Standing at a Moviola or Steenbeck may have been a solitary life, but editing is becoming more and more a collaborative undertaking. It may be the executive producer wanting to avoid any surprises and see how the program is going to turn out, or it could be a lead editor who is using assistants working in parallel to speed up the turnaround of a program.
From video-assist on the camera through the processes of post production, everyone involved wants to see what is happening. To the craftsman who wants to wait until the job is finished before raising the curtain, this new and open access to all stages of production may seem unwanted. However, the pace of modern production means that many parties want to follow the post-production process. The producer will want to minimize risk and avoid any reshoots or re-edits should scenes prove unsuitable for the final cut.
Crews for genres such as news and sports need to share material; it is the only way to meet deadlines and to turn content around in minutes. Both news and sports need to create short packages explaining the event, and do so at a pace described as “near live.”
The NLE changed it all
Collaboration with the flickering window of a film editor was not easy. With videotape editing, several people could sit in the edit bay and watch the job unfold. It came de rigueur for the clients to sit at the back on black leather sofas consuming gourmet snacks while the editor hammered away at the keyboard.
The development of the NLE introduced a step change. Not only could several people follow the process of the edit, but others could also share the source media, maybe for a different version. In the newsroom, a journalist could be cutting a story for the 6 o’clock news while a craft editor could be creating an in-depth piece for later in the evening from the same material, and all without dubbing tapes.
Most NLEs were originally designed for the single user with direct attached storage. Ten years ago, it was common to move jobs between edit bays on hard drives. However, the demands of the newsroom drove the need for the development of shared storage.
The evolution of technologies such as fiber channel, NAS and SAN opened the way to use of a central pool of storage. Users could collaborate, sharing access to content in the pool.
News producers immediately saw the benefit of shared storage, with sports producers and any other genre with the need for fast-turnaround editing, following in their wake.
Avid has been very much at the forefront of providing a platform for collaboration, with Interplay and ISIS (formerly Unity). In the news arena, Quantel, Grass Valley (Edius and K2) and Harris Broadcast (Nexio and Velocity) all have systems.
Apple, with Final Cut, has relied on third-party DAM and storage partners, and as Final Cut Pro transitions from 7 to X, there is no indication from the company that it will enter the professional market with enterprise applications that would support collaboration. That is left for third parties.
Which leaves Adobe. It has recently introduced a collaboration platform called Adobe Anywhere to partner Premiere, Prelude and After Effects.
There are many other ways to implement a collaborative post-production workflow. Your favored NLE can be integrated with any number of third-party applications for asset management and shared storage. Some are aimed solely at the newsroom market, others at post production.