A new sub-£200 piece of software that generates a first edit of a documentary by itself is set to divide the editing community.

Described as “autopilot” for editors, First Cuts is developed by Intelligent Assistance and works alongside Final Cut Pro (FCP).

It takes an XML feed from FCP and provides a full rough cut edit complete with story arc, sound bites, B-roll (cutaways) and name straps (captions).

The only decisions an editor has to make after logging the footage are which templates to use, the duration of the edit and the story's subject keywords.

Co-developer Philip Hodgetts believes it's time that some of the easier editing functions were delegated to software.

“It's the first real editing innovation since non-linear editing was popularised with the release of Avid's Media Composer version one, 19 years ago,” he said. “Non-linear dropped the cost of a change, revision or alternate edit dramatically. [This] achieves similar dramatic cost reductions by allowing our software to do some of the work of the editor.”

Traditionalists have questioned whether a piece of software can replicate craft skills. One editor discussing the issue described First Cuts as “the equivalent of the drum machine.”

Rather than replacing the editor, Hodgetts maintains that weeks can be saved in these first
rough “stringouts”.

“It's not about killing the editor,” he said. “We're just saying, here's another way of using the computer to make you more efficient.”