Offline editing
Offline editing is part of the post-production
Post-production is part of filmmaking and the video production process. It occurs in the making of motion pictures, television programs, radio programs, advertising, audio recordings, photography, and digital art...

 process of filmmaking
Filmmaking is the process of making a film, from an initial story, idea, or commission, through scriptwriting, casting, shooting, directing, editing, and screening the finished product before an audience that may result in a theatrical release or television program...

 and television production in which raw footage
In filmmaking and video production, footage is the raw, unedited material as it had been originally filmed by movie camera or recorded by a video camera which usually must be edited to create a motion picture, video clip, television show or similar completed work...

 is copied and edited, without affecting the camera original film stock
Film stock
Film stock is photographic film on which filmmaking of motion pictures are shot and reproduced. The equivalent in television production is video tape.-1889–1899:...

 or video tape. Once a television program
Television program
A television program , also called television show, is a segment of content which is intended to be broadcast on television. It may be a one-time production or part of a periodically recurring series...

me has been completely offline edited
Video editing
The term video editing can refer to:* Linear video editing, using video tape* Non-linear editing system , using computers with video editing software* Offline editing* Online editing...

, the original media will be assembled in the online editing
Online editing
Online editing is an older post-production linear video editing process that is performed in the final stage of a video production. It occurs after offline editing...


The term offline originated in the computing and telecommunications industries, meaning "not under the direct control of another device" (automation
Automation is the use of control systems and information technologies to reduce the need for human work in the production of goods and services. In the scope of industrialization, automation is a step beyond mechanization...


Modern offline video editing
Video editing
The term video editing can refer to:* Linear video editing, using video tape* Non-linear editing system , using computers with video editing software* Offline editing* Online editing...

 is conducted in a non-linear editing (NLE) suite. The digital revolution has made the offline editing workflow
A workflow consists of a sequence of connected steps. It is a depiction of a sequence of operations, declared as work of a person, a group of persons, an organization of staff, or one or more simple or complex mechanisms. Workflow may be seen as any abstraction of real work...

 process immeasurably quicker, as practitioners moved from time-consuming (video tape to tape) linear video editing
Linear video editing
Linear video editing is a video editing post-production process of selecting, arranging and modifying images and sound in a predetermined, ordered sequence. Regardless whether captured by a video camera, tapeless camcorder, recorded in a television studio on a video tape recorder the content must...

 online editing
Online editing
Online editing is an older post-production linear video editing process that is performed in the final stage of a video production. It occurs after offline editing...

 suites, to computer hardware and video editing software
Video editing software
Video editing software, is application software which handles the post-production video editing of digital video sequences on a computer non-linear editing systems...

 such as Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro
Final Cut Pro
Final Cut Pro is a non-linear video editing software developed by Macromedia Inc. and then Apple Inc. The most recent version, Final Cut Pro X, runs on Mac personal computers powered by Mac OS X version 10.6.7 or later and using Intel processors...

, Avid
AVID stands for:* Advancement Via Individual Determination, a college-readiness system designed to increase the number of students who enroll in four-year colleges in the U.S....

, Sony Vegas
Sony Vegas
Sony Vegas is a professional video editing software package for non-linear editing systems originally published by Sonic Foundry, now owned and run by Sony Creative Software. Originally developed as an audio editor, it eventually developed into an NLE for video and audio from version 2.0...

 and Lightworks
Lightworks is an Oscar and Emmy award winning professional NLE system for editing and mastering of movies in 2K and 4K as well as television productions in PAL, NTSC and HD...

. Typically, all the original footage (often tens or hundreds of hours) is digitized into the suite at a low resolution. The editor and director are then free to work with all the options to create the final cut.

