I’ve been using computers to edit video since the Amiga days, when Danish programmers brought Scala to the world. I was deploying content over dialup modems to digital signage outlets across the province for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission back in the late 90’s. It was the wild, wild west of media and whether I was in a truck delivering new video via CD to doctor’s waiting rooms or demoing non-linear edit systems in Las Vegas, I was often on the bleeding edge of technology.
Probably the one piece of tech that I remember the most was a software/hardware system built by a very resourceful crew in Chicago. It was capable of storing hours of footage captured from broadcast gear. They could add dissolves and wipes, and mix camera audio with music and sound effects. It ran on DOS and talked to a RAID controller that cost over $10, 000. They called their edit system DVision and it was the holy grail of the nascent field of non-linear editing.
DVision was quickly bought up by some Canadian developers in Montreal called Discreet Logic. Discreet as it came to be known was looking for a way to enter the desktop. Their proprietary systems like Smoke, Fire and Inferno, were well known in the high end visual effects world. DVision, or Edit as it was renamed, was just the ticket. It offered unprecedented power and speed and stability that was unheard of in the world of video editing.
Anyone that worked on Discreet Edit (branded for a while as Edit*) realized quickly they were working on something designed for speed. A few of the features haven’t existed since, maybe because they were under an onerous patent control, or maybe because in the race to get to ‘real time playback of 8 video streams’ someone, somewhere, forgot that video editors don’t like to wait. And they’re willing to pay a premium for features that get them out the door at the end of the day.
Discreet Edit delivered.
Then it was End Of Lifed.
End of Life
There were two things going against it. For starters, as a feeder workstation, working alongside million dollar workstations, it was kinda pricey. And the days of the million dollar Inferno suites were numbered too. The technology just makes things cheaper and cheaper. Edit became a middle of the road player, with upstarts like Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro nipping at the heels.
The other problem was Edit was a SD suite from the get go, never designed to work in HD. HD took over 20 years to come into production, but it was definitely in the intake and hardware manufacturers were in a race to the bottom in terms of cost and functionality.
Colour correction was a dog at best, and there never was a proper tool for anything but basic HSV tweaking.
Somewhere around 2004, after Discreet was bought by Autodesk, Edit was terminated. Wake parties were thrown across the globe (I hosted 2 myself) and we went our ways to Final Cut Pro and Avid.
I’ll flash forward past the next 10 years of post production. They are uneventful. Storage became cheap and a non-issue. Cameras became cheap. Monitors became very cheap. The role of the professional video editor disappeared, replaced by videographer, producer, or just editor (expected to do graphics, audio and script writing). And nothing really changed in NLE technology. With buckets or RAM and faster processors, it seemed like things were getting better, but the core of the process didn’t change. You could bang your head against the wall faster and in HD.
Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) Premiere
Then last week I bit the bullet and signed up for Adobe Creative Cloud. I do some part time teaching and qualify for the academic price of $19USD/month. I had been working with my academic Premiere 5.5 with my students and found it to be functional, but very, very clunky. Many of the workflow processes were taken from Premiere 1.0 back in the 90’s. I remember trying to use it real, real hard, and failing miserably. I was a Discreet reseller at the time and was 100% in sync with Edit.
But, the 2013 CC version of Adobe Premiere is a total game changer for me.
I don’t know what they call this feature, but Discreet Edit users rejoice! It’s exactly, no, better than the Picture Icon feature present in Discreet Edit. Now, you can over your mouse over any icon in the bin, and it plays. No clicking at all. If you do click an icon, then you have the ability to mark in and out points. The selected clip has a yellow horizontal bar to indicate In and Out has been selected. A tear came to my eye. Edit also used a yellow horizontal line. (even better, you don’t even have to have a clip selected. You can mark an in and out and it remembers your selection!)
With a + or – you could enlarge the size of the waveforms making them easy to read. Now, technically Premiere doesn’t do this exactly, but with their new Rectified Waveform display, it’s a joy to work with audio again. Plus with the keyboard shortcuts Alt +/- we’re almost there.
Premiere’s support for both EDLs and tape decks in a welcome addition to a digital world. Yes, I know I deliver mostly online or on DVD now, but it’s nice to know it’s there if I need it.
Intelligent Copy and Paste
One of the best features of Edit was the copy and paste. You could paste from one track to another, using the soft patch bay. Imagine my surprise to see a soft patch bay on the Premiere CC timeline! No surprises when it came to determining where a clip was going to end up. You can set your patch bay once, then edit using keyboard shortcuts like crazy, it just works.
Add to these features the Adobe CC Media Encoder (that lets me work while a sequence is rendering), the dare I say Inscriber calibre Titler, and the robust Mercury Engine support for real-time performance with my Quadro card, makes things fun again.
I still miss the Paste from Out. You could copy a clip, then Paste From Out and it pasted backwards. Amazing how often I used that.
We have 2 point editing, 3 point editing, 4 point ‘fit to fill’ editing, but no one has ever figured out no-point editing which would always clinch any Discreet Edit demo I was giving. It was like a paint brush for video. Just find a point on your timeline to start laying in video, scrub to a clip you want to use and rest it (don’t mark an in point) on the start of video. Right click and drag on the timeline and the video was inserted.
But I’m not complaining. The fact that I can have a conversation about scrubbale picons in a modern, HD edit system is reason enough to celebrate. I wanted to document the work Adobe has been doing, thank them for listening to a few grey-beards like myself, and creating a valuable product that even an old curmudgeon like myself can enjoy using.