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Re: Your advice on choosing between Premiere Pro and Final Cut please

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Mark Suszko
Re: Your advice on choosing between Premiere Pro and Final Cut please
on Apr 1, 2010 at 1:55:01 am

Well, I'd like to think any enlightened boss hiring an editor would care first of all about the actual editing skill, i.e. the discernment and taste in knowing how to sequence shots for maximum effect, versus which platform the editor was using. They would look at the demo reel and list of awards first, and worry about platforms second.

Most NLE's I can think of are relatively the same in that they all have timelines, bins, keyframing, etc. and when you know how to make effective edits, the actual platform shouldn't matter. 95 percent of what we do are cuts and dissolves. Nobody watching a film or TV show can point to a cut or dissolve and say: "oooh, that was definitely cut on an Avid", versus Premiere or FCP. Walter Murch was still Walter Murch when he used an Avid, now he's on FCP, what will he use next year? Who knows? And when you really have honed your skills on one platform, migrating to another is not that huge of a deal. I have changed editing platforms three times so far, if you only count NLE systems, seven times, if you count linear systems as well. I admire those who can keep more than one system's different quirks in their head at one time, and stay proficient. Me, I start to lose the platform-specific skills and shortcuts if I don't keep up practicing them. I have forgotten a bunch about how to edit a checkerboard assembly on the Grass 141. What I retain is the ability to discern where to make a cut, how to time a cut, how to sequence and pace shots with a rhythm. Really, THAT skill is what they pay me for. The craftsman is not his tools. There is NO shortcut in FCP called "make this program not suck". If there is, Biscardi is hiding it from us:-)

The shops that are more keen to get someone with a platform-specific skill set may not have the patience and budget to give a new hire training time, then again, such a place is likely to want to emphasize throughput over quality, IMO. It is dangerous to assume that if a guy knows which button does what, he also knows when and WHY to push that button, If they care first about the platform, likely they are not looking for creative editors so much as technicians to operate equipment. What kind of work would such people churn out? You would want to ask yourself what the long-term prospects are for staying with such an outfit and advancing a career there.

Yes, FCP is very popular *right now*. But frankly, If I was hiring an editor, I'd be more impressed if he or she had a lot of compositing skills and audio and photoshop skills, and DVD authoring and color correction and compressionist skills; if they are good at all of that, I know they can learn FCP in a couple of days. Hell, I went from Discreet Edit to FCP in about 72 hours, and while I'm still learning the deeper parts of FCP as I go, I am already plenty productive as-is.

Don't make long-term career decisions around fleetingly temporary technical mastery of ANY software that is going to be entirely revised or more likely replaced in just a handful of years. The future is a moving target. In five years we may be editing 3-d data bubbles in quantum foam for all you know. No way any school can afford to keep up as fast as progress. Train your students to be agile and adaptable, to master the underlying concepts, which stay relevant, even as the specific platforms mutate and change. That's the survival skill set.


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