Avid Media Composer 6.5's drastic need to continue to update....
Hi, I had the opportunity to talk to a few Avid people this past week, but wanted to extend my thoughts and notes to you for future Avid Media Composer needs in upcoming versions. Please note that these are all notes that I'm remembering, not all are here:
1.) Updated Interface - leaving the 1990's text look, updating all interface buttons, everything. Final Cut Pro X may not be the most technically savvy tool out there for commercial editors, but it is a very 'beautiful' piece of software to look at - all day long. Though some editors do not care about how a software looks, to me, the user interface and using it as a 'creation tool', it makes the user experience somewhat more 'enjoyable', rather than using it as just a tool, it can feel more like an experience, just by really updating the interface even more.
2.) Asset Management - let the editor decide how he wants to organize. Instead of Avid's tradition of clips going into bins, and bins going into folders, it'd be nice to be able to have clips just go into folders. Adobe Premiere and Final Cut let you do this. This kind of goes back to breaking out of the way Avid has been doing it for years, and where efficiency is now more important to the editor than past tradition.
3.) Improvement of Efficiency Tools - There are tons of Hollywood style editors, who have their certain tools they love, and maybe they use all 5000 tools Avid Media Composer offers, but most of the editors out there are not Hollywood film editors who edit long format media. A huge market is the smaller format or shorter format editors, who need to be in and out in minutes, instead of taking a day to prep, we have an hour to prep. AMA answered some of those concerns, however, the efficiency and stability in AMA is still not 100% if you talk to one editor to another. With Adobe Premiere, you can import any codec, edit it, and export, you are in and out, no transcoding, no AMA re-linking issues, etc. Much of the improvements to Adobe Premiere has been because of implementing many of the tools from Final Cut Pro 7, that are 'still' missing from Avid. In answering the FCP user's plea, the advent of "Smart Tools" helped, but only a little bit. And I've talked to many Hollywood editors, who are actually loving "Smart Tools", after giving them a chance and trying them, and using them now, after they once labeled them the "Dumb Tools". Final Cut 7 had so many amazing efficiency tools and features that need to be included or implementing in Avid Media Composer.
4.) Updated Titling Tool - I cannot believe that Avid has still not fixed, updated, or addressed this. It's easier to buy a third party software and offer it as a breakout tool, but it's a band-aid, it's not a fix. Avid needs a better "industry standard" graphics tool. Final Cut 7 was not great, but it's title tool was and is still superior to AMC 6.5.
5.) Staying Updated - One of the big pushes recently is audio key-framing, and how you can now copy and paste audio key-frames from one clip to another, saving you a ton of work, as mentioned in the latest article written in "America Cinema Editor" magazine, which speaks highly of Avid Media Composer 6.5's latest updates, these updates are not updates to show staying up to date. These updates are tools and funciotns that Final Cut Pro 7 had 2-3 years ago. I'm trying to continue to edit and learn Avid, but everyday I run Avid, I think, "Geese, I sure miss this easier way this was done in Final Cut 7". In Final Cut 7, you have no modes of editing, in Avid, you have 4-5 modes you have to go into, just to perform the types of edits you want. It's like to do something in Adobe Premiere or Final Cut 7, that takes you one step, it takes you 2-4 steps in Avid. Efficiency is not saying it has to be easy, but it has to be simple, fast, and intuitive. Stripping down software to software, we are talking about basic software functions, not styles of editing, preferences, or tradition. There are huge innovational tools in Final Cut Pro X, that though is not a prosummer tool, there are new functions that they introduced that are killer efficiency tools! They also try to anticipate the editor's editing choices on and off the time-line. One tool, is the "combined clips" or compound clips - a video editor came up with this, there's no way on earth this came from a software engineer's head, this was a video editor thinking about how to edit faster and not have to worry about audio and audio sync issues and just getting audio levels set, and then out of the way. And it's a great efficiency tool.
