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Software Selection Advice

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Frank J. Lozano
Software Selection Advice
on May 16, 2007 at 2:32:28 pm

I often see video work (not done by big companies) and wonder what software was used to make it look so polished and professional. Where can one I get advice on what software to buy so I can be competitive and not buy a bunch of incompatible applications?

Thanks,
Frank


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jbaumchen
Re: Software Selection Advice
on May 16, 2007 at 2:53:19 pm

I would reccomend Adobe Production Studio Premium.

It has everything one needs to produce professional and polished video, or graphics. An added plus is the fact that all the programs integrate seamlessly with each other. No annoying compatibility issues to deal with.

http://www.adobe.com/products/creativesuite/production/

Cheers


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Ron Lindeboom
Re: Software Selection Advice
on May 16, 2007 at 3:00:21 pm

There are basically a few different "suites" that most people use...

At the top of the food chain, there are the "systems" that are used by people with lots (and I mean lots) of money. These systems include:
  • Quantel
  • Discreet
  • Avid DS
  • etc.
Next, down the foodchain come the hardware-assisted suites from both Apple and Adobe, etc., that include cards like:
  • AJA Kona, Xena, Io, etc.
  • Blackmagic Design Decklink, Eclipse, Multibridge, etc.
  • Matrox Axio, MXO, RTX, etc.
  • etc.
Then, just below this are the unassisted suites themselves, which include:
  • Adobe Production Studio
  • Apple Final Cut Studio
  • Avid Media Composer, Liquid or other Avid tools
  • Sony Vegas
  • etc.
The last category run on the computers unassisted and can handle many of the duties in software alone.

If you are on a Mac, then the choices exclude Sony Vegas. If you are on a PC, then the choices exclude Final Cut Studio.

For more on these tools, you can visit the websites of Apple, Adobe, etc.

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom


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zrb123
Re: Software Selection Advice
on May 16, 2007 at 4:28:19 pm

[Frank J. Lozano] "I often see video work (not done by big companies) and wonder what software was used to make it look so polished and professional. Where can one I get advice on what software to buy so I can be competitive and not buy a bunch of incompatible applications? "

Software is just the tool, the biggest thing that will make any production "look" professional is to do quality professional production. Proper attention to the attention to the visual things like composition, lighting, exposure, focus etc. and to getting good audio during production goes a long way.

You must start with quality to end with quality.

As far as software goes my observation is (and I may be wrong, its just what I have personally seen) that most big post houses use ether Final Cut Studio, or Avid. Really the only place I have seen the Adobe production suite used is in small wedding videographers.

I would personally look into Final Cut Studio 2 that is being released next month. Apple always seems to be a step or two ahead of Adobe, take for example the addition of Color to the package.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Software Selection Advice
on May 16, 2007 at 4:46:50 pm

The same camera footage on a Smoke workstation and a FCP Express is going to look... the same. It is not about the software, it's about the wetware: The guy shooting and editing it, and what's between his ears.

No 3-d animation software has a button that says: "make dinosaur". Neither does any NLE have a button that says "make this video stink/not stink".

Your quality starts at aquisition. A quality script, delivered by a quality talent. A properly lit scene, with attractive composition, a BIG lens feeding a BIG set of chips, sitting on a solid tripod with a good pan head, recording to the least-compressed, most lossless format you can afford to use. Quality mics placed with skill and recorded properly.

Quality editing begins with assembling a properly-spec'd system, conformed to standards for levels and such, and set up to work with as uncompressed and artifact-free a format as you can afford. Then you import and log the tapes carefully, and assemble the shots according to a well-thought-out plan.

No audience can tell what brand or make of editing software an award-winning and popular show was cut on. It's not about the tool, it's about the man who wields it.







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mmfarms
Re: Software Selection Advice
on May 16, 2007 at 6:59:03 pm

[Mark Suszko] "It's not about the tool, it's about the man who wields it."

Sorry, Mark. It's not always about the "man" doing the work.





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Ron Lindeboom
Re: Software Selection Advice
on May 16, 2007 at 9:37:33 pm


No, sometimes it's about the "woman" behind the controls.

...but it will indeed be about the human and not the software.

