Coming Full Circle; CS5/FCS/Avid

May 02, 2010 1 Comment by

Makes me feel old writing a title like that… but what is old in this ever evolving industry???

By the way, if you’re not feeling nostalgic and just want to know about CS5, just scroll down until you see the big 5…

Those of us in non-linear editing should not forget, we’re riding a very young tsunami, that has barely started forming a couple of decades ago…
Still today, there are people using linear editing systems and odd boxes to put their images together. Only now are we moving to a data only world, but where tapes are still a reality. Only now are we truly submerged in the digital revolution, that despite the huge recent steps, still is far from its peak… so, it’s very fascinating to see the three giants of the non-linear editing world coming close to a full circle.

I believe that after the introduction of non-linear editing lead by Avid and Light Works, the next big corner stone happened 7 years ago with the announcement of Final Cut Pro 3.

Avid stood still on their high-end, untouchable pedestal, while Adobe killed Premiere, soon after that… Both moves couldn’t have been proved more wrong…

Avid wasn’t untouchable, after all! And Adobe later on recognized that shutting down Premiere, was probably not the smartest move…

so, Final Cut Pro had an un-catered  world to conquer, which it did, offering the first true democratic professional editing solution, in the history of editor kind!

But it didn’t stop there…

Apple kept raising the bar and on unprecedented move, bundled their DVD Authoring application and introduced a few very useful ones, like Compressor, creating a “one stop shop” for video professionals.

Their evolution seemed unstoppable!

The acquisition of Shake was made public…

They had bought the leading compositing software of the time! A software that had been used in every single film that won the special effects oscar, since it came out.
The lead compositing software of Lord of the Rings! Which had just exploded in the theaters around the world!

As it was to be expected, they brought it to the Mac and breaking ground again, Apple brought Shake down in price, making it affordable to people like you and me…

Then, the first studio picture was edited with FCP! Walter Murch the legendary editor, who also championed Avid and non-linear film editing, years before, finally decided to cross the bridge of “Avidgnorance” with the support of also legendary Digital Film Tree (the “boys” known for putting PRO on FCP). “Cold Mountain”, starring Nicole Kidman, took FCP’s status quo to a whole new level…
From that moment on FCP was unstoppable! Ready to take the world! Which it did!

Apple’s last game changing  move was democratizing color correction, by acquiring Final Touch, a $20.000 software and bundling it in their Final Cut Studio Suite, for free! Do you think you would ever see Davinci for a thousand bux, if it weren’t for what Apple did with Color back then?!

It was a wonderful time… I remember how much I rejoiced the news… how hard it was to find an upgrade box… the universe wasn’t working against me anymore… the future couldn’t look brighter…

But like everything that’s good, it didn’t last for long… well, at least not as long as I would have desired…

Apple had found another favorite toy… A toy which Steve Jobs and his magnificent team came to prove to be incredibly profitable, living in most of our pockets today…

It didn’t take long for Apple to reign an editors’ starving market… but regrettably, also started riding its own momentum… Apple was now becaming untouchable, unreachable, lazy…

So nature took its course…

Avid started paying more attention to the market FCP opened, gradually lowering their prices, increasing their range of non-hardware dependent products and returned to the Mac in full force.

Adobe brought Premiere back to life and included it in their Production Suites, as a support for After Effects, which despite all the turmoil, was an application that seemed unassailable for all this time, protected by a loyal and tenacious user community.

In the mean while, Apple kept getting even lazier… Shake’s development team was all of a sudden shut down… and eventually they killed the software all together… you can no longer buy one of the most brilliant compositing applications ever developed… thanks to Apple…

A few of Shake’s technologies were brought into Motion and Final Cut Pro, but nothing that can justify its disappearing or by no shape or form, remotely replace it…
Rumors of a Final Cut Extreme echoed the web, actually still do, every now and then… a Super Application “a la”  Softimage Digital Studio style (most of you will know this app as Avid DS)… but nothing…

Apple, above no one else could have made an unbeatable application, if they would have combined Shake and FCP together… just like Softimage did, so many years before with Digital Studio, an application, which apart from the mandatory updates, has been pretty much on top of the game for over 10 years, at a hefty price point, unfortunately for all of us…

So it was time for Nuke!
With no other significant rival, Nuke spread throughout what was once Shake’s high-end world…

In the mean while, Adobe’s move of killing Premiere had somewhat weakened the ever mighty After Effects’ development and with some users jumping back and forward into Motion, there seem to be a gap in the lower-high-end compositing world… so it didn’t take long for another giant to step in…

The Discreet family (bought by Autodesk, not long after that), who had been comfortably  watching from a distance, of main stream use, was now also trying to push their software version of Flame, in the form of Combustion… which burned intensively for a while…

Their specialized and not so intuitive user interface (a discussion you should never engage with a Discreet user, by the way), was probably it’s biggest downfall… So with a reborn Adobe team, After Effects stood its ground and with a solid update, never lost ground again, since version 6.

Recently we’ve seen Smoke also hitting the Mac and lowering the bar to the low 5 figure, hardware independent range… so, still playing in whole other league, I think its a sign of times to come…

But things have been feeling pretty stale on the software side, for a while… multi-cam seems to have been the last big breakthrough in NLEs… apart from jog shuttles, and tactile screens, what else has significantly changed the game?!

Then…

The biggest change I’ve felt, was the lack of excitement from Apple’s latest  .O FCP upgrade… was, without a shadow of a doubt, the most disappointing ever…

I shouldn’t forget to mention Plural Eyes and its great contribution offering us the capability of automatically synching audio clips!
But what else rings as a game changing in NLE Land?!

Little 6 months after FCS launch, here we are reaching another tide turn… Adobe announced CS5!

The most modern App suite we have come to know! Full 64 bit! Pure Cocoa! This means its is the very first one to run completely native in the systems we’ve been using for a good 5 years now! Taking advantage of all the cores and all the RAM in your machine! But most importantly, it comes with a smart open attitude, very much in the FCP 3 style (if you compare it with back when it came out)! Supporting as many formats as imaginable, natively! With a ground breaking playback engine, called Mercury! Scalable to any system size! And the smartest part of all; full compatibility with its biggest rival!!!!

That’s right, you can now seamlessly open FCP XMLs, as well as export them back to FCP right from Premiere, without any extra plug-ins involved… in case you don’t know what an XML is, it’s a file format/protocol that allows time-lines to migrate between different Applications. It’s the same protocol FCP uses to send a timeline to Color, for example.

What a smart move! Knowing that many FCP users, are also very loyal to After Effects, to perform a myriad of tasks, Adobe created a great gateway through Premiere…

If you want to take your FCP sequence to After Effects, you no longer need to spend $500 on Automatic Duck, if you’re willing to import your sequence’s XML via Premiere. We still have to see what are the limitations of the migration, as Automatic Duck keeps increasing it’s translations capabilities…

A Premiere sequence is completely interchangeable between After Effects! And if that wasn’t enough, when you make a change in either software, it immediately updates the project on the other… soon, if you find a little adjustment you’d like to make to your cut (that you declared locked, not long ago), you have to be retarded if you’re going to export another XML, import it to Final Cut, do your adjustment, export it back out to Premiere and then open it in After Effects again… NO, NO, NO! You will find yourself doing it inside of Premiere and have it instantly update in After Effects… Soon, you’ll be spending more and more time inside Premiere… soon you’ll wonder why you started in FCP in the first place?! Especially when you realize you have all that you need right there, in CS5!!!

But what I’m most excited about are the 2 most amazing features announced in CS5!!! Content Aware Fill and Roto Brush!!!! These 2 features are truly ground breaking that bring a breath of fresh air into the game!!! The potential is ginormous!!!! They are definitely game changing!!!! I really can’t wait to play with it!!!! And you bet you’re gong to hear more about it, right here!!!

The other great news is the amount of wonderful plug-ins Adobe has bundled in CS5!!! Like Mocha 2 AE and Mocha Shapes! No more excuses! The SFX epic you always wanted to make is now within reach!!!

Adobe, I take my hat off to you… you earned this tide! It has your name all over it!!! And I’ll be bathing in it, as soon as it hits my shores! I would be riding it right now, if I could, as I’m finishing a new trailer for my film…

Apple still has a the chance of putting a final word on all of this, but as my short history lesson has shown us, unless good old Steve has been looking out for us, which definitely doesn’t seem to be the case, it might take Apple more then a few versions for FCP to catch on to CS5…

So if this really turns out to be Adobe’s tide, we’ll have to see if Avid will ever to take back the lead again, for the circle to be fully completed… (I know some of you will disagree with me in regards to Avid leadership, but this a blog of empirical views and Avid might still be huge with the dinosaurs and although this was a little retrospective, my perspective aims to be current, practical and as futuristic as humanly possible.)

Maybe this is the end of a circle that although completed will never have a completely closed end… because the next big player will be the one that nails which ever branch is going to sprout out from the “Electronic Neanderthal” mentality of timelines and file browsers…

I was about 12, when I started editing linearly, with 2 betamax video recorders. Later on, a video mixer found its way into my life and by the age of 15 I gave up on editing… there was nothing else to keep me motivated, besides 2 video faders and a few buttons to trigger cheesy wipes… Avids were hundreds of thousands of $$$, so I found my expression through surfing, and that became my life…

Roughly 10 years later I owned a beach bar, bought a Macintosh to design flyers for the bar and fell in love with it. So much, I started trading surf sessions in turn of building some surreal scene in Bryce (revolutionary 3D landscaping software, back then). Until one day, someone gave me a cracked copy of Premiere…. That was it!!! I found my path in life!!!

Today I pride myself for using FCP in a non-traditional way, adapting the existing tools to make it work like I feel they should… but nothing will make me happier then the day I can edit the way Tom Cruise did in Minority Report…

Until then, all I can say is; I CAN’T WAIT TO GET MY HANDS ON CS5!!!!!

T ; )~

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One Response to “Coming Full Circle; CS5/FCS/Avid”

  1. Victoria Taylor-Gore says:

    I learned Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 after playing with After Effects, and it was a very easy transition. Premiere and After Effects worked together so well, and Premiere seemed very familiar after using Photoshop. I’m also excited about working with CS5 soon!

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