Once upon a time in Canada, there was a company called Discreet Logic. They were a bold people, who developed high-end visual effects software on SGI computers called flame*, inferno*, and smoke*,for major Hollywood releases and broadcasters. They also liked to write things in only lower case and add asterisks* after* words* for* no* apparent* reason*. Looking to branch out into the industrial and lower end video markets they brought out a new NLE in the late 90′s, designed to work on PC’s and Windows NT, and they called it: edit*.
edit* quickly gained a rabid following in its market. It ran on PC workstations with a Matrox Digisuite, or Pinnacle Targa 2000 card, for a ridiculously low price of only around $10,000. The simplicity and workflow that discreet brought to the NLE interface won many converts, including myself, and for the time it was the by far the best bang-for-the-buck editor out there. You got to have a small, capable real-time, dual stream, uncompressed video system, with the cachet of the discreet name, that felt like running your video on the “big iron” systems. As someone who was trained in flame* and smoke* back in the SGI days, this was the big clincher. Combined with discreet’s combustion* motion graphics app, you could have your own mini-flame* for a fraction of the price. It was an unstoppable combination, that died a quick and pointless death.
What happened? Well first off edit* was not the most reliable and bug-free application. I imagine that working on a relatively homogenous system like SGI IRIX, didn’t prepare discreet for the slew of configurations of a Windows NT system. I, like every other edit*or, spent an inordinate amount of time tweaking drivers, troubleshooting version conflicts, and poking into the guts of NT. It is no exaggeration to say, that my now considerable skills in building and fixing Windows computers, were all learned due to trying to get edit* to just f-ing work. I know I am not alone in this. So while , when it did work it was wonderful, I spent just as much time fixing the system as I did editing with it.
Also about this time, Apple Computer was worried that all the professional video and film applications were abandoning the Mac in favor of Windows (hard to believe it now, but they were). Business was way down, and they were still only a computer company. So in 1999 they announced at NAB, a ridiculously priced $1,000 NLE called Final Cut Pro. Hoping this super-cheap software would get some professional users to buy some high-end Macs. That actually worked out pretty well for them.
The end of edit* was a combination of buggy software, insane price pressure from competitors, and discreet’s own financial problems following the .com bust. It wasn’t too long after that Autodesk bought Discreet Logic for their IFF systems, and by June 2002, edit* had been end* of* life’d* at version 6.5
If you were an edit* owner or editor, raise a glass to the glory of discreet, and add a comment below on your memories of the system.