Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Choose the right video editing software

Mid-summer through November is when most photo departments turn in their wish lists (budgets) for the next year. Often, decisions must be justified because we're talking about thousands of dollars multiplied by the number of shooters per department.

Judging from how rapidly digital video hardware is progressing, I'm certain the software editing side will be drastically different next year. But, we've got to start somewhere.

PJs and future VJs need to know the direction their newspaper is going to make a valid video editing decision. If a paper plans to use video as an online novelty, then Photoshop CS3 Extended could work. If the company wants to eventually move to HDV for online and still image capture from video (where the industry is heading), Final Cut Pro (FCP) is the best option.

If budget is the issue, I suggest purchasing FCP as the best way to handle video and keep current versions of Photoshop for still images. If it's a serious issue, get FC Express and upgrade to FCP Studio next time.

CS3 can handle both still and video, but the array of plug-in programs to get it up to video standard could be staggering. For instance, Apple Shake 4 is a add-on program. It would be required for CS3. The newest version of FCP has a similar program incorporated into the software.

While CS3 has included a color correction program valued at $2,000 in the CS3 Extended, FCP has included the movie industry premium program valued at $25,000 and is already equipped to do everything required for video (sound, color, transitions, text, etc.).

Apple Final Cut Studio 2
This is the industry standard video editing program.

Open format timeline (can include different speed videos).
ProRes 422 codec (good reproduction after effect rendering).
SmoothCam stabilization plug in (corrects for hand-held camera shake).
Color correction improvements over previous version. Color, the program, was a $25,000 application before Apple acquired the company.
High-quality sound production tools including surround sound.
Stable program doesn't crash.

Doesn't edit photos. Still need to keep some version of Photoshop for photos.
Expensive, but considered a bargain by including Color.
Requires a lot of computer horsepower (MacBookPro is enough).

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended [Mac]
This is the industry standard for photo color correction.

Less expensive than FCP.
Runs natively on MacBookPro.
Fast import and effect rendering.
Seamlessly transports to PC-based systems with same software.
Incorporates non-destructive adjustment layers (for color correction and effects).
Allows for animation features and graphic design as well as a 3D animation slider from multiple points.
Exports as QuickTime, MP4 and Flash Video.
Bridge editing software is included to do keyword searches for all images on a computer.
More realistic B&W tone control.
Quick Selection tool isolates humans with one touch for color correction or cutouts (see Cons below).

If anything, it's overly powerful on the digital manipulation side. In other words, digital manipulation is both easy and flawless without much training and could lead to ethical breaches.
Doesn't offer near the editing functions as FCP.
Will require the following additional programs: Shake, Soundbooth CS3, Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 video editing software.

Adobe Creative Suite CS3 Production Premium suite includes: After Effects CS3 Professional, Premiere Pro CS3, Encore CS3, Photoshop CS3 Extended, Illustrator CS3, Flash CS3 Professional and Soundbooth CS3. It gives more editing power, but the combination of elements costs far more than FCP Studio and isn't as good.

Apple Final Cut Express HD 3.5 (Mac)
Work for low-budget use.

They've made some significant improvements in the latest version and made it useful for most Web-based applications.
It's the least expensive of all the pro options.
It's a good training platform to eventually jump to Final Cut Pro.

By all accounts, this program isn't sufficient for professional use. The program lacks too many features to make it acceptable for long term use.

Apple iLife '08

If there isn't any budget. The basic starting point is iLife. It includes iPhoto, iWeb, iMovie, GarageBand and iDVD. It's a great starting point and dirt cheap.

Don't let the price fool you. There's some serious horsepower under the hood. It's not top-of-the-line professional, but it's simply amazing for the price (particularly GarageBand).

If a PJ already has iMovie HD, don't change to '08 until the bugs are fixed. Although it features color correction tools, the current edition's timeline is difficult to understand, it has no FX and some other major issues.

Enough for now,

No comments: