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When did video editors become prima donnas?

COW Blogs : walter biscardi's Blog : When did video editors become prima donnas?
Two weeks ago "30 Rock" had a story arc involving the video editors of the show and how scary it was to go down to them. They controlled the video and you didn't want to piss them off or else you might not get your stories cut. Over the top humor that I love about 30 Rock and really made me laugh. And then it made me think, "Editors aren't really prima donnas, are we?"

And then a few days later yet another Final Cut Pro rumor came out including a nugget that Apple might be considering some sort of "super app" that combines Final Cut Pro, Motion, Soundtrack Pro, Color and DVD Studio Pro into one interface. So this re-ignited some worn out comments about the shortcomings of Final Cut Pro, some of the studio elements and the interfaces. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of legitimate things Apple really needs to get better with FCP and the Studio suite. Their Beta program is numero uno. At one point it was as small as 10 people outside of Apple. Yeah, that's a lot of input for a product with over 1 million registered users. But I digress.

What really gets me are the whiners about having to learn something new. When did Editors become such prima donnas that they can't be bothered to learn anything new? Interface. Software. Hardware. Whatever it is. If it doesn't conform to THEIR workflow or THEIR needs, well then

"Apple/Avid/Adobe/Quantel/Sony/Panasonic/FillInTheBlank better get off their ass and fix it to suit MY needs! Or Else I'm Going To Buy Something Else!!!! Thbbbbbbbbbbbt!"

I love these people. Whiners. Too important to learn. This is my favorite for the folks who use the Apple Studio suite.

"Waaaaaaaahh. Apple Color doesn't have an interface like anything else on Apple. It's too hard. Waaaaaaaah"

Really? Because something looks different, you can't be bothered to learn how to use an interface? Nevermind that Final Touch now Color has an interface that was designed with colorists. Now that it's included in Final Cut Studio suite, Apple MUST bend to the demand of the video editors who say "Make this look like iMovie so I can use it with a single click. I cannot be bothered to learn something new! Waaaaaaaaaaaah"

Maybe there is something about whiny prima donna editors after all. New tools, different interfaces, the video editor of today simply can't be bothered?

How about a quick history lesson?

I know it's hard to believe, but I've been editing video since 1984. I know, I know, you look at my pictures and you say, he can't be that old! I mean he looks like he just got out of college. It's my Italian genes, what can I say. So in 1984, we were using JVC 3/4" VTRs in community college. You edited using two decks, a Player and a Recorder. If I wanted to do a dissolve, wipe or any other "effect" well then I had to learn to use the switcher and do some fancy footwork. I had to set the main recorder into the Edit, then manually roll the B-Roll VTR, turn around to the other side of the room and operate the switcher.

At CNN all the editors did deck to deck editing, but if you wanted to move up to "Post Production" well you had to learn the Grass Valley 300 switcher, Abekas A53 DVE, Sony Audio Mixer, Chyron, BetaSP VTRs, D2 VTRs, and the CMX controller that controlled everything. And guess what? NOTHING had a similar interface or was tailored to the whims of the Editor. If you wanted to be an Editor controlling that room, well you HAD to learn each piece of equipment and how it tied into every other piece of equipment. Then you had to learn the main controller and how you would trigger each piece of equipment to do what you needed at the precise moment you needed it to happen.

So now we have $999 software tools that completely replace the "big iron" editing systems of yesteryear and if something simply doesn't conform to WHAT I ALREADY KNOW well then it must be a piece of crap and therefore Apple/Adobe/Avid/Quantel/InsertManufacturerHere damn well better get off their ass and completely re-write the software SO THAT I AM HAPPY.

In fact, many editors of today want one big super app so they don't have to be bothered "round-tripping" to an external app. Nevermind that these external apps have been designed to do their own tasks very very well, they would rather have every feature under the sun in one app so it does absolutely everything, but can't possibly do everything very well.

Furthermore, many editors want pretty much everything automated because editing takes so darn long. On the Creative Cow alone, people have asked for essentially automated logging so they don't have to watch all the footage. It's called editing people, if you don't want to invest the time to do this correctly, when why are you in this field to begin with?

Or how about these people?

I MUST HAVE BLU-RAY COMPATIBILITY NOW! Apple do you hear me? I MUST have a BluRay solution from Apple NOW!

So when I suggest to folks that they can purchase Adobe Encore for simple BluRay discs and DoStudio from NetBlender for fully authored discs, the response is usually they can't do that and will wait for Apple, or else. Or in other words, "I don't want to spend any more money so I would rather bitch about Apple not delivering what I really need and it's much much cheaper to just keep whining about it when a perfectly good solution for BluRay authoring on the Mac has been available for over four years now but since it's not from Apple I'm not going to buy it because that would cost me more money and I'm not going to spend anymore money."

