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Is this what Avid used to be like?

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Greg Andonian
Is this what Avid used to be like?
on May 13, 2013 at 11:58:13 pm

My NLE experience doesn't go back far enough for any first-hand knowledge of it, but over the years I've read a lot of online horror stories about the greedy, arrogant behemoth that Avid used to be before FCP Legacy came along- and this change of direction that Adobe is taking is conjuring up images of them. Especially considering the price gouging that could happen once everyone is on the cloud.

______________________________________________
"Up until here, we still have enough track to stop the locomotive before it plunges into the ravine... But after this windmill it's the future or bust."


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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Is this what Avid used to be like?
on May 14, 2013 at 2:55:43 am

Nothing at all like it, Greg - the facility I worked at for fourteen years bought into AVID shortly after Edit* disappeared. AVID reps would tell you anything you wanted to hear so as to make the sale, then would add in expensive features to make the system do what they said it would do initially. They had the attitude that they were the only game in town, and they didn't listen at all, other than to the sound of their own voice.

Adobe, on the other hand, has been listening intently thus far - we'll see how intently when the dust settles...

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Charlie Austin
Re: Is this what Avid used to be like?
on May 14, 2013 at 3:42:18 am

[Joseph W. Bourke] "They had the attitude that they were the only game in town, and they didn't listen at all, other than to the sound of their own voice."

Well, they kinda were the only game in town. ;-)

-------------------------------------------------------------


~"It is a poor craftsman who blames his tools."~
~"The function you just attempted is not yet implemented"~


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Chris Harlan
Re: Is this what Avid used to be like?
on May 14, 2013 at 4:47:05 am

[Charlie Austin] "Well, they kinda were the only game in town. ;-)"

Hate to disagree. That's often the perception, but really there was a lot of other stuff. I edited on a Montage3 for years, as well as a D/Vision, which later became Edit. I think I got my first demo of Lightworks back in '93 or '94. The first "broadcast" cards were Perception's PVR and then the Media 100 Vincent card, so Avid was actually kind of late to the table on that, too.


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Charlie Austin
Re: Is this what Avid used to be like?
on May 14, 2013 at 5:03:01 am

[Chris Harlan] "I edited on a Montage3 for years, as well as a D/Vision, which later became Edit. I think I got my first demo of Lightworks back in '93 or '94. The first "broadcast" cards were Perception's PVR and then the Media 100 Vincent card, so Avid was actually kind of late to the table on that, too."

Yeah, I guess you're right. I suppose that "the only game in town" was my impression when I started editing picture in '98 or so. Previous to that I was in the audio world. Actually, I think the reason I was able to pick up MC relatively quickly is that I had been cutting sound on an AudioVision system for a couple years before that. I liked that program. Then they had to go and buy Digidesign and kill it off. Evil Corporations! Killing off perfectly good apps! ;-)

-------------------------------------------------------------


~"It is a poor craftsman who blames his tools."~
~"The function you just attempted is not yet implemented"~


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Bret Williams
Re: Is this what Avid used to be like?
on May 14, 2013 at 1:30:36 pm

I remember back in 95 I was editing BetaSP linearly, but we had a Mac with premiere 3.x in the suite. Our SGI guy rendered out 3D to the server, and we would download the file to some super fast hard drive on the Mac, with some sort of output card that had component output. We fed it right into the switcher. Not sure what codec we were using, but it looked great. If I remember right we could feed video to premiere as well and it had some sort of alpha support.

We also had a video toaster in that room. Cutting edge.


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Morten Ranmar
Re: Is this what Avid used to be like?
on May 14, 2013 at 6:42:32 pm

I remember being given a Demo of an Avid Adrenaline solution years ago, when I first wanted to buy a NLE system. The demo was setup in a facility that Avid told me had just purchased the system. When I came the editor didn't really know the system at all, and nobody could answer my questions - so I ended up getting a Media100, which I have never regretted. Some months later I met the editor who had done the Avid demo for me, and asked if he was getting more comfortable with the system. He replied that they never had purchased the Avid system - the whole thing was staged by Avid to get me to purchase their system!

