pm

[Michael Aranyshev] "Interview audio is rarely left unedited under a cutaway. Often interview audio is edited first to a rather final cut before cutaways are overwritten."

Sure. I was simplifying to illustrate the point. Clip relationships still work -- and are still meaningful -- even if you're cutting primary around audio.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Herb Sevush
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 1:58:27 pm

Chris -

That was very helpful in terms of explaining FCPX's design philosophy. Of course it also makes it seem that it will never work for me.

The first thing I do once I've laid out a basic assembly of master shots with audio is de-link everything. I want total and absolute freedom of movement with every element I have, I want nothing connected.

While I need the ability to re-establish sync, easily accomplished in FCP7 with the sync indicators in the timeline, the idea that the software is trying to establish connections between elements is horrifying. The only connections that I want are in my perception of the elements.

For me the whole notion of B-roll and Master shot is ambiguous at best. My B-roll cutaway can extend past the underlying VO morphing into a new master shot using stolen sync I've cobbled together from an outtake. And once I've cut it this way I'm likely to want to unscramble it into a totally different pattern tomorrow. I couldn't know I was going to do this before I did it, how could any software expect to organize that for me?

I had the same reaction to the whole notion of the software "intelligently" organizing shots into WS, 2 shots and CU's. Who on earth would let software organize their footage. Organizing decisions are at the heart of the editing process, what third party is going to understand my specific working patterns without my input?

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions


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David Cherniack
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 2:59:55 pm

Quite right, Herb. As a general principle I trust my mind to organize how I want things more than I trust some decision tree algorithm, no matter how intelligent. Especially in complex, changing relationships.

David
AllinOneFilms.com


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Chris Kenny
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 3:58:46 pm

[Herb Sevush] "While I need the ability to re-establish sync, easily accomplished in FCP7 with the sync indicators in the timeline, the idea that the software is trying to establish connections between elements is horrifying. The only connections that I want are in my perception of the elements"

This is basically saying "I've built my routines around the the way the software has worked up until now, and the new software is incompatible with them". That's fine, but it's not actually anything wrong with the new software. Routines built up around the new approach could very well be better, for all anyone knows.

[Herb Sevush] "My B-roll cutaway can extend past the underlying VO morphing into a new master shot using stolen sync I've cobbled together from an outtake. And once I've cut it this way I'm likely to want to unscramble it into a totally different pattern tomorrow. I couldn't know I was going to do this before I did it, how could any software expect to organize that for me?"

And this sort of thing is presumably why FCP X offers the 'Position' tool. The name of that tool is pretty interesting, isn't it? It hasn't got some conceptual name, related to performing a specific edit task. It's literally the "put this exactly where I want it, and don't guess what I'm trying to do in the process" tool, and it's born out of a recognition that while the software understands more now than it used to, the human editor is still smarter.

[Herb Sevush] "I had the same reaction to the whole notion of the software "intelligently" organizing shots into WS, 2 shots and CU's. Who on earth would let software organize their footage. Organizing decisions are at the heart of the editing process, what third party is going to understand my specific working patterns without my input?"

The beauty of metadata-based organization is that, because any shot can have an arbitrarily large number of tags, and you can create an arbitrarily large number of organizational schemes around those tags, you're not married to a single organizational scheme. If you could only organize your footage in one way (as is the case with bins unless you duplicate clips all over the place, which quickly becomes impractical), then it would be crazy to let the software pick that way for you; it's not smart enough. But with metadata-based organization, the organization the software is doing is just another way to find clips. It doesn't preclude your own organization. And, in fact, you can use the automatically attached tags as part of your own organizational schemes, via smart collections.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Herb Sevush
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 4:25:16 pm

"This is basically saying "I've built my routines around the the way the software has worked up until now, and the new software is incompatible with them". That's fine, but it's not actually anything wrong with the new software. Routines built up around the new approach could very well be better, for all anyone knows."

I wasn't talking about routines built upon previous experience with specific tools, I was referring to my way of conceptually approaching media. This is true for my work whether on an upright moviola or in a digital NLE.

The first and hardest thing for me to teach a young editor is to unlearn the apparent connections that you think exist - this sync audio is NOT married to this image, the beginning of this shot does not have to go before the end of this shot - every element that you have is totally free from all connections except those you, the editor, impose on it. And most importantly never think of anything you have done as permanent and connected until it's out of your hands, and for me even when I see it projected I generally wish I could refine the connections I made.

This does not seem to be compatible with the design philosophy you just detailed for FCPX. I'm not being judgmental about wrong or right, I'm just explaining my own problems with it conceptually.

"And this sort of thing is presumably why FCP X offers the 'Position' tool."

I'm glad FCPX adds tools that go counter to the fundamentals of the design, but it seems odd that one would have to use a special tool to do that which was natural to an editing systems before. I guess what I'm saying is that other NLE's have never needed a position tool, and there's the difference.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions


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Chris Kenny
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 4:55:08 pm

[Herb Sevush] "I wasn't talking about routines built upon previous experience with specific tools, I was referring to my way of conceptually approaching media. This is true for my work whether on an upright moviola or in a digital NLE."

I'm not trying to be a jerk here, but this just isn't true. I'm certain you didn't decide, before ever learning how an an NLE (or a Moviola) worked, on some sort of purely abstract way of "conceptually approaching media", and then figure out how to use these tools to implement that. Your approach to these things has inevitably been a consequence of an interplay between your brain and the tools you've used. This is simply how humans function in the world.

And this makes very hard to objectively judge a tool that works in a significantly different way.

[Herb Sevush] "I'm glad FCPX adds tools that go counter to the fundamentals of the design, but it seems odd that one would have to use a special tool to do that which was natural to an editing systems before. I guess what I'm saying is that other NLE's have never needed a position tool, and there's the difference."

In other NLEs all of the tools are like the 'Position' tool, in that they cause the software to perform some particular low-level mechanical manipulation on the timeline. FCP X tries to provide tools that use the explicit shot relationships the editor conveys to the app to perform higher-level functions, but still provides the Position tool as a fallback.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Herb Sevush
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 5:32:43 pm

I don't think your being a jerk, at least not here, I find this interesting.

Your approach to these things has inevitably been a consequence of an interplay between your brain and the tools you've used. This is simply how humans function in the world.

True to a point, but since I started out working with 16mm film, rewinds, a viewer and a splicing block I would suggest that I was essentially tool-less.

It was the media itself that taught me. All you have to do is look at a bunch of film and mag track hanging in a bin and you begin to understand the essential un-connectedness of the editors job. it was only when I moved to "single system" tape, with audio physically attached to picture, with CMX style editing in which you basically could only move forward and never correct what already had been committed to tape, that the illusion of connections had to be overcome.

That was the great pleasure of NLE, the freedom of film, along with the freedom of not being tied to a finite work print, but instead given an infinite work print that could be pulled apart and reshaped endlessly. If you've ever had to search for a 3 frame clip in a bin or been stuck in an "on-line" tape session, you'd know what I mean.

So I would say that my approach has been shaped equally by both the essential nature of the media itself and the various tools I have already worked with.

Would I approach things differently if I grew up with FCPX - possibly, but I hope not.

"In other NLEs all of the tools are like the 'Position' tool, in that they cause the software to perform some particular low-level mechanical manipulation on the timeline. FCP X tries to provide tools that use the explicit shot relationships the editor conveys to the app to perform higher-level functions ..."

Yes, I get this exactly. It's just that I find this a serious flaw, while you find it a major advance.

If FCPX ever comes out with a multi-cam I can use, I'll give it an honest whirl, and I'll let the experience prove me wrong.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 5:34:10 pm

[Herb Sevush] "The first and hardest thing for me to teach a young editor is to unlearn the apparent connections that you think exist - this sync audio is NOT married to this image, the beginning of this shot does not have to go before the end of this shot - every element that you have is totally free from all connections except those you, the editor, impose on it."

Great post, Herb. This seems to me to be absolutely right - the complex multi-faceted relationships of shots to one another and to all the separate audio components and a fluid and open approach to restructuring those relationships are fundamental to what editing is all about ... as opposed to merely assembling shots back to back and slapping in the odd cutaway.

It does seem as though the FCPX editing model is predicated on an essentially simplistic view of the process.

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


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Herb Sevush
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 5:40:37 pm

Thanks Simon. I think this has become the most interesting thread on the forum, so thank you David Lawrence.

And I should also tell you that I have been quoting one of your posts repeatedly (with attribution) all over the place. It was the one about Apple not being on the same path as us and our vulnerability because of that - that was a great post.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 5:42:34 pm

[Herb Sevush] "Thanks Simon. I think this has become the most interesting thread on the forum, so thank you David Lawrence."