Best,

Ron Lindeboom


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Mark Suszko
Re: Software Selection Advice
on May 16, 2007 at 10:53:15 pm

"Sorry, Mark. It's not always about the "man" doing the work."

Says someone with a genderless handle, so how can I tell? :-) If you're proud to be a woman editor, let the world know you by your name, I say.

I was using the word "man" in the more generic sense, but really, I think most of us reading knew that. Just this week I wrote to someone a long dissertation on the early history of women editors in film, I appreciate them just fine, so please, I've had a tough week, and am not appreciating the humor, can we agree not go there again today with a sidebar on femenism applied to common usage and grammar, as it is an inapropriate interruption and detour of this discussion.


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mmfarms
Re: Software Selection Advice
on May 16, 2007 at 11:22:30 pm

I understand, and feel bad if you had a rough week - I certainly didn't mean a huge criticism, just a nudge. .. from someone who has spent 30 years in the business quietly trying to do the best job I can, even though most of the time I feel that we have to prove to most clients - at least once - that girls can do as good a job as boys. ;-}

Thanks for listening.

Clara Neff
shooter/editor.



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JBaumchen
Re: Software Selection Advice
on May 16, 2007 at 5:29:12 pm

Really the only place I have seen the Adobe production suite used is in small wedding videographers

About four years ago, Adobe wasn't up to par for professional use and I would have agreed with the above statement. But times they are a changin. We have an Avid Adrenaline running Media Composer and a Matrox Axio LE running Adobe Production Studio Premium.

Having worked on both systems, let me voice my observations between the two.

Adobe outputs just as good quality as the Avid, at about 1/3rd the cost and without a $3700 annual maintenance cost, is far more user friendly than Avid, is much more compatible with different media file types, does not have a 2GB file limit on exporting media, can author DVD's without resorting to third party software, and allows for much better media management. In addition, PremierePro, AfterEffects, Illustrator, Photoshop, Audition, Encore, and Flash are all tightly integrated with each other, making edit and authoring sessions very productive.

So, as a production department for the Federal Government, have to say that we'll take the Axio running Adobe over the Avid any day.


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eric
Re: Software Selection Advice
by
on May 16, 2007 at 6:38:27 pm

Depends on what your talking about. For editing, most places use an Avid or FCP system - and this goes for most Hollywood productions with cash to spend. For compositing After Effects can do most of what your see on TV or in films with the right artist at the controls. The days of "high end" and "low end" tools are pretty much over - its all talent now.


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Del Holford
Re: Software Selection Advice
on May 16, 2007 at 7:41:19 pm

I agree that talent overrides software but disagree that high end tools are "over". We bought "high end" because it was the only HD editing software available 7 years ago. I've seen FCS2 and Avid and Adobe and anything they can do Autodesk advanced systems can do faster and cleaner due to RGB 4:4:4 uncompressed processing. Chris and Trish Meyers and Aharon Rabinowitz are awesome with After Effects and their work is seen nationwide, but flame artists aren't worried about losing their jobs to After Effects. Autodesk advanced systems are constantly improving both their toolsets and workflow and I for one wish our PBS station could afford to continue using them. The editor/artist who puts together the CBS Evening News open every night would freak out if you took away his smoke! For time critical broadcast deadlines speed is king and high end is where that's at.

I work on Autodesk editing software that is coming to end of hardware life. Due to the extremely reduced costs of Final Cut Studio we probably will unplug our systems and replace them with Final Cut Studio. What we give up is speed and the visual effects tools tightly integrated into the software. If we had the money I would choose the faster option because deadlines tend to bite me. Producers don't have those last few graphic files and they want to change the music or whoops, we misspelled these names on a credit roll. And it airs tonight at 8! We are making the conscious choice to go slower because of the economies involved, but those Hollywood companies who do commercials and effects work won't be giving up their "high end" systems anytime soon. Apple is making inroads because they are improving as well, and many "high end" post facilities also use FCP in addition to their flame and smoke software but to say "high end" is over is stretching the point a bit. Call me back in five years and I'll probably agree with you then :-)

Del
fire*, smoke*, photoshopCS2
Charlotte Public Television


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eric
Re: Software Selection Advice
by
on May 16, 2007 at 9:00:54 pm

Well true...but like I said its "...pretty much over" - as in not yet but very close. I was talking about what can be done with a thousand dollar tool compared to a multi thousand dollar tool. Yes..these flame and smoke artist and their tools aren't going anywhere. It's so well entrenched in that environment, but the same work can be achieved for much cheaper.

