This method is similar to the concept of the “cut and paste” technique used in film editing from the beginning. However, the cutting of film negatives made it originally a destructive process.
Non linear editing or non-destructive methods began to appear with the introduction of digital video technology. Non Linear Editing can also be viewed as the audio/video equivalent of word processing, that is why it is also called desktop editing in the consumer space.
Video and audio data are first captured to hard disks or other digital storage devices. The data is either recorded directly to the storage device or is imported from another source.
Once imported they can be edited on a computer using any of a wide range of video editing software. For a comprehensive list of available software, you can explore online the list of video editing software presently available in the market, whereas comparison of video editing software gives more detail of features and functionality.
In non-linear editing, the original source files are not lost or modified during audio and video editing. Professional video editing software records the decisions of the editor in an Edit Decision List (EDL) which can be interchanged with other video editing tools. Many generations and variations of the original source files can exist without need to store many different copies, allowing for very flexible non linear editing. Video Editing Software also makes it easy to change cuts and undo previous decisions simply by editing the edit decision list (without having to have the actual film data duplicated). Loss of quality is also avoided due to not having to repeatedly re-encode the data when different effects are applied. This is the reason why the demand for non-linear video editors is high in the film and video industry.
Compared to the linear method of tape-to-tape editing, non linear editing offers the flexibility of film editing, with random access and easy project organization. With the edit decision lists in non linear editing software, the editor can work on low-resolution copies of the video. Presence of such facility in non linear editing software makes it possible to edit both standard-definition broadcast quality and high definition broadcast quality very quickly on normal PCs which do not have the power to do the full processing of the huge full-quality high-resolution data in real-time.
The costs of Non Linear Editing systems or software have dropped such that non-linear editing tools are now within the reach of home users. Some video editing software can now be accessed free as web applications; like Cinelerra (focused on the professional market) and Blender3D, can be downloaded free of charge; and some, like AVS Video Editor, Microsoft’s Windows Movie Maker or Apple Computer’s iMovie, come included with the appropriate operating system.
A computer for non-linear editing of video will usually have a video capture card to capture analog video and/or a FireWire connection to capture digital video from a DV camera, with its video editing software. Modern web based editing systems can take video directly from a camera phone over a GPRS or 3G mobile connection, and editing can take place through a web browser interface, so strictly speaking a computer for video editing does not require any installed hardware or software beyond a web browser and an internet connection.
Various editing tasks can then be performed on the imported video before it is exported to another medium, or MPEG encoded for transfer to a DVD.