Deluxe off-line tape editing room.

Back in the days of tape editing (pre-1990 for most East Coast folks) this  was a state of the art off-line editing room.

It was in a facility called Post Perfect in the (then) Daily News building on E. 42nd St.  The year was 1988 and the project was Encyclopedia, a HBO series created by the Children’s Television Workshop. I was the Senior Editor on that series, which was a lot of fun.  It was edu-tainment program that used SNL type sketches to teach things to adolescents. The cast of players was great and Hal Wilner was the music director.

To have a big suite (room) like this was pretty luxurious then, but today’s standards is was huge.  The tech aspect most worth remarking on was the trace software that came bundled with the Grass Valley editing system. Grass Valley (GV) and Sony both modeled their (tape) editing systems on what was then the industry standard, CMX.  I think GV had an edge thanks to this trace software… which I will now explain.

Before non-linear editing caught on, editing was all about copying from a ‘play’ deck to a ‘record’ deck using the 3/4″ U-matic format.  If you had to revise your “first cut” you’d copy it to the point where changes had to be made, make the changes, then copy the balance.  Using a computerized log the editing system kept of timecode values (assisted/confirmed for humans by visual timecode) this was called an EDL or Edit Decision List was kept for each sequence.  Note the computer was *not* a personal computer and ran only this software in an edit setting.

Once you had copied the edit so many times (to make say… version 7) the trace software could trace back to a the original timecodes to derive what should be a perfect record of the edit, (that had now been copied many times).  The next step was do do an on-line conform with the master tapes (then 1″ reel-to-reel) using this clean & traced list to automate the process.

The skill set for off-line editor doing the creative editing and keeping a good record was called “list management.”  It was pretty arcane.  In the early 80s the only place I remember that routinely used trace software was Nexus.  I hope write about this historic, innovative facility another time.

About avideolife

video editor & director
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