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NLE Software RoundupWhat Software is Available For Nonlinear Digital Video Editing? Here's the Scoop.
When it's time to pick your software for digital video editing, it's like picking a pair of running shoes -- everybody's feet are different, their style of running is unique, and there are different shoes for every type of exercise. Let's take a grand tour of many of the nonlinear editing software packages available today.
Read along, and you're likely to find one that fits your style of editing. In this article, we'll cover software only -- there are many editing systems that are turnkey packages, such as hardware/software combinations like the Avid Media Composer, but in this report, we focus on software-only packages.
Final Cut Pro 3
Designed by Premiere creator Randy Ubillos, Mac-only Final Cut 3 combines video editing, compositing and special effects in a great looking interface that's rapidly becoming an industry favorite.
The most exciting news of all is the addition of real time previewing in version 3. If you have a Mac G4 running at 500MHz or faster, you're able to see dissolves and a few other effects previewed in real time. Coming soon is the ability to loop DV through your camcorder or a transcoder for a real time preview on an NTSC or PAL monitor -- for now, you'll have to settle for a real time preview on your computer monitor. Matrox's RTMac adds hardware acceleration, the first to add real time features to Final Cut Pro last year.
The interface design is quite striking; clean and unobtrusive with well placed buttons that have a sleek, 3D feel. You have your standard project window for importing clips, and resizable dual monitor windows that utilize the popular three-point editing functions found in the Avid system. Capturing video is fairly straightforward after all the DV presets were set up in the preferences menus. The software controls the camera beautifully, and batch capturing is a breeze.
The timeline, although clean and easy to view, has a few drawbacks. The program's designers chose a butt edit system where clips are placed end to end and transitions, such as dissolves or wipes, are assigned by double-clicking on the edit point and using handles to control the length of the effect, both in and out. We much prefer the dual video timeline where clips are placed in alternate channels and are overlapped to the length of the effect. This method is much easier and exact when trying to control a transitions in and out points. The effects palette was full of a variety of transitions; although most are of the cheesy, fly-around, page-roll type you see in most late night infomercials. These transitions are customizable, however, which gives Final Cut Pro 3 the advantage over most other packages who only offer a few stock moves.
Overall, this is a great software package that offers good editing functionality along with compositing features found only in higher-end compositing packages like Adobe After Effects.
Adobe Premiere 6
Adobe Premiere 6.0 software for Mac and PC was designed to address the needs of the professional by providing major enhancements to the digital video editing process -- from capturing video to editing to final project export. It offers built-in, cross-platform support for a large selection of DV devices, an enhanced user interface, new professional editing tools and seamless integration with other award-winning Adobe applications including Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe GoLive.
Over the years Premiere has become a standard in digital nonlinear editing software for the desktop producer. What started as a cute novelty program for editing jittery, postage stamp sized clips has evolved into a robust system for the production of everything from videos for CD-ROMs and kiosks, to broadcast commercials, documentaries and feature-length programs. Adobe has always ensured that Premiere would evolve along with the demands of changing technology. With Premiere 6.0 Adobe has stepped forward to meet those demands. Although much of the interface remains intact, there are some welcome changes.
Immediately upon opening the program we are asked to choose between an A/B style edit timeline, or the single track interface for those more accustomed to editing with programs like Avid's Media Composer. A nice option. The lower left corner of the Timeline also contains new buttons for quick access to new and frequently used Timeline features such as Track Options Dialog, Toggle Snap to Edges, Toggle Edge Viewing, Toggle Shift Tracks Options, and Toggle Sync Mode. You can also use the Track Options Dialog button at the bottom of the window to open the Track Options dialog box and quickly add one or more video or audio tracks. Very handy.
Other exciting new tools found in Adobe Premiere 6.0 include the professional-level audio mixer and Automate to Timeline, which can simultaneously send a sequence of clips from the Storyboard or Project Window to the Timeline. Adobe Premiere 6.0 also features numerous interface refinements and customization features that put the powerful editing tools of Adobe Premiere within easy reach during all stages of production. This new version of Premiere offers better DV features, more stability, and improved workflow.
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