1991 | Paradigm



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By Chris Allain

VIDEOGRAPHY In 1991 I began writing for Videography Magazine. Editor Brian McKernan provided me with my first opportunity to write for a national magazine. I am grateful that over the years, he has remained a great supporter, collaborator, and friend. As a Videography Contributing Editor for over a decade, I chronicled pioneering efforts to find and develop digital video tools and techniques for use in our growing business. In the nineteen eighties and nineties, a state of the art video post-production facility might have employed fifty or a hundred individual pieces of equipment—from analog tape machines, to black box signal processors with blinking lights and whirring fans. They generated lots of heat, required lots of power and air conditioning, performed often arcane functions, and oh, were they costly.
Although computers at the time had a small fraction of the power they have today, there were a handful of visionaries with a dream—to adapt the appealing graphic user interface of personal computers, particularly the Macintosh computer, to the processes of post-production. Although bound by the day’s technology, Scott and I relentlessly pushed the envelope in this exciting new direction. The goal was to develop better human interfaces for the process of post-production and to lower the cost of entry.

For years we installed, interfaced, and tested a seemingly endless stream of peripheral equipment, complex video boards, and specialized software. Each new overnight delivery promised to solve the problem du jour. The process required countless, sometimes daily, conversations with manufacturers and developers from all over the country. I told our story in the pages of Videography and in speeches at conferences from Los Angeles to Boston.

OPEN STUDIO In the mid 1990’s, I co-founded the Open Studio Association with Videography contributing editor Craig Birkmaier. Open studio was a technical group supported by major manufacturers like Apple, Microsoft, and Panasonic. This effort ran for several years, as engineers, software and hardware developers, and media producers refined standards for the use of open-system computer technology in video production. Through roundtables and conferences in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Monterey, Orlando, and New Orleans, Open Studio focused on interoperability—getting devices to communicate and work together.
Open Studio participants were among the earliest to understand something inconceivable to most at the time: a single computer would one day replace an entire edit suite. They led an industry, solving problems one by one, and guided manufacturers toward the solutions they envisioned. Off-the-shelf video production software packages, commonly available by the year 2000, were unimaginable a decade earlier.

As personal computers matured to truly support digital video, Vidox was no longer split between pioneering new technology and using it. Eventually we could focus full-time on producing great media content. A new paradigm for the industry led to a new chapter for Vidox.