Fresh out of college, my first real job was at a postproduction house in New York City. There I was fortunate enough to brush elbows with editors who'd been in the business for decades. One of the things you need to last in the ever-changing world of postproduction is the ability to evolve with the development of the technology that surrounds you. As you might imagine, a recurring topic at my old office was nostalgia over the old way of cutting film, when you handed reels of film that you had to physically cut. I'd done this exactly once, in college for a class assignment. Still, I was enchanted by these storied editors waxing romantic about the bygone editing era, as they zinged masterfully through revisions on an all-digital editing program.

Well, it was exactly this kind of nostalgia that editor Dan Lebental tapped into when he invented TouchEdit, an editing platform designed to work on the iPad. Lebental is best-known for his work with Jon Favreau. He's cut seven of Favreau's features, including Iron Man, and THR reports he'll be using TouchEdit to cut Favreau's next venture, which could be the musical Jersey Boys.

Lebental, like all the editors I've ever worked with, recognizes the advantages of digital editing. It's a faster way to cut, and far less destructive since there is no physical cutting of footage. However, Lebental missed the simplicity of old school editing and the feel of film. He missed being physically engaged with the art he was creating. But when he got his first iPad a couple of years back, he realized this could be the perfect way to get in touch with film editing again. He'd make his own “21st century version of the Moviola.”

As you can see in the layout above, a screengrab courtesy of THR, the program has a retro feel with its look of film print to represent the digital frames. Like Final Cut, TouchEdit has a source and record monitor, and the two film strips below are the corresponding, one from the source, the other the edited sequence. Users can scroll through the film with their fingers and use a virtual grease pencil to mark in an out points. In its present form, TouchEdit offers up to eight audio tracks, collects meta data like timecode, and uses the same media formats that the iPad currently supports.

Lebental says his goal was to make the program easy to use without losing the tools he's grown accustomed to, explaining, “About 85-90% of the tools that I use to do huge movies are in here in some shape or form.” TouchEdit 1.0 is a standalone editor, but the editorial entrepreneur is already developing upgrades. He hopes to have the program for sale in the App store in the future for an introductory price of $50. While that might sound like a lot for an app, it's an insanely low price for a decent editing program. And with iPads becoming more evolved and moviemaking become more and more mobile, this program seems an inevitable and much needed next step.

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