From film to tape

Film editing
Film editing
Film editing is part of the creative post-production process of filmmaking. It involves the selection and combining of shots into sequences, and ultimately creating a finished motion picture. It is an art of storytelling...

 used an offline approach almost from the beginning. Film editors worked with a workprint
A workprint is a rough version of a motion picture, used by the film editor during the editing process. Such copies generally contain original recorded sound that will later be re-dubbed, stock footage as placeholders for missing shots or special effects, and animation tests for in-production...

 of the original film negative to protect the negative from handling damage. When two-inch quadraplex video tape recording was first introduced by Ampex
Ampex is an American electronics company founded in 1944 by Alexander M. Poniatoff. The name AMPEX is an acronym, created by its founder, which stands for Alexander M. Poniatoff Excellence...

 in 1956, it could not be physically cut and spliced as simply and cleanly as film negatives could be. One error-prone method option was to cut the tape with a razor blade. Since there was no visible frame line on the 2 inches (50.8 mm) tape, a special ferrofluid
A ferrofluid is a liquid which becomes strongly magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field.Ferrofluids are colloidal liquids made of nanoscale ferromagnetic, or ferrimagnetic, particles suspended in a carrier fluid . Each tiny particle is thoroughly coated with a surfactant to inhibit clumping...

 developing solution was applied to the tape, allowing the editor to view the recorded control track pulse under a microscope
A microscope is an instrument used to see objects that are too small for the naked eye. The science of investigating small objects using such an instrument is called microscopy...

, and thus determine where one frame ended and the next began. This process was not always exact, and if imperfectly performed would lead to picture breakup when the cut was played. Generally this process was used to assemble scenes together, not for creative editing.

The second option for video editing was to use two tape machines, one playing back the original tapes, and the other recording that playback. The original tapes were pre rolled, manually cued to a few seconds prior to the start of a shot on the player, while the recorder was set to record. Each machine was rolled forward simultaneously, and a punch in recording, similar to punch in / out of early audio multitrack recording
Multitrack recording
Multitrack recording is a method of sound recording that allows for the separate recording of multiple sound sources to create a cohesive whole...

s was made at the appropriate moment. Beyond not being very precise, recorders of this era cost much more than a house, making this process an expensive use of the machines. This technique of re-recording from source
Communication source
A source or sender is one of the basic concepts of communication and information processing. Sources are objects which encode message data and transmit the information, via a channel, to one or more observers ....

 to edit master came to be known as linear video editing
Linear video editing
Linear video editing is a video editing post-production process of selecting, arranging and modifying images and sound in a predetermined, ordered sequence. Regardless whether captured by a video camera, tapeless camcorder, recorded in a television studio on a video tape recorder the content must...


This was the way things were for television shows shot on tape for the first 15 years. Even such fast-paced shows as Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In
Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In
Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In is an American sketch comedy television program which ran for 140 episodes from January 22, 1968, to May 14, 1973. It was hosted by comedians Dan Rowan and Dick Martin and was broadcast over NBC...

continued to use the razor blade technique.

New technological developments

Three developments of the late sixties and early seventies revolutionized video editing, and made it possible for television to have its own version of the film workprint/conform process.

Time code

The first was the invention of time code
Time code
A timecode is a sequence of numeric codes generated at regular intervals by a timing system.- Video and film timecode :...

. Whereas film negative had numbers printed optically along the side of the film, so that every frame could be identified exactly, video tape had no such system. Only video, audio, and a control pulse were recorded. Early attempts to rectify this were primitive to say the least. An announcer reciting the seconds was recorded onto an audio channel on the tape. Time code introduced frame precision, by recording a machine readable signal on an audio channel. A time code reader device translated this signal into hours, minutes, seconds and frames, originally displayed on a Nixie tube
Nixie tube
A nixie tube is an electronic device for displaying numerals or other information. The glass tube contains a wire-mesh anode and multiple cathodes. In most tubes, the cathodes are shaped like numerals. Applying power to one cathode surrounds it with an orange glow discharge...

 display, and later with LED
LEd is a TeX/LaTeX editing software working under Microsoft Windows. It is a freeware product....

 readouts. This innovation made it possible for the editor to note the exact frames at which to make a cut, and thus be much more precise. He could create a paper edit by writing down the numbers of the first and last frames of each shot, and then arrange them in order on paper prior to the actual edit session with the expensive VTRs.

Cheaper video recorders

The second development was cheaper video recorder
Video recorder
A video recorder may be any of several related devices:*Digital video recorder ; Personal video recorder *DVD recorder*Videocassette recorder *Video tape recorder...

s. Though not suitable for broadcast use directly, these provided a way to make a copy of the master, with its time code visibly inserted into a small box or 'time code window' in the picture. This tape could then be played in an office or at home on a video recorder costing only as much as a used car. The editor would note down the numbers of the shots and decide the order. They might simply write them in a list, or they might dub from one of these small machines to another to create a rough cut
Rough cut
In filmmaking, the rough cut is the second of three stages of offline editing. The rough cut is the first stage in which the film begins to resemble its final product...

 edit, and note the necessary frame numbers by watching this tape.

