Non-linear editing enables direct access to any video frame in a digital video clip, without needing to play or scrub/shuttle through adjacent footage to reach it, as was necessary with historical video tape linear editing systems. It is now possible to access any frame by entering directly the timecode or the descriptive metadata.
The NLE method is similar in concept to the "cut and paste" techniques used in film editing or in IT. However, with the use of non-linear editing systems, the destructive act of cutting of film negatives is eliminated. It can also be viewed as the audio/video equivalent of word processing, which is why it is called desktop video editing in the consumer space.
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