A new piece of software that works with FCP has the potential to save an editor time - and act as inspiration - by doing the first rough cut by itself. But does this ‘artificial intelligence' take away the craft of the editor, wonders Will Strauss.

Something short and snappy from me this week. I've seen a demo of a new sub-£200 piece of software that generates a first edit of a documentary all by itself and I'd like to know what you think of it.

It's called First Cuts and it's developed by Intelligent Assistance in the States. It works in conjunction with Final Cut Pro and, to cut a short story even shorter, is a bit like ‘autopilot' for editors.

You log your footage - adding relevant metadata - in FCP and then dump an XML feed into First Cuts. You then choose the subject and duration of your film and the templates you want to use. After that the software creates you a rough edit all by itself.

You get b-roll cutaways without jump cuts, name straps and story arc. OK, it's far from finished but it is an interesting way to see (roughly) what the footage you've got to play with might offer you at the end.

I suspect that some traditionalists will question whether a piece of software can or should be attempting to replicate the skills of a craftsperson. One editor discussing the issue on an industry forum described First Cuts as “the equivalent of the drum machine.”

Philip Hodgetts, the man who co-developed First Cuts, believes that rather than replacing or diminishing the responsibility of the editor, it will actually help him/her. He says these early ‘stringouts' will save time by quickly producing edits that work as inspiration for the story being told.

He says: “It's not about killing the editor. We're just saying, here's another way of using the computer to make you more efficient as an editor and focus on the real role of being creative.”

Here is a video demo. (Alternative link: First Cuts)

What do you make of it? Is this a crime against craft editing? Or could it really save time and act as inspiration? Have your say below.