Thanks right back at you, Herb ;-) Agreed this is probably the most interesting thread so far - props to David L.

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


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Chris Kenny
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 7:40:50 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "It does seem as though the FCPX editing model is predicated on an essentially simplistic view of the process."

I think it's more along the lines of the famous Alan Kay quote, "Simple things should be simple, complex things should be possible." Traditional NLEs make you micromanage clips in the sequence even when you're doing something simple. FCP X relieves you of a lot of this, but still lets you get in there and perform low-level operations if you need to.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 7:44:40 pm

[Chris Kenny] "
I think it's more along the lines of the famous Alan Kay quote, "Simple things should be simple, complex things should be possible." Traditional NLEs make you micromanage clips in the sequence even when you're doing something simple. FCP X relieves you of a lot of this, but still lets you get in there and perform low-level operations if you need to."


I think I'd prefer complex things to be just as simple ;-)

I do think that when it comes to detailed complex editing the new model means you have to work harder than before. Conversely, I'd absolutely agree that simple editing has suddenly become vastly simpler - and in a good way.

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


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Tom Wolsky
Re: The Magnetic Timeline � What�s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 8:04:28 pm

Actually I think that's the real problem is that things that I think of as vastly simple have become substantially more complex. Reduce the audio of a single mono track. Add a transition to a B-roll shot. Add a super above B-roll. Cross fade audio tracks. Transition between sound bites. Just what pops into my head at the moment.

The secondary storyline is more of a problem than a solution. When you edit the B-roll clips they are inherently associated with what's below, even only if as Randy Ubillos says in the editor's head, though they are associated by being a time-specific event that even a 30-year EDL can understand. The secondary storyline however is physically connected to some other part of the primary and not associated with the time-related event directly below it. The connected clips work as a concept, but the execution has left it flawed.

All the best,

Tom

Class on Demand DVDs "Complete Training for FCP7," "Basic Training for FCS" and "Final Cut Express Made Easy"
Coming in 2011 "Complete Training for FCPX"
and "Final Cut Pro X for iMovie and Final Cut Express Users" from Focal Press


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Robert Brown
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 11, 2011 at 5:34:03 am

I'm reading this whole debate and I'm really having a hard time understanding why the timeline needed to be re-invented. Audio usually drives the edit with picture often more or less stacked on the audio. For the most part there are 4 possibilities of types audio: music, voice, nat sound, and sound fx. You play your timeline and LISTEN to it and decide if there is too much space, too little space, something getting cut off or something in there that shouldn't be in there and adjust accordingly. I have zero problem doing this with existing technology. I haven't tried "X" yet but the first day it came out and I checked out the videos I thought to myself "why bother?" I'd rather learn Nuke or something worth spending time on.



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Craig Alan
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 9, 2011 at 5:21:41 am

Other than as an anthropomorphic metaphor, software does not “understand.” It does not reason. It does not design. If a computer program is ‘intuitive’ at all, it means that it acts as we would expect it to act due to the software designer’s use of well-crafted, ergonomic, metaphoric interface. If you design media-creation-software to produce pre-patterned outcomes based on common usage/consensus, reason, and design, you have in essence dummied it down. Computer software designers are not the only ones doing this to the arts. How-to-‘write’-books have been guilty of this as well. And equally destructive to the creative process. Thus we have unnatural plot twists at predetermined IN points/marks/page numbers in order to heighten the tension in a standardized way, bring us to orgasm in a standardized way, and resolve all conflict in a predictably crowd pleasing way, and in a timely manner. A flat unexciting orgasm/resolution that satisfies a typical audience member. Not a problem – in post, you can jack the sound, quicken the rhythm, employ hypnotic quick edits that work subliminally and forcefully to get the heart pounding. Neurologically stimulating even when completely brain-dead.


More often than not, with predetermined patterns, like templates, everyone’s product will begin to feel the same. They often do anyway because fashion dictates. But in the analog world or the digital one that uses the analog as a model, a different drummer and therefore drumbeat comes to light. It’s one thing to choose a preset, or use a professionally designed template; it’s quite another to make the use of these the default and the unique a workaround. If the nuts and bolts of a system are themselves mini-templates/meta-templates, you will ease editors toward certain editorial patterns. This will assure a quicker/easier route to an acceptable product, but not necessarily the best or most creative, and certainly not the most individualized.

Pre-designing not only is a very bad model to follow in a profession application, but I would argue in an educational application as well.

I’m not predicting this will be the result of wide adoption of FCP X, but it was exactly my fear when I first looked at the new Imovie. And I do think there are more than just hints of the new Imovie in FCP X.

For FCP X to use industry standard (and even common usage) vocabulary (such as ‘project’) and have it mean something completely different than in every other NLE including FCP 1-7 is counterproductive and anti-metaphoric. Metaphor is helpful when based on historical reference. To cut ties with your own history and those of your current user base is not only counterintuitive, it is a denial of the past. If I have 10 different timelines of a show I am editing – different lengths, different endings, different formats, different compositions, I am not working on 10 different ‘projects’. If someone asks me what ‘project’ am I working on now – they mean what subject, what video, what event, what film … not what version/sequence.

OSX 10.5.8; MacBookPro4,1 Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz
; Camcorders: Sony Z7U, Canon HV30/40, Sony vx2000/PD170; FCP certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Tom Wolsky
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 9, 2011 at 8:53:44 am

I agree with you, but I don't think this software is designed particularly for users who do versioning, rather for people who simply put together a project and output it. One time and out. That's this product's audience.

All the best,

Tom

Class on Demand DVDs "Complete Training for FCP7," "Basic Training for FCS" and "Final Cut Express Made Easy"
Coming in 2011 "Complete Training for FCPX"
and "Final Cut Pro X for iMovie and Final Cut Express Users" from Focal Press


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Chris Kenny
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 9, 2011 at 2:43:08 pm

[Craig Alan] "Other than as an anthropomorphic metaphor, software does not “understand.”

It "understands" in the sense that when data is structured in certain ways, computer software can manipulate that data in ways that are meaningful to humans.

[Craig Alan] "Pre-designing not only is a very bad model to follow in a profession application, but I would argue in an educational application as well."

Err... I'm not sure what aspect of FCP X this critique is referring to.

[Craig Alan] "If I have 10 different timelines of a show I am editing – different lengths, different endings, different formats, different compositions, I am not working on 10 different ‘projects’. If someone asks me what ‘project’ am I working on now – they mean what subject, what video, what event, what film … not what version/sequence."

I agree that FCP X should file off all instances of the word "Project" and replace them with "Sequence" or "Timeline". But I think you're reading a little too much into Apple's word choices.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Mark Bein
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 11:18:29 am

Looking forward to reading more from you, David.

Come to think of it I* can't think of any occasion I needed
to move a clip or something to a specific time in the timeline.
There is always a logical connection between events.
clips cut to music, a narrator, what happened before...
Even if I place clips on the timeline to try something out
I need them to be gapless for previewing.
If I had to mind some point in time I could place a gap.
Should I have to change the gap everything else would still line up
as before.


*personally, not implying anyone else feels the same,
not expressing opinions of any Oscar winning company


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Franz Bieberkopf
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 8, 2011 at 2:12:57 pm

… some quick responses (for clarification and expansion).



[Chris Kenny] "The new model is clip relationships."

I suspect what you intended to express here was not fully expressed.

"Clip relationships" (making allowances for vernacular) is pretty much the very definition of what editing is (and has been since there has been something called "editing"). This is not a new model. Eisenstein liked to use drawings to talk about this; one could speculate (as he did) on its roots in writing. So this goes back quite far.

I don't see how the "track model" is based on anything but how clips relate to one another; FCPX continues in this continuity.

If there is a new model here (as I have understood it so far … and I may well have misunderstood it) it has more to do with cataloging.


[Chris Kenny] "Let's say you have some interview footage. … and you cut away to a shot ... That cutaway is timed to... what? To an absolute time index within the sequence? No. It's timed to the underlying shot of the interviewee."

When you write "timed to …" I suspect you are trying to describe something else - maybe "triggered in reference to" or a similar concept. This is a very useful idea and a welcome addition to tools in timelines. In agreement with other comments, I don't see how this requires a "trackless model". We may well see similar tools coming in other NLEs.


[Chris Kenny] "The editor communicates them to the software in a way the software understands."

I'm not sure what you mean here. Broadly, transparency of interface seems to be an ideal to which software designers aspire. At the same time, all software does require us to learn certain codes and models. I'm not sure what you mean by "communicating" with the software or how this has not been done before, or why or how I might want to do it differently (or better) now.

