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Will TouchEdit be the iPad NLE we’ve been waiting for?

While the design might end up being controversial, if it can export a timecoded list back to a desktop NLE then that'll be nice

By Scott Simmons | January 02, 2013

Ever since iOS came along and began allowing custom apps there have been quite a few video editing applications on Apple's mobile touch platform. Along came the iPad and then the idea of a useful NLE for the touchscreen began to take shape. We've had iMovie for a while (and a lot more lesser editing apps) but it wasn't until Avid came along with Avid Studio that we thought that something truly useful for the professional editor might be possible. Avid sold their app to Corel and my dream of an offline editing tool seemed to be dead. But that dream may still be alive with this coming iPad app called TouchEdit.

I had no idea that another iPad video editor was in the works until I saw a mention of TouchEdit on Twitter. Looking around their website shows that one of the creators is none other than Elf and Iron Man editor Dan Lebenthal. That's an exciting name to have behind an editing product. As of this writing the app isn't on the App Store just yet but on December 17 it looks like it was submitted:

That sure does seem to take a long time for Apple's approval! In the meantime we can check out Touchedit's YouTube page to look at a few videos of the app in action. I'm not sure why the videos jump from number 4 to number 6 but the first two that first caught my eye were the ones about the actual editorial process within the app.

First was the editing basis which are described below:

That left me with questions as to how you actually mark IN and OUT points. That's part of video 3, Grease Pencil Mode:

After watching a couple of those videos I'm willing to bet that one of the more controversial topics that will revolve around TouchEdit when the app finally goes live is the overall design of the app itself. While the idea of it allowing for editing conventions like 3-point source/record style-editing is very nice to see in an iPad app that might actually be usable in a professional editing workflow I'm sure there will be many who are put off by the skeuomorphic design desisions and the overall look of the app. I'll reserve judgement until I actually play with the app. I don't mind if the footage looks like actual film strips or if there's old film-splicing mechanics in there as long as it works. 

One intersting thing to see was FCPXML listed as a specific export function:

We know that the creators were Avid Media Composer people, not just because Dan is a feature film editor but because much of TouchEdit looks to be Media Composer inspired. It the app really will track timecode (as they say) then I hope we could see some type of Avid-friendly export as well, like AAF. Back to that dream of assembling a rough edit on the couch and sending that list back to Media Composer to relink to my original media. This quote from the TouchEdit website gives me hope: "The app can also carry metadata, including timecode, and can output specialized lists to collaborate with other editing systems."

UPDATE: It seems that an Avid AAF workflow is in the works:

As does this graphic:

There's an Avid logo there so we'll see when it ships. And there's this:

We'll also have to wait for the price as I didn't see any mention of that either.

UPDATE: Looks like the price will be $50

And there's a whole list of bullet points on the TouchEdit Facebook page:

• Edits with H.264 up to 1080p, MPEG-4 up to 640 by 480, M-JPEG up to 1280 by 720
• Can edit with multiple resolutions and frame rates
• Supports sample rates of 44.1KHz, 48KHz
• Multiple Projects
• Accommodates Multiple Sequences in each Projects
• Eight tracks of Mono or Stereo Sound
• Scrollable Visual Timeline
• Smart selection for Video and Audio Tracks
• Displays Timecode of Clips
• Imports Media from iPad Photos, iTunes Sharing or direct from Dropbox
• Imports Audio from iPad Music• Includes 60 sample sound fx from Wildfire Post-Production Studios
• Exports QuickTime Videos to iTunes Sharing
• Exports FCPXML (compatible with Final Cut X)
• Uses Touch-Driven Filmstrips to control Source and Record monitors and to perform
editing Gestures such as Insert Edits and Overwrite
• Import and Manage Media in Collections (Bins)
• Preview and Inspect Media
• Add Edit Button
• Play/Pause Button and Gesture
• Fullscreen Playback
• Left and Right Scissors buttons to trim head and tail of edits
• Next Edit and Previous Edit Buttons
• Parent Gesture for Match-back
• Open Clip's Collection gesture
• HDMI Output with full 'client monitoring' for supervised sessions (AV Connection Kit
• Grease Pencil Mode to Mark In and Out Points
• Multi-Channel Sizable Timeline Display in Portrait
• Eight Channel Audio Mixer
• Audio Patch-bay and Channel Selector
• Advanced Trim Functions: Roll and Ripple
• Lift and Load to Source Monitor
• Help Screens for all Pages
IPad 2 or later required; iOS 6 required.

Impressive. In the meantime, as we wait for TouchEdit to hit the App Store take a look at the other videos from the folks at TouchEdit.

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Michael Horton: | January, 03, 2013

If you live in LA you can see Touchedit in person on January 23. Details and registration here:

lin2log: | January, 03, 2013

And I have yet to see any iPad app that can match the AMAZING FUGLINESS of this thing… WOW! Someone take those 1986 MS-Clipart CDs away from those guys! Fast!

lin2log: | January, 03, 2013

Wow… just hearing “from source to record”, seeing V1, A2, A3 etc. etc. and two “monitors” on the top makes it *excruciatingly* clear that they have ZERO clue what touch is all about, but rather just perpetuate tired old NLE techniques that completely miss the point (and most of all advantage!) of touch. Merely catering to the think and change lazy, nothing more.

To suggest that this is somehow actually BETTER than e.g. iMovie for iPad (and I’d bet my first born only because of the use of the aforementioned terminology and metaphors, not because it’s actually BETTER or somehow harnesses the power of touch in any way shape or form) is utterly ridiculous.

Rustysclpl: | January, 03, 2013

Scott. Thank you for giving my app your attention. This app was created to address specific needs that I have as an editor. I have been a professional editor for 28 years and have been witness to the evolution of our craft. Back when I was still a student, the greatest thrill was in directly handling film. This sensation was lost with the coming of computerized editing. With the arrival of touch screen technology I feel it is time to reclaim part of the joy of tactile interaction with footage.

The bigger part of my mission is to start us down the path of what the promise of mobile technology can do for our craft. Every professional editor knows that the needs for ultra quick turn around is an every day reality. This means that editing can no longer be confined to fixed spaces. It will get done where and when it needs to get done and mobile technology helps to extend further the possibilities of how it gets done.

TouchEdit contains many of the tools that will take advantage of mobile workflows with many more to come. It embraces the simplicity of devices such as the film Flatbed editor or the CMX 6000 because this will allow Directors and Producers to also use it and easily send their comments. It will be a satellite system to my main editing room and it will allow me to directly receive scenes to edit through the cloud. It will send back lists that can have my scenes waiting for me on my main system when I arrive.

As for aesthetics, I want this to look like the machines that lasted for fifty years. This is out of respect for the craft of filmmaking. Editing machines are like musical instruments. They are played. TouchEdit is designed from scratch to be its own instrument and hopefully my colleagues will enjoy playing it.

Dan Lebental ACE

lin2log: | January, 06, 2013

“I want this to look like the machines that lasted for fifty years.”

Nothing on this planet lasted more than 10 minutes that looked anything like THAT, sorry.

“This is out of respect for the craft of filmmaking.”

LOL… gotcha. The people bleeding out their eyes will understand. :-D

RaycerX: | January, 31, 2013

Looks like a great deal of time was spent on making the interface look so horribly ugly. Only old-time editors would have any appreciation for this kind of look.

Also, $50 for this is going to be a tough sell with Apple and Pinnacle having editing apps that sell for $5 and are quite capable. This has a lot of nice features, but I think they’ll have to bring the price down to $20 before most people bite.

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