Editing Software

Editing Software

The question of where editing software is going popped into my mind as I sat through press conferences and demos at NAB. (No, I promised my editor this wasn’t going to be another NAB recap.) Both Blackmagic Design and Adobe introduced new components to their edit software.

It got me thinking about all the editing platforms I have used—and continue to use—over the years. From the beginning of non-linear until today, there have been a lot of firsts, some revolutionary experiences and a lot of catchup.

Adobe’s subscription model is now seven years old. It was introduced in April of 2012. “Creative Cloud members will have access to application upgrades…including point-product features…as well as inventive new products and services as they emerge,” said the press release.

Is it working? Has it lived up to its promise? I guess it depends on what you think the promises were. And how their upgrade schedule fits into your upgrade schedule.

Daniel Brockett recently wrote about subscription editing and how it fits into (or doesn’t) his workflow. I feel some of his pain about getting projects done and the need for reliable software that is cost effective. 

As an example, I use Premiere Pro for many projects. I like some of the tools I can use to make fixes to footage, like tracking masks. However, I am not a fan of the philosophy of “just do all your effects work in After Effects and use dynamic linking.” Dynamic linking isn’t as stable as I would like. It can lead to project bloat and long startup times, and there are some simple tasks that I just want to do on the timeline.

I also do a fair bit of type in edit and would like the type tools to behave like other Adobe products—like Photoshop and After Effects—with interactive kerning and access to anti-aliasing controls.

But getting back to the subscription model pros and cons, my biggest question is about future development. In the non-subscription days, you bought software (though technically you still didn’t “own” the software) and you assumed that a percentage of the profit from your purchase would go into the development of that software. If sales were down, you assumed that the manufacturer would either drop the application or put more resources on it to make it more competitive.

With the current “one monthly fee” for a group of applications, how does the development money get divvied up? I pay about $640 a year. How much of that goes toward improving Premier Pro vs. Dreamweaver? If Adobe adds another application—say, a mobile editing application—but they don’t charge any more, does that mean there is less money being spent this year on the application I care about? And lastly, what are the applications that really aren’t worth keeping around?

I talked to Adobe about this when I was at NAB. They told me they can get anonymized data about application use by their Creative Cloud members. I assume they use that information to make some of those decisions about where to apply resources.

For me, subscription vs. non-subscription still boils down to whether I have the tools I need to get the project done. It also considers whether I am energized by the process. The latter is just as important, and it may be the reason I don’t use just one piece of software to edit. More on that next time.