Also I'm interested in what you mean by "structured data" - specifically how FCPX is differentiated from other editors (which presumably use less structured data?). Your example of "contextual sense" seems a bit soft: tracks, for instance, make a lot of "contextual sense" to me when I see them, but perhaps I am not understanding your meaning.

[Walter Soyka] "I agree with Chris that the primary goal of the magnetic timeline is to make the implicit relationships between clips on a timeline explicit."

I find the idea that an editing software package needs to explain better what I've done in the timeline a bit amusing. As I implied in my post above, there are many things that I wish were clearer and easier to access in the editing software that I've used. Understanding the timeline has never been an issue in any of them.

There is a deeper issue hinted at here, though - and that is the assumptions that are made about the kinds of relationships that editors and filmmakers want to have between their clips. A good editing kit will allow many meaningful choices in the kinds of relationships that are possible. How many kinds of relationships has the "magnetic timeline" enabled that weren't on offer before? I can't think of any, though it has made some kinds of relationships slightly easier to maintain while working. Has it made others difficult to maintain?

Certainly the designers of FCPX seem to have misunderstood the fundamental importance of mixing and the models that have been developed for it. Mixing offers real control over clip relationships - it's a well established, flexible and powerful paradigm. It seems to have been replaced by clunky controls in FCPX.


[Chris Kenny] "Moving a clip, for instance. Connected clips come along. Or performing a slip edit; connected clips follow right along there as well."

These examples seem to imply that this is just a re-marketing of the idea of "nested" sequences in FCP (I forget what Avid calls them). Further, and again, I'm not sure what in the examples you've given requires a model "without tracks". Can you provide better examples?

[Walter Soyka] "For example, not all supers could lie on the same video track if they were layered over other clips."
[Michael Gissing] Etc …

This example seems to me a bit simplistic. When you think of supers, generally you think of them layered over your piece as a whole (a layer of supers over a layer of ongoing visuals); this assumption is borne out by the common practice of versioning for language. On the other hand, when you think of greenscreen, for example, you think of individual clips layered together. In the same way, you have vocal comping in an individual audio segment within a track, as opposed to mastering compression on a master track, as one example. There's room for a bit of complexity in the way this is applied and the audio world is a useful reference.

Relatedly … I'm fairly hesitant in my enthusiasm for imagining what a subtitled timeline is like to work with in FCPX.


[Paul Dickin] … on AV Foundation. "It seems to me that the section I've emphasised is an excellent description of a basic FCP X timeline."

Yes, indeed. It is also an excellent description of any timeline in any editing software.


Franz.


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Paul Dickin
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 8, 2011 at 2:29:35 pm

[Franz Bieberkopf] "[Paul Dickin] … on AV Foundation. "It seems to me that the section I've emphasised is an excellent description of a basic FCP X timeline."

Yes, indeed. It is also an excellent description of any timeline in any editing software.
"

Hi
But its not describing 'editing software'. Its describing the OS's media-assembling foundation.
No other OS does things this way. So its freed the 'editing software' so that it can, if appropriate, present something else to us.



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Walter Soyka
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 8, 2011 at 2:41:39 pm

[Franz Bieberkopf] "I find the idea that an editing software package needs to explain better what I've done in the timeline a bit amusing. As I implied in my post above, there are many things that I wish were clearer and easier to access in the editing software that I've used. Understanding the timeline has never been an issue in any of them."

I don't necessarily see the harm in allowing the timeline to capture more information about the editor's intent, rather than less. It'd be especially helpful when handing a project from one editor to another.

That doesn't meant that FCPX's implementation of the idea is the best way to do it.


[Franz Bieberkopf] "This example seems to me a bit simplistic. When you think of supers, generally you think of them layered over your piece as a whole (a layer of supers over a layer of ongoing visuals); this assumption is borne out by the common practice of versioning for language. On the other hand, when you think of greenscreen, for example, you think of individual clips layered together. In the same way, you have vocal comping in an individual audio segment within a track, as opposed to mastering compression on a master track, as one example. There's room for a bit of complexity in the way this is applied and the audio world is a useful reference."

I chose the supers example because they are elements you must manage separately for versioning, but they are really intrinsically linked to the clips below them. I'm actually working on re-versioning a project for international distribution now, and something like clip connections would come in handy, because different localities require different cuts from the original domestic edit as the actual translations and clean/dirty deliverables.

My point on clip layering within a track as a way of clip connection was this: if you're able to layer a super on a video clip to connect them within a single track, you must also add some sort of metadata to the super that identifies it as such if you want to generate a clean version (like muting a specific video track). This is the same problem that FCPX faces with delivering trackless audio for mixing -- there was meaningful editorial information that we used to be able to store implicitly in the spatial arrangement of clips in the track layout which must now be handled explicitly with metadata.

Trackless editorial means we can't use spatial arrangement as metadata anymore. I think that's giving up a very fast, simple, and powerful tool that is well-suited to how our brains work (spatial arrangement), in exchange for a slower, highly flexible, and powerful tool that is well-suited to how computers work (relational database).

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
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Chris Kenny
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 8, 2011 at 4:35:54 pm

[Franz Bieberkopf] "I don't see how the "track model" is based on anything but how clips relate to one another; FCPX continues in this continuity."

With the track model, clip relationships are only implied by where clips fall in time. Put a cutaway on V2. It's probably timed in relationship to something that happens in a shot on V1, right? But a track-based NLE doesn't know that. All it knows is that there are a bunch of shots on V1 that start and end at specific time indexes, and now there's this shot on V2 that starts and ends at specific time indexes.

FCP X allows for the explicit representation of relationships between clips on different 'tracks' via clip connections, and the explicit representation of relationships between clips on the same track via storylines.

[Franz Bieberkopf] "When you write "timed to …" I suspect you are trying to describe something else - maybe "triggered in reference to" or a similar concept. This is a very useful idea and a welcome addition to tools in timelines. In agreement with other comments, I don't see how this requires a "trackless model". We may well see similar tools coming in other NLEs.
"


If you keep tracks around, your sequences have two basic organizational principles interacting with each other in various ways that aren't necessarily going to make sense. For instance, the connection-based model implies one thing about what to do in the case of clip collisions (overlap clips, which is displayed by showing them layered in vertical space), while the track-based model implies another behavior (overwrite, because the new clip is explicitly being placed into the same 'slot' occupied by the old one).

--
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Walter Soyka
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 8, 2011 at 4:48:34 pm

[Chris Kenny] "For instance, the connection-based model implies one thing about what to do in the case of clip collisions (overlap clips, which is displayed by showing them layered in vertical space), while the track-based model implies another behavior (overwrite, because the new clip is explicitly being placed into the same 'slot' occupied by the old one)."

The behavior could be the same with a tracked model as it is with the trackless model -- promote clips to other tracks to avoid collision. It would then be up to the editor to manually resolve the proper track assignments.

Having direct control of track assignment does make some sense when your NLE is also a compositor.

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
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Chris Kenny
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 8, 2011 at 5:37:40 pm

[Walter Soyka] "The behavior could be the same with a tracked model as it is with the trackless model -- promote clips to other tracks to avoid collision. It would then be up to the editor to manually resolve the proper track assignments."

Sure. But that's the thing -- track assignments, in a traditional track-based NLE, are often meaningful. Bumping things to other tracks is, therefore, an action that can destroy organizational structure that the editor has imparted. Trackless design avoids those sorts of side effects.

[Walter Soyka] "Having direct control of track assignment does make some sense when your NLE is also a compositor."

That just requires you to be able to set the stacking order of connected clips, which of course you can do without tracks. Connected clips are overlapping clips -- stacking order is one property that determines how they overlap.

--
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Walter Soyka
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 8, 2011 at 5:54:44 pm

[Chris Kenny] "Sure. But that's the thing -- track assignments, in a traditional track-based NLE, are often meaningful. Bumping things to other tracks is, therefore, an action that can destroy organizational structure that the editor has imparted. Trackless design avoids those sorts of side effects."

Understood -- which is why I said "it would then be up to the editor to manually resolve the proper track assignments."


[Chris Kenny] "That just requires you to be able to set the stacking order of connected clips, which of course you can do without tracks. Connected clips are overlapping clips -- stacking order is one property that determines how they overlap."

I get that, Chris, but I'm talking about being both an NLE and a compositor at the same time -- not just one or the other. I don't think that track assignment matters in the context of compositing a single shot, but hard tracks are a very immediate visual representation of compositing in the context of the entire edit.

Of course I understand that you can also do this tracklessly with metadata. I only bring this up because I think the concept of arranging media spatially as well as temporally may have a really significant advantage based on the fundamental design principles of repetition, alignment, and proximity.

