How to answer when someone asks you to move a project from Avid to Premiere Pro (or vice versa) 1
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Neil Sadwelkar

Loved this piece. Particularly the short answers.

Having done this moving back and forth between NLEs for editor friends, here are my observations.

In most feature, and TV projects, synced video and audio (AutoSync in Avid or merged clips in Premiere Pro) form the majority of clips. Translating these accurately/losslessly, between NLEs, is tedious. What may be useful is, if the editor/asst in the original NLE, has created day-wise ‘sync timelines’ (video and audio placed in a timeline in sync) prior to creating AutoSync or merged clips. Then, those timelines can be translated from one to the other. But very tedious, and often unnecessary.

The other issues are, translating ‘subclips’ which is an Avid editor’s favoured method of creating editable clips from synced dailies. And two, with media, which is DNxHD or DNxHR for Avid and mov or avi for Premiere Pro. Converting rom one to another and then relinking is another task.

What often happens is that the original edit is performed in one NLE, and the requirement is for that to be ‘polished’ by another editor in another NLE. In this case, a timeline translation may suffice.

Sometimes, the requirement is, for a secondary editor to edit smaller segments of the show. Like, songs, or action sequences, or VFX heavy sequences. These are sometimes edited by a secondary editor who’s comfortable working on a different NLE.
In this case, that editor often starts from scratch with just the required dailies anyway. S/he then edits, and now that edited timeline (from one NLE) needs to be integrated in the main edit (on another NLE).

So, in this case, the secondary editor’s dailies are imported into the primary NLE and the secondary editor’s timeline, linked to them. And then that timeline is integrated into the main timeline. I’ve managed a fair bit of these for Bollywood movies where the songs are often edited by a different editor and simply grafted into the main edit.

Marcin Fischer

Well, but it is no longer 2013. It’s 2021 and we SHOULD BE ABLE to switch NLEs. For various reasons. I know that what you wrote is tongue in cheek. And addressed to people who rather have no idea about conforming and postproduction workflows. But basically what you’re saying is: “don’t do that, because it MIGHT go wrong!” or “you know, there are ways, but IT’S TOO COMPLICATED for you, folks” 🙂 But we, postproduction professionals, know our ways. At least we should, because it’s our job. If we don’t, we should learn. Switching NLEs may be at times tedious, but on the other hand it is not rocket science and the issues are all known. After all, it is translating one set of numbers, which is no too complicated to a slightly different set of numbers. We all should be able to work with tools of our choice, shouldn’t we? I’m speaking from a perspective of moving cluttered, messy, feature lenght documentary PREMIERE project which was being edited for several years by 5 different editors (>100 hrs. of footage, all kinds of sources ranging from phone videos to RED, independent multitrack sound, etc.) to AVID. Why? Because another world-class, award-winning editor agreed to finish the job. But she worked only in AVID so there was no other way, since it was to-be-or-not-to-be for the film. Yep, it was a nightmare. But after I learned all the possible issues it actually became quite simple. And most of the projects are not THAT complicated. As you said – it’s also being done on a smaller scale in every post facility on daily basis.

Michael Sellers

I agree with you that it is technically possible, and an experienced post professional should be able to do it. That person or company should also charge a decent amount for the value of the work involved.

I think the hypothetical person this article is addressing is someone looking to save money by having someone else do the project, and they think this is only slightly more complicated than copy/paste. Some people are willing to pay the cost, and others are not. Some people try to save money by going the cheap route, only to spend more by the end to get the job done right.

Rich Evirs

The long and short of it is there is no easy way to switch NLEs midstream on a project with out essentially starting from scratch. You will have to reload the media and you will have to recut the sequences if you want something you can move forward with that won’t be riddled trouble when it comes time to finish. EDLs are helpful in the rebuild, but if it has to be exact there is no redo the movie button.

I’ve had the situation come up twice, once was 11 years ago going from Final Cut 7 to Avid after there was an editor change. This was a documentary with a couple hundred hours of footage and luckily after a few days of reloading media, cooler heads prevailed and we spent a week teaching the editor Final Cut, which he was never happy with.

The second was a few years ago going from Premiere to Avid. This was with a big time editor being brought in as a fixer to rescue a first time director who was sure he could cut it himself. The new editor had no intentions of learning anything new, he wanted it the way he wanted it and at the incredible weekly rate he was getting, which included rearranging the couches, edit desk and main viewing monitor from what was already the nicest cutting room I had ever been in, he got what he wanted. We had to reload all the media and rebuild an exact replica of the Premiere sequence in the Avid. To add insult to injury, the rookie director had stacked 16 layers of video and 32 layers of audio, most of which was useless. Good times.

It took a week to get everything reloaded and perfectly matched to the abandoned cut and in true Hollywood fashion, the director and the new editor got along so poorly that the recut was done without the directors input at all (he never showed up after the first day) and after the six weeks was up, they brought someone else in to give it another go, back on Premiere.

Last edited 7 months ago by Rich Evirs
Rich Evirs

You’re the best Scott!! Hope you guys are all well!

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