The present and future of post production business and technology

The Future of Picture Editing

The Future of Picture Editing

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Zak Ray when I travelled to Boston. I like people who have an original take on things and Zak’s approach to picture editing – and his tying it to existing technologies (that may ned improvement) – is an interesting one.

And yet, despite such modern wonders as Avid Media Access and the Mercury Playback Engine, modern NLEs remain fundamentally unchanged from their decades-old origins. You find your clip in a browser, trim it to the desired length, and edit it into a timeline, all with a combination of keys and mouse (or, if you prefer, a pen tablet). But is this process really as physically intuitive as it could be? Is it really an integrable body part in the mind’s eye, allowing the editor to work the way he thinks? Though I can only speak for myself, with my limited years of editing experience, I believe the answer is a resounding “no”. In his now famous lecture-turned-essay In the Blink of an Eye, Walter Murch postulates that in a far-flung future, filmmakers might have the ability to “think” their movies into existence: a “black box” that reads one’s brainwaves and generates the resulting photo-realistic film. I think the science community agrees that such a technology is a long way off. But what untilthen? What I intend to outline here is my thoughts on just that; a delineation of my own ideal picture-editing tools, based on technologies that either currently exist, or are on the drawing board, and which could be implemented in the manner I’d like them to be. Of course, the industry didn’t get from the one-task, one-purpose Moviola to the 2,000 page user manual for Final Cut Pro for no reason. What I’m proposing is not a replacement for these applications as a whole, just the basic cutting process; a chance for the editor to work with the simplicity and natural intuitiveness that film editors once knew, and with the efficiency and potential that modern technology offers.

It’s a good article and a good read. Raises the question though – if Apple (or Adobe/Avid) really innovated the interface would people “hate it” because it was “different”?




One response to “The Future of Picture Editing”

  1. Andrew Richards

    You bet they would hate it! They’d sooner give up their Log & Capture!