My most basic point is this: tracked editing allows an editor to use 2D space in the timeline to convey meaning. Trackless editing removes that ability.

I'm not necessarily passing judgment -- just trying to point out the difference.

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
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Chris Kenny
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 9, 2011 at 2:22:40 am

[Walter Soyka] "My most basic point is this: tracked editing allows an editor to use 2D space in the timeline to convey meaning. Trackless editing removes that ability."

I think this idea that tracks are especially intuitive is nuts. Tracks are a digital emulation of the behavior of physical recording devices that were limited in their flexibility by their mechanical implementations. The brain fundamentally works in terms of relationships between things, and in terms of multiple overlapping taxonomies. Clip connections and tagging map to these much better than rigidly defined tracks and strict hierarchical organization of clips in bins.

I agree that there is some value in being able to see visually how various objects are classified. Tracks do allow for some of this, but arrangement in a flat 2D space is a pretty crude approach. For something like tagging audio roles, color coding would provide more flexibility.

--
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Tom Wolsky
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 9, 2011 at 2:52:34 am

"Tracks are a digital emulation of the behavior of physical recording devices that were limited in their flexibility by their mechanical implementations."

This is just not correct. Tracks are an emulation of time. They are linear and they go only in one direction and events occur on these tracks at intervals of time. The objects on the tracks is the relationship of when they occur, not a relationship to each other. What's important is not that objects at related to each other, but what they represent occurs at a specific instance in time. That's what movie and television and this whole medium is about. What you're describing sounds like painting, a wonderful art form, but not one that has any time reference.

Apologies but I'm trying to write this on a phone and the text box is minute.

All the best,

Tom

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Chris Kenny
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 9, 2011 at 3:21:35 am

[Tom Wolsky] "This is just not correct. Tracks are an emulation of time. They are linear and they go only in one direction and events occur on these tracks at intervals of time."

In a traditional NLE, the horizontal axis represents time. FCP X preserves that entirely.

Tracks are the vertical axis. They're one way of representing multiple simultaneous events in time. And they're a way of representing simultaneous events based on the principle that such events have to live in explicit 'slots'. This was true, as a matter of physical reality, when recording four simultaneous audio signals meant having four heads in a recording device write those signals to four vertical stacked areas of a tape. Traditional NLEs adopted this as a metaphor, but they don't require its rigidity.

[Tom Wolsky] "What's important is not that objects at related to each other, but what they represent occurs at a specific instance in time."

I don't agree with this at all. If I arrange shots A, B, and C, what's important about shot C is that it comes after shot B, not that it starts 316 frames into the program, or whatever. Editing is almost entirely about relationships between shots.

--
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Simon Ubsdell
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 9, 2011 at 8:24:34 am

[Chris Kenny] "I don't agree with this at all. If I arrange shots A, B, and C, what's important about shot C is that it comes after shot B, not that it starts 316 frames into the program, or whatever. Editing is almost entirely about relationships between shots."

This sounds like a reductionist description of what editing is that misses some essentials.

Editing is as much about rhythm - a temporal account of the relationships between events - as it is about Shot C following shot B. Hence it does actually signify that shot C starts 316 frames in, in the sense of the meaning and impact of having shot C occur where it does rather than earlier or later. The flow of time is not accurately perceived by the viewer, it is true, because editing as we know can significantly compress or expand the perception of clock time, but the sense of narrative "chronology" (in the sense of when events are perceived to occur in relationship to each other as measured by time) is fundamental to what editing is about except at the most crude level.

It seems to me that what you are describing is "assembly" rather than "editing" - and it's not being pretentious to suggest there a difference between those two things.

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


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Chris Kenny
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 9, 2011 at 2:24:20 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "Editing is as much about rhythm - a temporal account of the relationships between events - as it is about Shot C following shot B. Hence it does actually signify that shot C starts 316 frames in, in the sense of the meaning and impact of having shot C occur where it does rather than earlier or later. The flow of time is not accurately perceived by the viewer, it is true, because editing as we know can significantly compress or expand the perception of clock time, but the sense of narrative "chronology" (in the sense of when events are perceived to occur in relationship to each other as measured by time) is fundamental to what editing is about except at the most crude level."

I bolded some text there. I don't think we really disagree about anything here.

Less abstractly: in most of the cases where you drop a shot on V2 in a conventional multitrack editor, that shot is linked to whatever is happening on V1. That's not to say there's literally no occasion on which you want to leave that shot in the same absolute position on V2 and change what's happening on V1, and obviously FCP X lets you do that. But its default behavior is to act as if these shots have some meaningful connection between them, because usually they do.

Most of the new magnetic timeline behaviors are like this. They're simply about having more reasonable defaults.

--
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Craig Alan
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 9, 2011 at 6:56:41 pm

[Chris Kenny] "I don't agree with this at all. If I arrange shots A, B, and C, what's important about shot C is that it comes after shot B, not that it starts 316 frames into the program, or whatever. Editing is almost entirely about relationships between shots."

It's not about either/or; it's both/and. The exact moment is at 316 frames into the timeline. And even with non-tape based cameras, it is still at 316 frames in that the light hit the sensor chip.

Ever been at a conference when the TALKING HEAD tells you to find the blue page and on the back look for the section in bold and look for the underlined header BORED TO DEATH? As he assumes everyone has found this, TALKING HEAD begins to read the section out loud as half the group is still fumbling through an increasingly messy stack of pages.

However, if you bind them and get rid of that stupid COMPANY LOGO SLIP COVER FOLDER and number the pages and paragraphs, and the same TALKING HEAD asks you turn to page 52 paragraph 5 sentence 3. Two seconds later, we are all on the same sentence. You can still color code em blue if you like; you can still underline em if you like. Even with PDFs on an Ipad. Type in 52. Press enter. Boom we are on the same page.

316 frames in the timeline is on page 52 Act 2 Scene 3 in the shooting script. The editor changed things up and everyone may not agree with the edits. But at least they are referencing the same point in time when ripping each other’s throats out.

From page through distribution, it’s still all about light sound and time. Now on a metaphysical level, time and space are not constant but relative. And 24 frames per second is not reality. But for our purposes, if you shoot in 24fps, it’s ‘as if’ it is.

OSX 10.5.8; MacBookPro4,1 Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz
; Camcorders: Sony Z7U, Canon HV30/40, Sony vx2000/PD170; FCP certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Walter Soyka
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 9, 2011 at 3:10:08 am

[Chris Kenny] "I think this idea that tracks are especially intuitive is nuts."

Who said it was intuitive? Both tracked and trackless timelines must be learned.


[Chris Kenny] "Tracks are a digital emulation of the behavior of physical recording devices that were limited in their flexibility by their mechanical implementations."

This is true -- but tracks are also a mechanism for grouping related items.

You seem to want to drop tracks because their origin is no longer relevant. I think we should critically evaluate both tracked and trackless timelines from a design perspective to explore if one is really better than the other.


[Chris Kenny] "The brain fundamentally works in terms of relationships between things, and in terms of multiple overlapping taxonomies. Clip connections and tagging map to these much better than rigidly defined tracks and strict hierarchical organization of clips in bins... arrangement in a flat 2D space is a pretty crude approach. For something like tagging audio roles, color coding would provide more flexibility."

The design challenge that we have here is representing editorial decisions on a flat 2D computer monitor.

Arrangement in a flat 2D space is hardly crude -- instead, it's the single most fundamental tool we have as designers for displaying information visually, because the brain subconsciously relates or disassociates items based on their relative positioning. The meaningful arrangement of objects in flat 2D space is the essence of graphic design and the foundation of UI design.

Of course, the magnetic timeline uses arrangement in 2D space to convey information -- but it essentially ignores the principle of alignment as a tool for showing relationships. A tracked timeline can use alignment for visually grouping items, but a trackless timeline can't.

You can add color-coding to a trackless timeline to convey meaning, but you could use color-coding in a tracked timeline, too -- so a trackless timeline is still one dimension down.

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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Chris Kenny
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 9, 2011 at 3:44:20 am

[Walter Soyka] "Of course, the magnetic timeline uses arrangement in 2D space to convey information -- but it essentially ignores the principle of alignment as a tool for showing relationships. A tracked timeline can use alignment for visually grouping items, but a trackless timeline can't."

Well, it could. It presently doesn't in FCP X.

[Walter Soyka] "You can add color-coding to a trackless timeline to convey meaning, but you could use color-coding in a tracked timeline, too -- so a trackless timeline is still one dimension down."

But using the vertical axis to categorize clips and associate them with each other (via overlapping) and convey their vertical stacking order for compositing purposes is overloading things a bit too much for clarity, I think.

