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Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm?

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


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.


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