Exact editing

Though both of these developments helped greatly, effectively creating the offline editing method, they didn't solve the problem of precisely controlling the video recorder for frame accurate editing. That required precise control of the tape transport mechanism, using a dedicated edit controller that could read the time code and perform an edit exactly on cue.

That innovation came about as a result of research conducted by CMX
CMX may refer to:* CMX , a Finnish rock band* CMX , a manga brand by DC Comics* CMX , a format being developed by record labels with data such as audio, lyrics, album art and the like being contained in a single file...

, a joint venture of the CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

 and Memorex
Memorex began as a computer tape producer and expanded to become a major IBM plug compatible peripheral supplier. It is now a consumer electronics brand of Imation specializing in disk recordable media for CD and DVD drives, flash memory, computer accessories and other electronics.Established in...

 corporations. The intent was to create a much less haphazard method of editing video directly that had all of the creative control of traditional film editing. The result, the CMX 600, accomplished this goal with a two part process. Camera master tapes were dubbed as black and white analog video
Analog video
Analog video is a video signal transferred by an analog signal. An analog color video signal contains luminance, brightness and chrominance of an analog television image...

 to very large computer memory discs. The editor could access any shot exactly, and quickly edit a precise black and white, low quality version of the program. More importantly, re-editing was trivial, as no cuts were actually performed. The shots were simply accessed and played in sequence from the disc in real time. The computer kept track of all the numbers in this offline stage of the process, and when the editor was satisfied, output them as an Edit decision list
Edit decision list
An edit decision list or EDL used in the post-production process of film editing and video editing. The list contains an ordered list of reel and timecode data representing where each video clip can be obtained in order to conform the final cut....

 (EDL). This EDL was used in the final stage of the process, the online edit. To make it work, special computer to video tape recorder
Video tape recorder
A video tape recorder is a tape recorder that can record video material, usually on a magnetic tape. VTRs originated as individual tape reels, serving as a replacement for motion picture film stock and making recording for television applications cheaper and quicker. An improved form included the...

 (VTR) edit interfaces had to be developed, called I-Squareds. Under the control of a computer reading back the EDL and communications protocol
Communications protocol
A communications protocol is a system of digital message formats and rules for exchanging those messages in or between computing systems and in telecommunications...

s, these I-Squareds took control and shuttled the broadcast quality VTRs exactly to the points necessary to record and edit master with exact edits from the source tapes.

Though recording to computer disc pack and this first attempt at non-linear editing on video was abandoned as too expensive, the rest of the hardware was recycled into the offline/online edit process that remained dominant in television production for the next 20 years or more.

Although tape formats changed from open reels to videocassettes (VCR), and all the equipment rapidly became much cheaper, the basics of the process remained the same. An editor would offline on a less expensive, low quality format, before entering the online editing suite with an EDL and master source tapes, to finish the broadcast quality version of the television show.

See also

  • Direct to disk recording
    Direct to Disk Recording
    Direct-to-disk recording refers to methods by which analog signals and digital signals such as digital audio and digital video are digitally recorded to optical disc recording technologies such as DVDs, and CD optical discs...

  • DTE (Direct To Edit)
    DTE (Direct To Edit)
    DTE is a digital video direct-to-disk recording method used to streamline the post-production video editing workflow of raw video files into a Non-linear editing system .-See also:* Computer file...

  • Non-destructive editing
    Non-destructive editing
    Non-destructive editing is a form of editing signals where the original content is not modified in the course of editing—instead the edits themselves are edited by video editing software on a non-linear editing system ....

  • Tapeless camcorder
    Tapeless Camcorder
    A tapeless camcorder is a camcorder that does not use video tape for the digital recording of video productions as 20th century ones did. Tapeless camcorders record video as digital computer files onto random access data storage devices such as optical discs, hard disk drives and solid-state flash...

  • Video server
    Video server
    A video server is a computer based device dedicated to delivering video.Unlike personal computers, being multi-application devices, a video server is designed for one purpose; provisioning video, often for broadcasters. A professional grade video server records, stores, and playout of multiple...

External links

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