I run into this all the time doing online edit work. I'll tell the offline editor something like "Hey, it would be really helpful if you'd put all your Red-originated footage on V1, all your DLSR footage on V2, and all of your VFX shots on V3, because they all need to be handled differently in the online". Well, first off, this is probably extra work for the editor, because they might have Red-originated footage used in cutaways on V2, that now have to be collapsed onto V1. And secondly, maybe there's a composite somewhere in the edit, that requires Red-originated footage on V2, because it's overlaid with 50% opacity on top of Red-originated footage on V1. So now V2 is all DSLR footage, except for this one random Red clip that absolutely needs to be there. I could ask for a track of buffer between each type of footage, not sometimes you need to stack three clips to get a particular effect, etc.

There's quite a lot of awkwardness caused by trying to use tracks for too many things at once.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Walter Soyka
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 9, 2011 at 6:08:26 pm

[Chris Kenny] "Well, it could. It presently doesn't in FCP X."

No, it can't. The self-collapsing trackless timeline inherently prevents you from using the spatial position in the timeline.

By the way, you could mimic all this in FCP7 today. Just constantly collapse your timeline as much as possible and use color-coding. Would anyone really prefer to work this way?


[Chris Kenny] "But using the vertical axis to categorize clips and associate them with each other (via overlapping) and convey their vertical stacking order for compositing purposes is overloading things a bit too much for clarity, I think."

I disagree that there's overloading. Compositing is driven by the layer order, but not the layer position.

As for clarity, I think that most designers would agree that the trackless timeline is deceptive -- the alignment of clips on the tiers of the timeline suggests a relationship which doesn't exist.


[Chris Kenny] "I run into this all the time doing online edit work. I'll tell the offline editor something like "Hey, it would be really helpful if you'd put all your Red-originated footage on V1, all your DLSR footage on V2, and all of your VFX shots on V3, because they all need to be handled differently in the online". Well, first off, this is probably extra work for the editor, because they might have Red-originated footage used in cutaways on V2, that now have to be collapsed onto V1. And secondly, maybe there's a composite somewhere in the edit, that requires Red-originated footage on V2, because it's overlaid with 50% opacity on top of Red-originated footage on V1. So now V2 is all DSLR footage, except for this one random Red clip that absolutely needs to be there. I could ask for a track of buffer between each type of footage, not sometimes you need to stack three clips to get a particular effect, etc. There's quite a lot of awkwardness caused by trying to use tracks for too many things at once."

This is a strawman argument, and a terrible use for tracks for all the reasons you've defined. The origin of the footage should be metadata already associated with each file and clip. What the NLE needs is a tool for selecting clips based on that metadata, not to force the editor to double-encode that metadata in the project.

Further, the offline editor's job is not to make the online editor's job easier.

Finally, you make the excellent point that there are many ways to use tracks. Why would you take this power and flexibility away from the editor?


[Chris Kenny] "[color coding is] more flexible because it allows for an arbitrary number of overlapping clips"

But it's far, far less suited for simply conveying information visually. See my M&Ms example.


[Chris Kenny] "It's more flexible because it allows for an arbitrary number of overlapping clips, vs. "effects go on tracks 5 & 6", which allows for no more than two overlapping effects clips. It also enables magnetic timeline collision behaviors to function sensibly. With tracks that have rigid meanings, pushing a colliding clip to another track is a terrible idea, because for all the NLE knows it's reclassifying a dialogue clip as music in the process.

Yes, you could solve these problems by adopting the DAW trick mentioned earlier of overlapping clips on the same track, but that's not without its own pitfalls in terms of clarify of visual presentation, and it's not clear to me that it generalizes well to video (I have three overlapping video clips -- how do I define which one is visually on top?), which you'd probably want for consistency's sake in an NLE."


So let's take the best elements of a tracked timeline (the ability for the editor to use spatial positioning on the timeline, either as scratch tracks as they work, or as way of encoding some sort of metadata), the best elements of a trackless timeline (clip collision avoidance), and the main idea behind Michael Gissing's DAW suggestion (layered clips in a track).

The timeline now has one track divider, which separates the audio tracks from the video tracks. Let's add user-definable track dividers, so the editor can separate groups of tracks from each other. The editor could manually move a clip across the dividers, but the software would honor the track dividers in the event of clip collision, adding tracks into the groups defined by the dividers as necessary.

You will give up the notion of a hard-assigned track (V3 may become V4 at some point to avoid a clip collision), but you'll keep the editor's ability to manually arrange the clips and make the implicit notion of groups of tracks much more formal.

What's more, you could collapse and expand groups of tracks, and possibly treat them as compositions or busses (adding power and flexibility and somewhat recovering the lost use of hard-assigned track numbers).

I'm sure there's room in this idea for some more refinement, but I would really love to have this capability in my NLE today.

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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Chris Kenny
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 9, 2011 at 6:57:11 pm

[Walter Soyka] "No, it can't. The self-collapsing trackless timeline inherently prevents you from using the spatial position in the timeline."

It stops you from using solely spatial position to categorize things, but given metadata tagging the app could (but, admittedly, probably won't) offer a spatially arranged view of that metadata.

This is one of the great things about metadata -- it allows the software to "understand" enough to present or organize the same data in many different ways.

[Walter Soyka] "By the way, you could mimic all this in FCP7 today. Just constantly collapse your timeline as much as possible and use color-coding. Would anyone really prefer to work this way?"

This is sort of a silly point. The new paradigm is something that all hangs together; the trackless design, the use of metadata, the clip connections. Obviously nobody would want to give up this kind of spatial organization in FCP 7, because it would be more work for the editor to manually collapse everything, the environment does not have a toolset designed with this in mind, and you wouldn't be getting any of the magnetic timeline's benefits in the process.

[Walter Soyka] "This is a strawman argument, and a terrible use for tracks for all the reasons you've defined. The origin of the footage should be metadata already associated with each file and clip. What the NLE needs is a tool for selecting clips based on that metadata, not to force the editor to double-encode that metadata in the project."

I thought you were arguing that the use of tracks to arbitrarily categorize footage was on of their benefits.

[Walter Soyka] "Further, the offline editor's job is not to make the online editor's job easier."

In an ideal world the offline editor could do whatever they liked, and the online editor would figure out how to replicate in the online, however long that took. In the real world (of indie film, at least), an offline editor can easily cost the production silly amounts of money by not taking steps to make the online editor's job easier, and online editors are consulted about how sequences should be delivered, by productions that wish for that to not happen.

[Walter Soyka] "The timeline now has one track divider, which separates the audio tracks from the video tracks. Let's add user-definable track dividers, so the editor can separate groups of tracks from each other. The editor could manually move a clip across the dividers, but the software would honor the track dividers in the event of clip collision, adding tracks into the groups defined by the dividers as necessary."

This does solve some of the traditional problems associated with track-based categorization, but to me, anyway, it seems like a lot of complexity to add just so that you have snap things into rigidly defined vertical slots. And it does still have a few issues when it comes to picture. For instance, presumably you've got your text track group that's over your camera footage group. Now there's one shot in the whole program that requires camera footage to be composited on top of text. You have to create another camera footage track group on top of the text track group, to hold one clip in a two hour long sequence (or whatever).

Another nice (related) bonus of having a freeform timeline + metadata is that metadata can be attached at any time without worrying about changing the edit. Some creative editors aren't great at organizing things. When it comes time to organize them in preparation for the online, tracks make this a very hazardous process, because when you move something to a different track to (change its categorization), you may be unknowingly changing the picture as well. You have to keep checking. Simply going through and tagging things doesn't have this problem.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

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Walter Soyka
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 10, 2011 at 2:11:23 am

[Chris Kenny] "I thought you were arguing that the use of tracks to arbitrarily categorize footage was on of their benefits."

I am arguing that -- but your argument was a strawman because you picked a ridiculous case for track usage and argued it as a reason not to have tracks at all.


[Chris Kenny] "This does solve some of the traditional problems associated with track-based categorization, but to me, anyway, it seems like a lot of complexity to add just so that you have snap things into rigidly defined vertical slots."

It adds a little complexity, but the complexity is layered -- you'd never see it if you chose not to use the feature. That seems like a good approach for a product that's supposed to be usable by the entire spectrum of professionals and non-professionals.


[Chris Kenny] "And it does still have a few issues when it comes to picture. For instance, presumably you've got your text track group that's over your camera footage group. Now there's one shot in the whole program that requires camera footage to be composited on top of text. You have to create another camera footage track group on top of the text track group, to hold one clip in a two hour long sequence (or whatever)."