6.) "Video Editor-Based" Software Development - this software was written and created by software engineers, not video editors, and what is very transparent, as I've gone to Avid events in Salt Lake City, is that I keep thinking that the software will get more innovative. There's a lot of "sit and wait" mentality, and I think that it is not that Adobe wanted to capitalize on market share and mimic Final Cut Pro, but what Adobe did was not only incorporate all of the things the industry loved about Final Cut Pro 7, but they took those tools and not only made them better, but added more. For example, adding AMA as a new feature, it was not a "new" feature in the sense that it was "new" to workflow, but it was new to the software, and I think that it what is hurting Avid, is that the game of playing catch-up will never end. AMA already existed in Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere for years, way before. They saw that there was not real need for the extra labor-intensive steps to transcode media, which takes hours. Final Cut and Adobe thought "Why do we need to transcode, there's no point." So, they eliminated that workflow step. For larger corporations running massive networks of Avids, the idea of everyone using Avid on a network, the asset management part is important to have, however, the majority of editors out there are not running 100 Avid systems linked together on a network. This greatly influences the over-complexity of the software for your every-day user/editors. We do not need a jumbo jet to fly to New York, we need a private jet sized airplane.
7.) Promotions - Avid's the best marketing campaign out there, but again, tons of the ads and campaigning is based around tons of hardware tools that a ton of post houses do not currently own. So there's so much push to buy all Avid products, but in the end, there's no way to keep up with all of it, and to be able to be in and out quick, whether it is color correction, audio, titles, graphics, etc. It's not that Avid is not the right tool for me. Avid is a great tool, but there's quite a bit of catch up to do, even with comparing it to the other editing software out there. There are essential efficiencies that AMC is missing.
8.) Culture Shift - Avid's editing is heavily supported by its user, those guys who have used Avid from day 1. However, many media schools and colleges, are not teaching Avid, they are teaching Adobe Premeire, and some still teach Final Cut Pro 7 and X, because they are still very stable tools. Avid needs to be aware that there is a new generation out there that was not raised in the era Avid came to be. So this notion of maintaining a dominance, in Hollywood, may very well stay the norm, but eventually the generations of new-comers, and new editors, will not want to use Avid, or may not want to use Avid because it's lack of efficiencies that they can find in other NLEs. The next 5-10 years, Avid needs to be ahead of the game in all aspects. Whether editing a short car commercial, a small web video, or a feature film, people use the tool that fits there needs, but why not be the tool that fits "all" those editor's needs? Culture and tradition makes editors feel safe, but when editors see how other softwares works and bahave and how they operate, when compared to each other, it attracts the editor in terms of how much he can actually get done, regardless of how much experience he has, how many years of various NLE experence he has, or what he has used in the past, Avid has to be able to be there for 100% of all editors. Rather than fighting to maintain it's own unique abilities based on past tradition, Avid needs to expand and kill their competition with an all-in-one solution. Take everytihng your current competition is doing, and do it better. Whether it's the interface design, to buttons, tools, video, audio, graphics, etc. Take the best of the best from everyone, and use that as the first step, and THEN develop from there and innovate.
Digital Chop House
Salt Lake City, Utah
[Tom Laughlin] "
1.) Updated Interface - leaving the 1990's text look, updating all interface buttons, everything."
Won't happen. Not for a looooooong time. Avid has a very old user base that is resistent to change. Even changing the way the MARK IN icon looks, or the LIFT (taking out the weight-lifter) causes them to shout.
Besides, who CARES how it looks? It's got great functionality. What's the need for the new look? Who are you trying to impress?
No, Avid has a very installed user base that they need to please.
[Tom Laughlin] "2.) Asset Management - let the editor decide how he wants to organize. Instead of Avid's tradition of clips going into bins, and bins going into folders, it'd be nice to be able to have clips just go into folders."
Avid's method results in the most rock solid media management of ANY NLE out there. Best in the business, hands down.
[Tom Laughlin] "Adobe Premiere and Final Cut let you do this."
And they are a MESS! FCP's media management was iffy at best, and Premiere's...DISMAL, horrid. Worse than bad. Sorry, I take stability over here, thank you.
[Tom Laughlin] "This kind of goes back to breaking out of the way Avid has been doing it for years, and where efficiency is now more important to the editor than past tradition."
I take stability over the other options any day. AMA allows you to do it the way you want, but then Avid's media management sucks with AMA, because it isn't in the Avid format. Don't like it? Don't use it. Nothing stopping you from using Adobe.
