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Re: The Magnetic Timeline – What’s The Paradigm? On Clips and Tracks

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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.


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