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Avid DS as alternative?

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Brad Bussé
Avid DS as alternative?
on Jul 12, 2011 at 6:51:14 pm

I placed in one of the qualifying scores in an international contest held by Softimage back in the Softimage 3D days. The reward was a week of training, and being part of the first class to be certified in the highest level of SI 3D. One of the other bonuses, was that I got to play with Softimage XSI and Softimage DS before they were shown to the public. I thought DS was very cool, but I was primarily working in 3D at the time. I know that there's some people out there who have been using DS (now Avid DS) for many years, and love it, but it never really caught on with a large user base. I was just looking at it again, and I see that it has direct import capability of Avid MC projects.

Is there anyone in here who has been using the more recent versions of DS who would like to share their opinion on the capabilities, workflow (both within DS and alongside MC), and support for DS?


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Richard Cooper
Re: Avid DS as alternative?
on Jul 12, 2011 at 8:03:44 pm

Try posting this on the AVID Forum here at the Cow, You may have better luck getting good feedback there.

Best,

Richard Cooper
FrostLine Productions, LLC
Anchorage, Alaska
http://www.frostlineproductions.com


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Brad Bussé
Re: Avid DS as alternative?
on Jul 12, 2011 at 8:34:58 pm

Thanks, I've posted this over there too. For those interested in following;
http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/45/880935


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Joe Moya
Re: Avid DS as alternative?
on Jul 12, 2011 at 11:43:40 pm

if you post here...

http://community.avid.com/forums/34.aspx

that is a VERY active AVID forum that might add to the creative cow information


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Walter Soyka
Re: Avid DS as alternative? (Paging Tom Daigon?)
on Jul 12, 2011 at 8:13:07 pm

I'd be interested in this discussion, too. I've been doing a bit of Smoke training, and I'd love to hear how people are using DS for finishing in the real world and how it compares with Autodesk.

I believe Tom Daigon is an experienced DS user -- hopefully he'll see this thread and chime in. I think he's moving to PPro, and I'd be very curious to hear his take if he's interested in responding.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Avid DS as alternative? (Paging Tom Daigon?)
on Jul 12, 2011 at 8:57:33 pm

A very biased personal opinion:

Softimage DS was an absolutely brilliant product that was way ahead of its time - and then a company called AVID came along and bought it out and it stopped developing meaningfully and started become crankier and crankier. In many respects it's still really great and can do a lot of what Smoke can do - it's a really great nodal compositor in addition to everything else it can do.

But it's hardly a tool for everyday offline editing - any more than, in my opinion Smoke would be. You'd only be using a fraction of its power and it's not the greatest editing tool out there anyway, any more than Smoke is.

As I said, very a very personal opinion ...

Simon Ubsdell
Director/Editor/Writer
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Walter Soyka
Re: Avid DS as alternative?
on Jul 12, 2011 at 9:05:14 pm

I've been lurking on the DS list for a while to try to get a sense of what issues people run into with it in real usage, and it seems like DS is very much playing second fiddle to MC -- especially around new features like AMA.

I'm also highly disturbed by the reports of poor stability with the 3D DVE.

Finally, I'm shocked that while Autodesk has spent the last year and a half selling Smoke hard to FCP shops for finishing, Avid marketing barely seems to know DS exists...

Simon, do you have any thoughts in particular on areas on DS that are particularly good or particularly bad for finishing and for compositing or graphics-heavy short form work?

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Avid DS as alternative?
on Jul 12, 2011 at 9:21:18 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Simon, do you have any thoughts in particular on areas on DS that are particularly good or particularly bad for finishing and for compositing or graphics-heavy short form work?"

I have to say I haven't used DS in earnest in the last two years so things may have improved - but nothing in its development since AVID took it over leads me to suspect that would be the case. I have had bad experiences with AMA using Media Composer and don't expect it to be that great on DS either, but I might be being unfair.

As a finishing tool, I think DS is a serious contender and has been for a long time. The nodal compositing was always very well thought out to my mind and puts it in the big leagues if you know what you're doing. I don't think it's the greatest tool for grading because you're stuck with the appalling AVID color correction toolset which I can't believe that anybody takes seriously, though I know many people do.