[Tom Laughlin] "3.) Improvement of Efficiency Tools - There are tons of Hollywood style editors, who have their certain tools they love, and maybe they use all 5000 tools Avid Media Composer offers, but most of the editors out there are not Hollywood film editors who edit long format media."
Then don't use Avid. You have other options, why not use those? This app works very well for our needs in Hollywood. VERY well. If you want a tool for a different need...get a different tool. Don't say "you need to change the screwdriver from a flat head to a phillips, because there are very few flat head screws out there. Phillips is more efficient." The thing is, they are still out there, and we need the flathead screwdriver to deal with them.
[Tom Laughlin] "AMA answered some of those concerns, however, the efficiency and stability in AMA is still not 100%"
Yup...because it is employing that media management style that Adobe and FCP did...the one that isn't nearly all that stable. There are reasons why Avid works the way it does, and well. for years.
[Tom Laughlin] "4.) Updated Titling Tool - I cannot believe that Avid has still not fixed, updated, or addressed this. It's easier to buy a third party software and offer it as a breakout tool, but it's a band-aid, it's not a fix. Avid needs a better "industry standard" graphics tool. Final Cut 7 was not great, but it's title tool was and is still superior to AMC 6.5"
I agree here. WHOLE HEARTEDLY. Avid's answer is "use Marquee. Or the new Avid Motion Graphics app." No, their built in tool needs to be improved...for sure.
[Tom Laughlin] "everyday I run Avid, I think, "Geese, I sure miss this easier way this was done in Final Cut 7". In Final Cut 7, you have no modes of editing, in Avid, you have 4-5 modes you have to go into, just to perform the types of edits you want. It's like to do something in Adobe Premiere or Final Cut 7, that takes you one step, it takes you 2-4 steps in Avid."
That's because you are trying to do things the FCP or Adobe way, not the "Avid way." I love FCP legacy, hands down my favorite editing app. But it is gone, so I went back to Avid. I had to relearn how Avid did things, but now that I did, I work great. I can grab things in segment mode (and get there with by pressing a modifier key rather quickly) or get into an out of trim mode quickly. These are things you haven't figured out yet, or were taught yet. The Avid Agility book by Steve Cohen is a great book you should look at. It really speeds up the way you work.
Or...if you want things to work like they do in Premiere...use Premiere.
[Tom Laughlin] "There are huge innovational tools in Final Cut Pro X, that though is not a prosummer tool, there are new functions that they introduced that are killer efficiency tools! They also try to anticipate the editor's editing choices on and off the time-line."
They anticipate incorrectly. At least for my needs. FCX is a fine tool, just not one that fulfills any of my needs. It does well for other people...so I'm fine with them having a great tool they need. It doesn't work for me at all. I'd need to buy like 5 separate apps just to get what is built into Avid MC, and even then it doesn't measure up. Not to mention the horrid Magnetic Timeline and Roles. Lack of tracks drives me NUTS!
[Tom Laughlin] "8.) Culture Shift -"
When one of these fine young upstarts edits a feature film or broadcast TV series successfully and easily with FCX or Adobe...and if they can plug into the system...then we will listen. It took me years to try to get FCP 2...then 3...then finally 4.5 used on a broadcast TV show for History. FCP 3 was used on Cold Mountain due to Digital Film Tree making software to allow it to do so (Cinema Tools)...to allow it to plug into the Hollywood system. Same with Automatic Duck...that helped too. So, sure, those kids can learn and use what they want. When they finally make things with those apps that make the big time, then Avid users will pay attention.
But I see Apple not looking at traditional movies or TV shows...but aiming ahead of the curve to what they think might be the next big thing, like web videos. Those are a big thing, for sure. And they might indeed be the future. But we are still in the present and need tools to deal with present technical needs and issues. FCX doesn't deal with my current needs. Avid does. Adobe doesn't deal with my current needs (a lot of them, not all...tape capture is still iffy), but it might soon.
If you like those other tools...use those. If you are irked because Avid doesn't do things the same way those other ones do...and by this list you want it to be EXACTLY like those other tools...why do you want that? Those tools are out there and do that, why should Avid conform to those needs rather than the ones it currently serves? Those are the tools we need. If I needed Adobe Premiere, I'd use it. And I do...I have projects I wouldn't go near with Avid MC. Instead, I use premiere.
