During the 1980s, five companies entered the "electronic" editing market with competing systems designed for the film community. They include Montage Computer Corporation with the Montage Picture Processor, Lucasfilms' Droid Works division with the EditDroid, Spectra Image/Laser Edit with its laser disc system, Bell and Howell Products (BHP) with the TouchVision, and Cinedco with the Ediflex. (Articles on Montage and TouchVision will be included in later issues of American Cinematographer).
The acceptance of these systems by the film industry has been inconsistent at best. Montage entered into bankruptcy proceedings in 1986 but has returned to the marketplace with new financial backing. After several years of effort, the Droid Works voluntarily withdrew from the market in early 1987. The laser disc editing system from Spectra Image/Laser Edit represents part of a larger video post-production and transfer company. As such, it is difficult to evaluate the editing system as separate from the total company package. TouchVision has seen limited release thus far, largely because BHP is based in Chicago, away from the largest potential markets of Los Angeles and New York.
To date, some 40 Ediflex editing systems are in use in the United States and Canada. This represents the single largest penetration into the film industry marketplace by any electronic editing system.
The mass of electronic editing systems can be classified as one of three types: linear, random access, and non-linear random access. The classifications refer primarily to the way in which material is accessed in the editing process and the techniques necessary to assemble the final edited, master version.
Linear editing systems are traditional video editing systems which can be traced back to the early 1970s and the CMX 600 system. Linear systems all feature some form of keyboard and an edit display based on the time code identifications of the edit points. Edit decisions proceed one at a time from the opening scene until the final fadeout in a time line or linear fashion. To view a succession of edits requires that each cut be recorded on a separate videotape called the master. Any changes must also be made in linear order and recorded to a master videotape which contains elements of the original cuts and the new edit decisions. Systems by companies such as CMX, GVG (Grass Valley Group), and Convergence are examples of linear editing systems. These videotape-oriented systems have received limited acceptance within the film industry.
Random access systems are basically linear editing systems that utilize laser videodiscs or multiple copies of the source material. Videodisc players feature rapid access capabilities which allow any take to be cued in under three seconds. Utilizing multiple copies of the same material allows several machines to seek scenes from various places on the tapes at once. This, in essence, is similar to working on a multi-headed flatbed using dupe rolls cued to different areas of the film. Most random access editing devices are operated from a keyboard with an edit display based on time code reference. All cuts must be recorded to a master videotape for viewing. The Spectra Image/ Laser Edit system and the CMX 6000 are examples of random access editing systems.
The final group of systems, the non-linear random access systems, are designed to more closely match the needs and processes of the film community. The assistant editor is necessary and plays a vital role in the editing process. Time code is essential in identifying edit points but is hidden from the editor in normal operation or is "transparent" to the editor. Scenes and sequences can be edited in shooting order rather than show order. The keyboard is replaced with simpler controls such as a Kem Knob type device or a light pen. These editing systems include the Montage and the Ediflex.
Film editing requires mastery of various mechanical p. …