Every year, film students at John Paul the Great Catholic University spend a quarter learning the fundamentals of post-production. The official editing software of the school, Adobe Premiere Pro CC, is considered one of the most versatile editing tools on the market today. It is, as most students at JPCatholic are taught, the industry standard. Many job postings online even seem to prefer editors with a proficient understanding of Premiere. However, if a union editor is asked, one might be surprised to hear that less than 3% of productions (scripted, unscripted, union and non-union) are, in fact, edited in Adobe Premiere. Furthermore one must ask, why are the majority of students unaware that Premiere’s more popular alternative, AVID Media Composer, exists?
Last quarter, editing student Matthew Farrugia attended an assistant editor conference in Burbank, where dozens of aspiring editors, who had already earned the difficult status of union membership, networked and discussed the union’s rule changes. There it was confirmed by a large group that Adobe Premiere was not used by any large production, and a program more shortly referred to as “AVID” was used by everybody.
“I knew about AVID previously through my community college, so luckily, it wasn’t as big of a shock as it probably could have been. But it’s almost a running joke among these people if you say you use Premiere or Final Cut,” Farrugia said. “And what’s sad is, I don’t think almost any editors at JPCatholic know this.”
Preference comes down to a few key things for many production companies. One of the main reasons for AVID’s wide-use is the “NEXIS storage” system, which essentially stores clips and sequences in an online secure server. This is a feature that has yet to be added to Premiere, which currently only favors single-editor tasks.
Ian Morabito, a union assistant editor for Nickelodeon, explained the process. “On my last project, we had seven editors and seven assistant editors. Any of us could be working in the same project, accessing the same media, bins, and sequences.” When asked to what extent AVID was used in the television world, Ian responded, “It’s huge in TV. Virtually all professional TV shows are cut in AVID because of NEXIS. More than 99% of primetime TV shows.”
The product-makers at Adobe have also earned a considerably negative reputation with companies after many previous internal issues. The film Deadpool, a project which prided itself on a partnership with Adobe Premiere, needed an on-staff technical assistance team that was purely in case of program issues, which inevitably occurred during editing. Not surprisingly, for Deadpool 2, Adobe was scrapped in favor of the incumbent program. JPCatholic has had its own share of technical issues with Adobe. In 2017, students were unable to use Adobe Premiere for weeks because a new update had affected licensing to users.
To it’s credit, AVID Media Composer is considered to be a much more technically-sophisticated program, whereas Adobe Premiere Pro CC is an excellent tool when it comes to teaching new filmmakers the fundamentals of editing. Professor Dunn weighed in on his decision to implement the software. “Adobe fits well within the environment that we have here with students needing the entire creative suite [Photoshop, After Effects, etc.]. So, there is a cost benefit.” Dunn also added that from his perspective, only feature editors seem to require AVID, whereas television editors prefer Premiere. The use of AVID vs. Premiere ultimately depends on what a student wants to do with editing. “A number of smaller boutique production companies are adopting Premiere because of the cost benefit as well; having access to the other programs within Creative Cloud,” Dunn added.
One would only really need to learn AVID if they aspired to edit large budget feature films or television programming, a prospect that does not attract the bulk of JPCatholic’s film students. In addition, there is certainly a clear demand in other areas for people that have Adobe experience. The problem is when students trying to enter large scale post-production houses are unaware that AVID is the software they must be familiar with.