I don't know what it's like now but I found that the more code that AVID carelessly slapped onto it the slower it got overall to the point where it seemed to me not to be as fast as it ought to be in today's terms especially when working at 2K, but maybe my experience was unfortunate in this regard.

I do think it's well worth having a good look at - I much preferred it to Smoke personally ... My only worry is that AVID have always appeared to be on the point of dropping it as a product and we all know how scary it can be when a supplier does that to you!!!!!!!!

;-)

Simon Ubsdell
Director/Editor/Writer
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Brian Mulligan
Re: Avid DS as alternative? (Paging Tom Daigon?)
on Jul 12, 2011 at 10:11:25 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "But it's hardly a tool for everyday offline editing - any more than, in my opinion Smoke would be. You'd only be using a fraction of its power and it's not the greatest editing tool out there anyway, any more than Smoke is.
"


I disagree. I use Smoke everyday for creative editorial for spot work and short-long form. It is a good editor. The fact that you can make edit decisions and then apply FX or edit with FX, gives you a lot of freedom and flexibility.

Brian Mulligan
Senior Editor - Autodesk Smoke
WTHR-TV Indianapolis,IN, USA
Twitter: @bkmeditor


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moody glasgow
Re: Avid DS as alternative? (Paging Tom Daigon?)
on Jul 13, 2011 at 12:06:52 am

I agree with Brian. Smoke is a very capable editor, but it does have a relatively steep learning curve.

moody glasgow
smoke/flame


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Tom Daigon
Re: Avid DS as alternative? (Paging Tom Daigon?)
on Jul 13, 2011 at 12:31:04 am

Ha...just came across my page ;-) DS was a wonderfully innovative tool when it came out in the early 90's. I do miss the creativity that was possible in making custom effects and transitions with its nodal abilities.But from where Im sitting its heyday has came and gone. It suffered a lot from being all but ignored by Avid, in terms of development and promotion. I loved it at first, but over time its propitiatory system made integration with other necessary software either difficult or impossible. After my experience with Adobe CS 5.5 the last few weeks, its not even a consideration. Adobe cares about developing CS 5.5. Avid barely seems to tolerate DS. The need for motion graphics is streamlined in CS 5.5 In DS it was slow and clunky. I don't need its limited range of tools now that I have things like Mocha, Cameratrakcer, After Effects, Magic Bullet and the Trapcode suite to augment my editing abilities. RIP DS. I would never consider going back.

Tom Daigon
Avid DS / PrP / After Effects Editor
http://www.hdshotsandcuts.com


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Bret Williams
Re: Avid DS as alternative? (Paging Tom Daigon?)
on Jul 13, 2011 at 1:42:53 am

Early 90's??? Wasn't it around '98?


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Tom Daigon
Re: Avid DS as alternative? (Paging Tom Daigon?)
on Jul 13, 2011 at 1:58:11 am

I was at a beta test facility that had it a few years before release. Might have been 95 or 96. At this point in my life all time is relative ;-)

Tom Daigon
Avid DS / PrP / After Effects Editor
http://www.hdshotsandcuts.com


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Brad Bussé
Re: Avid DS as alternative? (Paging Tom Daigon?)
on Jul 13, 2011 at 2:47:03 am

Softimage unveiled DS at Siggraph '99.

Thanks for the replies. That's too bad--DS was a super slick tool in its first revision. Smoke looks great, and I'd probably go that route if the new low price wasn't still out of budget. I guess it's between Premiere Pro which I already have as part of the Production Premium suite, or back to AVID proper. Well, unless Apple releases the TB 16-core Mac Pros along with Lion on Thursday ... and then unlocks all of the missing features in the Lion build; "FCP X Extreme", including 64-bit Soundtrack, 64-bit Compressor, and an integrated node-based Phenomenon compositor with a real 3D environment and useable motion graphics tools. Sigh ... the kid in me will miss speculating about what will be released next by Apple, and when ... the professional preditor in me will not.


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Bret Williams
Re: Avid DS as alternative? (Paging Tom Daigon?)
on Jul 13, 2011 at 3:07:00 am

Wikipedia backs up my memory. It was released January 1998 according to the history.


