Early Non-Linear Editing – EAR History

The Early Days of File Based Editing And Workflow

Now before you reach for a Kleenex to wipe the tears from your eyes, I promise not to get too sentimental about how we started editing video with computers for the first time, 20 years ago.  The world was a very different place for video editors in 1993. Between Sony, Ampex and few other tape manufacturers – getting into the professional video business was a $1M dollar plus proposition.

Avid MSP circa 1993 click for enlarged view

Today it seems unimaginable to spend seven-figure money to set up a video editing shop – much less “wait” for even a simple edit to take shape with clients over our shoulder. But soft leather couches, patient production people working long hours and a good cappuccino machine made the process  manageable. It was early in the 1990s and we all thought the professional video world would always be this way, expensive and slow. Within a span of just 2-3 years it all changed dramatically.

Typical of dramatic changes in high technology products, some people adopted early. While the subjective quality of the new hard disk based editors left some hold-outs, many were quick to save money and benefit from the much quicker new “non-linear” editing workstations. It would be a few more years before hard disk based editing was “broadcast quality”.

In 1993 Avid Technologies, an already successful manufacturer of $100,000 editing systems announced the first “affordable” editing solution Media Suite Pro. Five years before Apple announced Final Cut Pro, Avid was on their way to drive down the entry level price point for video editing.

EAR was the first  Apple and Avid professional video reseller in the Southwest and the new “MSP” was a huge success. At only $30,000 it was a bargain! Professional Sony tape decks were $15,000-$25,000 alone. The new price point and “AVR25” resolution made it an instant hit with smaller production companies and schools. The workflow of the day still required your edited project to be finished back to tape (ie: “layback”). However, the cost savings of buying one tape deck compared to three decks more than paid for the cost of the computer and software.   (Media Suite Pro Specification sheet from 1994)

Early MSP Features (click to view)

The system was built on the Apple Quadra 900, an early robust Mac tower computer. Apple was still a renegade computer for right-brained people, but their superior graphics and creative feel made them the obvious platform of choice. EAR was also an Apple reseller – a perfect fit for our clients! Some may remember these days with fondness, others with frustration.

The early system were not without their temperamental crashes. Like most new technology, as long as the head aches  don’t out number the advantages – people grew with the improvements and stability over the years.

Today EAR is the largest professional video editing workstation provider in the Southwest. We now cover everything from lights and cameras to content distribution and automated filed based workflow products.

We’re proud to have had the opportunity be the first of our kind in so many ways over the past decades, while still blazing new technology trails today!

EAR’s nationally renowned award winning staff offers deep product knowledge and first rate integration, management and “after the sale” support for professional audio and video products and services. We help make your purchase the most effective investment possible. Put simply – we’re in business to keep you in business profitably, since 1978.


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