In the Studio: Grass Valley EDIUS 5.5
Posted Jun 1, 2010

As your editing workflow slow because you are shooting with DSLR or AVCHD cameras? Do you ever feel like your NLE is fighting you instead of working with you? I have heard complaints about instability, crashes, unresponsiveness, rendering, and transcoding, and the list goes on and on. I have been editing on a computer for 11 years, and I have experienced very few of those complaints. In 1999, I was editing with Rex Edit by Canopus. Fast-forward 11 years; I am now editing on EDIUS 5.5 by Grass Valley. EDIUS is the evolution of Rex Edit, so it brought with it two key features from Rex Edit: stability and real-time performance. When making a living with your NLE, those are two very important features to have; after all, time is money.

What’s New in 5.5
If you are unfamiliar with EDIUS, hold on. I will give you some background after I address the latest and greatest. If you already know about the power of EDIUS, the big news right now is that Grass Valley recently released EDIUS 5.5, a free upgrade for registered users of EDIUS 5.

The new release includes support for Windows 7. But what’s really exciting about the new release for me is native AVCHD editing in real time. No more transcoding files from the HMC150 or any of the other popular AVCHD cameras. EDIUS 5.5 will even edit the native files from the Canon 5D Mark II, the EOS 7D, and the Rebel T2i. It does all of this without any fancy (expensive) hardware. All you need is a fast, off-the-shelf computer. In addition to the time savings, the files stay small. When I was working with EDIUS 5 and had to transcode AVCHD footage to work with it in the timeline, a 60GB wedding became 250GB–300GB. It’s a good thing hard drives are cheap.

Grass Valley EDIUS 5.5

System Requirements
So how fast does your system need to be to edit AVCHD or files from DSLR cameras? I have a quad core 2.26GHz laptop with 4GB of DDR3 RAM. It cuts through AVCHD files with no problems with multiple audio and video streams as well as effects.

When I put files from the Canon T2i on the timeline, things get a little sluggish, but the footage is still totally editable—and the workflow is certainly faster than working with an intermediate codec when you factor in the time spent waiting to transcode the files. If I put too many effects on the T2i footage, it will drop frames. When I preload the buffer, which takes about 4–5 seconds, EDIUS cuts through the T2i footage just fine with multiple tracks and effects. If you have a faster i7 with more RAM, your results should be even better.

EDIUS Essentials
If you are unfamiliar with EDIUS, here’s the run-down. EDIUS will edit footage from just about any camera a wedding and event filmmaker would use, short of a film camera, and it will do this natively in real time. Format support in EDIUS includes DV, HDV, AVCHD, XDCAM, AVC-Intra, DVCPRO HD, DVCPRO50, and the QuickTime MOV files from DSLRs.

In EDIUS 5.5, Grass Valley has added support for the additional color space in Canon EOS movie files. (You can see a more complete list of supported formats at www.grass valley.com/products/edius_5.)

Additionally, you can mix formats and frame rates on the same timeline while keeping the files in their native form. This saves time and quality.

In addition to all of these features, I really like the way I can customize EDIUS to the look and feel I want. The interface is fully customizable, complete with custom shortcuts. I save my user setup and then my wife and partner, Trisha, can set up her own user profile to her tastes. This ability makes it much faster to cut through footage and speeds up the overall editing process.

EDIUS comes with a variety of additional software and plug-ins; a partial list includes plug-ins from NewBlueFX and proDAD, iZotope’s VST plug-ins, Corel DVD and Blu-ray authoring, and TitleMotion Pro.

Hardware Options
There are a few hardware options with EDIUS, but you will get all of the speed and stability of EDIUS with the software-only option, which is what I run on my laptop. One hardware option is HDSPARK, which provides HDMI output as well as RCA stereo output so you can view on an HD monitor in real time.

Grass Valley HD SPARK

EDIUS Neo Booster
If you are new to editing and are watching your pennies, a cost-effective solution is EDIUS Neo 2 Booster. Neo is missing some features such as TitleMotion Pro, Multicam, and Vectorscope/Waveform Monitor, to name a few, but Neo Booster will still edit AVCHD natively.

Grass Valley Neo Booster

The street price of Neo is about $225, and the full version of EDIUS is about $650, which is still a bargain.

The Realities of Real Time
But keep in mind that no matter how efficient an NLE is, you'll need at least a decent system to get real-time performance with highly compressed HD codecs. If you are shooting DV, HDV, or XDCAM, a Core 2 Duo is all you really need. To edit AVCHD or Quick Time files from DSLRs, you will want a quad core or i7. You can download a free 30-day trial version here (login required).

Owning your own business has many rewards, but at the same time, it comes with frustrations. Don’t let your NLE add to your stress and frustration levels. Find an editor and assemble a system that makes your editing process smooth and manageable, no matter what acquisition codec you use. Now that I shoot AVCHD and DSLR footage—which means I’m always working with codecs not designed for editing, and which is about as demanding as it gets in the wedding filmmaking world—EDIUS 5.5 is the answer for me.

Mark Von Lanken (info at vonweddingfilms.com) runs Von Wedding Films with his wife, Trisha. Five-time EventDV 25 honorees, WEVA Hall of Famers, and producers of the EventDV-TV series Von Real, they are regular speakers at WEVA Expo and winners of numerous WEVA CEAs, and were “megasession” presenters at In[Focus] 2010. Several times each year, the Von Lankens offer intensive 2-day workshops at their Tulsa, Okla., studio.