Mike Brower was the on-line editor in KET's first project to use non-linear technology in both on- and off-line editing phases. (Off-line editing is a rough edit done by the producer as an outline for the on-line editor. The on-line editor works with the producer to put together the finished program.)
The difference between linear and non-linear editing is dramatic, says Mike. In non-linear editing, the videotape footage is digitized into a computer and once it's there, you have instant access to cut, paste, edit out of chronological order, and make changes literally up to the last second. In linear editing, you work from beginning to end, in order. If you want to change something in the beginning after you've finished, you have to re-edit the entire program.
The non-linear editing frees the producer and editor creatively. "You have greater power to tell your story than with traditional editing because you can move things around easily," says Brower. "In traditional editing, the editor's focus is frame by frame, perfecting things as you go. With non-linear, you look at the flow of the program, the storytelling process. At the end you smooth things out. It becomes more like any other creative process."
Non-linear editing is like painting a picture -another of Mike's talents. "You start with a very sparse canvas -maybe the audio," says Mike. "You build on top of that, sometimes four or five layers deep. Like painting, you start rough and the closer you get to the end, you bring it to conclusion looking at the whole canvas."
Like the rest of the program's crew, Mike came away from the project with a greater knowledge of the underground railroad's story in Kentucky. "I never knew how pivotal this area was to the underground railroad," says Mike. "I also found it interesting that what you hear about Kentucky's involvement in the Civil War - that the state was divided - that slavery was somehow milder here. What an absurd notion that is."
"These are horrible, frightening stories," he adds. "and it's not so long ago."