Scott Simmons: I miss digitizing footage from video tape

PVC by Scott Simmons

In today's way-too-much-footage file-based world that realtime capture feels like an old school luxury

Ok, I’m going to just come right out an admit it … I miss digitizing. For those young ‘uns unfamiliar with the term that would be the process of actually having to take a video tape and capture that into the computer for editing. Some folks call it ingest, others do use the term capture but I’ve always referred to it as digitizing. I used to hate it but now I miss it. Sometimes I miss it a lot. Is that crazy?

Digitizing videotape into an NLE provided something that we are missing today; something that is sadly lacking that I apparently took for granted in the days before file-based acquisition: the opportunity to sit back and watch all of your footage in real time. I’m sure there are many out there who are thinking that’s a total waste of time what with Skimming and Hover Scrub being two of the nicest features of this next generation of NLEs. I love skimming and hover scrubbing as much as the next person (I even asked for something similar back in 2007) but I feel these features do something that isn’t a good thing: they discourage the editor from watching footage in real time.

The joys of accidental discovery

There’s something to be said for sitting back and watching a clip play out in real time: You might see a subtle emotion from an actor’s face or get a look from a by-stander that you never would have seen scrubbing through the footage. You might not notice a camera shake or moment of defocus that is skipped right over when skimming. You might interpret an entirely different meaning to a character’s actions when seen in context of everything that came before it. You might even find an accidental camera move that totally makes a scene usable when seeing it play out in real time.

These are all things that might be missed when skimming and scrubbing around footage by dragging a mouse. The very nature of skimming and scrubbing means you’re skipping frames (sometimes a lot of frames) in order look at footage quickly. The ease with which both Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere Pro skim and Hover Scrub respectively feels like those NLEs are just asking editors to not watch their footage in real time. It’s so easy, so cool and so fast to just drag your mouse around a thumbnail but if you think you’re seeing everything that clip has to offer you’re fooling yourself. I’m not knocking these new features as they have both been welcome additions to editing in our age of way too much footage coming into the edit suite and I wish Avid Media Composer had their own version, but often skimming happens at the expense of properly viewing footage. And I am guilty of it myself. read more...

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