- No Parking Production -

2 x Finalcut Studio3, 2 x Prod. bundle CS6, 2 x MacPro, 2 x ioHD, Ethernet File Server w. X-Raid.... and FCPX on trial


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Craig Seeman
Re: Is this what Avid used to be like?
on May 14, 2013 at 10:54:04 am

Avid's game, in addition to selling the turnkey NLE, was expensive support contracts and expensive upgrades. Even more expensive when it involved new proprietary hardware. Their service, in my experience, wasn't all that great. Generally a good authorized VAR (that included service) was the best bet.

I had been using Avid since roughly the beginning (1990 or so). There were other options but Avid really did have a good user interface.

One of the more egregious Avid missteps was when they led people to believe they were going to drop Mac support. That was nearly their entire base except for the expensive Symphony systems if I recall. That was around 2000 or so and that's when some people began to eye this new FCP toy, hoping it would grow up, finding if there were workarounds that could allow them to put FCP systems into service.

Adobe's situation is a bit different. I think for many heavy users the CC is actually a good thing.

The problem is, for a large number who want the freedom to delay or skip upgrades, CC is an ongoing locked in expense they'd like to avoid. Adobe no longer offers anything for that base. You either join CC and pay for upgrades (as part of the ongoing bill) or you end the use of the software.

One common element between the two companies may be the market place. Avid was forced to change because of low cost competitors with comparable features. Adobe doesn't yet have that when it comes to After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator. If the competition to those products matures to match most features at lower cost, Adobe might respond... or they may simply cede that market.

The biggest problem we face is compatibility as outside project files come in. BTW I remember this being an issue even within the Avid family. There were times a job would come in that had been started on a newer Avid system and the facility had to decide to either make the expensive upgrade or find a way to extract the information (EDL, etc) and recreate the project. With Adobe products you'd most likely be forced to start a month by month subscription for the duration of the project.



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Oliver Peters
Re: Is this what Avid used to be like?
on May 14, 2013 at 1:15:37 pm

It's never easy to compare one company against another, especially across eons of time. Like Craig, I've been working on Avid systems since the beginning - as a facility manager, staff editor and freelancer.

Remember that when Avid came out, a turnkey system (computer, custom cards, storage, monitors and software) was over $100K. Linear suites of the day were $500K-$1M. Media Composer initially was an offline edit system. Look up the prices of what comparable linear offline suites of the day cost. These would include 3 Sony BVU-800s, a GVG100 switcher, CMX editor and monitors, mixer, connective gear. Not cheap. So when Avid came on the scene in the pipe-and-drape ghetto of NAB where start-ups take their shot - it was a revolutionary concept.

The shop I managed leased 4 Editflex systems. Like the Montage, this was one of the prevalent episodic TV/film offline edit systems of the day. It used 8 or 12 VHS decks to mimic random access. You couldn't buy one - only lease it, at several grand a month. We tried to buy one and they told us $200K. Eventually when the company was on its last legs, we junked the parts as scrap, because no one wanted to pay the shipping costs to send back the units to LA. So against this backdrop, Avid's approach to customers and pricing structure was never unusual or out of line with anyone else. Consider Sony, Grass Valley, Ampex, RCA and others of the day for comparison.

Avid invented (or developed from the IT sector) advanced technology that did not exist prior. This included a media architecture (before QuickTime), high-performance storage, shared storage, project sharing, etc. My recollection of the much-ballyhooed "dropping the Mac" is different from Craig's. Avid NEVER stated this officially and quickly back-tracked from it when it was attributed to Avid marketing. The reality was that Avid had to sell turnkey systems that relied on custom internal boards and Apple surprised them without notice by dumping the beige machines (with enough slots) in favor of the plastic G3s (without enough slots). Symphony could ONLY be released on IBM machines until Avid had a chance to re-engineer their hardware.

As a company that made money based on turnkey systems, they have had a tough time adjusting to a software-only business model, because that's not where the money lies. Apple makes money on hardware. Adobe makes money on enterprise customers - not the individual users who buy a copy of Photoshop. All I can say about Avid is that at the individual level, my interactions have been great. Support has been there when I needed them (rarely). The software is rock-solid.

Now, granted, I understand from broadcast users that they have complaints about support plans and pricing for things like ISIS, Interplay, Deko, etc. I get that. But again, you will hear these exact same complaints from other broadcast hardware system vendors. Think Quantel, Autodesk, etc. That's a different world from individual users and their interactions with the company and the benefits they get from using the products.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Chris Harlan
Re: Is this what Avid used to be like?
on May 14, 2013 at 8:11:50 pm

[Oliver Peters] "My recollection of the much-ballyhooed "dropping the Mac" is different from Craig's. Avid NEVER stated this officially and quickly back-tracked from it when it was attributed to Avid marketing."

