I haven’t posted much in the last few months, because there have not been many new developments that caught my eye or piqued my curiosity. But this month we are seeing a number of releases that are relevant, and moving the industry forward. The first one to actually become available to users is Avid’s release this morning.
After announcing it last week, today Avid released the next version of Media Composer, and it is a major update. The key thing that will affect all users is that the program will now be a natively 64bit application. This will exclude users who still have 32bit systems, but allow the software to use more RAM, and therefore effectively do larger projects, on 64bit systems, which are pretty prevalent at this point. From what I can tell, re-coding an entire application for 64bit is also good for cleaning up the code for existing features, and streamline performance and threading. Avid’s primary competition: Adobe Premiere Pro, saw a huge improvement in both performance and stability when the first 64bit version (CS5) was released. This has led to a huge increase in that application’s popularity, especially for larger projects. The level of competition presented by that change may be a key factor in why we are now seeing so many major changes from Avid.
The next most significant new feature, that will affect many users, especially new ones, is “Avid Open I/O” which is Avid’s new approach to integrating hardware with Media Composer. Avid now supports hardware I/O via products from AJA, Blackmagic, Matrox and others. We have seen hints of this coming, with support for the Matrox MXO2-Mini and AJA ioExpress in versions 5.0 and 5.5 respectively. This change has two major benefits, it will allow most users access to professional hardware I/O solutions without paying for Avid’s overpriced hardware, and nearly as important, it will allow edit systems to run multiple applications on the same system and hardware. Add this to advances in project compatibility and interchange, and users will be able move their editing projects between Avid and Premiere Pro (and FCP on the Mac side) on the same systems, using the same video output hardware.
Avid also added a myriad of new features to enhance more advanced workflows, with better support for stereoscopic content, more advanced color correction tools, and surround sound mixing options on the audio side. They also have a 4:4:4 RGB version of the popular DNxHD codec, and natively support ProRes files. Their Symphony finishing toolset no longer requires Nitris DX hardware, but I have yet to find the pricing structure for that option. It looks to be a solid feature set, and I am looking forward to trying it out.