Back to the Editing Bay-sics; Avid vs Adobe | Script Revolution

Back to the Editing Bay-sics; Avid vs Adobe

They say us filmmakers really make three movies; the one we write, the one we shoot, and the one we edit. The editor's job isn't so much just slicing camera angles together as reestablishing a narrative with what's been made available. In this blog, Shane Stanley a writer-director-producer with as many credits as he has years on the planet and a long history fixing people's dreams in the editing bay, talks about his relationship with the most important piece of software in the post-production process - CJ 

After cutting faithfully on Avid for over a decade and before launching Visual Arts Entertainment, I made the switch to Final Cut Pro, as saving $40,000 weighed huge when starting a new company. For me, it suited our needs and the transformation was easy, but Final Cut had a stigma and was viewed as a toy for wannabes until 3-time Academy Award winner Walter Murch sliced Cold Mountain on the Mac-based platform finally giving it credibility within ‘legitimate’ Ho-Ho Wood. 

But as some of you may recall, in 2011 Apple gave editors the big F-you by launching Final Cut X, catering to laptop possessing Youtubers who seemed more interested in making viral skateboard videos than serious movies. At least that’s how we saw it. X was incompatible with projects created on previous versions and lacked several tools-of-the-trade features the traditional setup had. Many editors (including Murch) defected while some of us numbskulls continued working on the outdated FCP 7 platform hoping someone in Silicon Valley would pull their head out of their keester and revitalize the once proud Pro version. But our hopes were never realized. 

I’m a creature of habit and limped along dragging my (dead) dinosaur across the stage for another five years until finishing The Untold Story. It wasn’t until our post team demanded I abandoned Final Cut or they’d abandon me due to their frustrations wrestling with endless compatibility issues syncing it with the latest technology coming from Red, DiVinci Resolve and Pro Tools. 

So I had to make a choice - Avid or Adobe - and I had to choose quickly as we were beginning prep for our next motion picture, Mistrust staring Jane Seymour. As production approached, I needed to choose a system to replace my lifeless Final Cut Pro. I called God’s gift to Kevin James, Avid guru, Scott Hill who allowed me some quality time on his machine. I was all thumbs and my frustration grew with every keystroke I attempted. A disappointment considering I had quite a history with Avid. Maybe it had just been too many years and that ‘once you’ve ridden a bicycle’ adage was feeling like a bunch of horseshit. 

A friend of mine who works at CBS offered me a spin on the new and improved Adobe Premiere platform. He had been an Avid and Final Cut man since I met him years ago and made the switch upon landing at the Viacom network. From the moment I sat in the cockpit I felt right at home; like an iron chef with a fine set cutlery. The fact you can set the layout to replicate Final Cut Pro or Avid minimizing the learning curve was awesome. Check out Maxim Jago’s informative vlog here.

Before pulling the trigger, I called several post-houses to discuss the pros and cons of both platforms. When the dust settled, I chose Adobe and haven’t looked back since. Is it better? For me, it is. But all you should care about is what’s best for you. Do your homework and think ahead as to how you plan to grow as a filmmaker and what will best serve your needs now and in the future. We had zero compatibility issues and post-production on Mistrust went smoother than any other picture I can recall in over 25 years. In addition, we just completed our next motion picture, Break Even, and we didn’t have one glitch in post and there were several action scenes where we shot with eight different cameras - some with various formats. Needless to say, I haven’t been disappointed with Adobe and their recent updates have been quite impressive removing any glitches the program had in previous versions.

About The Author

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Shane Stanley is a lifer who has worked in the industry for over 40 years. His career began in front of the camera at just 9 months old before becoming a two-time Emmy Award winning filmmaker and launching his own company, Visual Arts Entertainment. Best known for Executive Producing the #1 Box Office hit, Gridiron Gang for SONY Pictures starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Shane has an extensive portfolio of credits in everything from hit music videos to TV series to feature films...Read more

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