Again...the right tool for the right situation. We don't need a tool belt full of screw drivers. Not everything is a screw.
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I totally agree with you, the right tool for the right job. I'm only sharing some of my initial thoughts based on a 1st year FCP switcher. I know we've all had to switch back and forth numerous times, and that there are strengths and weaknesses to every NLE. I love Avid, I do. So it's not meant to be a rant, this is simply a wish-it-had list. Avid has implemented many things that FCP7 had, like "Smart Tools", so it's nice to see some of that trade-off. The other issue I'm fearing is that again, the idea that this is the 'kids' vs the 'big boys'. This all comes from Avid culture, so I want to continue to edit using and learning Premiere, Avid, and FCP X, this was mostly observational wants, and I'm sure more will come as times flies. But I also don't look at this list as a huge deal. It's not like asking Avid to move a mountain. These are functionality items, not preferences from tradition. I use the same efficiency tools in other NLEs, some ones Avid lacks.
I failed to mention being able to work on and have multiple time-lines open. Not a big deal, but in Avid you can only work in one sequence at a time. Yes, I know you can load a second in the source monitor, and I've rarely actual worked on 2 time-lines at once, but something very small like that, can't be done in Avid. Not a big deal. Not a big deal.
Thanks for sharing!
Digital Chop House
Salt Lake City, Utah
[Tom Laughlin] "I failed to mention being able to work on and have multiple time-lines open."
There's toggle source/record timeline button, which I find much more elegant as a storytelling tool than FCP or PPro's ability to open multiple timelines, because you can isolate and direct your audio tracks before you insert it into your timeline, also you can see the image on both your source and record monitor. This toggle source/record timeline is probably my favorite MC feature of all time.
I agree with most of Shane's point. Except perhaps the Title tool. Many Avid editors I know of who are making the transition to FCP7 absolutely loathe the FCP7 title tool. I like the FCP7 default title tool for only 2 reasons- 1) the information in the title tool is exported into XML, not too sure about Avid's title tool, 2) I can create a text object and get into the text box solely by using keyboard shortcuts, so that's really fast if all I want to do is to create a placeholder.
I'm glad someone here mentioned the find tool. Avid's find tool is not as developed as FCP7's, but at the same time, it has very nice integration with phrasefind. And the find tool in FCP7 can be a very useful tool for categorizing footage, not so in Avid, which really is designed purely as an editorial tool.
Most of the points raised seem to actually peg Avid into an FCP hole. That doesn't work very well. Avid has very unique strengths. I agree that Avid has some catching up to do, but age of a software does not necessarily mean that it's a bad thing. Many people frown upon it. At times it may make it harder for developers to add a feature. But at the same time, you could also see it as a work of art that took years to perfect, and the job is still ongoing. OS X is pretty old too, it started from NeXT, so is the coding language C, which dates back quite a few decades. So old is not necessarily bad.
The fonts? Ever tried squinting at the fonts in PPro? In Avid you can change the size of the font in your bins, or even change the font. Only thing you can't change is the size of the font in effects panel. That's WAY too small.
If you are talking about the look of the interface, Avid has a much nicer interface than FCP7, and in many cases, it's a lot more pragmatic too. Take the customizable timecode windows. MUCH more options than in FCP7.
The smart tool? Avid actually had a pretty nice way of working, although it takes some getting used to if you are coming from FCP7. Option drag to lasso a clip or a few clips, option drag to lasso edit points, option drag right to left to lasso a edit points across a few clips.
Avid's bin system limited as it seems, facilitates the seamless sharing of bins. It's not something you'll understand until you are working on a Unity/Isis, and you need to open the bin of another editor to pull a shot or a rough cut. Having a file locking system and separate Finder level file objects facilitates this. There is no way for editors to share bins within a project in FCP7 or Premiere in the same way that you can in Avid. In Premiere, you need to import a bin, you cannot open a bin while someone is working on it. In FCP7, to do the same thing, you need to create a project file just for sharing, and if you pull rushes from another FCP project, you lose the ability to "reveal master clip" or "reveal bin".
