Avid's Basic Instinct

A reporter-friendly approach to newsroom editing systems will be rolled out at NAB by Avid Technology. The iNews Instinct system has a radically different nonlinear-editing (NLE) interface designed for tech-challenged journalists.

“Traditionally, making an editing system simpler for journalists to use has meant taking away features,” says Dave Schleifer, VP of Avid Broadcast and Workgroups. “But our assessment was they needed their own tools.”

That meant big changes. Usually, nonlinear-editing systems are based on a timeline with a marker that moves from left to right as the story is played back. As a story is assembled, video and audio clips, text, and graphics are dropped onto and around the timeline. And while the professional video editor can easily navigate the features, the professional journalist has usually found them overly complex.

“The reality is, the typical journalist thinks that NLE interface is the equivalent of the cockpit of a 747,” Schleifer jokes.

So, 18 months ago, Avid began looking into creating a vertical timeline. A study group revealed that journalists found the vertical interface easier to use because they typically wrote scripts on narrow, vertical columns from the top of the screen to the bottom. It was much easier for them to lay the video clips next to a few sentences in the script, rather than working with the script as if it were a TV ticker.

The interface, which can be personalized, has “window panes” for different functions.

A typical application uses four panes. One is used for watching video and selecting clips, another has a file-manager-type “tree” for finding assets, and a third lets the journalist view those assets (such as wire services and other clips). The fourth pane is the vertical storyline where the story clips and text come together.

“It works really hard for the journalist, without the journalist having to work very hard,” says Schleifer. “This is a tool that really democratizes the nonlinear digital revolution that is going on in the newsroom.”

The iNews Instinct system will be available later this year priced at $3,995 per editing-system seat.