AVID Presentation Thurs at KeyCode - the natives were restless.
The Q&A was ... difficult.
Props to AVID for facing their customers this way.
Two hour video - the Q&A starts about :45 min in.
The NLE biz is definitely not “simple” right now.
Creator of XinTwo - http://www.xintwo.com
The shortest path to FCP X mastery.
The weird thing going on with Avid right now - is that it is the fastest developing NLE on the market right now hands down. They have a monthly release schedule and bi weekly . releases for bugfixes.
The problem is there adding some really helpful features and little enhancement tweaks constantly - but their not the big ticket items everyone's been asking for, for years that seem rather simple to implement and that have been promised.
Me..Im pretty stoked on the Avid toolset - theres a few things that Id like them to deliver on - but overall Im a huge fan as some of you may noticed.
For the first time in 10 years Im using a different NLE at work and its driving me nuts!
Someone please tell me if theres a way to make keyframes on multiple stacked audio clips at once, and then select and manipulate all those keyframes at the same time. That would really save me a ton of hair!
[quote "Someone please tell me if theres a way to make keyframes on multiple stacked audio clips at once, and then select and manipulate all those keyframes at the same time. That would really save me a ton of hair!" /[quote]
on a Mac hold option on any of your Track Control Panels (next to the audio waveform) and click Volume. this will enable on all tracks, now all you have to do is highlight each track you want keyframes on for audio and hit the shortcut to make a keyframe (plus sign on my mac keyboard). then once you've made all of your keyframes you can just in/out points which keyframes you want to move and you can modify them how ever you want (volume up or down and you can even move them )... hold option and you can move them around collectively or hold command and you can leave them all in place and volume them up or down or sanp to the next peice of audio or video.
it's a really handy feature!!
I'd love to see Apple face customers this way. I'm sure you all have features you want addressed.
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def
Impressive that Avid management had the guts to face it's customers but watching it feels like we're watching the Sony Betamax team trying to argue that their product is actually better than VHS.
My point is that Avid has failed it's customers so badly for so many years that it almost seems pointless to face the customers. I also get the impression that several of the editors who voiced their concerns have no other option due to their being employees at large post facilities. And if I was trapped using Avid I'd be mad as hell too.
I Hate Television. I Hate It As Much As Peanuts. But I Can’t Stop Eating Peanuts.
- Orson Welles
"It's like politicians not answering questions."
For those not as familiar with the Avid community, this level of frank and honest questioning is not new. Avid customers are the first to put the company's feet to the fire.
Oliver Peters - oliverpeters.com
The fact that Avid is doing things like this is HUGE. The fact that we get a release every month is big. 12-14 years ago we'd get a release every 2 years, and HOPED it might have something we wanted, and needed. We'd call for tech support and they might call us back in two days if they felt like it. This was when they were the only game in town. FCP came along and showed that it was capable of doing what needed to be done....VERY cheaply...and this took a huge chunk of Avid's market share...and took them down a peg. NOW they listen.
It's a delight to be on the beta team, say "Hey, it would be very helpful if we had this." And then two versions later, there it is. Yes, they did Audio Ducking with is something I'm not sure anyone asked for...well, probably some lazy editor who doesn't like to audio mix said "Man, I wish this was automated," and so they did it. We ask for that stupid message about saving locked bins to go away (pops up in an autosave, and asks to save every single locked bin...when you have 12 of those, it's a show stopper)...they gave us the option to turn that off. HUGE.
They are listening, and because of that, we are demanding. And I'm SURE there are many things you'd like FCP-X to do, or some feature you wish it had. But is there a similar way to let Apple know this? Adobe sure has a way for users to let them know what they want.
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def
[Shane Ross] "But is there a similar way to let Apple know this?"
Yes, via Feedback and they definitely listen, they've contacted me a couple of times about requests over the years
I've had someone contact me from Apple based on what was written in a post on this forum....
Co-owner at Pollen Studio
[Shane Ross] "FCP came along and showed that it was capable of doing what needed to be done....VERY cheaply...and this took a huge chunk of Avid's market share...and took them down a peg."
Wasn't Avid's reaction to FCP, to buy Pinnacle to kill their hardware IO for FCP?
[Scott Thomas] "
Wasn't Avid's reaction to FCP, to buy Pinnacle to kill their hardware IO for FCP?"
I think Pinnacle had already stopped support of the Targa 3000 (Cinewave FCP) for Premiere Pro prior to Avid buying Pinnacle. Pinnacle got the Liquid software to work with the Targa 3000 pretty easy. It was called Liquid Chrome. Avid I think wanted to transport the super cool features of the Liquid software to Avid but Avid never did get it to work with Media Composer at that time. Keep in mind Apple had to create FCPX many years later to get the features of Fast/Pinnacle/Avid's Liquid software. It might be much harder to implement background rendering and GPU acceleration than Avid had thought. Avid should have dropped Media Composer and keep developing Liquid. I know that sounds like blasphemy but where would Liquid be in 2017 had Avid kept developing it? From what I understand the Munich (German) team that worked on Fast/Pinnacle/Avid was always in control of the development of the Liquid software (it developed faster than MC). Avid stopped development of Liquid software after Liquid 7 because Avid had to Liquid 8 the software.
They did actually say that.
Liquid 8 = liquidate. Pun was intended by Avid.
And just in case you're wondering what became of Fast, well they're around. They are making innovative long term data storage systems. I met with their sales person at IBC this year.
FCP Editor, Edit systems consultant
[Scott Thomas] "Wasn't Avid's reaction to FCP, to buy Pinnacle to kill their hardware IO for FCP?"
