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Do you miss the tactile aspect of editing film? Or are you a big fan of the iPad? Or would you just love a way to have a super-portable professional editing system? If you've answered "yes" to any of these three questions, you're a potential customer of editor Dan Lebental ACE's new app TouchEdit. TouchEdit is available in the iTunes store for $50.
I saw a demonstration of TouchEdit
at a recent Alpha Dogs Editors' Lounge
, to a packed audience of interested filmmakers. Lebental has been a professional editor for 28 years and counts Cowboys & Aliens
, the two Iron Man
movies and Elf
among his long list of credits. His career began in music videos and took off with the first MC Hammer music video; he claims to have been the first music video editor to own the nascent Avid. His career grew by cutting numerous hip hop and gangster rap music videos until he got the Hughes brothers' feature Dead Presidents
and then connected with director Jon Favreau, who has Lebental edit all his movies. Lebental's co-founder and partner in TouchEdit is Lumi Docan, a post production supervisor and film/TV entrepreneur.
Dan Lebental holding iPad featuring the TouchEdit App.
Although Lebental had edited electronically for decades, when he got his iPad, it brought back memories of film. "It was amazingly cool," he says. "The iPad scrolling made me feel like I did as a young filmmaker because it's so tactile like when we handled film." Thus inspired, Lebental began working on TouchEdit a year and a half ago. "Go Retro...Go Pro" is his tagline for TouchEdit which, he says, "captures the spirit of classical filmmaking while offering cutting-edge digital editing capabilities." "TouchEdit reconnects its users with the essence of real film to create professional quality film edits," he says.
What do you get for your $50? Essentially a frame-accurate editing system that can work with other standard NLEs such as Final Cut X and offers an easy-to-get GUI that is reminiscent of film editing. In fact, says Lebental, TouchEdit is aimed to be "the 21st Century version of the Moviola," (TouchEdit requires an iPad 2 and iOS 6; the 4th generation iPad is recommended.)
The editor can import video and audio directly from the iPad's photo and music libraries. Timecode-based formats can be imported from cloud services such as Dropbox or from iTunes File Sharing. The app supports the same formats - H.264 and MPEG-4 - that iPad supports, and lets users edit directly with footage shot on the iPad as well as media imported from other sources. Lebental transcodes his media with timecode in Quicktime with H.264 compression.
The interface mimics classic editing: the editor has two "monitors" (source and record) controlled by two corresponding "filmstrips," which are controlled by finger-touch. Turn the iPad into portrait mode, and TouchEdit offers timeline-based editing so users can interact directly with the video and eight channels of audio. Using the flatbed analogy, says Lebental, the filmstrips move left to right, the opposite of today's NLEs. Add/edit buttons enable the editor to do overwrite and insert edits. "For those who want an in/out button, a 'grease pencil' button marks ins and outs," says Lebental, who notes that TouchEdit also has both "undo" and "redo" buttons. The eight channels of stereo audio are supported with a mixer. TouchEdit lets editors mix frame rate and format sizes.
Most important for professional editors, TouchEdit transfers all metadata information, if it's imported from Dropbox or iTunes Sharing. Editors can work with lower-res versions of the media or full resolution. Instead of bins, Lebental uses the word "collections" - but it appears to work exactly like bins.
If you get stuck, Lebental has made it easy to get help. "Every page has question marks that bring you to a pinchable diagram," he says. "There are also YouTube tutorials
Click images for larger view.
At the Editor's Lounge, checking out the new iPad App.|
Getting the edit out of TouchEdit and back to another NLE (or elsewhere) takes place much the same way it was imported. It can be loaded via Dropbox or iTunes sharing. Sharing the EDL can be done via exporting FCP XML. A future version will include Avid's AAF Input/Output. Lebental says that soon the app will enable editors to email files and offer the same edit gestures on portrait mode as on landscape. Other upcoming features planned include an evolved marker, voice commands, multi-cam editing and timecode burn-ins. Lebental also plans an iPhone version and another "light" version.
Lebental has already used TouchEdit for an independent feature and was able to store all the footage on the 64 GB iPad.
"Mobile technology is definitely what's happening," says Lebental. "We're in a world where everything has to be quick and nimble. TouchEdit helps end redundancy in production and post. To truly understand, you must touch!" He also stresses that the evolution of TouchEdit is up to the users. "This fits my needs," he says. "Where I go with the product is up to you."
Lebental says he plans to use TouchEdit on the next Favreau-directed film he edits. How useful is iPad editing in the post production pipeline? Time and experience will tell. If you buy TouchEdit and use it on a project, let us know.
TouchEdit is available in the iTunes store here:
Thanks to Debra Kaufman for coordination with Dan Lebental on this piece.
Follow her on Twitter @MobilizedDebra