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Archive for May 2nd, 2010

Anyone involved in the post production process is sure to be familiar with NLE’s such Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premier and Avid. Great pieces of software that get the job done at a somewhat hefty price tag, provided they were obtained a legal way. I wouldn’t be too surprised if the majority of low budget filmmakers would bypass the pricing issue by taking the piracy route, especially how much they’re charged in different regions. For instance, an American film maker can purchase a legal copy of Premier CS5 for $799 and how much would I have to pay for it through the Irish store? €1027.89 ( currently $1,368.43 ), so that works out as almost 70% more than the American price tag. You can try your best to give a verbose explanation for the pricing difference but you’d be hard pressed to convince them to not look at other options. Especially when they could spend the additional $568 on a decent enough editing machine.

However alternative options don’t have to involve either purchasing or pirating NLE software. There are plenty of other NLEs in the market, some of them are reasonably cheap and others are free, and why shouldn’t you look into these ones? Decent video software has to meet the basic NLE requirments:

  • Stability
  • Multitrack editing
  • Support for importing/exporting most audio/video formats
  • Intuitive interface
  • A catchy name

If it doesn’t meet all these needs then throw it away. If it crashes often it will only test your patience, all NLEs crash regardless anyway but some do more than others. If you can’t have more than one video/audio track it’s too counter productive. If it doesn’t support most audio/video formats it’s only take up more time and effort to manage. If the interface isn’t intuitive you’re bound to make more mistakes than the film’s measured continuity. If it doesn’t have a catchy name, you’re not going to remember it and never be able to find it again on your machine again until a technician over the phone asks you kindly to uninstall it to make the backup software run properly again.

As a self confessed freetard, I’m more inclined to use free and open source video editing software. Not because it’s doesn’t require a financial transaction but largely because they mostly meet the NLE requirements I listed above. Granted they won’t have those nifty little features where you can fix an actor’s lazy eye or add ears to the moon, but as long you can manipulate a incoherent mess of a footage together to produce something watchable then there’s no reason why you can’t live without  moon ears.

Most of the films I have edited with were largely done with Cinelerra and Kdenlive. Two of the best examples of free NLE software you can have on Linux, or at least I like to think that these are the only two. There are plenty of NLE’s on that specific platform thanks largely to the vast amount of software libraries that handle audio/visual content on that platform but most of these still need to mature to the same level as Cinelerra and KDEnlive.

Free NLEs are scarce on both Windows and Mac but the good news is that it won’t stay this way for long. First off the some of the developers of VLC have released early test versions of their NLE software, titled VLMC. It’s looking great so far, given how powerful VLC is, this one has a lot of potential. It’s early days so far but you can head straight onto their main website to check it out.

Interestingly, Lightworks will be open sourced, an NLE that has been used in the film industry for over 20 years ( you can see the list here ) will probably be freely available to the unsuspecting public by the end of the year. You can read the announcement here and sign up for free testing on the same page.

– Jan

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