The Avid media management system is the most complete one out there. When you copy media into Avid, it automatically fast imports/transcode media into your media drive. Relinking offline to online media is a snap, although it gets to be a bit of a dance with AMA with hiding folders and all, but once you hide the folders, re-linking is one push of the button. FCP's media management is akin to flying by the seat of your pants, same with Premiere. In Premiere, it's slightly worse, because you have to decide on your workflow before deciding whether to transcode, and XMP is still a work in progress. FCP in some ways got more Avid-like over the years, if you compare Quicktime the FCP equivalent of Avid's MXF. For FCP, you had to convert all media into an editable Quicktime format. Timecode and reel name information is stored in both the Quicktime file and in FCP itself. Adobe on the other hand owns neither a high quality intermediate codec nor a file container, hence it has been working with native for a long time, and that's why native works so well in Premiere, but yea, media management, re-linking, offline/online, all that needs to be much improved in Premiere, but I guess they laid the foundations with XMP.
Compound clips? How is compound clips different from a nest? Aside from the fact that if you change the child/parent clip, it is able to automatically update across projects? When I think of that, I think of the text tool in Premiere, where you copy and paste the text, change the text, then it changes the previous one. Oops. Need to "make new based on current". I never really liked nests because you couldn't make a change to the edit instantly. You had to step into nests to change an edit.
But I agree that Avid needs to continue improving their software, background importing would be nice, also, encourage 3rd party developers to develop apps and plugins for their software. They still need to improve AMA in Avid, both in terms of performance and reliability, as well as in offline/online integration. I like Avid for editorial work, but not so much for editorial work with effects.
All good comments in this thread. Just a note that my comments do not come from an FCP comparison as I have never used FCP in a serious enough manner to compare the feature sets, but it is interesting to read the comments by those making the transition and their experiences on the advantages and disadvantages of each. A lot of this also depends on context, the type of program being edited, how many collaborators in the process, offline/online, etc.
Interesting that you bring up PhraseFrind. I am a huge fan of the Nexidia technology that powers both PhraseFind and ScriptSync. It is a fundamental change by which an editor can approach their material not only when crafting it, but even has applications beyond its current implementation. And this gets me back to the never finishing of a feature/solution - All my comments on "Find" were related to just the metadata based search function, and not the phonetic based search that PhraseFind offers. PhraseFind UI is a good example of a design that doesn't quite understand the full power of the phonetic syntax that can be used and many users don't realize what they're missing (spanned based searches, optimization for acronyms and such). This is because the UI doesn't inform them of this capability. It too suffers from the "let me give you all the results, then you filter through them" rather than a UI that offers some form of filtering up front as part of the initial search function such as "in this bin only" or "in scenes 3-6" or "on this date" etc. The results for PhraseFind could also be optimized by not having a clip for every result show up but a single clip with total hits displayed. As a user, the results of a clip that has 20 references to a word search versus one that only has 2 makes a bug difference in how I engage with those search results. The lack of filtering based on clip type is missed even more as the results will show all clips, even when they are duplicates, which happens often when your workflow is double system, reference track on original video, AutoSync to new subclips, and potentially sync those to make group clips. All of those show up, when as an editor, I only really care about the .sync subclips and group clips to edit with. This entails a sort and scroll to ensure you are using the right one when loading each one, one at a time. A phonetic score filter would help with many other search functions, but even that is missing.
There are great features in Media Composer, and for doing the long form feature editorial that I do, there really is nothing else like it - but I wish these type of features that have the potential to be truly innovative get the chance to be that one day, and not "just good enough".
Funny thing is I wrote an article about the FCP7 search tool, and what started that was because I was on a job cutting promos on MC5, and I needed to search for a bunch of item numbers across a bunch of Avid bins. I could have done that in minutes in FCP7, but back then, MC5 only allowed you to sift within a bin, not across many bins. And while I was on that job, Avid released MC5.5 with a search tool and PhraseFind, which was the first time you could search across bins in MC history, and I really wished I could update my machine. Even then, I still felt FCP7's search tool to be a lot more developed. Here's the article on the LAFCPUG. (feel free to remove it posting links goes against forum rules)
Sad thing about FCP7's death is that none of the other major NLEs got the search tool right, and it's especially sad considering that we are living in the age of Google. If there's one thing I wish everyone could borrow from Apple, that would be search.
