Editor’s Wake- discreet edit*

Once upon a time in Canada, there was a company called Discreet Logic. They were a bold people, who developed high-end visual effects software on SGI computers called flame*, inferno*, and smoke*,for major Hollywood releases and broadcasters. They also liked to write things in only lower case and add asterisks* after* words* for* no* apparent* reason*. Looking to branch out into the industrial and lower end video markets they brought out a new NLE in the late 90’s, designed to work on PC’s and Windows NT, and they called it: edit*.

edit* quickly gained a rabid following in its market. It ran on PC workstations with a Matrox Digisuite, or Pinnacle Targa 2000 card, for a ridiculously low price of only around $10,000. The simplicity and workflow that discreet brought to the NLE interface won many converts, including myself, and for the time it was the by far the best bang-for-the-buck editor out there. You got to have a small, capable real-time, dual stream, uncompressed video system, with the cachet of the discreet name, that felt like running your video on the “big iron” systems. As someone who was trained in flame* and smoke* back in the SGI days, this was the big clincher. Combined with discreet’s combustion* motion graphics app, you could have your own mini-flame* for a fraction of the price. It was an unstoppable combination, that died a quick and pointless death.

What happened? Well first off edit* was not the most reliable and bug-free application. I imagine that working on a relatively homogenous system like SGI IRIX, didn’t prepare discreet for the slew of configurations of a Windows NT system. I, like every other edit*or, spent an inordinate amount of time tweaking drivers, troubleshooting version conflicts, and poking into the guts of NT. It is no exaggeration to say, that my now considerable skills in building and fixing Windows computers, were all learned due to trying to get edit* to just f-ing work. I know I am not alone in this. So while , when it did work it was wonderful, I spent just as much time fixing the system as I did editing with it.

Also about this time, Apple Computer was worried that all the professional video and film applications were abandoning the Mac in favor of Windows (hard to believe it now, but they were). Business was way down, and they were still only a computer company.  So in 1999 they announced at NAB, a ridiculously priced $1,000 NLE called Final Cut Pro. Hoping this super-cheap software would get some professional users to buy some high-end Macs. That actually worked out pretty well for them.

The end of edit* was a combination of buggy software, insane price pressure from competitors, and discreet’s own financial problems following the .com bust. It wasn’t too long after that Autodesk bought Discreet Logic for their IFF systems, and by June 2002, edit* had been end* of* life’d* at version 6.5

If you were an edit* owner or editor, raise a glass to the glory of discreet, and add a comment below on your memories of the system.







  1. We do doc’s, and with strained budgets, and we started with D-Vision, then Discreet Edit*. I loved it, and remember the feeling that Apple was on the way out.
    Then, in 1999, my wife and I went to the NAB where a friend was demonstrating Edit*. He told me to definitely stop at the Apple booth(s). We did, and I was surprised that they were trying for a serious system. “How much?” I asked. When I got the answer, I said “That’s for the keyboard, how much for the whole system?” It turned out that the whole system – with everything – could be well under $10,000. “Holy S…. says I, this is the end of a lot of NLE’s, maybe AVID.” Not much after that, there were a lot of disgruntled Edit* editors in a black hole and only one place to go. Oh well, I like horses, but if I go to Chicago, I’m not going to hop on Black Beauty.
    Mike G

    May 7, 2011
  2. Tom said:

    The college I teach at got “Edit” in version 3 running on dual Pentium 133’s in about 1997. Prior to that we were linear editors. The push for Edit came from a fellow instructor that used the D-Vision system. I recall we got two units, used, for $15,000 each. Budgets being what they were only a few got training on the system and one of them wasn’t me.

    No more than two years later I was at a computer swapmeet and picked up a complete, unregistered, Edit 3.5 software package for all of $35! The Truevision cards had come down in price and I got a brand new, in the box, DTX card for $300. I bought a used dual processor server board off Ebay and installed a pair of Pentium II 550 processors someone gave me for free (from a dead SGI box).
    There just happened to be a copy of NT “floating around” (no activation).