True -- but this is a corner case that's a problem in all layer-based compositing. I'd hate to take away the option of spatial organization because it may get cluttered for complex comps.

By the way, node compositing shows the importance of flat 2D space to the software's operator. I think that the argument you're making here, if applied to a node compositor, is that the software should arrange the nodes for you, because it's only the signal flow and metadata that's important. However, the ability to freely position nodes on the node graph is critical for comp organization as compositors work and pass work around.


[Chris Kenny] "Another nice (related) bonus of having a freeform timeline + metadata is that metadata can be attached at any time without worrying about changing the edit. Some creative editors aren't great at organizing things. When it comes time to organize them in preparation for the online, tracks make this a very hazardous process, because when you move something to a different track to (change its categorization), you may be unknowingly changing the picture as well. You have to keep checking. Simply going through and tagging things doesn't have this problem."

Since editors have been using FCP's rigid tracks to encode metadata for a decade now, I don't think a more flexible tracked system would really pose that many problems, especially if it were used in conjunction with tagged metadata.

Tagged metadata has its challenges, too. For example, what if an editor simply forgets to tag something -- or tags it incorrectly? This could happen just as easily and with just as disastrous results as moving a clip out of the right track group and into the wrong one.

I guess perhaps you like Apple's system because it tries to protect editors from themselves. Personally, I think it's inappropriate for professional software to babysit its users. It shouldn't be easy to make a critical error, but it shouldn't be impossible, either -- because sometimes preventing errors also frustrates the user's intent.

Look, Chris, I don't disagree with you that tagged metadata is good. I do disagree with you that removing the ability an editor has to arrange their edit spatially and ignoring some fundamental design principles of graphic and UI design in the process is a good idea. Further, as I pointed out in another post, it's not just about spatially encoding metadata -- different editors use the space in their timelines in different ways for organization and scratch work.

The model you're suggesting is very flexible in terms of its metadata usage, but actually removes an incredible amount of flexibility in terms of the way it allows and editor to work with his or her timeline. I'm trying to suggest a model the keeps the advantages of what FCPX has proposed, but without totally discarding the legitimate benefits of spatial organization in a timeline.

I know that you're eager to "move beyond legacy industry approaches," and I agree with you that it's important to re-evaluate what we do to consider why we do it. Are tracks the best solution for the problem of timeline organization, or are they just the way we've always organized timelines? I don't think tracks as we have them in FCP7 are the best solution, but I think they offer an editor a lot more flexibility than the ruthlessly self-collapsing timeline in FCPX -- and I think there's a lot to be gained from the hybrid approach I've suggested.

In this case, I think you want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Newer is not necessarily better. Out of curiosity, do you also think the new color board interface is superior to the traditional color wheel interface?

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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Chris Kenny
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 10, 2011 at 3:17:35 am

[Walter Soyka] "I am arguing that -- but your argument was a strawman because you picked a ridiculous case for track usage and argued it as a reason not to have tracks at all."

This "ridiculous case" is, in fact, a real-world use case. I agree that it's ridiculous. The fact that it's used is a symptom of a desperate need for more metadata in modern workflows.

[Walter Soyka] "True -- but this is a corner case that's a problem in all layer-based compositing."

You don't regularly online other editors' offline projects, I think? See, for online editing work, everything that's not a corner case comes over fairly automatically... meaning that 90% of the time is spent dealing with corner cases.

[Walter Soyka] "I think that the argument you're making here, if applied to a node compositor, is that the software should arrange the nodes for you, because it's only the signal flow and metadata that's important. However, the ability to freely position nodes on the node graph is critical for comp organization as compositors work and pass work around."

There's nothing wrong with being able to organize objects in 2D space. It's nice if you can get it. I just think... look, how many video tracks are you going to create for organizational purposes? Six? Eight? However many you create, you have to assign them roles that encompass everything happening in a sequence that could easily have over 1000 shots in it, that need to be layered in assorted different ways. I just think the spatial approach doesn't scale all that well.

[Walter Soyka] "Out of curiosity, do you also think the new color board interface is superior to the traditional color wheel interface?"

I like the color board, though I wouldn't say I find it especially superior. But not having three wheels does save a lot of screen space and make it much more practical in the context of the FCP X interface.

--
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Walter Soyka
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 10, 2011 at 4:22:06 am

My apologies to David for hijacking this thread. I think that our dialogue here started out as a very interesting conversation about how to represent an edit, but now that we've both made our main points, we've ventured off into minutiae and I'm not sure how much value we're adding here anymore.

Chris, if you choose to start a new thread after this, I'd be happy to continue our conversation next week.


[Chris Kenny] "This "ridiculous case" is, in fact, a real-world use case. I agree that it's ridiculous. The fact that it's used is a symptom of a desperate need for more metadata in modern workflows."

I didn't mean ridiculous as an insult -- I figured from your tone you thought it was ridiculous, too, and I agree that is shows how important metadata is.


[Chris Kenny] "You don't regularly online other editors' offline projects, I think? See, for online editing work, everything that's not a corner case comes over fairly automatically... meaning that 90% of the time is spent dealing with corner cases."

I do a few onlines every year, and I think that properly dealing with corner cases is a significant part of the value an online editor adds. My work is mostly short-form with heavy compositing or graphics, and I gather your work is mostly feature, though, so we do probably have totally different biases.

If you do predominantly online, I can absolutely see the appeal of an auto-collapsing trackless timeline. I can also see why you'd want an offline editor to use metadata/tracks in a way that would make your online easier (and more cost-effective for the client).

I'd guess that most of the metadata usage of multi-track editing is in for broadcast or corporate deliverables that don't see separate offline and online.

I'd also guess that most of the "scratch" usage of multi-track editing is in broadcast or corporate as well as creative offline.


[Chris Kenny] "How many video tracks are you going to create for organizational purposes? Six? Eight? However many you create, you have to assign them roles that encompass everything happening in a sequence that could easily have over 1000 shots in it, that need to be layered in assorted different ways. I just think the spatial approach doesn't scale all that well."

I say leave it up to each individual editor. Add (and encourage) proper metadata tools -- especially for offline/online work -- but don't remove spatial organization from the timeline.

A piece with 1000 shots and dozens of footage roles all needing separate track types is also a corner case. Most features don't require this kind of layering, and the ones that do usually have shot-based compositing anyway that will reduce the number of footage roles. I think that most pieces which are heavily-layered in the NLE will be shorter form, not having 1000 shots. In both cases, the number of tracks needn't be totally unmanageable.

Weren't you arguing for the median editor last week anyway?

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
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Walter Soyka
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 9, 2011 at 3:41:50 am

[Chris Kenny] "Tracks do allow for some of this, but arrangement in a flat 2D space is a pretty crude approach. For something like tagging audio roles, color coding would provide more flexibility."

I've given this some more thought, and and I can't figure out how color coding is more flexible.

Color coding uses the design principle of contrast, which is better for showing which things are different than which things are the same.

Think about a bowl of M&Ms. It's easy for you to tell at a glance that different M&Ms are mixed together, but it's much, much harder to look at the bowl and mentally group all the red ones together.

Now imagine rearranging those M&Ms in a grid by color. Using 2D space (the principles of alignment and proximity), you can see both the groupings and the separations at a single glance.

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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Chris Kenny
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 9, 2011 at 3:53:36 am

[Walter Soyka] "I've given this some more thought, and and I can't figure out how color coding is more flexible."

It's more flexible because it allows for an arbitrary number of overlapping clips, vs. "effects go on tracks 5 & 6", which allows for no more than two overlapping effects clips. It also enables magnetic timeline collision behaviors to function sensibly. With tracks that have rigid meanings, pushing a colliding clip to another track is a terrible idea, because for all the NLE knows it's reclassifying a dialogue clip as music in the process.

Yes, you could solve these problems by adopting the DAW trick mentioned earlier of overlapping clips on the same track, but that's not without its own pitfalls in terms of clarify of visual presentation, and it's not clear to me that it generalizes well to video (I have three overlapping video clips -- how do I define which one is visually on top?), which you'd probably want for consistency's sake in an NLE.

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Michael Hancock
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 9, 2011 at 4:13:20 am

What exactly does a trackless timeline do that you can't do with a tracked timeline? Clips still have a vertical relationship don't they, essentially giving them a tracked status of sorts? If you want all Red footage grouped for an online but you need some Red footage composited over some DSLR footage don't you run into the same problem as a tracked timeline? I honestly don't see the issue with tracks and I guess I don't know what problem they represent that trackless fixes. There's been a lot of great discussion about the concepts of tracked vs. trackless but can anyone give a realworld example of a problem a tracked timeline has that can only be solved via a trackless one?

