Recently, I saw an article posted on how a news station in Detroit is using Final Cut Pro X as its house editing system. A proponent commented about some of FCPX’s genuinely professional features that supported that shift, and a long-time Avid user commented underneath:
“Sounds like more bad FCP ideas like drag & drop mousey smart tool BS. Enough with the geeks reinventing the wheel. Editing is old school. Bins, Source Side, Record Side, in + out = Cut. Please stop trying to teach us old dogs new tricks. The kids can be happy with their advanced iMovie, leave us pros be.”
Yep, full-on Avid snobbery.
Cue the FCPX evangelists: See? What did we tell you?!? SEE HOW LAME AND STUPID AVID SNOBS ARE??? SEE??!??!?
Well, there’s a reason that the stereotype of the “Avid Snob” is so long lasting – because it’s so often completely true. Avid snobs are so often convinced of Avid being the only way… because they can’t stand the thought of learning new tools. And changing the way they do things, God forbid. (Full disclosure: while I do have an ancient version of FCP on my laptop, I cut on Avid for virtually anything I’m paid to edit.)
But I regularly see ill-informed comments online declaring that Avid is dead, it’s dying, etc. If you’re working on independent, self-contained projects, it’s certainly easy to feel that way.
People constantly ask me, “Jeff, which editing platform should I learn?” The answer: it depends on what you want. If you’re doing your own stuff or working with individual clients, use anything you want. Seriously, all the usual suspect platforms are equally capable. What’s “good” or “better” is totally subjective and up to you.
Now, speaking to a select segment of storytellers who aspire to make their living in broadcast tv or film that actually pays in real money, not IOUs and cold pizza (I’ve been there and it gets really old)… you are actively shooting yourself in the foot if you want to cut this stuff regularly for pay and refuse to learn Avid. Certainly if you have any desire to do so in LA or NYC. (Many Power Edit friends don’t live in the US, so I’ll stick to what I know first hand.)
Because from my direct career experience in Hollywood and continuing monitoring of industry chatter, the OVERWHELMING majority of anything you see on network or cable TV or in wide-release theaters in the US (again, I won’t speak to non-US markets) is cut on some sort of Avid system. I’d personally estimate 80%. This is changing (going down) and will continue to change as users of Final Cut and Premiere keep trailblazing. (In Los Angeles, Premiere currently comes in 2nd after Avid, mainly because LA freelance editors HATE Final Cut Pro X. Did I say “hate”? I meant “despise.”)
But for the moment, to those of you who are learning to edit and aspire to cut high profile projects for a living: I assure you, you are actively damaging your chances for success if you don’t know Avid. Period.
And don’t try to trot out all the features that the other platforms can do better than Avid. This is not about feature sets. This is not a logical thing, it’s about established precedent and wildly irrational emotions – the stubborn refusal of tv/film professionals to change their ways.
Even if a jaw-dropping number of them are in need of a personal box of Ex-Lax.
I would, however, be remiss if I didn’t point out that tools are far from the most important thing when it comes to editing projects that grabs your audience by the throat – you gotta know how to use the tools.
And even if you already knew how to use them, what if you had access to a way to use them more powerfully and effectively?