Not sure that's what happened. I know that Apple was very secretive with it's development kit, wouldn't release it before they released FCP...but after. And by the time the card makers caught up, a new version of FCP came out and they needed to start all over again. This happened with Matrox and the RT Mac. But then Avid bought Pinnacle and didn't do ANY advancement on any front, really not sure whey they even did that.
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def
"Another jewel in Pinnacles crown that enticed Avid was its unique HDV codec used in its Liquid line of video editing software, which is capable of working with footage from the new HDV camcorders in its native form."
I am not sure it was the HDV codec. I think it was the fact that Liquid made use of the GPU and that is why it could edit several layers of native HDV at a time when FCP, Avid, Edius etc all crapped out. As of now HDV and even AVCHD is easy to edit.
[Shane Ross] "This happened with Matrox and the RT Mac."
The RT Mac was cool. I seen a demo. It used the native GUI of FCP instead of plugins. Very cool.
[Shane Ross] "But then Avid bought Pinnacle and didn't do ANY advancement on any front, really not sure whey they even did that."
Avid let everything at Pinnalce become obsolete. I think they wanted to port the features of Liquid into the Avid MC but found out it could not be done. They should have kept Liquid and drop MC. I know it sounds like blasphemy but...
"Pinnacles HDV editing capability is in Liquid and will soon be in Studio, and its certainly one of the things that I think makes it a compelling product. But I wouldnt single that out, actually, as being an overwhelming factor. Its just a factor. Its part of what maintains competitiveness in a market which is rapidly adopting HD"
I think Avid knew Liquid was a much better NLE than MC but they didn't want a FCP7 to FCPX situation. I think Avid thought there would be rioting in the streets of Hollywood if they asked the editors to switch their NLE of choice.
Having said that I think the FCPX users can tell you first hand how awesome the background rendering and GPU acceleration features of Pinnacle's Liquid are. For the record I don't know why it took Adobe and Apple so long to implement GPU acceleration. Would Pinnacle's Liquid have gone beyond a trackless editing paradigm if it were still being developed? Who knows?
[Scott Thomas] "Wasn't Avid's reaction to FCP, to buy Pinnacle to kill their hardware IO for FCP?
Absolutely not. I was not only at Avid at the time, I was the Senior Product Marketing Manager responsible for Avid Xpress Pro, Avid Xpress Studio, Avid Liquid, and eventually the software-only version of Media Composer (internally affectionately known as MC Soft) in this very span. While some of the final shoes dropped after I left Avid to come to the COW in 2006 (eg, the end of Liquid in 2010 -- although they provided phone support through 2012), the dynamics were all in place while I was there.
And while the actual decisions about all this were being made over my head, I was in meetings where the decisions were discussed, and I was the one tasked with implementing them in this part of the market. So yeah, this is all my opinion, but it's a view from from very close to the stage.
The first thing to note about Cinewave is that there are posts in the COW going back to 2002 lamenting that Pinnacle had given up development on Cinewave. There was some excitement when there was on OS-compatibility update in 2004, but no new features in ages. Pinnacle had long since moved on. When Avid acquired Pinnacle in 2005, there were zero Cinewaves in stock, zero on the production schedule, nobody left on the team -- so when Avid took it off the books, it really was strictly a bookkeeping exercise.
Indeed, Carl Calabria, aka The Father of Cinewave, had come to Avid as the VP of Hardware Engineering in 2003, long before the Pinnacle acquisition. (Not long after the acquisition, he became the overall VP of Engineering.) His arriveal at Avid in 2003 may have been the last straw in Cinewave's demise under Pinnacle's aegis, but again, customers had already been talking about the lack of development of Cinewave before then.
With the 2005 acquisition, everybody who was still at Pinnacle was invited to stay on, to keep doing what they were doing. The object was to grow that business, and the revenue that came along with it, by adding additional resources -- including in post, dramatically expanding the footprint of Pinnacle's channel by adding it to Avid's channel.
The real driver behind the acquisition, though, was Avid Broadcast. Broadcast sales is necessarily a consultative process, because nobody on the planet sells 100% of the gear. Other brands are ALWAYS on the ticket (for anything from switchers to satellite uplinks to cables -- nobody makes it all) -- and in 2004-ish, the two things being written on many of Avid Broadcast's tickets were very specific products that Avid didn't have: playout servers and character generation systems (including the database-driven tech behind them, and the 3D tech that often extended to virtual sets). Frequently, those from Pinnacle were winding up as part of the deals.
There are a ton of other little doo-dads in there that Pinnacle made that Avid didn't (post folks have no idea how byzantine broadcast installations can be -- often scores of products, with blueprints and charts galore to track them), so rather than give the money to Pinnacle for products being developed to Pinnacle's agenda, it became attractive to acquire the company, integrate its products and technologies, and drive the development of key product lines that were part of every sale anyway, so let's make sure it all keeps working to our advantage.
Other drivers of the deal were the facts that Pinnacle was struggling on a number of fronts, and Avid's stock was skyrocketing. The deal was struck on March 18 2005, when Avid stock was at $62.95 -- Pinnacle was gonna wind up with about 15% of Avid's outstanding shares, a huge premium over Pinnacle's own stock at $4.97.
Worth noting: Apple's stock at the same time: $5.80. Not a typo. Less than a tenth of Avid's price.
It was also already clear that Apple's needle was starting to move because of iPods, not computers or NLE software. (You can see laments about this in the COW forums going back to 2003.) There's NOTHING that Apple was doing that Avid was chasing, imo. This wasn't how we were talking about it AT ALL.