For example, if dialogue is on 1 and 2 but it turns out i need a 3rd track of dialogue, insert a track. Then everything else is still on dedicated tracks but the track number has increased by one. Is it because you might end up with 30 tracks?

----------------
Michael Hancock
Editor


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Chris Kenny
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 9, 2011 at 2:57:15 pm

[Michael Hancock] "What exactly does a trackless timeline do that you can't do with a tracked timeline? Clips still have a vertical relationship don't they, essentially giving them a tracked status of sorts?"

Clips have a stacking order, but it's local, and it's not used for categorization the way tracks sometimes are.

[Michael Hancock] "If you want all Red footage grouped for an online but you need some Red footage composited over some DSLR footage don't you run into the same problem as a tracked timeline?"

No, because in this hypothetical you're now using metadata to separate different types of footage, not their vertical position.

Of course you could use metadata to do this with a track-based system as well, but the argument was that tracks were better because they allowed categorization based on position within a 2D space; if you have to fall back on metadata anyway, tracks can no longer claim that advantage.

[Michael Hancock] "For example, if dialogue is on 1 and 2 but it turns out i need a 3rd track of dialogue, insert a track. Then everything else is still on dedicated tracks but the track number has increased by one. Is it because you might end up with 30 tracks?"

One of the other benefits being touted for tracks is that sometimes deliverables requirements ask for certain elements on certain tracks. If you're working to such specs, you can't just add tracks like that.

It seems like FCP X is going to address this problem by using metadata to identify different types of audio clips, and then mapping them to tracks only on export, presumably mixing things down as necessary.

--
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You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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David Roth Weiss
Re: The Magnetic Timeline � What�s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 9, 2011 at 4:36:50 pm

[Chris Kenny] "It seems like FCP X is going to address this problem by using metadata to identify different types of audio clips, and then mapping them to tracks only on export, presumably mixing things down as necessary."

A precise example of why there are so many, like Kevin Zimmerman who wrote it initially, who hate the so-called magnetic timeline "with the white heat of a thousand suns."

It seems the people sequestered from the outside world inside their Cupertino campus forgot that WYSIWYG is meaningful to most editors.

David Roth Weiss
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Los Angeles
http://www.drwfilms.com

Don't miss my new tutorial: Prepare for a seamless transition to FCP X and OS X Lion
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Chris Kenny
Re: The Magnetic Timeline � What�s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 9, 2011 at 7:02:18 pm

[David Roth Weiss] "It seems the people sequestered from the outside world inside their Cupertino campus forgot that WYSIWYG is meaningful to most editors.
"


Timelines are never WYSIWYG. WYSIWYG came out of the print world: you make a page look a certain way on screen, and that's how it looks when it prints. Nothing of the timeline appears in the finished product. The timeline is an abstract symbolic representation.

--
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You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Craig Alan
Re: The Magnetic Timeline � What�s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 9, 2011 at 7:14:16 pm

Come on, Chris. In FCP1-7 you scrub through the timeline as shown in the canvas and pretty perfectly wysiwyg if you play the canvas on a broadcast monitor.

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Chris Kenny
Re: The Magnetic Timeline � What�s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 9, 2011 at 7:16:59 pm

[Craig Alan] "Come on, Chris. In FCP1-7 you scrub through the timeline as shown in the canvas and pretty perfectly wysiwyg if you play the canvas on a broadcast monitor."

Yes, the canvas is (mostly) WYSIWYG. The timeline (and, particularly, the track-based aspect of it) is not.

--
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You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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David Roth Weiss
Re: The Magnetic Timeline -- What's The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 9, 2011 at 10:02:39 pm

[Chris Kenny] "Timelines are never WYSIWYG. WYSIWYG came out of the print world: you make a page look a certain way on screen, and that's how it looks when it prints. Nothing of the timeline appears in the finished product. The timeline is an abstract symbolic representation."

There you go Chris, ignore the context of the thread and try your best confuse the message by making the discussion about semantics and the history of word processing if that's what it takes to make yourself look and feel knowledgeable.

Okay, feeling good about yourself yet?

The others easily understood my intent, and I don't think you're stupid, so what does that say about you?


David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles
http://www.drwfilms.com

Don't miss my new tutorial: Prepare for a seamless transition to FCP X and OS X Lion
http://library.creativecow.net/weiss_roth_david/FCP-10-MAC-Lion/1

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Business & Marketing and Apple Final Cut Pro forums.


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Chris Kenny
Re: The Magnetic Timeline -- What's The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 9, 2011 at 10:20:12 pm

[David Roth Weiss] "There you go Chris, ignore the context of the thread and try your best confuse the message by making the discussion about semantics and the history of word processing if that's what it takes to make yourself look and feel knowledgeable. "

The thread context was the value (or lack thereof) of using positioning on the vertical axis of the 2D space provided by a traditional multitrack timeline as a way of organizing different types of clips. There is nothing WYSIWYG about ability, because the timeline itself does not show up anywhere in "What You Get". Calling this WYSIWYG is like calling writing HTML code WYSIWYG, because, hey, I can see the code for a header there, and when the page renders I get a header.

This is not a meaningless semantic distinction. It is critical to be able to control every aspect of the appearance of the final program, because otherwise it can't reflect the creative intent of the editor. No such concern comes into play with the arrangement of the timeline.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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David Roth Weiss
Re: The Magnetic Timeline � What�s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 9, 2011 at 10:26:27 pm

[Chris Kenny] "This is not a meaningless semantic distinction. "

The others had no problem understanding the intent of what I wrote.


David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles
http://www.drwfilms.com

Don't miss my new tutorial: Prepare for a seamless transition to FCP X and OS X Lion
http://library.creativecow.net/weiss_roth_david/FCP-10-MAC-Lion/1

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Business & Marketing and Apple Final Cut Pro forums.


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David Lawrence
Re: The Magnetic Timeline - What's The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 10, 2011 at 12:13:12 am

[Chris Kenny] "Timelines are never WYSIWYG. WYSIWYG came out of the print world: you make a page look a certain way on screen, and that's how it looks when it prints. Nothing of the timeline appears in the finished product. The timeline is an abstract symbolic representation."

Hi All, still on the road but wanted to quickly jump in. This statement is factually incorrect because it's confusing literal representation with symbolic representation. A timeline does not look like the media it represents, but it has a direct, one-to-one relationship in space to every frame in time. Where the time indicator is parked in space, directly maps to the corresponding frame. Advance one frame in space on the timeline, advance one frame in time in the media. And so on. Time/experience visually mapped to space -- it couldn't be more direct. More in my next post.

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Chris Kenny
Re: The Magnetic Timeline - What's The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 10, 2011 at 12:25:01 am

[David Lawrence] "A timeline does not look like the media it represents, but it has a direct, one-to-one relationship in space to every frame in time."

I'm not sure why you say this makes it a non-symbolic representation.

In any event, the focus of this particular subthread has been on tracks, which significantly interfere with the idea that there's a one-to-one mapping between the timeline and the program (as seen by the viewer), because tracks allow things to be present on the timeline that are not present in the program because they're obscured.

--
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Craig Alan
Re: The Magnetic Timeline - What's The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 10, 2011 at 2:57:44 am

[Chris Kenny] "I'm not sure why you say this makes it a non-symbolic representation."

Because you physically move the playhead forward in frames -- a one to one relationship. You move it one notch (frame) forward, it moves forward one notch in time.

And as you do so, you can see the movement in time in the canvas in real time and which tracks are visually dominant in the image because they are directly and in real time displayed in the canvas.

It's not like you need to go to a different hidden window. The timeline is an interactive graphing of the canvas display. The part of timeline that can be seen horizontally displays X amount of time as the playhead’s point in time is displayed in the canvas.

When you use a steering wheel in your car or a zoom rocker on your camera, is it symbolic that the movement turns the wheels or zooms the lens? On some cars and some cameras it might be technically symbolic because the process is digital and not mechanical. But it behaves mechanically just the same. I turn this - it moves that.

I suppose if we had 3D monitors the layers of tracks could appear as filmstrips each in front of the next and how translucent each one is. However, twisting these filmstrips so they face us creating stacks would still be useful so that you could visually understand/manipulate what is in each layer.

The way I see it, the canvas at any given moment is just a blow up of one moment in time on the time line – all layers expressed as one image. It seems to me a pretty obvious and brilliant way of doing business. Here is our place in time; here is our moment in time.

OSX 10.5.8; MacBookPro4,1 Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz
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Chris Kenny
Re: The Magnetic Timeline - What's The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 10, 2011 at 3:26:54 am

[Craig Alan] "The timeline is an interactive graphing of the canvas display. The part of timeline that can be seen horizontally displays X amount of time as the playhead’s point in time is displayed in the canvas."

