Avid Technology Inc.®
, headquartered in Tewksbury, Massachusetts
, has been the
leading producer of non-linear digital editing
equipment since the late
The Avid Film Composer® has progressed from being an
"interesting" Macintosh application with some functionality
and an absolutely bewildering array of customizable features to
the de facto tool of choice for most professional filmmakers.
"Avid" is practically synonymous with "computer editing machine"
in the same way that "Moviola" used to mean "film editing machine."
Over the years the company has withstood challenges from all sides,
on all computer platforms. D/Vision, Montage, EMC, and Lightworks
at one time or another all competed with Avid in the digital editing field, and
with the possible exception of Lightworks--which remains an excellent
solution running on Intel boxes--anybody who owns one of these other
tools basically possesses a pretty good boat anchor.
Much of Avid's success stems from the fact that it is a true 24 frame
editing system. Motion picture film is shot at 24 frames per second.
Video screens at 30 frames per second. When the time comes to cut
the original negative on a film project which has been edited
on a digital video system, the 25% difference between film and tape
frames per second has to be accounted for. Most other systems approximate
the difference, adjusting arbitrarily here and there. Avid
(and Lightworks) actually edit at the 24 frame rate
and then do a reverse telecine back out to video,
adding the extra frames to the review videotape.
Six frames--a quarter of a second--is a lot of time in an action
sequence. One frame can be essential. It's the difference
between a muzzle flash from a firearm being in the movie or edited
out accidentally when the original negative is cut. It's the difference
between an eye blinking open or closed at the beginning or end of a
close-up. Editors and directors care very much
about these things, and the Avid provides an assurance that
"what you see is what you get."
The Film Composer® (and also Media Composer®, an
even more elaborate tool) has other advantages as well. The editor
is able to preview special effects, for example, which otherwise
would have to be created by trial and error over and over again at
great expense. The newest Avids output uncompressed video. Some
shows you see on network television come right out of the Avid box--no
further post production work is needed. The Avid sound module is
completely digital, which means the editor can work with the original
digital tracks, manipulate them in any way he or she chooses, and be assured
that "what s/he hears is what s/he gets."
As is usual in the world of high tech applications, the market finds its level.
The Avid has always been, and continues to be, enormously expensive.
A Hollywood-quality machine costs at least $150,000. In the past year or
so, Apple has come up with what it thinks is a better way: Final Cut Pro,
their software solution to the challenges of film editing, can be had for one
thousand dollars. It runs on an iMac, and on a G4 with an additional board, it'll
do 24 frame editing. Time will tell if Final Cut Pro is finally the "Avid Killer"
many people would like it to be.
That point, it seems, is somewhat irrelevant. With Final Cut Pro
anybody can do what only Avid editors used to be able to do. Sprinkle in
something called talent, add a dash of what might be termed good taste, and sooner
or later somebody's "home movie" is going to become a "major motion picture."
That's called progress.
On Hollywood and filmmaking:
Below the Line
sex drugs and divorce
a little life, interrupted
- Hecho en Mejico
- Sam's Song
- Hemingway and Fortuna
- Hummingbird on the Left
- The Long and Drunken Afternoon
- Safe in the Lap of the Gods
- Quetzal Birds in Love
- Angela in Paradise
- And the machine ran backwards
a secondhand coffin
how to act
Right. Me and Herman Melville
Scylla and Charybdis Approximately
snowflakes and nylon
I could've kissed Orson Welles
the broken dreams of Orson Welles
the last time I saw Orson Welles
The Other Side of the Wind
Below the Line
Final Cut Pro
king of the queens
Kubrick polishes a turd
movies from space
Persistence of Vision
Apocalypse Now Redux
The Jazz Singer
We Were Soldiers