Please note again, the Pinnacle deal was being driven by Avid Broadcast, where Apple had no play to speak of. And Avid wasn't chasing anybody there either. They had by far the largest market share for the burgeoning newsroom digital conversion space -- not quite at the 90%+ level of feature production, but not far behind iirc. (Speaking strictly of numbers at the time -- I don't know Avid's newsroom market share is these days, but they have a much wider product portfolio. I wouldn't be surprised if they've actually grown their share since what it was then, as they have in feature and episodic editing).
The acquisition was a chance to immediately grow from a $700 million company to a billion dollar a year company -- yes, small in Apple terms (still "only" $13.95 billion in 2005), but Avid wasn't chasing Apple, and Apple wasn't making a billion dollars a year from broadcast, professional audio, networked video post, storage, et al. Avid had its own agenda, and it was to be a bigger, better Avid.
We can debate the wisdom of that plan, but I'd certainly argue that Avid's downturn starting in 2007 had nothing to do with FCP, either (indeed, Avid's revenue doubled between 2005 and 2007), but rather Avid's own inability to execute on what was apparently overreach in the short run. That they successfully focused their business in the right direction in the longer run (again imo, but I think that this is hardly controversial among their customers; quite the contrary in fact) but have a stock price still in the doldrums is why I continue to hope that they go private (a strategy that helped Quantel/Snell, Dell, and a bunch of other companies who don't rhyme with each other). But that's another story.
Not that Avid was ignoring post in general, or with Pinnacle deal in particular in 2005. Avid acquired Medea in the same timeframe, M-Audio for studio monitoring, etc., had done some aggressive partnership and bundling deals on the software side to go with acquisitions particularly in audio, and with Pinnacle saw an opportunity to expand into the event market, where Xpress Pro was frankly the wrong product. Much too Media Composer-like. LOL NOT that Avid felt a need to compete with FCP on this front using Liquid, since you can't use a Windows-only product to compete with a Mac-only product, and Avid's Mac product line wasn't clicking with the mass market in low-to-mid-post, nor was it intended to.
(Not that it wasn't doing just fine where it WAS intended to, mind you, but I think that FCP folks have long misunderstood the basic outline of what Avid was and wasn't trying to accomplish vis a vis the mass market, eg, not as much as you'd think. They specialize in products for specialists, whereas entire vectors of the debates here hinge on the extent to which Apple targets specialists, or is content with servicing them opportunistically.)
Hence Liquid was an opportunity to not have to leave all the money on the table in a substantial market. The push coming from anyone was from Adobe...but again, this wasn't something that Avid was targeting per se. Liquid was compelling technology to reach a market where Avid had no play...but it was by no means easy money. Adobe had gotten a huge burst of energy from the Macromedia acquisition announced the month after Avid's Pinnacle deal (THE news of NAB 2005), and they made very plain that they were out to run the table in every part of post, not just the event market.
(I should probably note again that this is my opinion, and I'm positive that some other folks who were there at the time would see it differently -- but this was the set of priorities as I understood them then, and the plan that I was executing on a daily basis. And we've certainly seen nothing from Adobe to suggest that they're content having only a few corners of the market to play in! They want it all, and then some.)
Further downmarket, Pinnacle Studio was doing INSANE money selling in $99 boxes in Circuit City. I don't think Avid ever split out the numbers publicly, so I won't do that here -- but you probably wouldn't believe me anyway. LOL It was serious money. Again, not that Avid was trying to compete with iMovie -- you can't compete with a free Mac-only product with a $99 Windows-only product -- but same story. All of the team was kept on, to keep doing what they were doing, now with additional resources, in order to help pay for the overall deal.
I didn't have anything to do with that end of things, but I invested massive effort into developing the Liquid user community, dealer channel support, etc. These were passionate folks, who believed deeply in Liquid tech, which we were also very impressed by. Ironically enough, the newest version of Liquid was very FCPX-like: one window, insanely nimble, with a lot of extra power (albeit presented modally) that neither FCPX nor anyone has really attempted at the same degree -- outstanding CG (DIRECTLY tied to the broadcast engine of Deko that was one of the core drivers of the whole thing), a terrific integrated DVD authoring interface (the best I'd seen), and the best multi-format support on the market -- including uncompressed.
(Also unlike FCPX: there was a button you could push to get the old interface back if you wanted it, simply sacrificing the power and ease of use of the new version...but hey, it was freshly updated and fully supported, even if feature neutral vis a vis the old version.)
It happens that Liquid (with the Blue hardware configuration) was the only Avid product that supported uncompressed video at the time. Avid DNxHD had been rolled out the year before (with the technologically indistinguishable ProRes to come 3 years later), and 2K files were starting to come in at the higher end, but uncompressed was a nice box to check off. At NAB 2005 just weeks later, one of the featured stages in the booth was Liquid running uncompressed on newly-acquired Medea storage!
My larger point is that uncompressed wasn't a priority for Avid in 2005, but it was nice to now have something to offer a customer for whom uncompressed was an immediate need. And that was the point of keeping Liquid around -- to extend to adjacent markets for whom Media Composer was not an option for reasons that included missing feature sets and non-targeted use cases. Nobody using Liquid had seriously looked at Media Composer for a single second, and vice versa.
Hence the idea that buying it to kill is every bit as nonsensical as anything about the purchase chasing FCP. I was there. It didn't happen that way.
The ultimately (if definitely not immediately) disposable product was Avid Xpress Pro. THAT one was responding to pressure from FCP in some ways -- specifically, for a software-only support product for Media Composer -- but obviously not in others.
