1993 | Non-Linear



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By Chris Allain

AN EDITORIAL LEAP Vidox marked a major leap forward in 1993 with the acquisition of an Avid Technology “Media Composer”. This system was the first widely used “non-linear” digital video editing system available. The Avid allowed editing of video on a timeline using picture icons, an interface style still used today. A non-linear editor was to a traditional linear editing system what a word processor was to a typewriter. It significantly increased speed and creative freedom, but image quality wasn’t acceptable for finishing programs and commercials. Personal computers simply didn’t have the power yet. So most top facilities at the time, made editorial decisions on the Avid, but they would “conform” the edit on-line. An on-line conform was a semi-automated, but tedious re-edit using a conventional “linear” edit suite. The process was linear because each shot had to be laid after the one that preceded it. If an editor had to add two seconds to the beginning of the video, the entire program had to be re-edited.

NETWORK QUALITY Linear video editing is a hugely technical process requiring concentration and great timing and reflexes. An editor would operate in a suite filled with specialized equipment, black boxes, and loads of video tape recorders or “VTRs”. In addition to being an editorial artist, the video editor in 1995 had to be something of an engineer, especially in smaller facilities. An editor in a room surrounded by machines had to know how to work each piece of equipment, how to keep it working, and how to know when it wasn’t.
Although we knew that production technology was changing rapidly, business growth required continuous, though careful investment in conventional on-line equipment. In 1995 we upgraded our facility to a component analog suite including switcher, digital video effects, multiple VTRs, signal routers, and a Digital Betacam mastering deck. This suite represented a milestone in image quality and production capability. For the first time Vidox could produce at “Network Quality”— at the time, the term “Network Quality” represented the holy grail of video production benchmarks.