Yes. In retrospect, I do believe that's what happened. For years though, I though the company officially, but very briefly, dropped Apple, because some of the folks on the NAB floor were so absolutely certain of it. I see that now, as a miscommunication between management and floor staffers. That's why I have no real interest in jumping on Adobe for the CC/perpetual misinformation this year.

[Oliver Peters] "Like the Montage, this was one of the prevalent episodic TV/film offline edit systems of the day. It used 8 or 12 VHS decks to mimic random access."

I got to see the Montage version of this, and it was a monster. I didn't start using Montage until the 3, which was all computer-based. Frankly, I liked the Montage3 system quite a bit. It was built around Intel's Action Media II card, as were many of the PC NLE's at the time.


[Oliver Peters] "All I can say about Avid is that at the individual level, my interactions have been great. Support has been there when I needed them (rarely). The software is rock-solid."

Yes. I have to agree. And there online forums are terrific. Oh, and the tenacious Marianne Montague--a legend!


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Scott Thomas
Re: Is this what Avid used to be like?
on May 15, 2013 at 6:44:23 am

I remember a few stories from that era.

In 1997, I had a former boss working in Seattle and he talked with Avid folks there. Avid wasn't happy with the direction Apple was taking with OS development. Avid basically told Apple they wouldn't develop for Copeland or whatever the name of the project was called. A little later, Apple's fortunes changed with the purchase of NeXT, but Avid goes ahead with their Windows port of Media Composer. My takeaway from NAB 99?: Most people were huddled around the lone Mac based Media Composer in the Avid booth, and the other (PC) stations were fairly quiet.

Still an NLE skeptic in late 1995, I was running a BetaSP room with Component Digital gear, and a GVG Kaleidoscope. We decided to buy an NLE for news promotion, and I got to choose. We weren't interested in Media100. We were between only Avid and Immix. I had an entire day with the Immix TurboCube and was comfortable with it. Later I had a short demo with the Avid MC and thought it was great. For someone who had come from CMX Edge, Sony BVE900 and Grass VPE-251's, it made perfect sense.

The Media100 at the time made a pretty picture, but the software was strange and until the Vincent card was 640x480. There were no broadcast vendors selling the Media100, just small shops. Later our commercial production department bought the Media100, and the support wasn't there. Hard drive array failed: I'm on the phone with them, and I'm told to drop the drive onto the table from varying heights in an attempt to get the drive to spin-up. Then I'm told to ship it back to JEMS. I bet JEMS didn't know what we were asked to do. Perhaps I was talking to a young Bob Zelin? (Just kidding) :)

Fast forward a few years and Avid buys Pinnacle and shortly thereafter kills their MediaStream server line. Guess who had just bought one... yep, us. An Avid product will probably never see its way into our shop again. It's not just us. I know an engineer that worked for a large station group that bought into Avid just before the ABVC came out. That station group wasn't happy to see Avid release new hardware immediately after their buy, after repeatedly asking if they had new hardware on the horizon. They were captive. They were fans. They would have waited a little. Avid appeared to only want to clear out old stock. Relationship be damned.

I loved my Media Composer. My favorite take-away from training promo producers?

Producer: How do I preview my edit?
Me: There's no need to preview.
Producer: But I need to see the edit before I commit to it!
Me: Well, just try the edit anyway.
*Producer hits the button*
Me: Now hit "undo"
Producer: Oh!

Seemed to open up new worlds. :)


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Brett Sherman
Re: Is this what Avid used to be like?
on May 15, 2013 at 12:49:57 pm

[Oliver Peters] "As a company that made money based on turnkey systems, they have had a tough time adjusting to a software-only business model, because that's not where the money lies."

They actually made the transition to software only fairly well. I chose Avid Xpress Pro over Final Cut in 2002 because I found it more solid. Their real problem came with the transition to HD - they got too greedy. While FCP users could easily switch to HD by buying a $1000 card, Avid required it's users to upgrade to Media Composer and purchase an Avid Adrenaline (which never worked right) that totaled about $10,000.

