By Heather Wallace
is a career that is much needed during the entertainment industry. The better you
are at your job, the more demanding it gets. Your .client usually is willing to pay
a great amount of money for your service, and they expect from you to get their money's
worth. They are usually willing to pay from $15 to $60 an hour for free-lance editors.
In turn the editor must be willing to put in extended shifts such as 20 to 30 hours
in a day. You may think these are long hours now, just imagine how long it would
take to physically splice and edit the tape by hand using a razor blade. Ouch!
It was in 1956 that Ampex Corp. introduced the first 2" Video Tape Recording
System (VTR). In the late 1950's the only way to edit the tape was to actually physically
splice the tape using a razor blade. This was time consuming and very aggravating.
Therefore, Ampex developed a device called the splicing block. It consisted of a
cutting blade mounted across the guide while the user viewed the splice point through
The first electronic editing system was introduced in the early sixties. The system
was called the "record" or "edit" VTR. Using a "playback"
or "source" VTR, the editor was able to watch the original shots and use
the other VTR to rerecord the desired shots. The advantages of this method was that
there was less damage caused by the physical handling. As well, the master tape was
preserved as a backup.
Ampex then developed a device that marked the tape electronically in 1963. This system,
EDITEC, allowed the the user to control audio-only and video-only. It also had an
advance/delay cue system. This allowed video animation possible by using the frame
by frame shift-editing points and an "automatic" edit.
The Electronic Engineering Company of America (EECO) created a system called the
EECO 901 editing system in 1967 They also came up with a time code system which allowed
the user to enter the hour, minute, second and frame numbers of the edit start and
stop points. However, this time code was different from other time codes. So in 1969,
a commission was formed by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.
This commission consisted of representatives from Ampex Corp, EECO, Advertel, and
Central Dynamics. They argued and negotiated for about four years and finally came
up with a standard time code system called SMPTE.
The Breakthrough of the CMX 600
The CMX600 was the first digital disk-based nonlinear editing system. It was designed
in 1970 by CBS and Memorex. Basically, the CMX600 system used magnetic computer disks
that were made to store analog video. The process involved transferring the film
to videotape, or transferring the original 2" tape onto 6-12 39MB disk drives
the size of a refrigerator. About five minutes could be stored on one disk drive
This meant that 12 disks could only store about 1 hour. However, some may beg to
differ on calling the CMX600, the first digital nonlinear editing system because
the format of the transfer was analog, therefore not digital in nature.
The system was used for many years but it eventually went downhill. The processing
capabilities were limited, it did not do dissolves well, not all the software was
complete, and basically it was just too expensive being priced at $200,000 - $300,000.
However, it did get the wheels turning towards the future of Digital Nonlinear Editing.
This is just a very small portion of the history of video editing. As you can see
the systems and production of video editing has come an extremely long way since
the CMX600. And most likely will continue to change and progress in the future. The
transformation of technology through the years has now brought us to full digital
editing on the computer using many different types of software. Editing is now much
easier but still requires a great deal of time and skill to produce an award winning
piece of work.
Heather Wallace is
a second year college student at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in
Calgary. For her first year she attended the Alberta College of Art and Design and
is now taking her second year in SAIT's Multimedia program. Her plans for after she
graduates is to open her own multimedia company.