i hate how much i’m about to write, sorry about this…but of course!
resolve is great––we finished that feature and did exports in resolve. it’s extremely capable on its own, works better than expected with all the software i’ve needed it to, and has gotten significantly less buggy in the last couple of years. the paid version is a lifetime license with free upgrades for the price of half a year of an adobe CC subscription… (probably not a coincidence that the NLEs with the best price:performance ratio are both from hardware companies who happen to also have software, these tools are undoubtably priced significantly below development costs…)
and don’t get me wrong, the fewer hours you spend per day staring at one of these programs, the more marginal the various ideological differences between them become.
my personal drift from NLE-agnosticism towards my current FCPX evangelist stance unfolded over years of staring at all these programs for 8+ hours a day.
i did a full rough cut of the documentary in avid with scriptsync, etc––avid is insanely quick for editing. i really flew, stringing out an entire movie from nothing but transcripts in a month or two. but the cut was 3.5 hours long and it got totally shredded by the director for being boring as hell.
i had to go back to the drawing board and i only had a few weeks to show a polished recut of the first 10-20 minutes of the movie. this is where avid (and other software using the avid paradigm, eg premiere, resolve, etc) starts to fall a bit short, for me.
in avid, you have to be extremely rigorous when setting up your project. for longform nonfiction, bin for interviews, a bin for archival, bin for script syncs, sub folders for various categories of each.
that’s not enough organization, so, commonly you might further break down footage into ‘selects reels’, basically a timeline where you dump a bunch of content that struck you as being a good bit about some topic. you might place markers noting which clips could go with what, or whatever. repeat for every conceivable topic.
there are a couple different routes to take with this, but i have not found one that doesn’t involve:
- placing too many things in a bin or sequence, making it difficult to find any one thing
- having too many bins or sequences and not being able to quickly navigate through them
- thinking something belongs in one category but during editing, realizing it is more closely connected to different category. (you can either live with it or stop working, open up the selects reel, match frame to the original file, delete from the current selects reel, open up the destination reel, insert it at the end…actually maybe the dialogue speaks to one topic but the imagery works better with another topic, what about if we…)
and no matter how thorough you are in that process, invariably there will come a time when you have an idea that calls for a piece of footage that is not in any selects reel. at that point, your options are basically to give up or to spend hours clicking on and scrubbing through clips in search of the thing you know you saw (hopefully what you’re looking for is the thing you believe it is (or else you just spent 4 hours combing through the NBC archival looking for something in the CBS broadcast bin)).
nothing about this makes any sense. these are all just bits of digital content, but this process treats them as if they are physical pieces of media. i assume, when these GUIs were first designed, there was an expectation that the digital representation had to be stored and managed just as the physical piece of media it was representing: very carefully, and only moving when you place your hand on it and move it from one space to another. of all the major pieces of software in this space, FCP is the only one to have been totally rewritten at a moment after this was no longer the case.
when i say “avid is insanely quick for editing”, this is the paradigm that i’m referring to. if you’ve got an assistant editor, a story producer, or some intern to go through transcripts, if your project is set up and organized perfectly and you know where everything is, it’s hard to improve on avid with scriptsync. it’s just that personally i’ve literally never worked on a project where this was the case.
in FCPX, you can tag any subset of any footage with any number of keywords. each keyword automatically becomes what is in effect a ‘selects reel’. and you can do this as you’re watching the footage for the first time, in real time. it’s easy to merge, rename, delete keyword collections at any point, so you don’t have to be too precious about this at all. the entire project panel becomes a selects reel.
it leads to a kind of paradox where you can get organized more quickly, but also you spend more time organizing––because the organization itself is more useful, and you don’t have to do it all before you start editing. you can quickly task-switch depending on what the priority is.
and it’s not just organization, similar workflow improvements can be found throughout the editing process. here’s the video that got me to try FCPX a few years after it’s legendarily problematic launch (skipped to ~8 minutes in where he gets into NLE comparisons):
(to close my rough cut story, i had transcripts for the interviews, but not for the archival video. so i had been using FCPX basically as an organization tool to handle archival footage, and i threw together an achival-driven intro directly with FCPX just to get a fresh thing for the director to look at. when he saw how i was using it, we wound up moving everything over to it and doing the film in FCPX.)