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Prehistoric Editing – How did we get where we are today?

Knowing the history of certain aspects may seem a little boring and going back in time a little unnecessary, however, the origins of the words we use and how methods were done originally can help our understanding of why and how we do things today. Take editing for example...

Editing began outside of any computer or software program – I know crazy to think considering how much we rely on computers today to edit our films! Newsflash was that there was not even iMovie!

All films were filmed on 'film', so that's an obvious starting point of why we had the term of a 'film' before. When we talk about being filmed on 'film' you can take a look at 'Film vs Digital' to learn more about the difference between the two.

Once a film was shot on the old big cameras, the film was processed in a lab and then made available to the editors. The editors would 'cut' the film to the sequence and the order they wanted the film to be. Later on when audio was able to be recorded after the era of the silent film, the audio was recorded to the film, so the audio and video was on the same source.

So, when the editors 'cut' the film together they actually took the film and cut it at specific points and taped together how they wanted the edit to run. It was a physical activity and then afterwards they could play it back on projectors with the sound syncing with it as well.

Then fast forward to 1985 and the first digital film editing software was released called 'Harry'. Not long after in the early 1989 Avid released its first software and since then has still been an industry standard piece of software. The way Avid works is modelled off 'cutting and taping' where it is a 'lineal editing system'. This means you have to add the pieces of media to the 'timeline' in order, whereas, the common editing programs today (for example Final Cut X and Premiere Pro) are 'non-lineal editing systems' due to the fact you can move clips around freely and change the order very easily.

Now the feature film and commercial industry tend to still use Avid and all other types of productions tend to go for the non-lineal editing systems like Premiere Pro or Final Cut X. It is a personal preference but as time goes on more and more of the industry are using non-lineal editing systems. It's a similar process as it was for big films to start shooting digital than on film - read 'Film to Digital' for more on this part of history!

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