(You can fill in your own long list of the ways that Xpress Pro fell short of FCP, and I bet mine is longer. LOL Don't forget that I came in from being an early adopter of both Media 100 and FCP. I respected it for what it was, and rode under its flag with pride, but I knew what it wasn't, too.)
It was inevitable that Xpress Pro would go away once MC Soft evolved and natural market forces pushed its price down to below what Xpress Pro had been in its final days.
I exited stage left before all that came to pass, with the 2006 rollout of software-only Media Composer (and Avid Interplay -- a very busy NAB for me that year!). I actually spent the months following NAB 2006 showing MC Soft to FCP user groups, which I'd been presenting to for Boris FX since 2000 -- including the 5th-ever meeting of LAFCPUG, 17 years ago this month! And my very VERY last thing at Avid was after I'd finished my time at the Avid campus, a road trip presenting to the FCPUG run by our old friend Keith Larsen in Connecticut.
To be honest, I was surprised that Xpress Pro lasted for another couple of years, but not at all surprised that Liquid carried for years after that -- again, 5 years as a product, and supported for 2 more years after that. Certainly enough to set to rest the fiction that Avid bought it to kill it. It died a natural death as Avid focused on exactly what they should have been focused on in post, where Liquid lived: dual-platform, team-oriented, feature and TV editing. There's a point at which opportunism turns into distraction, and my guess (having been gone for years by then) that Avid may have stayed on past that point as much for fondness for Liquid tech and customers as for business opportunity.
I really don't want to skate past that. I effing loved those folks. They were passionate people who in some ways went back to the Media 100 ethos I'd come up in, of having taken out second mortgages and going all-in on family businesses as later-life careers. (I was in my mid 30s in the early days of Media 100, and one of the younger folks in the game. Much different now of course.) They were playing for keeps, and their enthusiasm was infectious, and helped keep me around probably longer than was good for me in the scheme of things, but I still treasure every cycle I spent working on Liquid and its community -- and it was a huge part of what I did my last year-plus at Avid.
I was also nuts about the Pinnacle product folks I got to work with, in both post and broadcast. Some of the sharpest, most user-focused folks I've ever come across. In that sense, a great fit for Avid. Even in the admittedly dark-ish days of the early- to mid-aughts, we (and I'm proud to say "we" in this context) at Avid never hesitated to stand in the fire, face to face with our customers, not just behind the rope at trade shows, but in user groups, in their facilities, breaking bread with their employees and families, being accountable from top to bottom.
I remember one VP getting the shit kicked out of him at a customer event on his birthday. He didn't mention that to the unhappy customers to slow them down, which would have been a natural impulse, at least at the bar afterward or something. But no. He was there to be on the receiving end of whatever. What he said to us afterward was that we'd had it coming. We weren't doing well enough. We needed to do better.
And they have.
[Shane Ross] "They are listening, and because of that, we are demanding. And I'm SURE there are many things you'd like FCP-X to do, or some feature you wish it had. But is there a similar way to let Apple know this? Adobe sure has a way for users to let them know what they want."
Apple has ways to take feedback of course, including through the app itself. I personally know that many of the folks there are exactly as customer-focused as you'd wish them to be, but public accountability the way that Adobe and Avid (among others) are doing it? That's not traditionally been Apple's style. ☺ Apple doesn't build its teams or processes that way.
While most Apple customers are happy enough with the outcome, I simply refuse to believe that they wouldn't be happier if they insisted on the same level of accountability from Apple displayed by other industry leaders, and Apple actually did it. Nothing bad comes from public accountability, and it's silly to argue that it does.
Which is of course exactly what Steve Jobs argued repeatedly, from the very beginning to the very end. I'm sorry he's no longer with us, but I'm not sorry he's no longer at the helm. Apple has done much better since then, and I think they can do a lot better still.
[andy patterson] "I am not sure it was the HDV codec."
It was absolutely not the HDV codec. That article was pulling stuff out of thin air based on what THEY found compelling in Liquid, which is fine, but it never came up internally. Avid's commitment was to 100% native HDV editing, and they wound up shipping that feature very late as a result.
(And, in retrospect, the most successful implementations of such formats tends not to be native, imo.)
In fact, it was so late that Avid had to jump through some considerable Sarbanes-Oxley hoops to talk about it at NAB that year. (Again, I was there. I was one of the people doing the official talking.) SOX says that you have to ship within 90 days of announcing it, or you can't recognize that revenue until you DO ship it. The sitch was that the new version of Xpress Pro was in fact ready to ship, but the HDV feature set was going to go into the next quarter.
And this is where SOX is an incredible drain on productivity that the subscription model entirely removes. Product managers had to do surveys -- NOT bs online bs surveys that are the opposite of information; REAL surveys with names and addresses that would have to pass muster at the Justice Department...which actually still meant something back then LOL -- of customers to get a sense of how much they REALLY wanted this, and how much they'd REALLY be willing to pay with or without that feature (ie, no HDV no sale, at one end to, eh no biggie I can wait or, I actively don't care about HDV at the other end....plus, I'd pay this much MORE for an upgrade with this feature, and a zillion other iterations), and then assign a specific dollar value to that feature.
So the message I pitched on stage, 12 times a day, and in dozens of press interviews, was, "Upgrade today and get all this nifty stuff, and if you want native HDV in September, you'll only pay"...whatever that dollar value was. I want to say $49, but I could be wrong.
The point being, product managers had to stop managing the product to go out and conduct actual science related to business management and spreadsheets and such. I believe in SOX, and the relative absence of stock-related scandals since then speaks to the relative success of the program, but this kind of work was not why I got in the game.
In the meantime, this split pitch allowed Avid to recognize all the revenue they collected. People who didn't need HDV didn't have to wait, and people who wanted it knew when it was coming, for a nominal separate fee.
