Earlier this week we looked at what was suggested as the perfect shooter’s kit based on product (hardware primarily) available over the last 12 months or so. Today I’ll visit with editing / video creation in mind.
Editing video is a very personal thing and relies on your own way of doing things, especially the workflow, but also what ancillary products are available for stuff the editor either doesn’t do, or is not handled as well as, as creatively as or as efficiently as another application or ideally, a plugin.
In the past, the out and out winner here would have been Adobe Creative Cloud, as Premiere Pro, Photoshop, After Effects and Audition all work seamlessly together. The game changed late last year though with MAGIX releasing Vegas Post, a joint venture with UK based fxHome, the creators of HitFilm Pro.
This brought image editing and motion graphics into the Vegas Pro fold and evened up the playing field somewhat.
And of course there is Blackmagic Design’s (BMD) DaVinci Resolve in partnership with Fusion which have the added benefit of being free.
Also giving an edge to Adobe and BMD’s offerings are their cross-platform capabilities – which knocks out Apple’s Final Cut X which is Mac only. Corel VideoStudio and its sibling, Pinnacle Studio are both very able and capable editors, and have companion programs for image editing, but no substitute for motion graphics at this stage. And EDIUS has a very loyal following too of course.
I admit to be a fan of the Vegas family; after all I was an assistant with some documentation, have been in beta programs and written tutorials and other material since version 0.9 (its’ now at version 17) and because of this, it tips the scales for me in that direction.
DaVinci Resolve and Fusion are not to be discounted and if your own NLE has got beyond the point of functionality for you or you are looking at “going up” from a “lite” version of something, they are seriously, seriously worth a look. If you like to keep everything inside the one system, the Adobe Creative Cloud is still for you, but the subscription only model does rankle a lot of people.
As stated above, a good motion graphics package should work nicely with your NLE, however if you are looking for a stand alone package then the contenders, as well as the aforementioned After Effects and Fusion also must include the venerable Boris RED. It’s been around a LONG time – as long as AE probably as I recall – and is very capable.
If you have never used a motion graphics package before and want a fabulous stand-alone app with its own renderer, then give the RED trial a go. AE is the industry “standard”, but it means you have to go into the Adobe Creative Cloud ecosystem as mentioned, which some are not happy about doing it appears. Fusion from BMD is free, but the learning curve can be a little steep as it uses a node-based metaphor which is somewhat different from that used by both AE and RED.
And here we go back to what works best with what, and so its Photoshop with Premiere, Vegas Post’s Image with Vegas. But really, any stand alone package that allows the creation of alpha channel imagery is suitable and this includes those put out by Corel / Pinnacle and MAGIX plus any other number of inexpensive or even freebie offerings.
Fx, grading and correction plugins
This one is a toughie. Borisfx, Red Giant and NewBlue all have a suite of plugins for various tasks. Some overlap, others don’t. I reckon the best system is the one employed by Borisfx as you can buy the whole shebang or just “units” containing the functions you want as and when you need them.
As an all-rounder, I’d go for (and personally use) Boris Continuum. For more special-effects-y stuff, Sapphire is probably what you are after and if you are into serious motion graphics work, then you cannot go without MOCHA.
From Red Giant is the Universe Suite as a possible corollary to Continuum and the Trapcode Suite for Sapphire. The Magic Bullet Suite is a specific colour grading and correction set of tools and if you are into multi-cam and multi-audio stuff, then PluralEyes is an absolute must have for syncing.
I said this is a toughie right?
If all you want is a brilliant, brilliant transition maker, have a look at the plugins from Pixelan (the founder, Michael Ferrer wrote THE definitive book for Premiere way back when it was almost the only affordable NLE at version 4.2!)
But overall, your best bet sadly is to win Lotto, and get the lot! They will all be used at some point in time I guarantee.
In the real world though, we cannot all know everything about everything so if I need some serious audio sweetening done, then I’ll pass it on to an expert in the field. Luckily, I have one in my sound engineer brother who lives just down the road and eats noise gates, compressors, ring modulators and decibels for snacks at 2am.
Unless you are a muso yourself and compose your own material (where I recommend Samplitude X as a DAW, but your preferences may sway to other apps such as LogicPro, Ableton, Bitwig or Cubase or even GarageBand depending on your operating platform), then SonicFire Pro is your best friend.
It works as a plugin for many NLEs and the range and breadth of music available is immense. Additionally, what you can do with a music track once loaded into SonicFire Pro is truly staggering and mind blowing.
I’d suggest SonicFire Pro is one of the rare “must have” apps for any filmmaker who hasn’t the time or the inclination to organise their own bespoke scores.
Unless your partner, like mine, is a composer and musician of course. (And of course the brother as mentioned, is a sound engineer so I have the best of all worlds).
To make the process of editing easier, there are a number of other things that can be employed and for me, first and foremost is the Contour ShuttlePro. This little device lets you program 15 buttons to dedicated operations for your apps and will switch from app to app automatically as you change – say Premiere to After Effects to Audition. There is also a dual jog / shuttle wheel for fine tuning timeline navigation.
If you are a dyed-in-the-wool DaVinci Resolve user then I highly, highly recommend the dedicated BMD DaVinci keyboard. Not inexpensive I’ll grant you, but once you have used one, you’ll never go back.
For a decent mouse, and we all need one, I am now utterly convinced after my recent carpal wrist surgery that the Logitech MX Upright (or one of its derivatives such as the MX Master 3) is the duck’s guts. Again not particularly cheap, but nor is surgery.
Trust me on this one.
And while we are touching on hardware, I have fallen in love with the ASUS 34” wide screen monitor for editing. Beats two (or three) separate monitors hands down in my book.
A flutter with Grass Valley Mync led me very quickly to Kyno for media management, cataloguing, retrieval and archiving. I now find it indispensable with every bit of video, still and audio media I own sitting safely on a Seagate 8TB external harddisk and available with a mouse click, searchable by any number of parameters.
Again, a must have for the serious editor. I’ll say that again, a must have.
There are a few more things that could easily co-exist with your basics depending on the stuff you play with. 3D modelling and animation programs (we use MAXON Cinema 4D), Microsoft OneNote I find invaluable for random note taking, brain storming, idea creation and a million other things, as it is auto-tragically synced between my desktop, laptop, Microsoft surface and Samsung phone.
And of course you could add storyboarding software, dedicated screen grabbing packages (we use Snagit and Camtasia from Techsmith), script writing programs (Final Draft is our recommendation) and teleprompter software (Teleprompter Pro for less than $9 for us).
If you do 360° imagery, then you’ll probably have an app from the camera’s vendor and everyone uses Handbrake for file conversions, just like VLC is the best media player.
But that pretty much covers it. I am sure if I have missed anything glaring, someone will remind me very quickly!
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