It's very similar in my field of DVD authoring. Even if you came out with a better, cheaper and more powerful authoring tool many folks still would stick with Scenarist. But that thin line is getting thinner every year.


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Ron Lindeboom
Re: Software Selection Advice
on May 16, 2007 at 9:43:31 pm

[eric] "Well true...but like I said its "...pretty much over" - as in not yet but very close."

People have been saying this since Media 100, Radius VideoVision Studio, Immix VideoCube and other early systems were all the rage.

When DV came out, people said that companies like AJA (who made video cards) were on the way out. They aren't. They are doing better today than they did years ago -- even with other newer competitors like Blackmagic, Convergent and others in the marketspace.

There is and will likely always be a place for heavy hardware and enhanced performance that goes beyond the norm.

Don't write off hardware too soon. ;o)

Ron Lindeboom


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Mark Suszko
Re: Software Selection Advice
on May 16, 2007 at 11:07:54 pm

With respect, I have to disagree in that the relative power of the very high-end suite still counts for little if the raw material you give the "person" to edit is itself garbage. The original question was not about a Henry vs. a Flame, after all. In the mid-range, the suites are roughly comparable for quality and speed and features, though each one boasts it's own specialities. You can make just as good a product with any of them or none of them, but it's not the tool, it's the talent and training that makes it happen.


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Ron Lindeboom
Re: Software Selection Advice
on May 16, 2007 at 11:32:33 pm

Mark,

I said NOTHING resembling an endorsement that heavy iron will save bad footage and crappy production values.

All I said was that people were writing off the high-end hardware-assisted systems back in the very beginnings of NLE. Later, they began prophesying the demise of cards like AJA, etc., when DV came along in the end of the 90s.

My point was simply this and nothing more: People have been saying for so long that hardware's days are numbered that I just smile when I hear it again.

"Garbage In, Garbage Out" has always been the order of the day, no matter how expensive your system is -- or isn't.

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom


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Nick Griffin
Re: Software Selection Advice
on May 17, 2007 at 2:52:54 pm

Getting back to the original question:

"Where can one I get advice on what software to buy so I can be competitive and not buy a bunch of incompatible applications?

Here on the COW is one of the best places to start, as evidenced by the lively discussion above. Almost as good, and sometimes more comforting, is to have someone else who does this work a phone call away. Get what he (or she!! - Clara) has, knowing that at least you'll have someone to talk you through the beginning stages.

As to a "...bunch of incompatible applications...", can't most things today inter-operate on some level? Granted it's nice to have the integration inside the suites, but I'm still using FCStudio's Compressor application even though I'm cutting in the latest M100. And even though it's nice to have other tools like FCStudio's Motion and Live Type on hand, I'm not giving up After Effects.

The biggest issue that Frank has to face is the learning curve. IMHO, the cost of the software is inconsequential when compared to the time one will spend learning how to truly get everything you need from it.

And yes, as stated above, good shooting technique is far more likely to provide a superior end result than is just about any tool you could use to post produce the project.


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mmfarms
Re: Software Selection Advice
on May 18, 2007 at 11:16:48 am

The most amazing thing is that talented people - at any price level - can find the right level of software and hardware for them, that will help them get started and find their creative niche.



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Frank J. Lozano
Re: Software Selection Advice
on May 18, 2007 at 4:15:34 pm

Yes I can see your point, but it also seems if you're working alone, you have to be a jack of all trades; technology can impede even the most talented. Although we can do amazing digital work on the desktop, the learning curve is steep and diverse.

Frank


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mishka
Re: Software Selection Advice
on Jun 11, 2007 at 12:35:45 pm

[Ron Lindeboom] "When DV came out, people said that companies like AJA (who made video cards) were on the way out. They aren't."

AJA was making framestores not video IO cards back then. They introduced first Kona when FCP went Mac OS X and never fully implemented whatever processing hardware it their card had onboard. Pinnacle is out. Matrox is hanging on but compare the software choice for DigiSuite and for Axio.

On the other hand hadrware-assisted processing is still around. It is just moving to GPU.



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