At the same time this was happening, Avid's codec energy was going into DNxHD. Other than camera codecs, there was zero interest in building anybody else's editing codecs into the system.
Punditry is all very nice, but facts are nice too. ☺
TO CLARIFY THOUGH! I don't mean to suggest that we didn't have TREMENDOUS respect for Liquid's tech. We absolutely did. We were gobsmacked by what they were doing. FANTASTIC stuff.
But there are reasons you buy the company -- BROADCAST -- and reasons why you keep selling the "value add" software (and hardware! Some terrific hardware too!) in the rest of the product lines, because it really did add value to the customers who wanted it, even where the values reflected in those products diverged from the values of Media Composer development.
To use background rendering as an example: deprioritized in MC in 2005 because of its emphasis as an offline tool. You want background rendering for online-quality work? You need DS or Symphony. Or folks were doing that in color suites, with teams of VFX people, or on dedicated After Effects boxes. What have you. In any case, NOT a huge emphasis on it in offline editorial.
Whereas a phrase like "offline editorial" was worse than gibberish to a Liquid customer, because they were doing it all themselves on one box, and NEEDED background rendering at full res, including uncompressed. Which is to emphasize that we didn't mistake "one person doing it all" with "low end" per se, but it represented a fundamental divergence of developmental intent.
And with DNxHD, the original emphasis (before 3rd-party hardware became widespread) was on mezzanine file management, archiving, and security. I sat in presentations to studio execs who were concerned with piracy of data streams and digitizing film stocks, and things that had absolutely zero to do with easily editing HDV. The codec needs of the two audiences were entirely irreconcilable, which is why nobody tried to reconcile them.
So when members of the press asked me, "Why is Liquid still around?" of COURSE I pointed to things like background rendering, one-window interface, the HDV codec and the like. Those were the ACTUAL REASONS.
And when Liquid customers asked me, "Should I be looking at Media Composer?" my answer was, "Not if you haven't looked at it already. Not one single feature that you love in Liquid is in Media Composer. None of them. Keep using what you're using, confident that Avid is putting new development and sales resources into it that Pinnacle hasn't been able to for a while now", which was all true, and was true for years to come.
The ONLY reason this looks confusing is if you're looking at this in terms of Liquid VERSUS Media Composer, which never happened internally, or at Liquid as any kind of driver of the deal, which it wasn't. This was PRIMARILY a deal to bring in Pinnacle playout servers, Deko CG, and other related BROADCAST products, tech, and teams in Avid Broadcast. The rest was to EXTEND Avid Post's reach into customers who wouldn't give Media Composer a second glance, without forcing Avid to change MC to meet them, thanks to Avid (née Pinnacle) Liquid.
But there was nothing about Liquid itself that drove a meaningful part of the purchase.
Of course, seen another way, one technological trick that was highly intriguing (especially to me, managing my part of Xpress Pro) was that Pinnacle had done a marvelous job stratifying itself using hardware and UI tricks, but the exact same tech driving Deko broadcast CG was driving the $99 Pinnacle Studio. I say this respectfully to the many people at Avid (including myself) who wrestled with this in Avid Post, and I don't think we were doing nearly as well at the time.
(I'll skip commenting on the present, because I'm completely out of touch with these issues these days. But I'll also observe that I was heavily involved with graphics as the product manager of Boris RED, and dealing with various levels of feature sets with Boris Graffiti, Boris FX, RED, and the Boris Title Generators bundled with Final Cut Pro. I deeply cared about ALL of these issues.)
To put it another way, Liquid was a testimony to the fundamental soundness and extensibility of Pinnacle's tech, up and down the market, in broadcast, post, and even consumer spaces -- but the best way to understand it is still as a value add to the primary impetus of the deal in broadcast.
As always, my opinion...but the Liquid part of it was also part of my job. :-)
[Tim Wilson] "[andy patterson] "I am not sure it was the HDV codec."
It was absolutely not the HDV codec. That article was pulling stuff out of thin air based on what THEY found compelling in Liquid, which is fine, but it never came up internally. Avid's commitment was to 100% native HDV editing, and they wound up shipping that feature very late as a result."
I stated I am not sure the HDV code was the reason. Liquid could edit native HDV because it used the GPU and CPU back in 2004. They may have had a proprietary codec but the GPU acceleration and background rendering was more impressive.
[Tim Wilson] "We weren't doing well enough. We needed to do better.
And they have."
Thanks for sharing your perspective as someone who used to be inside the ropes.
I think it's worth noting that Avid as an editor was for so many years the absolute gold standard. I still believe that it's the fastest editing interface although the caveat is that you need to be an expert on it before the speed of it truly reveals itself.
What's notable about your thoughts is that you add the comparison to Apple and from my perspective Avid and Apple are similar in at least one regard. Both companies had a dedicated and loyal video professional user base. But each company made strategic moves that ended up alienating a sizable percentage of that professional user base and I'd argue that as a result both companies have permanently lost a significant portion of those users.
If Avid is in fact trying to right the ship and once again make a superior product then hats off to them. I happen to fall into the category of folks who were loyal to both Avid and Apple but as the NLE marketplace encountered seismic shifts and advancements in the last several years both companies struggled to show their relevance within the niche professional video market and that then led to my and many other professionals' abandonment of their products.
I Hate Television. I Hate It As Much As Peanuts. But I Can’t Stop Eating Peanuts.
- Orson Welles
[greg janza] "What's notable about your thoughts is that you add the comparison to Apple and from my perspective Avid and Apple are similar in at least one regard. Both companies had a dedicated and loyal video professional user base. But each company made strategic moves that ended up alienating a sizable percentage of that professional user base and I'd argue that as a result both companies have permanently lost a significant portion of those users."