I have always found the Lightworks search function to be quite nice as well as the original D/Vision.
Yes, I'm probably going to look back here in 6-8 months, after having MUCH more "consistent" and editing experience with Avid, and laugh at this posting!
But it is nice to hear from everyone about their current needs and wants with Avid and other NLEs at large.
Merry Christmas Creative Cow,
Digital Chop House
Salt Lake City, Utah
I agree with a lot of Shane's responses, as well as yours. There are advantages to some of the rigid ways Media Composer works, but it doesn't mean there can't be improvements that can't be designed to satisfy both an existing user-base and new methodologies seen in other NLE's
For example, in addition to just changing the timecode windows above the monitors to looks slicker (neon green), change position with resize, etc. it would have been the perfect opportunity to also add the ability to directly interact with timecode entry for a lot of different purposes; go to, set duration, log timecode offsets into clip in bin, etc. It would also be more intuitive than just clicking to make a window active and start typing - that is a leap of faith.
Same thing with SmartTool - I don't think anyone denies the need to have direct manipulation in the timeline, but "how" it was implemented didn't please existing users, nor did it do everything "the new kids" wanted. For example, dragging a clip directly up and down past the window view does not automatically scroll the window - pain in the ass that it doesn't. Drop the clip, scroll the window, start again... etc. And there is plenty of other "improvements" that thing needs.
Bin as bin are extremely handy when working with other editor and their systems, be it on the same shared storage or across the country. The ability to zip a a bin file, and send it is priceless. But I also recognize the value of AMA and knowing its current limitations work within those.
All of these improvements from Avid are described as being in phases - I just hope they get to Phase 2 on a lot of them (like the Find window...), etc.
I agree with Shane on most of his points.
Many of the changes suggested by the OP would break the backwards and forwards compatibility of Avid. I know this hasn't been possibly with many if the other NLEs mentioned or at best tricky but its been a key feature of MC
For broadcast post houses like ours the ability to take a V6 project back tk clients V4 or earlier system us crucial. Being able to open a 3year old project is crucial.
Having portable bins rather than a full bloated project all day crucial for fast reliable jobs.
And a massive pool of talented editors who know that interface and can work any version is far more important than a complete overhaul of the look just to be pretty.
Its not a fashion show its a tool for a job.
And don't forget there are many non Avid folks working on improving the interface and features in the background.
And finally the Avid community forms have a feature request forum that is read and managed directly by Avid engineers. There aren't many other tools on the market so easy to gave an impact on. and why has all that impact produced such a slow pace to changes? Because Avid want afford to do an Apple FCPX !
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Gotcha gotcha gotcha.
Yeah, the SELECT ALL FORWARD and BACKWARD and I to O was a good borrow from FCP. The Smart Tool...well, an odd one. But both of them don't work as well as they did in Avid because Avid considers the areas devoid of clips or media, as FILLER...clear film if you will. It isn't empty, there's something there. That's a big difference and one I don't see going away, as it does serve some pretty useful purposes. But the fact that it is there messes up the smooth implimentation of the Smart Tool and other things.
OK...wish list. Gotcha. Still, check out the Avid Agility book. It certainly sped me back up right quick.
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Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def
Thanks guys for the comments, I'm going to purchase "Avid Agility" for sure.
Digital Chop House
Salt Lake City, Utah
Definitely agree with Shane.
I started in Premiere and used it for 6 years through high school and college, switched to FCP for 4 years, and then spent the last 6 in Avid. Avid is by far the most stable, cleanest, "adult" NLE. For silly, short, fast turnaround projects I still use FCP (phasing into Premiere... CUDA is amazing). If its under 2 days and has a bunch of random assets, it's FCP or Premiere. It it's longer, has video, and (most important) clients in the room, Avid is the only way to go.
I can't understand why folks want to organize a project bin structure AND a folder structure. It just gets overwhelming, duped filenames always come up (even with the most organized people). It's just too dangerous.
If I'm forced to work in FCP or Premiere for larger/longer projects, I usually pile all of the media in one folder, Avid style. FCP is abysmal when it comes to keeping track of its own media (especially with more than one editor), and I've found this method prevents duped filenames indefinitely.