    Basically two years after the college dropped $15,000 on a used Pentium 133 Edit system I put one together one that was three times faster (and a .5 upgrade higher) for all of $500!

    The college eventually went to version 5 and I think even version 6. But Edits days seemed numbered. The instructor who pushed for it passed away. A new hire (and eventual leader) was Avid trained, we were leaving S-VHS and going DV… and the rest was history.

    It was a rather intuitive system. One thing that did drive me crazy was that the timeline colors (each clip) would change with every edit. What was that all about??? I also had issues with the IRQ numbers changing and fowling up the hardware. My understanding is people who tried to sell off their systems ran a fowl with Autodesk. Why the fuss about software they let die???

    Anyway, nice to hear people still speaking of the system.


    March 10, 2012
  3. Discreet edit* was the first Windows-based NLE I’d ever breathed the same air with. I started on the ImMix VideoCube (oh yeah!) back in 1999, upgraded to edit* in 2001 and remember DL being purchased by Autodesk. Afterward, I was on Avid Media Composer Adrenaline and now every version of Final Cut, but I do have “fond” memories of spending half a day sometimes on the phone with customer support trying not to kill the co-workers who needed their video yesterday. Cry a single tear…

    March 31, 2012
  4. M.Anand said:

    Started with Edit Ver.5 in 1996. Dumped the system last year. because of a NT problem. Now with FCP. But I found Edit much more better.

    April 24, 2012
  5. Wheels said:

    I really loved edit* I liked the multy colors for each clip, help me keep track of beginning and end of the clips. So many of the edit features like scrubbing in a bin (hover scrub in CS6) are only now 10 years later becoming available. I really wished they had kept it going, but once Apple came out with FCP, I knew they would never be able to. I still have a working system but the digisuite cardset is slowly dying and where do you find a cheap SCSI drive today? I miss it as well.

    June 18, 2012
  6. Tom said:

    Actually the “required” SCSI drives were only to meet the data speeds of the day. I ran mine on IDE, ATA 66 drives with no problem. Interesting that you liked the timeline color change. It drove me nuts. I have no issue with the clips being different colors in the timeline, but to have them change their color with each edit… drove me crazy!

    November 5, 2012
  7. shane burrell said:

    Thanks for keeping EDIT* alive – i’ve kept my keyboard and software boxes as a memento to my most favourite editing platform! I still mourn the loss and sometimes catch myself hitting tab & shift+tab to try move back and forwards through cuts….

    I sometimes hoped/wished that someone would revive the software.

    Funny thing is recent version of premiere CS6 (or5) introduced scrubbable thumbnails in the bin…….. i thought to myself, EDIT* had that back in 2002!!!!!

    Ahead of their time and perhaps still ahead

    Does anyone know who keeps the source code?

    May 8, 2013
  8. ShaneChadder said:

    I started with DVision Online when it was still Beta and our shop stayed with it as Edit all the way to 6.5, about 10 years I think. I loved it. +It was such a logical workflow and a great way to transition from linear. The ability to work low rez and recapture was critical with long from doc work when storage was a premium and it was rock solid. I think I cut my favorite docs on Edit.

    I moved to Premiere Pro 1.5 and it seemed like moving backword. I love Premiere now. It has come a long way and once computer horsepower caught up the ability to work in native file formats is such a great feature.

    August 10, 2013
  9. I started on D/Vision (DOS), offlining and then reconforming in a linear suite, then later on a Turbocube. Then came D/Vision Online, which was bought by Discreet Logic and rebranded. Better title tool than Avid, and my systems were not at all prone to crashes, despite working hard. Great years, although Boris FX was a dog! I even did the Combustion* course, to extend my skillz.

    Apparently a large part of the porn industry in California used discreet edit* in those days, as it was cheaper than alternatives like Avid.

