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The Big Change Around NLE - Plugging Into Asset Management Systems (Pt. 2)

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(cont. from Pt. 1)

"We are giving people an easier way to get to us. One of the beautiful things about Media Composer is that it can be used in so many different types of editing environment. For example, NewsCutter has special things that help news people work efficiently. They do not need the multiple layers of tracks of video and intricate trimming, for instance. They need to cut things quickly. They have different project settings they use to make the UI a bit easier to look at," said Colantuoni.

"We have things to help the user integrate into the newsroom environment (the NRCF tool) and in a post facility that sits inside a news department, where they are cutting interstitials and show promotions, they can access the same product that cinema editors have," he added. "That's one of the great strengths of Media Composer that we rarely get credit for."

What is Avid hearing from users in terms of the near future? "It is that editors need to work faster. They want to collaborate efficiently, so they want to be able to work offline and then come back online seamlessly. They want to collaborate with other editors on one project and make sure that the content they are working on is secure," he said. "That leads to doing things like specialised security, rights management, or encryption. It is clear to us that it is not just about the features we put in the editing systems. People want to start editing as it is happening. That means we have to build our infrastructure to provide those collaboration features.

At IBC, Quantel launched a software version of its Qube craft editor. It supports the AJA Kona 3G for full HD and SD input and output, and is a compressed software editing and finishing system that runs on standard PC hardware for use with Enterprise sQ fast-turnaround production systems.
It handles all the key digital capture formats, and users can also directly edit media held on the host system. Product manager for editing, colour and finishing, Damon Hawkins, explained the Quantel position: "The Software Qube is the same as the turnkey Qube that many broadcast facilities around the world are already using. It simply allows them to build a PC to their performance requirements to run the software on," he said.

Editing functionality on Qube, sQ Edit and Pablo Rio is all the same, with a couple of extra keyboard shortcuts for the broadcast editors – mostly to bring up server bins. "In broadcast it is predominantly news and sports that Quantel editors are used for, but in post it is not only about 4K. We have many different customers, The Look in London, for example, is using Pablo Rio to put together and grade TV drama series such as the recent Quirke," said Hawkins. "I say put together, because in post much of the editing will be done offline (Avid, FCP, Adobe Premiere) and then conformed on Pablo Rio.

"Having a decent set of conform tools in an editing system is just as important as having a good edit toolset. NHK is in need of an 8K editing system and we are in discussions," he added. "At the moment we are only talking 60p because PC bus data transfer rates aren't quite there yet for 120p at 8K. This will be online editing with no offline involved. Avid, FCP and Adobe Premier are really offline or HD editing systems. Go any higher with the resolution and things become a struggle. Pablo Rio also gets used for documentary editing and finishing, so while we sit well with 4K operations and beyond, it isn't at the exclusion of lower resolutions.

"I know customers in the US who have complained about the shoot to cut ratio when it comes to digital acquisition. It is very easy to go out and shoot hours and hours of rushes and the other problem is that the producers don't expect to pay anymore to have their piece edited," said Hawkins.

Quantel's new Live Touch serves an editing function (highlights selection) but looks to be a much more important tool in other facets. "Whilst the obvious application for LiveTouch is for sports highlights it can potentially be used for many things. Think of any live feed coming in, parliamentary results for example," said Hawkins. "LiveTouch makes for a great way to help the editor by providing a rough cut on the fly. All the selects are automatically provided on a single timeline for them to begin working."

Do the top NLE systems impact and encroach on Quantel's market? "It is difficult keeping FCP, and at the moment Adobe Premiere, at bay, but the way we counter that is by providing facilities for those editors to connect to our servers," said Hawkins. "We also have the Marco field editor that can always be connected to a network where the final edit can be 'delivered' to an sQ Server. The key thing with Marco isn't simply its editing functionality, but its file support and ability to soft mount files saving any import time.

"These days the ability to edit on the different platforms is assumed, with the differentiators being things like file support, conform abilities (in post), user interface (ease of use), resolutions and frame rates. Then there's offline/online," he added. "Whether one editor gets used in preference to another is often down to training and the user base. There are lots of editors out there who know how to use Avid, but not as many who know how to use Quantel. These things also make a difference."
Root 6 is lucky enough to see across the whole editing software landscape, as it is a re-seller for both Apple and Avid. "Every editorial genre, style and task is different," said director Graham McGuinness. "Fundamentally editing systems are point products. Taking the Apple versus Adobe, versus Avid, they more or less all do the same thing very well. I am not talking about the religious elements. Today it is all about the workflow around those products.

"The only thing more valuable to producers than money is time and, as a consequence of the entire process now with file-based acquisition, editors need good IT knowledge," he added. "It is all about the process, and looking at it from that perspective you really have Avid and Adobe in that game. Both have remote editing solutions, which is where it is at the moment. Both are investing significant R&D dollars."

"Both Avid and Adobe still run active beta programs, where people really are living on a bleeding edge," said McGuinness. "Yes, an editor may feel that you are used as a lab rat, but at the same time those editors have to be savvy and sanguine about the release they are using. Generally, you stay on one release that you and your peers recognise to be stable.

"Most editors generally know at least two other packages reasonably well. They are not as fast and fluid on the apps, but when they need to put something together they achieve it.

"In terms of areas where none of the NLE systems are that good in their own right, the function of search is still quite restrained. But once you plug those systems into a production asset management set up that no longer becomes an issue," said McGuinness.

"We have seen the biggest change around NLE systems – plugging into asset management systems, and that effectively being an integral part of the process. In terms of the users and companies we are dealing with on a day-to-day basis, this is where the action is," he added. "With the bombardment of digital rushes editors are working under they face so many constraints. They have got to turn stuff round. They have got structured reality where time is critical and producers are effectively story building based on search, based on event driven stuff. That is the biggest transition we are seeing at the moment."

The article is also available to read in BFV online.


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