At the time I thought they were crazy and said so, said they should merge all software products, said they should allow third party hardware or at least price their hardware competitively. Everyone on the Avid forums, including the end users, said I was completely wrong. At that point I gave up on Avid and switched to FCP. Of course a few years later they did exactly as I suggested. Had Avid accurately judged the market earlier, they'd probably be in a better position now.

Sometimes there is a small window for companies to make the right decisions.



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Oliver Peters
Re: Is this what Avid used to be like?
on May 15, 2013 at 4:56:51 pm

[Brett Sherman] "Their real problem came with the transition to HD - they got too greedy. While FCP users could easily switch to HD by buying a $1000 card, Avid required it's users to upgrade to Media Composer and purchase an Avid Adrenaline (which never worked right) that totaled about $10,000"

While I agree with the gist and general sentiment, the time frame and numbers are a bit off. I only mention that for accuracy and not a criticism.

FCP was able to do HD with Pinnacle Cinewave, which was a $25K hardware I/O system. Figure $50K-$75K turnkey with a G4, monitors and fast enough storage, since it could only do uncompressed 8-bit and 10-bit. This was at FCP 1.2 and later. 2001-ish. At that time, Avid's HD solution was only Avid DS in the $300K range (with storage). Other than the FCP/Cinewave combo (which was a dog performance-wise), other HD solutions at that time were Flame/Inferno, Quantel and linear suites. There was no $1K HD card. You are probably thinking of the Decklink 601 SD cards.

About the time Apple came out with FCP 4.5 (HD) they had added the built-in DVCPRO HD codec, so you could do HD cheaply, but only via Firewire and not cards. At about that same time, Avid had the software-only Avid Xpress HD (version 5). This would also do DVCPRO HD via Firewire, but only on PCs.

Avid Media Composer Adrenaline was introduced at the same NAB as the original AJA Io for FCP. These were all SD systems. The Io at $2K and the Adrenaline at $25K. Avid offered the later upgrade capability to add a DNxHD encode/decode card that installed into the Adrenaline chassis. This was a $10K extra, but the codec was in hardware for real-time i/o. It was later that you could do HD on FCP using Kona or Decklink cards.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Lance Bachelder
Re: Is this what Avid used to be like?
on May 16, 2013 at 4:44:47 pm

Well for everyone bitching about $600 a year to use EVERY app Adobe has, I think we paid something like $2400 per year per Adrenaline and 2 or 3 times that for our DS just for support - which was really pretty poor at the time.

Complaining about having to pay $50 bucks a month for software is silly - if your billing just $50 per hour in your business you've paid for all your software needs the 1st hour of each month!

Lance Bachelder
Writer, Editor, Director
Downtown Long Beach, California
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1680680/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1


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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Is this what Avid used to be like?
on May 17, 2013 at 1:26:25 pm

Good point, Lance. Even in these tough times, I managed to get the dough together to buy the CS6 Master Collection. A single on-site training session from AVID was at least ten times the cost of a month's Cloud subscription. I think that it was more the shock of the change than the cost that got people up in arms - also the lack of detail. But yeah, if you're even a relatively successful pro (please, no more pro/no-pro argument), complaining about the Cloud price is crying hunger with a loaf of bread under each arm...

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Lance Bachelder
Re: Is this what Avid used to be like?
on May 17, 2013 at 5:36:01 pm

Not to mention none of us (unless you're a beta tester) has really run the next version of Premiere - there's a good chance, from what I've seen, that's it's a great NLE and a bargain!

Even though I don't currently use Premiere for day to day editing I do need and use Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects regularly and would have no problem cutting in Premiere if it finally meets my needs. I think the last 5.5 to 6 upgrade for current users was $599 to 799 depending on when you purchased - by using the upgrade special I ended up paying $29 month since last August - far less than buying the boxed set.

Lance Bachelder
Writer, Editor, Director
Downtown Long Beach, California
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1680680/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1


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James Taylor
Re: Is this what Avid used to be like?
on May 18, 2013 at 12:33:39 am

Are you planning to pay that 599.00 for the boxed version upgrade of CS6? Adobe has said they will keep CS6 compatible for a few years, but I don't think 5.5 will get the same love. Even if you love the cloud, might be nice to have CS6 around for a few years.

JT


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