Not just being able to operate another NLE, but be good at it, able to sit next to a paying client working under time pressure. Is theres a lot of common ground? On the 25th anniversary of Adobe's Premiere launch, are NLE’s all becoming the same or are they getting more specialised?
We all have our favourite NLE and as I would imagine as you are reading this site, you are probably a fan of FCPX.
In the last five years, the NLE range of choice has expanded.
Final Cut Pro X boldly went were other NLEs hadn’t by rethinking a new way to edit now that the majority of media is of digital origin.
Adobe’s Premiere got a dark look facelift and slowly manoeuvred itself into the void that FCP7 left, tracks, bugs and all. Adobe are currently trumpeting Premiere’s 25th anniversary with a (ahem) shiny look back at its history. Avatar? really?
You can view Adobe's Premiere's 25 year timeline here. Strangely enough, no mention of Deadpool 2, the hack where passwords got compromised (mine) or indeed the random deletion of files from your computer.
Avid hasn’t really done anything apart from keep itself out of administration. Media Composer's stronghold in Hollywood and TV production guarantees it’s going to be around for a long time. (The software not the company - Avid's share price was at an all time low in November.) Would they survive without Isis/Nexis and ProTools?
Stop Press! We forgot about ScriptSync. Great for feature films and drama, not so useful for corporates & YouTubers.
Then there is the new boy on the market DaVinci Resolve, learning from the others and hoovering up new users because it is free. Blackmagic seem to be pushing out the updates on a regular basis trying to increase its editing standing in the pro area. Take a look at Grant Petty's recent Resolve announcements from his web broadcast.
And finally there is still FCP7 out there, churning out shows and films in environments and countries where change is costly and the mantra is ‘if it ain’t broke then don’t try to fix it.’
Yes people cut on Vegas, Edius, Lightworks and Media 100, but the chances of the phone ringing for a booking on one of those is almost zero.
All this means that an average editor can come across one of five or more NLEs that they have to operate in their job.
But can you be good at working more than one?
Not just operating, but actually editing fluently with an NLE. Not having to pause to work out how to do something, knowing all the shortcuts, knowing the bugs and how to work around them. Being able to edit with a paying client sat next to them, possibly under a deadline.
I flick between FCPX and Premiere on a daily basis sometimes and although I know both well, there are things that catch me out. I think it takes half a day to get back to full speed.
Yes, keys like I and O for in and out are pretty much standard across most NLEs, but zooming the timeline, incrementing or nudging by a frame and the switching of camera angles in a multicam are annoying close but different from each other.
As much as I would like to have Joe90 swappable knowledge in an instant, it takes time to recall which finger should go where. This doesn’t even take into account the first few minutes when you have to reacquaint yourself with track patching!
Yes, you could map your keys out to mimic another NLE, but I’ve always favoured the default layout. Although it is tougher to start off with, it means you can just sit down at a computer and edit without having to load any preferences. You might add to the layout, but the basics are all where they should be.
So back to the question- can you be good at more than one NLE? I think the answer is yes and no and that depends on the time between usage and which apps you switch between.
Premiere and FCP7 are so close together you can flick between them instantly. I haven't done an Avid job for quite a few years, but given a morning, a lot will come back from those long hours spent in AVR77. I wouldn't want to work in a pressurised environment though for a few days. Even then I'm not going to know every trick to get me out of a technical or creative hole.
If you do a week of FCPX, then a week of Premiere for example, you are going to know them both pretty well. Monday mornings might take a few cups of coffee to get into the swing of things, but no major drama.
If you haven’t edited on FCPX for 6 months, then coming back to it is going to be tough to get back up to the correct speed if you’ve been on Premiere, or worse, Avid. I've seen good editors trying to work FCPX with just JKL, not taking advantage of skimming or cutting everything as a connected clips as they don't get the magnetic timeline.
I've yet to cut a proper job on DaVinci Resolve, but to me it seems like a hybrid of FCP7/Premiere and FCPX. Which brings me back to one of my my original points, is there a convergence of features happening?
I do hope so as it will make my life easier!
Got any tips or tricks to help the mind swap? Please post them in the comments below.
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Peter Wiggins is a broadcast freelance editor based in the UK although his work takes him around the world. An early adopter of FCP setting up pioneering broadcasts workflows, his weapon of choice is now Final Cut Pro X.