Consumers, Students and Editors

One key issue that Avid and Apple are both facing is the synergy between different groups of editors. Based on the applications they sell, Apple thinks there are three groups: consumers, “prosumers” and professional editors (of all types) — iMovie, Final Cut Express and Final Cut Studio. There’s a clear migration path from FCE to FCS but iMovie is separate.

Avid also has a consumer product that’s completely separate from its other offerings — Pinnacle Studio. And with at least three families of professional editing applications and many subtle variants, Avid wants to view the pro world as heavily segmented. (I’ve argued before that all these offerings confuse and frustrate customers and hurt the brand.)

Most of the young editors arriving in Hollywood already know FCP. Generally, my advice to them is that if they want a career editing long-form, narrative films they need to learn Media Composer. There just aren’t many high-end projects that are cutting with FCP. You can argue that this is because us Hollywood types are old curmudgeons, but I’d counter that, for all its many strengths, FCP is just not as good as MC with narrative material.

Nevertheless, FCP has made editing sexy to young filmmakers and the fact that they all seem to know that application represents a tide that will inevitably have its effect at the higher end.

But consider the consumer market for a moment. Wouldn’t Apple and Avid want to see young people learning their preferred interface as early as possible? Apparently not. Both companies seem to think that whatever people are using at home, when they get serious they’ll be willing to learn something new — and hopefully something that isn’t made by the other guy. iMovie at least shares the look of Apple’s pro aps, which might engender some brand loyalty. But mostly, it’s a radical redesign. Pinnacle Studio has next to nothing in common with Media Composer.

Does this represent a failure of imagination? Or … is the new iMovie so fast and intuitive that kids who cut their teeth with it will expect something equally slick when they need more — something that nobody makes yet?

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Explore posts in the same categories: Avid vs. Final Cut, Consumer Editing, User Interface

7 Comments on “Consumers, Students and Editors”

  1. Robin Buday Says:

    Media Composer huh? What is that anyway? Can it do dissolves?

  2. marco bonini Says:

    Why you write “…FCP is just not as good as MC with narrative material.”?

  3. Robin Buday Says:


    I imagine it has something to do with Avid’s ability to handle copious amounts of media without getting frazzled. It’s media managing capabilities (from what I hear) rival what Final Cut Pro can offer.

  4. marco bonini Says:

    FCP offer a great flexbility with a lot of different media. It’a a state of mind: you can not work in the same way than Avid. The programs have two different approach of the ingest of the material. The solid rock OMF (avid convert all the media, but isn’t flexibly like FCP) it’s better if you make an off line – on line on the same machine because dosnt’required particular attention. FCP obligate the user to be very precise and ordered with your media.

  5. Steve Says:

    One of the biggest FCP failings is in it’s trim functions. If you’re cutting dramatic, narrative material and have to shape a performance precisely, the Media Composer is much more powerful. It also wins when you are trying to cut one sequence into another. Other advantages are real clip “inheritance” and match framing, and the ability to synch dailies precisely and slip sync in film projects. It also gives you a choice of 24 frame project types which makes it more flexible in a film environment.

  6. Norman Says:

    Not that it makes much of a difference to most of my students, but it seems like FCP begs the editor to make broad decisions. It’s drag and drop ease of use, almost encourages the editor to avoid L-cuts/overlapping edits. It’s simple as pie to edit without any complexity. The Avid, on the other hand, is not as simple to drag and drop with but, it seems to me, encourages the editor to work with overlaps.

    As a feature film editor, I always do my first cuts with overlaps. Then again, when I started, I heard stories of TV editors who would slap together an edit and put a car horn over the bad sound edits so they didn’t have to smooth anything out.

    So what do I know?

  7. Steve Says:

    I think there’s a good bit of truth to this. FCP encourages you to jam material together and to finesse it with effects. Avid makes it easier to weave narrative material together seamlessly. FCP was designed with the input of semi-professional filmmakers and when it first came out it was very DV focused. Avid came to Hollywood reluctantly, but once they got here they really listened.

    The new iMovie pushes this trend even further. There’s no way to finesse anything. It’s all about slamming stuff together quickly.

    I have nothing against quick, jarring juxtapositions — when it’s stylistically appropriate. But too often it seems to represent a lack of skill masquerading as style.

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