excerpts, quips, and musings on the production and post-production industry, and other stuff of interest

On Why "This is the Fastest NLE" Discussions Make Me Nauseated

Stop me if you've heard this one before: "I'm cutting <insert project here> and working in <insert your current NLE of choice> has made the job so much easier compared to <insert competitors NLE here>. I'm at least 2x faster!"

Really? 2x faster? How do you quantify this? Are you timing your edits now? If you only know 1 NLE well, how do you know that you're faster in it than in something else? You don't even know the other software! What if another NLE has shortcuts that you don't know about or have in your current NLE? What if you're just getting better at your job? What if you're just getting more familiar with that piece of software and how it operates?

More to the point, what does "faster" even mean? Faster compared to what (or more accurately whom)? You're faster in FCPX than Adobe Premiere? You're faster in Premiere than in MC7? This terminology that an NLE is "fast" strikes me as ridiculous. People are fast. Software is stupid. The software won't produce a rough cut. Software won't determine A/B cuts. Software won't determine correct frame rate, field order, or output codecs. Software does what the user tells it. All software. Now some software makes that input simpler sure, but faster? I have no way to quantify these claims about how "fast" editing in XYZ NLE is.

Maybe what people are trying to say is that the software allows them to move more seamlessly between tasks - ingest, editing, dailies, footage searching, color correction, graphics, exporting, etc. Maybe people mean that they really enjoy working in XYZ NLE over a previous NLE. Fine. But if that's what you mean then say that. Don't make it sound like by purchasing Premiere CC you're now a world-record setting editor, whereas before you were stuck under the oppressive bondage of FCP7. Don't make FCPX out like it's a rebirth of editing and you could never have accomplished the job in any other NLE before or since at these "speeds." It's ridiculous to talk in these terms about NLE's. Artists, people, humans make the difference. The artist controlling the brush makes the difference, not the brush.

If you really want me to concede some measure of "fast" for today's NLE's...fine. I know today's software works better than software from 2 years ago, or software from 5 years ago. or software from 10 years ago. "Faster" in the sense that one can export out a clip faster today than 5 years ago doesn't mean the editor is faster. It means that hardware has gotten more powerful and software engineers are better harnessing that hardware for computationally intensive tasks. The fact that it takes Premiere CC under 10 seconds to export a 45 minute WAV file doesn't mean I am a faster editor. Now it may save me time, but I'm not any faster at clicking the buttons. The software is "faster" in that it takes better advantage of today's hardware. So I can get more done in a day's work. Technically, all modern 64-bit NLE's are well built and suited to today's technology thereby making all of them "faster" than any previous NLE technology.

Bottom line: if you have a deadline and you meet it then you're successful. Period. Stop comparing your NLE of choice to the rest of the landscape in a way that belittles the competing NLE. We're all adults here...we can stop having a NLE pissing contest.* It really doesn't matter. If you get your job done and use FCPX, great! Keep using it. If you're cutting smoothly on MC7, excellent! Stay with it. If you're cranking out videos with Adobe CC, perfect! Rock 'n roll.

Nobody cares what brush you use. Let me be clear about this: nobody cares what NLE you use. If you're getting the job done and the client is happy that's all that matters. If a particular NLE caters to your workflow better then another fine. Use that NLE. If you need to adapt your workflow to better utilize the NLE then adapt your workflow. But seriously, stop with the "this software is faster" or "I'm 2x faster in..." All the NLE's on the market today - FCPX, Premiere Pro CC, MC7 (and yes, even you Autodesk Smoke) - work well and can get a story cut. All of them are fast, fluid, and when used by an expert, can accomplish the art of editing. Which brush you decide to pickup is up to you.

*I apologize to the female reading audience regarding this use of metaphor. However, in my defense this illustration distinctly embodies the pettiness that men, more often than women, appear to harbor in something so seemingly inconsequential as how far they can pee or how "fast" a given NLE is.