    A lot of the technology from edit* was combined with combustion* and pushed up into smoke*, which is still being marketed by discreet as an all-in-one edit/effects suite (now only on Mac). I loved the workflow of edit* — it was fast and rock-solid when it came to reconforming from low-res to SD: it could manage just about any EDL. I think if Targa or Matrox had brought out a kick-ass HD card, and Autodesk had dropped the prices on the software (it was pretty exorbitant), then we’d be working on edit* 11.5 today. Sadly not to be, and we had to suffer through Apple’s R&D phase of FCP 3 and 4. (– those of us who couldn’t afford Avid!)

    December 22, 2013
  10. Ángel said:

    I still keep a copy on windows 2000!.
    I mean I know 100, Avid, Premiere, FCP, Lightworks and Edius.
    The best program I’ve ever met is Edit.
    Sorry about my english

    March 27, 2014
    • Sylvain Rioux said:


      June 27, 2015
  11. Yvan said:

    It’s funny but I used do work a Discreet Logic back in the day.

    Actually got hired to do the integration of the systems to run *edit.

    *edit was actually a software that got bought from a company in the US called D-VISION.

    Actually got sent there to learn and test different configuration to run that software.

    Then came back to teach a course a Discreet for all the resellers of the *edit system to help them build
    system that would run the software.

    Like you said *edit relied on very specific computer configuration to run properly, we actually certified the “Intergraph” systems.

    The software had a pretty big following here in Montreal, and I went around fixing and configuring the system when they did not run properly.

    When it ran properly it was great! But it was so prone to crashes and deep configuration of Windows that it was a nightmare to support it!

    Anyway these were the good old days, and working at Discreet is still one of my best work experience to date.


    July 10, 2014
  12. Wheels said:


    I had the same issue — a bunch of clips in edit format. It took a lot of time but I got some help a while back here are the steps I used to convert and bring into Adobe Premiere using Matrox LE

    I uninstalled the MXO2 drivers, and install the Matrox VfW codecs and then started a new “Custom” project sequence (Matrox VFW should be available on Matrox website)
    in Premiere at 720×486 to match your Matrox clips. Import clips and they play just fine.

    Exporting is where it gets tricky, and after spending about an hour straight messing around…my head hurts!

    When exporting out to the Matrox MPEG-2 I-Frame codec (compatible with MXO2), that codec is 720×480.
    Therefore, in the Export settings, a CROP must be applied to go from 486 to 480, otherwise the image is
    simply SCALED to fit and that makes it look really soft. Not an option.

    I played with the cropping settings and 5, 1 and 3,3 both came out soft, but 4 top, 2 bottom looks pretty good.

    The next fun part is to be able to set up a Watch Folder in Adobe Media Encoder to batch the whole works,
    assuming you have a large number of clips to do, and you’d want to just do them all right away since this
    process does require uninstall of the MXO2! Granted, the uninstall/reinstall can be done in a few minutes,
    but who wants to do that each time you need a clip, right?


    October 31, 2014
  13. I worked on one of the few *edit suites in Ireland way, way back. We were ready to purchase an early (Softimage) version of DS but went to NAB and saw the launch of combustion. We installed three workstations in my room, one for *edit, one running combustion and the third for 3DSMax. The integration between the three was great, even if copying media between the systems was a bit laborious.
    I rarely cut anything on *edit as we used it as a finishing suite. It was a really solid, fast solution for that kind of work and got better and better as it developed. The first version I used was very buggy but after that each version was stable. The ability to have multiple timelines open simultaneously was probably my favourite feature. Plus the amount of work you could do without having to render. Avid editors couldn’t believe I could add a colour correction under a title through a transition without stopping.
    When autodesk discontinued it we were pretty unhappy. We were able to do things in *edit quicker and better than any of the Media Composer or FCP rooms.
    We moved to Avid DS and I worked on that for over ten years until it too was discontinued. I’ve now gone full circle with Discreet and I’m now running Flame/Lustre.

    January 23, 2015
  14. Sylvain Rioux said:

    I worked on a system EDIT 1998 until 2010 or 2012 and now Sony Vegas Pro 12. I loved working on EDIT, fast. I think if he had continued it would look like Vegas but better. I love Vegas.

    June 27, 2015

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