Editing from Airplanes and iPhones

Posted on by Larry

“When I first got started in this editing business,” he said creaking back and forth in his rocking chair, “editing video took a minimum of two quarter-million dollar videotape recorders – plus a control room – a lot of patience and some blind luck.”

Today just blew the doors off what we used to consider “editing systems.”   Let me start with an email I got this evening from Tony Liuzzi:

I have been using LogMeIn.com for at least six months. It works great. With that as background, here’s my story.

I was flying from New York to San Francisco recently, and said, “why not try using LogMeIn  from an airplane at 35,000 feet and see how it behaves?”  I had purchased an internet connection on my flight — the cost was discounted since I was a first-time user.

I checked my email and read that my client had a revision to be made on a current Final Cut Pro project. So, I said, what the heck? Let’s see.

I logged into my edit system and discovered I had great response/control from the flight. As good as I had when I am connected on land. I was amazed!

I made the changes to the project and exported the file.  It went from Final Cut Pro to Squeeze, all controlled from my flight. Then, I opened up Transmit to send the newly compressed file to their FTP site for approval.

Now, here is where the story gets even funnier.  I sent an email to the client telling her I was making the changes right now — but NOT that I was on a plane.  She reviewed and approved the changes — all before I landed.

It was a VERY cool moment. And I thought you’d enjoy the story.

Larry replies: This whole idea of remote computer control totally changes what we consider an editing system.  Is it the computer doing the editing or the computer CONTROLLING the computer doing the editing.

These lines got even more blurred this morning, when Steve Jobs showcased the new iPhone 4 running iMOVIE!


What made this even funnier for me was that Tom Tomchak ran an April Fools Day press release talking about porting Final Cut Pro to the iPhone.  At the time, it made for very funny reading. Who knew that he was actually able to see the future?  He wasn’t being preposterous, he was being prescient!

The editing community is already starting to take sides on this new $4.99 software.  But I think some of the discussion misses the point.

Tens of millions of people will have access to simple equipment to shoot 720p30 HD video. Using the latest version of iMovie for the iPhone, they can edit it in their phone. Then, imagine that when they connect their phone to the computer, that iMovie file transfers over in a format that’s readable by iMovie on the Mac.

At which point, it is only a mouse-click to send that edited file via XML to Final Cut Pro for final polish.

The mind reels — I was blown away when I realized a few years ago that I had more editing power in my laptop than I did in a multi-million dollar post-production suite 20 years ago.

Now, that power is migrating to cell phones!

The key for us is not to run away from this new technology, but to realize that there are about to be millions of new customers than can use our expertise and experience to make their movies look even better. At the end of the day, it isn’t the tools, but the people using the tools that make the difference.

As another email today emphasized: “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”  (Actually, I’m beginning to think we aren’t even on the same planet.)

Strange times, indeed!


One Response to Editing from Airplanes and iPhones

  1. nicolas says:

    Yeah, Larry, I was on the same airplane from NYC to Paris. I started to RENDER the transitions when I was leaving NYC and it was still not rendered when I got to Paris. But on my flight back to NY, I took ten iPhones with me. Built a cluster and it went much faster 🙂 Technology is just amazing 😉

    Larry adds: Nicolas, perhaps. But technology is not nearly as amazing as that tall tale you just told…!

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