The same can be said of so many "issues" we see floating around the internet against just about any Non-Linear Editing system out there. People who want to whine rather than get the proper tools, learn to properly use the tools they already have, and keep whining about how much they have to spend to create quality work. The cheaper and more accessible the tools become, the more whining we seem to get.

Is this really what the non-linear editor of today has become? Looking at the Creative Cow forums, talking to folks offline, perusing Twitter, Facebook and many other websites / forums, the resounding answer is..... well looking like a big Yes. So many editors are too damn lazy to learn anything new, everything has to look and operate exactly the same or they won't touch it. Everything needs to be reduced to a plug-in so I can create that "300 look" with a single click of a mouse.

To all non-linear editors out there. Appreciate the fact that on your PC and Mac, you have more tools and power at your disposal than an entire "big iron" edit suite ever had at a fraction of the cost of those suites. Instead of whining about what you DON'T have, starting using what you DO have creatively. For crying out loud LEARN SOMETHING NEW for a change. If nothing else, it puts you at a competitive advantage over all the other whiners who can't be bothered.

Posted by: walter biscardi on Oct 12, 2010 at 2:34:44 pmComments (10) final cut pro, avid


Re: When did video editors become prima donnas?
by Kes Akalaonu
Thank you Walter for the insightful article. I've been an editor for only 3 years but I'm always looking to learn new ways to be a better editor and I'm not afraid to learn how to do something completely out of my comfort zone. I believe like doctors, we have to constantly keep learning new ways to be better and more efficient at our jobs.
Re: When did video editors become prima donnas?
by Steve Robinson
This is so true.I hate to say but most of us may have had one of these thoughts in the past.I personally realize i have a lot to learn & appreciate everyone's desire to share info in this forum.
Re: When did video editors become prima donnas?
by Michael De Greasley
Well I enjoyed reading that. I'm not a professional in this industry myself, but I can relate to your points. Still... In life we often have to take several steps back in order to fully see and appreciate where we strayed from the path of reason and progress. Nothing ever seems to be compatible where technoligical progress is concerned - and with that in mind - I'm glad I still know how to work my magic lantern when the power gets switched off.... Now where did I put the meths for the lamp?

Life is the ultimate dream :)
Re: When did video editors become prima donnas?
by Jay Budzilowski
Why can't FCP read my thoughts?....I need it to read my thoughts....FIX IT APPLE!!!!
Re: When did video editors become prima donnas?
by Don Walker
All I cans say.......CMX forever!

John 3:16
Re: When did video editors become prima donnas?
by Mike Cohen
Learning = earning. Pass it on.

Mike Cohen
Re: When did video editors become prima donnas?
by Don Walker
amen..... Preach it brother!

John 3:16
Re: When did video editors become prima donnas?
by Mark Stuart
Good points! Yeah, those of us who cut on "Big Iron" for years have, or should have, a completely different perspective. When I worked nights tagging promos, I'd set up the tape to tape edit, the chyron, the DME, and then when I'd roll, walk over to a room about 70 feet away to change the slide there so it would be ready by the end of the edit. I'd have enough time with the pre-roll.

It's a different world now with these "kids"!

(my photo here is 20 years old!)

Enjoyed the post!


Art is completely subjective. It's up to the viewer to judge whether or not it has merit. -Ken Danby
Re: When did video editors become prima donnas?
by walter biscardi
The classic "My Editor is better than your Editor! Thbbbbbbbt!" argument.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" Winner, Best Documentary, LA Reel Film Festival...

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Re: When did video editors become prima donnas?
by Rob Grauert
Funny! I experienced the same complaining the other day.

One of the IT guys at my work does video work on the side. He asked me about the new Adobe Premiere and went on to say how fast it renders. I felt he had legit reasons for making the switch.
But then he says, "And just look at Final Cut. It looks like something from the 90s."
I didn't even know what to say, lol. How is that a legitimate complaint?!

Then I said, "I like Apple's ProRes. Premiere would be awesome if it had something like that."
And he says, "Yea, but Premiere has real-time XDCam, AVCHD, HDV, blah blah blah."
And I said, "Yea, but when you transcode those to ProRes, they hold up a bit better in Color."
He says, "What? You can use Color?"
I say, "Yea? It's actually not that hard."
He goes, "pfff, look at it!"

Things in life are much easier when you understand why things are the way they are (ie. Color being designed to meet the needs of a pro colorist; not just any old Joe)

Rob Grauert, Jr.

Professional Video Editor, Producer, Creative Director, Director since 1990.

Credits include multiple Emmys, Tellys, Aurora and CableAce Awards.

Creative Director for Georgia-Pacific and GP Studios, Atlanta. Former Owner / Operator of Biscardi Creative Media. The show you knew us best for was "Good Eats" on the Food Network. I developed the HD Post workflow and we also created all the animations for the series.

Favorite pastime is cooking with pizza on the grill one of my specialties. Each Christmas Eve we serve the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian seafood meal with approx. 30 items on the menu.

If I wasn't in video production I would either own a restaurant or a movie theater.



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