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In the beginning...
The first video tape recorders were operated by technicians and engineers, who had no experience in the creative side of editing.

All the creative editors of course came from film. So it was natural that some form of "offline" editing be developed.

What follows are the descriptions of four early offline techniques. They're are many, many more than just these...
 



Laugh-In...
One of the most popular shows of its day was NBC's "Laugh-In" (1968 - 1973). This show was recorded and conformed on two inch tape, but edited on film. This was done before the advent of Time Code or electronic editing.

During taping, "Editor Sync Guide" (ESG) was recorded on the second audio channel. ESG consists of two voices counting.

After taping, the selected takes were transferred to 16-millimeter film, with mag audio, and the ESG.

The film and audio tracks were then cut using tradition film techniques.

Once the offline was completed, the video tape editor manually conformed the video tape, using the Smith splicer, and making his cuts based on the ESG.
 
Click here if you're interested in more about Editors Sync Guide
 



Hal Collins...
The late Hal Collins was a Hollywood film editor and was also one of the first editors to edit video using film techniques.

In this case, the video tape was transferred to film, with the time code visualy displayed in the image (ed: poorly).

Hal would edit the film and mag tracks.

His finished work print would then be transferred back to a master video tape. This master tape would include new, continuous, time code. This new time code would also be visually displayed in the recording.

The video editor would then create an editing log showing the times from the work print and the corresponding times on the master tape.

Once this log was finished, the editor would then electronically replace the work print scenes with the original material.
 



Barney Miller...
ABC's "Barney Miller" (1975 - 1982) was another extremely popular show that was shot on video tape, and edited offline.

In this case, the editing was done on 1" IVC's, but the process was quite unique.

The show was taped with four camera's, each camera fed its own recorder. A fifth camera, also feeding its own recorder, was focused on four TV screens, one for each of the other camera's.

In post, the editor first did a cut using the "quad" tape. Once that was done, an assistant editor would replace the quad pictures with the isolated tapes.

Once the final work print was ready. The assistant editor would read the time codes off the tape, and using an IBM Model 29 card punch, prepare one card for each edit.

These cards were then read by a conversion program to create a standard edit decision list on paper tape. This final paper tape was used to auto assemble the show.
 



Darkroom Timer...
Photo of darkroom timer This story is true, and one of my favorites. As producers saw the value of offline (reduced cost, and greater creativity), some came up with some very creative ways to offline their productions.
At the very least, they would view tapes with burned in time code, and create paper logs to speed up the auto-assembly process. But one producer went far beyond this.

They used two IVC-870 1" VTR's and one of those large, black darkroom timers.

The tapes would be manually parked 10-seconds before the edit point, and the timer would be set to 10-seconds.

Then with one switch, the two VTR's would be placed in play, and the timer started. When the timer reached zero, it would trigger the Edit.

This system worked very well, and was used to produce a full season of shows.
 



CMX-600...
Photo of CMX-600 Console
Console
 
Photo of CMX-600 Disk Drives
Disk Drives
and Control Electronics
Released in 1971, the CMX-600 was the first Random Access Video Editor. Audio and video were stored on computer disk's, and the editor had access to any frame at any time.

During the edit session, no splices were actually done. Rather, the computer simply played the various scenes in the sequence desired. At any time the scene could be trimmed, or a new scene placed between two existing scenes, and immediately played back.
 

 
But the 600 was really ahead of the available technology and it suffered from several short comings. First it was very expensive (about $250,000 per system), second only a very few were built (6), third, at the most, it could store about 27-minutes of a very poor quality black and white video.
 
Despite its short comings, it was used to edit a number of shows and commercials, and it first demonstrated those concepts that are just now being realized in today's non-linear editors.
 
More on the 600
 


CMX-50...
Photo of CXM-50 System Released in 1974, the CMX-50 was a self-contained offline editing system. It controlled Sony VO-2850 U-Matic VTR's and included a self contained audio mixer and video switcher.
 
It was a very popular offline editing system.


CMX-Edge...
Photo of CXM-Edge
Photo: Ted Langdell
The CMX Edge. Was used as both an offline and online editing system.


CBS Offline
CBS Off-line Single Camera editing System
CBS Off-Line Single Camera Editing system.

Click here to view an 8 minute demo video from the 1980's (requires Microsoft Windows Media Player).