See, I would put this the other way around. You're structuring data by manipulating symbols in the timeline. The canvas is a rendering of that structured data. It's like writing HTML (structuring a web page) in an editor that also shows a rendered version of that HTML that's updated as you type.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Craig Alan
Re: The Magnetic Timeline - What's The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks
on Jul 10, 2011 at 7:44:05 am

I do follow that. But the need to render any effects ‘appear’ equally in the timeline and the canvas. And all physical connections have render times, a delay of cause to effect. You flip a switch in the dark to complete an electrical circuit. There is a delay before the light comes on. And when the light comes on, there is a delay before it reflects off the objects around you and reaches your eyes. And when it reaches your eyes, it takes time before our eyes adjust to the increase in light. And a delay before our brain takes this information and makes sense of it.

The canvas and timeline, as designed, are two parts of the same interface. We can drag a clip from the viewer or browser to either the timeline or the canvas to have them appear in both. By design, there is always this connection. And if we had FCP 8 in our hands, the rendering, at least in terms of watching the results of edits in the canvas, would be, for all practical purposes, in real time.

If we could see all changes of our edits in real time then the process would feel much more natural. It would be easier to learn. It would be easier to use. This was the hope in the next version of FC. And in a way it is here and in a big way it is not.

OSX 10.5.8; MacBookPro4,1 Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz
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Franz Bieberkopf
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? A Question
on Jul 8, 2011 at 2:58:02 pm

[Paul Dickin]"...its freed the 'editing software' so that it can, if appropriate, present something else to us."

Well, I'm not sure editing software needed to be freed of editing … but I've an open mind here. I'm just not seeing much - does FCPX, indeed "present something else to us"? If so, what is it?

I followed up my initial post with questions and comments about the details. This discussion was to be about "The New Paradigm". I haven't seen much new to suggest a shift in paradigm. In terms of new things (and I'll omit the negative for the moment and stick to discussion of the timeline), this is what I can gather so far:

- auto managed tracks (a mix of positive and negative)
- auto collision avoidance (related to above)
- better implemented nesting (?)
- "sticky" clips or persistent relationships

None of this suggests a new paradigm.

What others seem to be suggesting, without really outlining their meaning, is the the underlying changes (AV Foundation) offer the possibility of new paradigms or that the new paradigm exists in the way media and data is handled and might one day surface as something new in FCPX. (Is this really new, or just a better database?)

The possibility alluded to [Andrew Richards] that FCPX may allow different views of the same timeline seems interesting (and perhaps fundamentally new). That is something I'd like to know more about - is that the paradigm shift?

But I'm using the software for editing. I can only assess what is actual and usable right now. If we're speculating on "what might be", why stop at FCPX?


Franz.


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Andrew Richards
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? A Question
on Jul 8, 2011 at 7:03:00 pm

[Franz Bieberkopf] "What others seem to be suggesting, without really outlining their meaning, is the the underlying changes (AV Foundation) offer the possibility of new paradigms or that the new paradigm exists in the way media and data is handled and might one day surface as something new in FCPX. (Is this really new, or just a better database?)"

I'm not at all sure if there is any specific OS X API that is responsible for the Magnetic Timeline. We know the project and event databases are managed via CoreData, but that doesn't necessarily mean the Magnetic Timeline and its new model of connected clips with their explicit ties to each other is made possible by the use of that API.

AVFoundation allows developers to leverage lower level OS X frameworks like CoreAudio, CoreVideo, CoreMedia, CoreAnimation, and so on in a less granular way. It is just less work for the programmer to get the same sophisticated results. Using these APIs is how FCPX is able to be 64 bit, edit with H.264 and other complex asymmetrical interframe codecs, and do all the background rendering via Grand Central Dispatch. When you code for OS X's tuned APIs, you get all those low level goodies with a lot less work than doing it by hand.

[Franz Bieberkopf] "The possibility alluded to [by] Andrew Richards that FCPX may allow different views of the same timeline seems interesting (and perhaps fundamentally new). That is something I'd like to know more about - is that the paradigm shift?"

What is fundamentally new about the Magnetic Timeline is the arrangement of the timeline by tethering media to other media, rather than laying media out in a particular order within the structure of a timeline. The pie-in-the-sky idea I laid out for revisualizing the timeline is only practical when the elements in the timeline have explicit relationships independent of their spatial relationships in the UI. Otherwise, how could the whole timeline redraw itself to illustrate something different about the edit? I'd be shocked if Apple ever implemented such a feature, but I think it would be pretty killer if they did.

I think the visual metaphor of the traditional timeline and the Magnetic Timeline are similar enough that lots of people are applying their understanding of traditional timelines, with fixed track relationships in the vertical space, and drawing incorrect conclusions about the Magnetic Timeline's behavior.

Another thing I think is informing opinions, or at least it informed mine the first time I played with the MT, is that all the timeline management muscle memory from the last decade of legacy FCP is frustratingly useless. In other words, knowing what you want to do but not how to do it, and knowing you'd have it done it by now on the old timeline! I felt much the same way the first time I tried Avid after initially learning FCP 1.25 as a student.

But I also recognize that many of my timeline manipulation habits and techniques of the past were really just working around the weaknesses of the old timeline.

Best,
Andy


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Brad Bussé
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 5:25:25 pm

This reminds me of the last AZFCPUG meeting which was about ZFS.


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David Lawrence
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 7:12:59 pm

Everyone, this is an fantastic discussion -- exactly the kind conversation I hoped we'd get into. So many outstanding points being raised! Thank you for your great insights! I think I can let you guys write the next piece! ;)

I'm on the road until early next week and will be reading everything in this thread while I'm out. I'll respond when I'm back. In the mean time, please keep talking. I think you're really getting into the heart of the big issues. I hope I'll have something interesting to add to the mix!

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Michael Gissing
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 8, 2011 at 9:52:17 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Trackless editorial means we can't use spatial arrangement as metadata anymore. I think that's giving up a very fast, simple, and powerful tool that is well-suited to how our brains work (spatial arrangement), in exchange for a slower, highly flexible, and powerful tool that is well-suited to how computers work (relational database)."


Bingo. Walter has nailed the issue for me. For years I have worked with software people at audio DAW companies and the constant issue is to drive the development back to operator ergonomics and sensibilities. Software people have to think along the lines of how the underlying code works. I was asked if i wanted to learn to code and I said emphatically no as it was important that I didn't understand the code, lest I start to make decisions based on what was hard or easy to code versus what was best for the operator of the software.

As a company, I think Apple should do a lot more alpha and beta testing with a wide range of facilities and operators to get this software back on track. (pardon the huge obvious pun).


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Franz Bieberkopf
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 10, 2011 at 7:51:20 pm

David,


I thought I might suggest that you post a kind of summary of the discussion from your perspective (in terms of your original intentions) before venturing to post the next topic.

For example, though the discussion between [Walter] and [Chris] took on increasingly adversarial tone, it's apparent to me that they agree that the tracked and "trackless" (so-called) paradigms have different strengths in terms of what they offer a user.

... also that audio paradigms (and to a certain extent compositing paradigms) seem to be more developed in this respect (or perhaps more entrenched). Editing timelines are the least developed. (Which seem all the more strange when audio paradigms can be copied completely for half the work).

Personally I haven't been convinced that I'm seeing a "new paradigm" here but there are some interesting thoughts on approach coming out.


Franz.


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David Lawrence
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 14, 2011 at 11:29:56 pm

[Franz Bieberkopf] "I thought I might suggest that you post a kind of summary of the discussion from your perspective (in terms of your original intentions) before venturing to post the next topic."

Will do, thanks Franz for suggesting.

Everyone -- fantastic discussion above. You're definitely getting into the deeper issues that I think we need to understand in order to evaluate what this tool is good for now, and what it might (or might not) be in the future.

Here are the big themes and questions that stood out to me:

1) What is the data model for FCPX?
     a) To what extent does the data model determine the FCPX UI?

2) Tracks vs. trackless interface --
     a) Spatial organization vs. metadata
     b) Benefits and drawbacks?

3) How does the FCPX UI affect how we work?
     a) Is the FCPX UI a design requirement or a design choice?
     b) Is the new UI better?
     c) What other UI models can we draw ideas from (DAWs)?
     d) How could the new UI paradigm mix with the old?

My next post will touch on many of these issues and more. Stay tuned...

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David Lawrence
Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?
on Jul 19, 2011 at 7:56:35 pm

Everyone, the discussion continues here:

http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/335/11511

Looking forward to your thoughts.

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David Lawrence
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