With the disillusionment of professional editors in Apple editing software after the introduction of FCP X, there has been a void in the NLE landscape. Avid and Adobe Premiere have been working hard to fill that gap, but with the NAB preview of the highly-anticipated MAC version of EditShare’s Lightworks, another strong contender has stepped up. The Lightworks philosophy is based on the simple idea that the editor, not the computer industry, knows what’s best.
Since 1989, Lightworks has had a patented hardware console at the heart of its editing system. Because of this tool, Lightworks became the darling of many film editors when it first appeared on the feature film and television scenes in the early 1990s. Based on a flatbed film editor, the console consolidates all primary editing functions into its interface and offers tactile, intuitive editing. An editor can be up and editing within a day without having to learn keyboard shortcuts or application menus.
And for those who want a more computer-based experience, Lightworks has developed a dedicated keyboard with an ergonomically designed layout for optimal use.
Although Lightworks may have receded from the NLE dialog in the past decade, editors such as Thelma Schoonmaker, ACE and Scott Hill have been using the platform. Since her transition to non-linear editing, Schoonmaker has edited all of director Martin Scorsese‘s films on Lightworks including the Oscar-winning Hugo. In addition to using the system on Law and Order, Hill has edited feature films on Lightworks, including Zookeeper and Bruce Almighty.
EditShare’s cross-platform Lightworks editing software is available for Windows, Linux and Mac. Since many studio facilities are Mac-based, the development of the Mac version will once again make Lightworks competitive within the industry.
Lightworks supports MXF, Quicktime and AVI containers, along with a wide range of codecs, including ProRes, Avid DNxHD, AVC-Intra, DVCPRO HD, RED R3D, DPX, H.264 and XDCAM EX/HD 422. The support for editing formats and codecs makes it possible to share Lightworks projects between different NLE programs.
The timeline is resolution, frame rate, codec and format independent. Users can combine any standard frame rate, in any format, in any codec. With simple trimming that includes an AutoSync feature, drag and drop support, and all the standard insert, replace and fit-to-fill edit commands, the Lightworks timeline also allows the editor to change clip speed, control clip and track volume levels and add effects and transitions in real time. Another huge benefit of Lightworks is the program’s ability to multi-task. During playback, an editor can be adjusting color on-the-fly or opening bins to find alternative takes, without causing the playback function to stop.
The days of rendering are gone with Lightworks. Effects can be handled by Lightworks real-time GPU pipeline architecture, designed to deal with compositing and effects, such as primary and secondary color correction, blurs, mattes and masks – completely independent of the source media. HD, 2K, and even 4K can be dealt with it in real time – the faster the GPU, the faster the system.
Other Lightworks features include the AutoSave feature that saves every keystroke, every edit, every change made in a project. Lightworks saves projects continuously, but keeps incremental backups of each edit, so that work will never be lost. The Multicam Sync Groups feature, for working with multiple cameras, allows the user to edit unlimited sources and any mixture of resolutions or formats, with the ability to sync-up shots and switch angles in real time. Stereoscopic support allows media to be edited exactly the same way other media is edited. It automatically keeps track of left- and right-eye media during import, editing and export. Viewing options include Anaglyph, Side-By-Side, Checkerboard, Difference. Stereoscopic media can even be viewed on a regular 2D display.
Shared storage is always an issue for projects with multiple workstations. EditShare has developed shared storage systems for all of the major NLE platforms – Avid, Premier and Final Cut Pro. With Lightworks, media, bins and edits can be shared in real time with full permissions-based control over which user has read/write access.
Lightworks for Mac is in currently in alpha testing. In public beta, the full version of the new Lightworks for Windows (version 11.1) will be released on April 30, the same day that the Lightworks 11.1 Linux public beta testing goes live.
When version 11.2 is released in the near future, features will include added support for AJA I/O hardware, support for screen capture using the record panel, an improved import panel, native H.264 MOV playback and a curve effect added to FX color correction effects.
Lightworks can be downloaded for free. Users can upgrade to Lightworks Pro for $60/year and benefit from additional features including increased performance and wider codec support that eliminates the need for transcoding.