D/Vision was an early non-linear digital editing software product that never really caught on with the professional filmmaking community.

On paper, D/Vision took all the marbles. It was designed as an alternative to the Avid Film Composer, which--at requisite industrial strength--cost five times as much. D/Vision in the beginning had better resolution, was much easier to operate, and best of all it ran on off-the-shelf PC hardware under DOS. IBM's old ActionMedia II video-capture board was the only thing you couldn't pick up at your local computer emporium.

The D/Vision software design was incomparable. Though it could've used a "cosmetic" make-over right up until the day it died, it was absolutely intuitive. It allowed a person who'd never edited a frame of video before to become an "editor" in about half an hour.

The programmers paid attention to just exactly what it is that film editors do, and the software showed it. The early Avid, by contrast, felt like a really nifty computer that could also edit film. Which of course is what it was. When Hollywood film editors who had tried all the various fledgling systems got together, it was pretty much unanimous that D/Vision was what they were looking for.

But there were other issues. Just as in the VHS versus Beta battle, Wintel versus Mac, Linux, Unix, and all the others, market matters came to bear.

The fact is Hollywood didn't even want a D/Vision Chevrolet instead of an Avid Rolls Royce. People drive Rolls Royces in Hollywood all the time. Nobody cared how much a system cost because, basically, systems were rented. Savvy studio executives saw no reason to invest in hardware that would soon be obsolete

Hardware costs came down. New software solutions came along. Companies that were better-capitalized and able to hang in for the long-haul persevered.

The biggest mistake the D/Vision folks made was never developing a 24 frame film (as opposed to a 30 frame video representation of film) program. Had they done so, feature film makers would've flocked to their machine, because features need lots of storage--hundreds and hundreds of gigabytes, even today, with much better compression algorithms. When the D/Vision and Avid were new kids on the block, a gig of storage cost over three thousand dollars. Anybody'd have picked PC over Macintosh on cost alone--just like they did out in the real world.

Things changed too quickly for these pioneers. They failed to adapt to the new standards that they themselves helped introduce. They never bothered to code the assistant editor software that is essential to the post production process. Brighter minds came up with better-marketed solutions. The D/Vision became a museum exhibit instead of an adaptable tool.

And now we are poised on the cusp of yet another sea-change in the editing of pictures and sound by computer. Apple has given us Final Cut Pro, competing directly with Avid, the survivor of the First World Non-Linear Editing War. And guess what? It's a scaleable software-only solution, and it runs on off-the-shelf iMac and G4 boxes. Sound familiar?

A good idea is a good idea is a good idea.

On Hollywood and filmmaking:

Below the Line

sex drugs and divorce

a little life, interrupted
  1. Hecho en Mejico
  2. Entrances
  3. Sam's Song
  4. Hemingway and Fortuna
  5. Hummingbird on the Left
  6. The Long and Drunken Afternoon
  7. Safe in the Lap of the Gods
  8. Quetzal Birds in Love
  9. Angela in Paradise
  10. And the machine ran backwards

a secondhand coffin
how to act
Right. Me and Herman Melville
Scylla and Charybdis Approximately
snowflakes and nylon

I could've kissed Orson Welles
the broken dreams of Orson Welles
the last time I saw Orson Welles
The Other Side of the Wind

Below the Line
completion bond
Film Editing
Film Editor
Final Cut Pro
forced development
HD Video
king of the queens
Kubrick polishes a turd
movies from space
Persistence of Vision
Sven Nykvist
Wilford Brimley

21 Grams
Andrei Rublyov
Apocalypse Now Redux
Ivan's Childhood
The Jazz Singer
The Sacrifice
We Were Soldiers
Wild Strawberries

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