Non-linear editing system

Note: Please see National Latin Examination for the standardized test that is also abbreviated NLE.

A non-linear editing system is a video editing or audio editing system that can perform random access on the source material.


Non-linear editing

Non-linear editing for film and television postproduction is a popular modern editing method. Non-linear editing means being able to put any frame next to any other frame. This method was inherent in the cut and glue world of film editing from the beginning. Unfortunately, in the analogue world of film, to change it means to destroy what existed before. Video editing, when it first became possible, was a re-recording method, which eliminated the need to destroy previous versions, but was by definition linear. Non linear, non -destructive methods began to appear with the first digital images.

Video and sound are digitised to hard disks. After that, they can be manipulated with software such as Pinnacle Liquid Edition, Avid, Final Cut Pro, Lightworks, Adobe Premiere or Cinelerra.

Compared to the linear method of tape-to-tape editing, non-linear editing offers the flexibility of film editing with random access and easy project organization. It is easy to make new versions nondestructively. Initially, only low-resolution pictures could be digitized, as storage was limited and expensive. Broadcast quality and High definition are now possible. The costs of the editing systems have dropped, bringing non-linear editing within reach of a domestic user with a good home computer.

The elements of a computer-based non-linear editing system for video are a computer with a video editing card or video capture card and video editing software. Digital video can be imported into the computer through a FireWire (IEEE 1394) socket and analogue video is imported through composite sockets both of which are found on most video editing cards. Various editing tasks can then be performed on the imported video before it is saved, exported to another medium, or MPEG encoded for transfer to a DVD.


The first truly non-linear editor, the CMX 600 [1] (, was made in the early 1970s by the CMX Corporation (a joint venture between CBS and Memorex). It recorded & played back black-and-white video recorded in analog in "skip-field" mode on modified disk pack drives the size of washing machines (which were more commonly used with storing data on mainframe computers of the time). The 600 had a console with 2 monitors built in, with the editor making cuts and edit decisions using a light pen to select options suprerimposed as text over the preview video on the right monitor (the left monitor was used to display the edited video). A Digital PDP-11 computer served as a controller for the whole system. Because the video edited on the 600 was in black and white and in low-resolution "skip-field" mode, the 600 was suitable only for offline editing.

Various approximations of non linear were built in the 80's using computers coordinating mulitple laser discs, or banks of VCRs. Computer processing advanced sufficiently by the late 80's to enable true digital imagery, and has progressed today to provide this capabiity in software on personal computers.

An example of computing power progressing to make non-linear editing possible was demonstrated in the first all-digital non-linear editing system to be released, the "Harry" effects compositing system manufactured by Quantel in 1985. Although it was more of a video effects system, it had some non-linear editing capabilities, and most importantly, it could record (and fully apply effects to) 80 seconds (due to hard disk space limitations) of full broadcast-quality digital video encoded in 8-bit CCIR 601 format on its built-in hard disk array.

Non-linear editing with computers as we know it today was first introduced by Avid in 1988 with their first line of Media Composer systems. It was based off the Apple Macintosh computer platform (Macintosh II systems were used) with special hardware and software developed and installed by Avid. The Media Composer was the first system to introduce modern concepts in non-linear editing, such as timeline editing and clip bins.

The video quality of the first Avid Media Composers from the late 80s was somewhat low (about VHS quality), due to it using a very early version of a Motion JPEG codec. But it was enough to be a very versatile system for offline editing, and to revolutionize video and film editing from then on.

See also

External links

pl:Edycja nieliniowa


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