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Brad Bussé
Re: Avid DS as alternative? (Paging Tom Daigon?)
on Jul 13, 2011 at 3:43:42 am

Your memory is better than mine ... (you didn't just now edit the wiki before posting, did you?) ;) I guess what I saw was XSI before it was unveiled, and probably beta 3 of DS. Anyway, DS was new to me at the time since I wasn't doing video/finishing work back then. Man, lots has changed since then. That's back when 3D apps were $17k per license which ran on a "cheap" $9k NT-based SGI alternative, and FCP didn't exist). I wonder what we'll be reminiscing about in a decade from now; "yeah, I remember when Autodesk bought out Avid, it was about 5 years before they were bought by Apple to get back into the Pro Apps market which they slowly let die over the next 5 years; so, 2011 I guess, give or take a couple of years".


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Bret Williams
Re: Avid DS as alternative? (Paging Tom Daigon?)
on Jul 13, 2011 at 5:06:38 am

I just remembered I had just gone freelance when it came out and I went freelance Jan 1, 1998.


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Bret Williams
Re: Avid DS as alternative? (Paging Tom Daigon?)
on Jul 13, 2011 at 5:09:13 am

I remember back in 2000 I did a tutorial or two on someone's DS and was quite impressed that it supported vector based images like AE.


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Michael Aranyshev
Re: Avid DS as alternative?
on Jul 12, 2011 at 9:36:20 pm

Editing functionality is hardly present. Keying and compositing math is good. As for grading it didn't have any colorist panel support last time I checked.


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Declan MacErlane
Re: Avid DS as alternative?
on Jul 14, 2011 at 1:25:13 pm

Hi,

I've been on DS since 2000.

The biggest shame for DS is the incredibley poor product management coming from Avid since they aquired it, and also the woeful marketing.
I found Smoke on a Mac to be no match for DS, but you compare the buzz around Smoke compared to DS and you immediately see Avid's lack of ability or interest in marketing their own, should-be flag ship product.

All that may be changing (very slowly) now and there are some great people still involved with DS.

As an alternative to FCP I'd say it would be a better fit than MC in most areas. I strongly recommend it.

With the exception of multicam it is an excellent offline editor. I came to DS from Media Composer and quickly prefered and was faster with DS.

The 2d compositing, in particular with the Effects Tree (like Batch in Smoke) combined with layers, is excellent. Very fast and very intuitive.

The grading in DS is excellent. True it doesn't have a tangent panel or similar (shameful) but I expect that this will change. DS does have realtime secondaries, as well as the ability to use an infinate amount of shapes (power windows?).

The graphics module is head and shoulders above the Autodesk products, with text, handwriting, cloning, shapes, alpha creation etc... It is perfectly suited to online. However DS does lack some of the presets which make motion graphics more suited to After Effects.

The 3dDVE is weak, and feels half finished. Like a lot of DS, it has been largely under developed since Avid bought it. It is shameful but true and they have squandered a terrific head start they had. DS lacks a comprehensive 3d Compositing environment; planar and 3d tracking; particles and some other niggley bits, although there are workarounds for most things.

There you go. That's my honest and hopefuly balanced opinion. Over all DS is a very powerful and versatile tool. If I were moving from FCP it is definitely the direction I'd be going.

Cheers,
Dec


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Avid DS as alternative?
on Jul 14, 2011 at 2:14:41 pm

Great review of DS, Declan. I'd agree with all of that, especially the point about what AVID have done to the product, or rather not done.

The only thing I would say is that it's hardly a direct alternative to FCP for anyone looking to move to another editing tool. The truth is it's far, far more powerful than FCP ever was or could have been, and with that comes the fact that for a lot of people it would be a massive steep learning curve to get up to speed with DS. Like Smoke, it's very much a product designed for the power-user - rather than a basic tool for cutting pictures.

Simon Ubsdell
Director/Editor/Writer
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Declan MacErlane
Re: Avid DS as alternative?
on Jul 15, 2011 at 9:50:15 am

You're right Simon. It is definitely a big step up.

As far as the steep learning curve goes, I'd say it is relatively easy to get up and running on DS, editing and simple titles. Then, take your time, explore, and enjoy.

And you can install it on your Mac as well which should be an incentive to FCP users...

Now if only Avid would step up and offer something similar to what they are doing with MC... Oh wait, I just saw some flying bacon ;-)

Cheers,
Dec


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Brad Bussé
Re: Avid DS as alternative?
on Jul 14, 2011 at 8:36:31 pm

Thank you for the thorough reply!


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