I agree completely.
In Apple's case, I'm on the record of buying 100% into their logic. They didn't want to split their focus, but instead chose to go all-in on a new direction, no looking back. They did this for the first time in 1984 with Macintosh, and in fact never recovered the market share that the Apple II had. As an Apple II customer since 1979, this cheesed me off, to say the least. 😁 My then-girlfriend, now wife (since 1985, in fact) was the first person I knew to buy a Mac, in February 1984, but like me, she kept her II around for years to keep using the software that in some cases never did make its way to Mac.
That's the price everyone pays for being a Mac customer. At some point, it's YOUR turn to be burned. But the results are the results. When we started our video production company in 1990, there wasn't a single second's hesitation about which platform we'd build it on. We just went in assuming it was a matter of time until they hosed us again. System 7, anyone? 😂 As bad as anything that any company has ever done to its customers. FAR worse than MS Vista, imo. And others after that. You roll with it, or you don't.
I can say this as a then-outsider, but I found Avid's approach with products like MC Express and Xpress DV to be infuriating. It's like they were trying to piss you off into buying a Media Composer by keeping out critical workflow features. (You won't let me use the most common MC keyboard shortcuts and resolutions?!?) Wrong. People just wound up pissed off. I've got pals who are former MCE users whose hatred for Avid can still be seen from outer space.
Hence my tremendous relief as a product manager to no longer need to explain to people what the hell Avid was thinking with this or that differentiation starting in the spring of 2006. You want MC Soft? Here's MC Soft. Easy.
But Avid's saving grace is similar to Apple's: some people have found a home there that has allowed them to weather disruptions and continue to thrive. God bless them. 😊
[Tim Wilson] "When Avid acquired Pinnacle in 2005, there were zero Cinewaves in stock, zero on the production schedule, nobody left on the team -- so when Avid took it off the books, it really was strictly a bookkeeping exercise. "
Thank you for the backstory and info.
[Tim Wilson] "Please note again, the Pinnacle deal was being driven by Avid Broadcast"
The station I'm at bought two Pinnacle MediaStream servers just before the acquisition. They were delivered as an Avid system and were to handle playout and ingest of SD and HD programs and commercials. It never functioned as promised and was EOLed shortly thereafter. I talked to a guy at NAB a couple of years ago that had a similar story of Avid's MediaStream at a midwestern station. Apparently the main problem was not enough bandwidth in the system. The thought was that perhaps Pinnacle wasn't completely forthcoming on the system's development.
The last Avid (nee Pinnacle) product we bought was a Thunder HD in 2007. It's still running. The MediaStream was quickly replaced with Omneon. (now Harmonic)
[Scott Thomas] "Apparently the main problem was not enough bandwidth in the system. The thought was that perhaps Pinnacle wasn't completely forthcoming on the system's development."
I've heard that before. I wasn't intimately connected with Liquid Blue, but there seemed to be bandwidth issues there too. I wish I knew more about this, but yours and your colleagues aren't the only two examples I've come across.
Integrating tech is a lot harder than it sounds. Yet another reason I bow down in the general direction of Grant Petty whenever this comes up. You just don't know how big a deal it is that he's been able to do what he's done, including getting some VERY hardcore non-Mac products to work great on Mac. Astounding.
Investigating other people's storage pre-purchase is also harder than it sounds. Medea was a game-changing system that made a lot of people a lot of money back in the day, but by the time Avid got its hands on it, it was a dog with fleas. (I'm under the impression that a lot of the key developers had already gone to G-Tech? The details of this too were beyond me. This is definitely an area where many of you will know vastly more than I do.) It SEEMED like the right move for Avid looking for low-cost, high-volume, local RAID, but what a mess in practice.
I wish that part of the story were happier, but boy howdy, it sure wasn't.
Is there any part of the Pinnacle Systems broadcast line still around? DVExcel? That production switcher they released?
Deko begat AVG and was killed before it was released I believe. They more recently bought Orad, and that is the current offering. That reminds me... I saw Deko when it was still part of Grass Valley / Dubner and was a VESA card set for a Windows NT system in 1994. It truly was the descendent of the Dubner CG line.
I know MediaStream is gone. Thunder was still being supported when I last contacted Avid... many, many years ago. Maybe they have parts for a Flash Graphics if I need it?
[Tim Wilson] " the newest version of Liquid was very FCPX-like: one window, insanely nimble, with a lot of extra power (albeit presented modally) that neither FCPX nor anyone has really attempted at the same degree -- outstanding CG (DIRECTLY tied to the broadcast engine of Deko that was one of the core drivers of the whole thing), a terrific integrated DVD authoring interface (the best I'd seen), and the best multi-format support on the market -- including uncompressed."
I think I am the only one who ever stated the cool attributes of Liquid. I used to own it.
[Tim Wilson] "Liquid was compelling technology to reach a market where Avid had no play...but it was by no means easy money."
Liquid was way a head of the the other NLE at the time.
[Tim Wilson] "It happens that Liquid (with the Blue hardware configuration) was the only Avid product that supported uncompressed video at the time."
Liquid could also edit HD without additional hardware. It used the GPU back in 2004 right as Pinnacle was buying out Fast Multimedia. Fast implemented background rendering in 2000.
[Tim Wilson] "To be honest, I was surprised that Xpress Pro lasted for another couple of years, but not at all surprised that Liquid carried for years after that -- again, 5 years as a product, and supported for 2 more years after that."
