DATA SHARE THURSDAYS: Editing System Showdown (2/4) A-roll/B-roll Editing

The variety of ways to control a timeline and the types of footage that is supported is the biggest factor when looking at an editing system. Editing systems are tool boxes and any mechanic knows that you can’t use a hammer for everything. You need variety in your editing tools because no two productions are the same and the last thing an editor wants is to compromise their speed and agility. FCP X

For A-roll transcriptions as well as exporting to tape we use bars and tone quite a bit. FCP X does not have a “generate bars and tone” option so one has to import a clip with bars and tone already imbedded. Editing a clip from audio is important when creating a-roll selections. Audio in FCP X is not quite what it used to be; the audio editing is now kept within the sequence tracks which are not as detailed as the FCP 7 audio preview window. The benefit that scares a lot of editors is the magnetic timeline which makes it incredibly difficult to have flash-frames. I found the magnetic timeline to be very intuitive and helpful, and a great way to tweak a sequence. At this moment there is no RED support in FCP X but Apple has announced they are in development.

Editing in FCP X feels smooth and solid. All of the controls and shortcuts one would expect with a professional editing system are all accounted for. There is a very small learning curve with FCP X and the speed at which footage is processed has to be seen to be believed. A-roll can be edited almost the same as FCP 8 it just takes time to get used to using one viewer window for both preview and timeline viewing.  B-roll editing is also very similar to FCP 8 and with the magnetic timeline it is very exact.

AVID 6

There is a nice benefit to cutting a-roll in AMC 6, the interview footage can be organized into a timeline and the timeline can be loaded into the preview window and then pulled down. This is a benefit over FCP because they do not allow you to load sequences into the viewer for editing into your timeline. There are many ways of restricting timeline control with the Smart Tool Controller; this helps with tweak editing and contours the system to an individuals own editing style; however coming from a FCP background, I’ve found myself often leaving this function off. The timeline is more like filmstrip editing where your footage is the only existing material (no open tracks). AMC 6 has a powerful multi-cam function as well as the ability to edit raw RED files using AMA support and manipulate their meta-data. Avid definitely has it’s own method of editing which may feel a bit restrictive at first to a seasoned FCP user  but once you understand the concept it’s actually quite intuitive.

FCP 8

The abandoned (by Apple) gold standard of editing. Final Cut Pro 8 is still a force in the editing world and most likely will be until Apple gets FCP X ironed out. Both b-roll and a-roll are a breeze in FCP 8 which offers a variety of ways to achieve that final edit. My biggest qualm with FCP 8 is the ease at which you can relay on mouse editing; which is ok for beginners but the speed will always be in the keystroke. The structure of the FCP 8 system is very straightforward and uses the traditional viewer to timeline editing. RED/7D/5D footage cannot be handled in their native format with FCP 8. There are also transcoding issues with some footage types which has led us to use 3rd party transcoding software (aka. MPEG Streamclip).

Conclusion

In their own way all three of these editing systems have even benefits when it comes to a-roll/b-roll editing. The most intuitive system would have to be FCP X which makes editing super streamlined, quick and almost ridiculously easy. AMC 6 has perhaps the most controllable means of editing along with a more detailed structure and a bit of a learning curve. FCP 8 feels solid and finished and is perhaps at a half-way point between the other two systems usability. I would have to weight in that all three systems are equal when it comes to getting the edit done. All three can be equally as fast with the only variance being their individual learning curves.

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