Padawan Learner? Or Jedi Knight?
Padawan Learner? Or Jedi Knight?
You wouldn’t be trying to edit video if The Force was not strong with you. Great movie-making is just too bloody hard for Muggles. And the game always changes. We editors—all of us—are constantly learning. How far along in your training are you?
- Beginner: If you’re fairly new to timelines and “L-cuts,” the first part of this article is for you. We’ll cover toolsets up to $100. And some that are free. Who doesn’t like free?
- Expert: If you are already comfortable with “picture-in-picture,” “fit-to-fill” and the like, you might want to jump ahead to the second section called: “Shodan Edit Ninja.” We’ll look at stepping into pro-level packages.
If you are beyond that, you have a show to finish cutting and I’m keeping you from it. But please feel free to comment, suggest and share your professional tips and tricks!
By way of introduction: I’m a digital immigrant. My career spans the transitions: From A/B roll VTR editing (“quadruplex” and helical scan analog) through nonlinear editing (NLE) workstations, to the gathering Cloud of “edit everything anywhere.” I’ve cut and cemented film. I’ve spliced tape. I’ve previewed, pre-rolled, pre-read and waited for large dangerous decks to lock-sync. I have the scars to prove it. We’ve lost a little on the way from A to D, but we’ve gained so much more.
I am not a fine editor. For extremely critical work, I turn to specialist colleagues as a family doctor would turn to an orthopedist or oncologist. I started in audio and music engineering, failed up to television, and rose to ultimate incompetence on the Web. I seldom have time to make the perfect show myself. Once in a blue moon, I have the budget to pay better editors than myself to craft beauty out of lameness.
Thank goodness for the democratization of media that digital enables. As a producer, I can now do on my laptop what I used to pay facilities and specialists more than $350 per hour to crank out. It’s a beautiful world.
An Ugly World — Video Challenges Your Hardware
Video is a pig. There’s not another common medium as data-heavy. Before you pick software to wrangle moving pictures, you need to know that your hardware is up to the load.
Generally, the faster your processor, the fewer hangs and crashes you experience. But faster means hotter (as you overclocking enthusiasts know). Treat your CPU to the best ventilation you can manage. It will be working overtime contributing to global warming.
Get a bigger disk. Unless you’re just making Vine loops, you will need it. Every hi-res source, all those multi-track renders, each level of Undo will suckle upon the teat of storage until fragmented corruption ensues. See? Ugly.
Consider adding a solid-state drive (SSD). On most platforms, video wants to be rendered with each editorial decision, even if only in the background. All that writing and re-writing to disk will hack up your hard drive, with bits of show scattered hither and yon across many sectors. It takes time to locate and correlate a coherent stream of video. The higher the resolution, the bigger the headache.
Take a look at our recommended hardware configurations, organized by the level of work you expect to be doing. And remember to back up everything, all the time. Redundantly. Redundantly. You have been warned.