? Avid stopped development of Liquid in 2007. There was no Liquid 8 or as Avid stated. Liquid 8 means Liquidate.
[Tim Wilson] "Certainly enough to set to rest the fiction that Avid bought it to kill it."
I think they bought Liquid to implement the background rendering and GPU acceleration into Avid MC.
[Tim Wilson] "It died a natural death as Avid focused on exactly what they should have been focused on in post, where Liquid lived: dual-platform, team-oriented, feature and TV editing."
I think Liquid was purchased to help improve MC.
[Tim Wilson] "I still treasure every cycle I spent working on Liquid and its community -- and it was a huge part of what I did my last year-plus at Avid."
Are you saying after Avid bought Pinnacle the Avid folks started doing the coding for Liquid in the USA? I thought the development team for Liquid was in Munich Germany.
[Tim Wilson] "I was also nuts about the Pinnacle product folks I got to work with, in both post and broadcast."
I don't think I ever seen you post about the Liquid software. I have many times.
[Tim Wilson] "What he said to us afterward was that we'd had it coming. We weren't doing well enough. We needed to do better."
As I have stated a few times Avid had background rendering and GPU acceleration before FCPX but the credit needs to go to Fast Multimedia and Pinnacle Systems. I think Avid made some very bad choices by ending my software of choice but I am not biter. I don't post hate for Avid daily. I used to edit on a Mac based MC. I liked it but times have changed.
[Tim Wilson] "While most Apple customers are happy enough with the outcome, I simply refuse to believe that they wouldn't be happier if they insisted on the same level of accountability from Apple displayed by other industry leaders, and Apple actually did it. Nothing bad comes from public accountability, and it's silly to argue that it does."
I know some FCPX users would not dare to question Apple but I would.
[andy patterson] "I think Liquid was purchased to help improve MC."
Not in the least. Please re-read what I wrote. I was there. This was my job. That was not the case.
Your opinions about the relative value of MC vs. Liquid are completely valid because they reflect your experience, but objectively speaking, they also underscore the reasons why what you're suggesting was impossible. The two products had completely divergent goals, technology bases, and customer bases. They had nothing whatsoever to do with each other. There was no competition -- hence nothing was "killed" to "protect" something else -- but also no complementarity.
[Note: I edited the above paragraph quite a while after I posted it, because I overstated my personal perspective as reflecting Avid's corporate priorities. As it turns out, the two were not in fact always the same. ]
The area that interested me most was graphics integration. Avid had half a dozen graphics technologies it seemed like -- Marquee (which came out of the Elastic Reality purchase and team, and vastly more power than was being tapped), the built-in titler, Deko (including the database stuff), the 3D technology coming out of Softimage (which was oriented toward characters, not objects and rigs like text requires....but I still felt was worth investigating because Deko lacked true 3D capabilities)....plus some very compelling technology (if I say so myself) licensed from Boris FX (basically, Boris RED rebadged as Avid FX), which I'd been the product manager for before coming to Avid....and I couldn't find a single meaningful way to get even TWO of these talking to each other, much less all of them.
I want to emphasize that I have zero engineering skills. I'm speaking strictly from a product management perspective viewed through an end-user lens. But no, nothing like this was gonna happen. Engineers later confirmed my suspicions in vastly more dimensions than I'd considered. 😂
So please believe me when I say that there was NO intent to somehow "use" Liquid to improve MC. It's one thing to say that MC should have had some Liquid features, but in practice, even something as "simple" (but not actually simple at all) as Liquid's hella GPU acceleration were irrelevant to the core workflow needs for the core MC audience in 2005.
Nothing about the two are related. The sooner you let go of this, the sooner the whole picture will come into view.
Not that it's not fun to play compare-and-contrast. Of course it is. That's some of why we're here. But what you're talking about as an end-user doesn't factor into what actually happened.
[andy patterson] "Are you saying after Avid bought Pinnacle the Avid folks started doing the coding for Liquid in the USA? I thought the development team for Liquid was in Munich Germany. "
Liquid development stayed in Munich. The product management team was in Mountain View. I was product marketing at Avid HQ, which was then an hour outside the Boston area (Tewksbury to be exact), which is where Avid worldwide sales was based -- but Liquid's two sales managers were located in Chicago (Blue, with its heavy iron IO and storage) and Dallas (the rest of the Liquid line, including software-only and lighter-weight hardware.)
We all got along great. We got together now and again in various locales around the world (including for my counterpart in Mountain View and the lead developer in Munich, one night at my apartment in Boston), and we all knew how to use phones, too. The object of the game was to create the fewest possible obstacles to people continuing to do what they were doing, so not wasting time and money uprooting large teams. Keep doing what you're doing, ppl. That part of it worked just fine.
[andy patterson] "I don't think I ever seen you post about the Liquid software."
You've only been here a fraction of the time that I've been here, and I've alas been pulled away and hardly posting in the past year when you've been most active. (I really do hope to get back to it.)
I was also posting here for many years before I started working here, going back to 1996 in our original incarnation. I've certainly written about my role working with Liquid at Avid before in many posts and a variety of articles in the COW library (as well as other aspects of my life with Avid and other companies in the industry), so I'm not sure what relevance that has to anything.
Of course you and I have very different ideas about relevance, but that's fine too. It's your forum. I just work here. 😎🐮
Heaven knows I'm not recommending that anyone go back and read 20 years of my nonsense here. 😂 I'm barely tolerable in the present tense, ideally in vastly smaller doses than I typically dole out.
I hope you can appreciate the trip down memory lane.
