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Keeping the 'Old School' happy

Innovation, Market-share and Vegas Pro 8c By Mike Jones

All creative technologies are inherently cultural. Designed to serve the conjoined bastard twins of 'creative process' and 'industry', technology systems (in particular software) invariably have their development conformed to cultural demands as much, if not more so, than technical ones.

In practical terms we see this in NLE software interfaces with working conceptual paradigms that are driven by how editors 'think' things 'should' be done; and how they have been done before, rather than how they might or could be done better; freed, if you will, from legacy baggage.

In most professional NLE's we see an overwhelming development process of mimicry and replication. As early digital editing systems (the Quantel Harry, Avid, Lightworks, Video Toaster and so on) sought to drag professional editors (often kicking and screaming) to the digital age, they invariably did so by replicating in the non-linear digital environment the concepts, paradigms and language of the linear analog world. 'Source' and 'Output' windows, 'Bins', A/B rolls, Gang monitors, Logging and so on.

By replicating the Old in the New the transition for working editors and filmmakers was made much easier. By conforming the software's development to the 'culture' of editing rather than to the free run of the technology's natural impulses we are delivered a set of tools that, despite their housing inside the metaphysical computer space, still largely function in an analog head-space.

Subsequently the hypothesis that strikes me is that if we could erase all memory of how editing has traditionally been done, and the tools editing was done on, and then sat down with the brief to design a 'software tool for assembling moving images,' it would likely bare little resemblance to the NLE environment we know. If the technology was freed from the culture of editing, unshackled from legacy and tradition, and allowed to work purely on the level of innovative design problem solving, then I'd warrant there'd be a great many off the 'accepted' editing system elements that would be entirely dispensed with and replaced with new, as yet not yet thought of, modes.

Vegas' old trimmer

The new trimmer

In many ways this is the experience I feel using Sony's Vegas; that it is one of the few video production tools on the market that has developed, to some degree, free from accepted norms. Vegas had a number of natural advantages in this regard - some by design, some by circumstance.

The original Vegas 1.0 was not, in fact, an editing system at all. Rather it was a multitracking DAW. So when Vegas 2.0 became Vegas Video it became an NLE built from the foundation of an audio-like sensibility. In that step alone Vegas circumvented the entrenched 'separation of powers' between video and audio production.

The other factor that seems to have shaped Vegas with a paradigm un-attached to legacy editing culture is its market position. By being the new guy with the small market share and low profile Vegas didn't have an existing user-base to protect, nor was it compelled to compete for the mainstream market (as Apple and Adobe have). Instead Vegas was freed from competing head-on for the existing editing pie and could, from the fringe, afford to be far more bold and adventurous in its thinking than other NLE's. 

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Related Keywords:NLE, video editor, vegas video, video editing, non-linear editor


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