Adobe Pipelines: Redux

My last post on building production pipelines has generated a bit of mail. Some of it is from Macfans who refuse to believe that any film work can be accomplished outside of the magical, all-powerful Final Cut Pro, but most of it contains more-reasonably posed questions. For example, since I laid out Adobe’s production suite as a backbone for three different studios models, is it really the best? For most projects, yes, the myriad of professional applications that Abode sells, working together will be more powerful and more cost-efficient than any alternatives.

For other projects with special requirements, this might not be the case. And the different studio setups that I mentioned aren’t rough guesses; they’re designed around specific projects that I have in mind. Mostly they exist at as treatments and have simple budgets and production structures attached, so it’s easy for me to choose what would best tools for those project requirements. For the most part, those tools are made by Adobe. However, I did get one query as to why my low-budget film would be edited on Premiere, and my medium budget on an Avid.

Well, basically for the same reason that if I were to go from driving to work once a day to a job that involved driving all day, I’d exchange my Toyota for a BMW or an Audi. Premiere and Final Cut are like Toyota and Honda cars. They’re basically the same quality of construction, and they use similar parts, and they do the same job. Toyota and Honda’s mid-range cars are great for most uses, but every now and again you need something specialized. If you need to move tons of material from one place to another you need a large truck. If you need to beat serious deadlines, you need an F1 racer.

And sometimes, for comfort and reliability, you want a BMW. Yes, top-line Avids are actually more limited in some ways, which makes them a bad choice if you’re working on small video projects that mix and match formats, but an excellent choice if you want a more streamlined solution for a single, carefully planned purpose. And people who complain about Avid only accepting certain filetypes or hardware are like people who complain that BMW and Mercedes engines don’t accept cheaper, third-party Japanese components.

And that’s not really the point of high-end cars or high-end NLEs. The other reason is that 95% of all pro film editors use Avid. If I was hiring a professional driver for full-time, high-precision driving, I’d want to make sure that he’s using his own gear; what he’s most comfortable with. Even though you can easily load several hours of footage into Premiere or Final Cut, it just ends up feeling more unwieldy than in Avid.

For my low-budget film(s), I’d handle the final edit, and I’d probably use Premiere because we’d be sticking with HD, working directly on top of an animatic that I would also be cut on Premiere, and we’d be trying to cut corners. For my more expensive film(s), I would almost certainly hire a dedicated editor, no matter how involved in the edit I might be. I would probably have shot more footage, it would definitely be stored at a higher quality, and Avid’s upper-range models are better designed for long-form feature film editing, period.