At the end of last semester, I had 48 hours from start to finish to complete a video. (We won’t get into the role procrastination played into this tight deadline). I spent eight hours on the shoot and ended up with a great deal of footage from two cameras and separate audio. After filming, I immediately headed to school to get started on editing.
I dumped footage from my day’s shoot – 60 gigabytes in total – onto the computer, set up my pristinely organized project folder and then started one of the most painful processes in video editing – waiting.
Many video journalists work with editing software called Final Cut Pro. But in order to work with files in Final Cut Pro 7, the video needs to be transcoded, or converted, to a format that the program can work with. This process takes time. A lot of time. And when you’re on deadline with a video, you don’t have time to wait eight hours for the files to be ready to work with.
As the minutes ticked by, I wondered why I hadn’t yet made the switch to Premiere, Adobe’s competitor to Final Cut Pro. There has been a fair amount of buzz in the industry over the last several months, and many notable organizations have been vocal about switching to Premiere rather than adopting the controversial new version of Final Cut, Final Cut X. (Eric Maierson over at MediaStorm covered this topic well a few months back.)
At the time, I had never opened Premiere and learning a new software program on a tight deadline didn’t feel like the smartest idea. I decided to go ahead with Final Cut.
When I returned to work this semester, I decided to edit my next piece in Premiere to see if everything I was reading was true.
Here is what I learned:
• You should still look up directions. I didn’t go willy-nilly into Final Cut the first time I opened it. I shouldn’t have done that with Premiere. There are tutorials and instructions online for a reason. While it is true that already knowing a non-linear editing software like Final Cut will shorten the learning curve, it is still worth looking up the differences. Setting up a project wrong is the last thing you want to do when you are trying to save time.
• Don’t make it harder on yourself than it needs to be. Already know the hot keys and shortcuts in Final Cut? Well, Adobe must have figured a lot of people would, because you can set your preferences to be the same. No sense in learning new shortcuts.
In the end, it should be less about the software and more about the storytelling. The story is what it is all about. But in a news environment, deadlines are also important. Think about the time you save transcoding. The time you save when you know shortcut keys. The time you save keeping everything organized the more time you can put into crafting the story.
Now think about the fact that the more time you can spend with the story instead of sitting and waiting, the better you can craft the story. For me, Premiere is quickly becoming the software to get the story told.