iFinish v80 Powergrade, p. 2

(Continued from Page 1)
Let's see what this baby can do, with a little basic, quick editing. In fact, that's the thing this system can do best. Here's where the "reviewtorial" part comes in. If you're an iFinish user, please feel free to follow along. If you're not, come along for the ride and you'll get a good feel for what it's like to drive this thing.

iFinish's timeline is simple and straightforward. Click image for full size view.

Take a look at this interface: Unfettered by unnecessary buttons and controls, the iFinish workspace is all business and ready to go fast. To illustrate this, here's a trick that's one of my favorite productivity tests: I capture a long clip and see how long it takes to chop it up and make some sense out of it. To start I just captured everything I shot on a tape in one long clip. After placing that giant file on the timeline and scrolling the current time indicator through the footage, I spliced the clip (Control + /) to remove unwanted footage. Then, it was an easy operation to close all the gaps (Control + K) that were created. Or, it's nice the way you can select all the clips (Control + A), and holding down the Alt key, grab any clip, thus dragging all of them into a bin. There you'll see a storyboard of your shots. This is fast and easy, and illustrates the strength of iFinish. If you don't mind remembering a few keyboard shortcuts, it's a breeze.

Now, to finish the project (pardon the pun) on the timeline I went ahead and removed those gaps between each shot, and I was now in possession of an extremely quick rough cut. Read on for a pointer to that file I created.

Here's a characteristic of the interface that could be a bit confusing, especially if you're an Avid user: When you'd like to add a shot to the timeline, you need to drag it to the blue bar at the top of the timeline instead of the timeline itself as in the Avid interface. This way, it will place the clips on the appropriate track. Conveniently, if you hold down the Alt key while you do this, you'll toggle between Insert and Overlay. By looking at the top right of the blue bar, you see whether it's an insert or overlay and it also tells you where it's going to drop that clip.

Another great convenience of this system is its ability to allow multiple methods of bringing files back and forth from other applications like After Effects, Maya and 3D Studio MAX. The most efficient way to do this is with an operation called Export by Reference. The three advantages to this are keeping your edit points, no file duplication and quality -- you get to work from the original file from within After Effects rather than a re-compressed duplicate. But why didn't the iFinish software writers include compositing within the software? According to company officials, the lack of compositing widgets allows the iFinish interface to stay streamlined and you to choose the compositing tool you prefer. Why reinvent the wheel? You'd rather use After Effects anyway! Some reviewers might downgrade iFinish for this reason, but not me.

Next: The Export From Edit Suite Command