I recently spent time using Adobe Premiere CS6 to edit a promotional piece. It joins the ranks of Avid Media Composer and Final Cut Pro 7 in my toolkit.
Rather than bore you with all of the things it gave me trouble with (AAF, OMF, XML, EDL, and overall performance) I’ve drawn some conclusions about NLEs.
DIFFERENT ISN’T BETTER
There is a standard set of features which every editing software should have. To make it easy, just rip off Avid’s implementation then improve upon it.
Premiere doesn’t necessarily improve the core feature set. They add something new here, leave out options elsewhere, or just do the same thing differently. Remember Final Cut X’s initial release and how it handled audio tracks and OMF support?
Different isn’t better.
New product features means new software code and new bugs. How many times a day does your software spontaneously crash? Is it repeatable or completely random?
Computers are complex systems and it’s impossible to fix every bug, however the time wasted with reboots and reinstalls isn’t acceptable.
Software developers need to take a break from implementing the latest buzzwords into their products. Take three months and perform a thorough pass to fix bugs.
In the last couple of years, Avid and Adobe switched to a 64-bit code base. Welcome to 2001.
Everyone you talk to has a short list of annoyances with every NLE. For me, its Avid’s inability to initially rename a clip using the keyboard. Premiere’s next/previous edit movements don’t work if tracks are locked. Avid and Premiere’s nondescript error messages which makes troubleshooting a hassle. Avid truncates filenames in the Save dialog. The list goes on.
We are creatives – not technicians – despite the growing need to be the latter.
These companies waste no time including a new codec and latching onto buzzwords like ‘real time’ and ‘4K.’
Ask them to fix bugs and implement small features and they reply “sorry, not enough development resources.” But, seemingly, they have time enough to implement what’s shiny and new.
The software engineers and interface designers need to sit down with working professionals (and their assistants) at every level to understand how they use the system. Not just the top professional feature editors (I’m looking at you Avid) or the BBC (Adobe) or the prosumer (Apple). Or stop marketing your software to all of those segments if your tool can’t support them.
Storytellers don’t care what equipment they use to make it happen – they learn and adapt as needed. However, any piece of gear must be a bona fide improvement over competing products.
Because different isn’t better.