As I have stated before Avid did have background rendering and GPU acceleration before Apple and Adobe but the credit has to go to Fast Multimedia. I do often wonder where Fast Multimedia/Pinnacle/Avid's Liquid would be in 2017 had it been developed. It was a cool program.
I like the "specializes in specialists" line. That's good. There's a career in marketing for you!
IIRC, the first Avid product to support uncompressed was Symphony, ca. 1999-2000. Before that there was also Avid Fusion, which never made it out of the tech preview stage. It ran on SGI and I presume the company opted for Symphony instead. There was also DS, but I don't remember the timeline of when exactly Avid bought Softimage.
Avid always has the mixed blessing of trying to change/advance Media Composer without alienating a passionate user base. There are plenty of editors who are quite familiar with FCP7, FCPX, Premiere Pro, and Resolve, that will absolutely opt for Media Composer as the more reliable, robust NLE for the work they do.
That base wants change, but not major change. So Avid has to do things incrementally, especially anything "under the hood". Look, they completely swapped out the engine from 32-bit to 64-bit with minimal hiccups. They are slowly replacing dependencies on QuickTime with minimal disruption. I think users appreciate that without Apple's "rip the band-aid off approach". But, of course, that also means they aren't the sportiest car in the garage.
Oliver Peters - oliverpeters.com
[Tim Wilson] " I'm barely tolerable in the present tense, ideally in vastly smaller doses than I typically dole out."
Disagree!! Your posts are always fun and informative... more Tim (IMO)!
From the looks of it, Avid has had their feet on fire for years with no relief in sight. Seems they are still not delivering.
[Brian Seegmiller] "Seems they are still not delivering."
Yes and no. Depends on which market you're talking about
Oliver Peters - oliverpeters.com
The attitude and body language of the panel is interesting. None of them seemed to want to be there.
Owner, 1708 Inc./Editorial
Managing Partner, Low Country Creative LLC
Professor, VCU Brandcenter
Way back in 2003, while writing for a magazine called 'Misenscene', in India, I got a review system of Pinnacle Liquid. This was sold in India by local Pinnacle dealers, as a card with the Liquid software. Where the software would only work with the card installed. Inside any compatible PC.
Just for memory sake, here are pdfs I had saved of the original article. In two parts
Later in 2003, we went around many cities in India demoing the LEP card and software. And, if memory serves me right, the local Pinnacle reseller sold tens of thousands of these units in the event/wedding/docu market locally. Having used it then while doing demos, I can attest to the fact that it was revolutionary in the way it handled compressed media.
At that time, Avid was firmly entrenched as the NLE of choice for the the close to a thousand movies edited in India. And FCP was just emerging. In the next 5 years or so, till 2008-09, Avid retained its place in the feature film sphere, but FCP swept away all other NLEs in the TV/docu space in India.
Today, 2017, FCP 7 is waning away, Prem Pro is emerging as its replacement for TV, while FCP X rules in the web video market, while Avid MC still has a stubborn but minuscule and shrinking set of 'pro' editors.
FCP Editor, Edit systems consultant
[Neil Sadwelkar] "Way back in 2003, while writing for a magazine called 'Misenscene', in India, I got a review system of Pinnacle Liquid. This was sold in India by local Pinnacle dealers, as a card with the Liquid software. Where the software would only work with the card installed. Inside any compatible PC."
It would work without the card. In order for Liquid to have I/O options you did have to buy the Pinnacle Graphics card which was a modified ATI All In One card. It was later replaced by a USB 2.0 breakout box. Much better option. I had forgot about that. Thanks for posting.
[Neil Sadwelkar] "Having used it then while doing demos, I can attest to the fact that it was revolutionary in the way it handled compressed media. "
I am glad you got to use it first hand. Liquid Edition had GPU acceleration and background rendering. Background rendering was awesome when people had to deliver back to tape. Also if you had dual Xeon CPUs you might want to use the CPU effects. If you have one 3.2 GHZ Pentium 4 and a $280.00 graphics card you might want to opt to use more GPU effects. It was really cool the way you could opt to use GPU or CPU effects. Liquid Edition could edit HD when no other systems could. It left Avid, FCP, Premiere Pro and Edius in the dust. I used to use Edius. Edius was touted as the most powerful real-time system until Pinnacles Liquid Edition was released.
[Neil Sadwelkar] "Today, 2017, FCP 7 is waning away, Prem Pro is emerging as its replacement for TV, while FCP X rules in the web video market, while Avid MC still has a stubborn but minuscule and shrinking set of 'pro' editors."
Avid should have pushed Liquid into the studios. Just think of where Liquid would be today if it were still being developed.
Some additional thoughts in Scott Simmons' PVC column:
Oliver Peters - oliverpeters.com
[Oliver Peters] "Yes and no. Depends on which market you're talking about
From a simple man's perspective, the user interface is still the one thing that baffles me.
I came from FCP legacy and got on Avid MC back in 98 and to date, the stupid things it does is still an issue.
[Eric Santiago] "From a simple man's perspective, the user interface is still the one thing that baffles me."
Preferences for NLE's often can be determined by what NLE you used to learn the craft. I established my career on Avid and through years of usage the Avid interface became second nature so when I then moved to FCP it was quite frustrating because FCP seemed like a poor stepchild to Avid. But over time you come to appreciate the positives of each NLE since there's no going back.
I Hate Television. I Hate It As Much As Peanuts. But I Can’t Stop Eating Peanuts.
- Orson Welles
[greg janza] "Preferences for NLE's often can be determined by what NLE you used to learn the craft."
Actually, I am very proficient with the interface.
I was referring to the fact that the windows to date still act up and where it doesn't save the layout properly.
I noticed the same issue on the PC side (just recently).