There was a tweet the other day asking an interesting question about non-linear editing certification for a graduating high school senior and which NLE certification would be most valuable. There is even a poll being taken.
We can put the debate of “certification” aside for this discussion and exactly how valuable that really is (most professional editors will tell you they have never been asked if they are certified when hired for a job) and focus on the question asked:
Which NLE below is most valuable cert for a grad HS senior?
As you can see in the poll above those NLEs listed were Final Cut Pro X, Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro, and DaVinci Resolve. I don’t know who beingUS is and why they didn’t actually get the NLE names right for their poll but let’s forget that too. At least the got the ‘e’ on Premiere. And I wouldn’t take the results of a Twitter poll as gospel either if you’re deciding which app to certify your students with. In fact, Final Cut Pro X would be the last of these four NLEs that I would pick for certification. The important part of this discussion is what will be of most value to the student both from a learning perspective and what will benefit them after leaving school. Despite what that poll (currently) says I don’t think FCPX is the answer because it functions so differently from every other NLE and it’s less likely to be encountered in the open market.
There was some excellent discussion in regards to the answer among a number of twittering editors. This is a discussion I’ve had a few times before and already have opinions on it so instead of trying to talk it out in tweets here is my answer and the reasons why.
Which NLE is the most valuable certification for a graduating High School Senior? Adobe Premiere Pro
That is my short answer. What’s the reasoning? Read on below. If you have your own reasons or you think a different certification would be better for a graduating senior then please comment below.
Adobe Premiere Pro is a lateral move to any other NLE
The core concepts and functionality of Adobe Premiere Pro is very “middle of the road” when it comes to how to operate an NLE. While Final Cut Pro X is perhaps easier to learn overall the basics of ingest, cuts and dissolves, titles and export can be learned very quickly in Premiere as well. Once those basics of 3-point editing are established that very core concept is used in all NLEs whether you mark IN to OUT points or Start/End ranges.
Avid is definitely a more complex beast when it comes to ingest and export as well as handling media once it is in your project, both in the bins and in the timeline. Resolve is still new in the creative editing market and while it’s really good I think it has a steeper learning curve for a young mind thatn Premire. FCPX works in its own unique way across the board, and many of the core tool operation skills would have to be unlearned once a student is out in the world. Not a good position to be in if you’re looking for a job.
Premiere is also very powerful once you dig deep and can be tailored to many different ways of working.
In many markets, Adobe Premiere Pro is currently the most used NLE
This point is purely anecdotal but beyond being based on my experience working in a market outside of Hollywood, New York City and LA I’ve talked to a lot of editors and product vendors over the last couple of years about what NLE they see more of out in the market. That answer is almost always Adobe Premiere Pro. But it’s an answer that isn’t always 100% right and might vary depending on who you are talking to and what markets they are around. The 5 THINGS series: on The Truth About Video Editing Software in Hollywood tackles this question with another, very good opinion.
That above tweet reply sums it up well about Avid. If you want to work in features and broadcast tv, then Media Composer is the right choice. But that is still a niche market when you compare all the other types of media production out there these days. There are a lot of agencies, production companies, post houses, corporate marketing departments, directors in their bedrooms, producers in their garages, secretaries in their cubicles, etc., etc., etc., working on Adobe Premiere Pro. They often need help, and they often farm work out.
Why is that? I think a large part of it is that many entities have a subscription to the Creative Cloud, so there sits Adobe Premiere Pro when it comes time to make that social media video shot on an iPhone. A step beyond that is many departments who have researched which NLE to build their department around has found Adobe Premiere Pro to be very functional and incredibly powerful (and stable if you use it right). These departments have used Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign for years, so Premiere is a logical step.
And a few of them moved to PPro from Final Cut Pro 7 Classic … so there’s that too.
The cost of Creative Cloud might be paid by someone else
Since Adobe Premiere Pro is part of the monthly Creative Cloud subscription package that might mean students would have access to the entire CC suite of tools via their school’s licensing, so they don’t have to pay for it themselves. While there are educational discounts for the Creative Cloud if students are left to pay for it out of their (or their parent’s) own pockets, they might not be able to afford it.
Which brings me to my next reason:
Access to the entire Creative Cloud suite opens a world of possibilities
If students do have access to the Creative Cloud, then there is a possibility they can be exposed to a vital part of the media production world they might not otherwise get exposure to: motion graphics and audio.
Even a few beginner lessons through Adobe After Effects and Audio Audition can lay a foundation for the concepts and importance of motion graphic design and audio production. I’m not under any misconception that a class in AE and Audition will make a student an expert in either field, but neither will “certification” in an NLE make them an expert in editing. That only comes from years of experience.
But by having access to these powerful graphics and audio tools (After Effects is an industry standard while Audition can translate into a good understanding of ProTools), it can, hopefully, reinforce the importance of these skills when emphasized by the right teacher. It can also steer a student to dig deep into a more specialized skill that could be a career path should they take to it and love it.
And what else is in that Creative Cloud subscription they might not have to pay for? Print, design, web and a whole host of other applications that might whet the student’s appetite for other creative endeavors.
Back to cost … FCPX is cheap, and you can learn Media Composer for free. Resolve is free too.
If the educational institution carries the cost of a Creative Cloud subscription then that might make it easier for a student to find the necessary funds to purchase Final Cut Pro X. Apple offers a $200 Pro Apps Bundle for Education that includes all of their Pro Apps so a student could learn FCPX on their own time.
Better than $200 is the free Avid Media Composer | First which is a full-featured version of Media Composer for free. It’s an unbelievable value and any student who learns the ins and outs of Media Composer | First will be able to sit down in front of a full version of Avid and feel right at home. They can learn probably 75% of the buttons and features of Avid whether on Mac or PC.
DaVinci Resolve is also free for what is perhaps the single greatest value in all of media production. As far as basic editing goes Resolve functions similarly to Premiere so, again, that proper learning of PPro can be a lateral move elsewhere.
Young minds are ready to be filled with knowledge so if they have some access to Adobe Creative Cloud via their school they stay up all night with FCPX, Avid or Resolve and learn on their own with YouTube as their teacher. They might not learn things the right way on YouTube but they can certainly learn, for free. Or get a free Lynda subscription and learn even more.
Finally and most importantly …