Code as a medium to reflect, act and emancipate: Case study of audiovisual tools that question standardised editing interfaces

Quelic Berga Carreras
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

Code as a medium to reflect, act and emancipate: Case study of audiovisual tools that question standardised editing interfaces

Standards are important in our society to enable industrialized processes. Standardised protocols, unified ways to interact and a global infrastructure, help optimize the grow of the industries, from production and distribution goods to cultural production. For so, not only standardised protocols, but also common interfaces have been popularised to build up on a common consumption culture. Those interfaces are visual, and use attractive metaphors such as productivity, freedom, power and neutrality. It is well known that any Graphical User Interface (GUI) uses metaphors that relate to the cultural, economical and political systems from where they belong.

This paper focus on digital tools for editing video; those mainstream and commercial belonging to popular consumers, but also those experimental or open source tools, used more commonly in artistic and hacker environments.

Accepting the historical importance of the metaphors used in the first personal computers to reduce the gap between analog and computational environments, the old logics translated into icons and interfaces used in analog cinema and video editing become no longer appropriate today. Mainstream software interfaces such as Adobe Premiere or Apple FinalCut drive expert computer users and young new users into a limiting experience. In the case of expert users, the possibilities of coding are lacking, and for new users, most of the icons have no references to real life situations any more. A new logic to the new computational context is needed to fully take advantage of the environment.

Alternatives to conventional concepts of film edition are shown by analysing few examples. Case study of projects that build their own metaphors, or that use what have been called creative coding to explore in a more direct way what possibilities open up in this new computational context.

As a result, new ways of editing, storytelling and realtime contextualization in film edition are detected by observing cases that mix audiovisual techniques and computation. A consideration of the limits and possibilities of editing using scripts in a command line interfaces instead of graphical user interfaces is exposed. We conclude that metaphors such as premiere or final cut, together with many of the ideas underlying in the logics of the mainstream production system, such as authorship or masterpiece can today evolve into more complex and rich concepts and for so, a critical approach to the interface is needed.