But yeah, as someone who grew up in the Premiere/FCP world and converted to Avid, I'm here to say its a far superior product. And you can't beat Avid's frame mode :)
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Yea, August, I can understand your perspective a little more in that Avid is more of an "adult" NLE, that's kind an interesting way of putting it. Many features have been cut on FCP, and Walter Murch was a huge advocate of Final Cut. In many of his interviews, he liked how it worked. Experience on, familiarity with, and personal preferences are all over, but basic improvements are needed regardless what tools are or are not already there in Avid. Feels like a Pepsi vs Coke conversation. But taking off our editor lenses, Avid is missing some efficiency tools that were very useful in FCP7 and that are in Adobe Premiere today. We look at Adobe Premiere, not as a fan or a follower, but seeing what they are doing. It's like at NAB, when shopping for a camera. Is bigger better or smaller better? In the end they all do the same thing right? They all record the same way or look and feel the same way? It's like when we went from VHS to digital then to 2K to 4K. It's like when you hear people talking about how awesome consumer 4K cameras are vs the Red Epics or whatever. Avid as an editor being compared to like the Alexa of cameras? I've seen some really beautful footage come out of the Canon 5D MII. Do I need an Alexa or a 5D? Questions, questions, thank for everyone's comments, they're are great.
Digital Chop House
Salt Lake City, Utah
I'll preface this by saying Avid was the first NLE I learned though I also knew Premiere back in the day and I picked up FCP at version 3. Up until my current gig (which started last month and is on Avid) I'd be using FCP daily in a multi-editor, shared storage environment for the past 5.5 yrs doing everything from promos to a half-hour, magazine style show (which was mixed in SoundTrack and graded in Color).
Starting up on an Avid show again there are certainly things I miss about FCP like how 'natively' interactive the time is and how effects are handled (I really, really dislike having to hop into the FX editor in Avid for every little thing). There are also things like I really like about Avid such as the much, much better handling of a multi-editor environment. I'd forgotten how convoluted it was just to share a sequence or custom effect between FCP projects compared to Avid projects. By keeping all media in bins in Avid you can use the Open Bin command (or just the Finder) to access bins in other projects (and these bins are all managed so to keep people from overwriting each others' work). Folders in an Avid project correspond to folders in Finder and w/o Avid somehow locking down folders on the Finder level it wouldn't be able to properly allow read/write access to multiple user therefore you can't store media directly in a folder in Avid.
I don't want to turn this into an extended feature for feature comparison, but Avid's AMA is more feature rich than FCP 7's log and transfer, Avid's overall media handling is superior to FCP 7 in general, Avid's 'open timeline' (mixing and matching frame rates in the same sequence) does proper frame rate conversions where as FCP 7 does not and while sometimes I think that filler gets in the way it's very cool that you can use it similar to an AE's adjustment layers. Even though Avid's GUI, even after the refresh, isn't what I'd call sexy I think the the program very much is built with editors in mind. For example, things like the multiple TC displays that can be set to different frame rates (two of the last three shows I've worked on have shot and cut at one frame rate but delivered on another), the real time TC filter (that also has multiple adjustable fields including source clip name) and the marker tool.
With regards to the 'big kids vs little kids' thing, there is nothing Avid centric about that. Ever seen the look on a veteran FCP users face when you say you edit with Premiere? Or, worse yet, FCPX? Or when a dSLR shooter tries to talk shop with someone that owns a 'real' camera like an Alexa or a 35mm camera?
I don't think any one company can successfully be all things to all people. Can an a single program be the best editor, the best compositor, the best color correcter, the best DAW, the best motion gfx tool, the best for a single user and the best for a team of users? I doubt it. If I'm shopping for an automobile and I want something that can pull a camper should I complain that sports cars lack trailer hitches and sufficient torque or should I just go look at the trucks? ;)
This got a little more ranty than I wanted it to but I feel like you've developed a workflow around FCP and are now trying to shove Avid into a FCP shaped hole and that's just not going to go well (nor will doing the reverse).
As a long time avid and FCP user, the Smart Tool struck me as odd, as well. Never really use it in Avid, despite my FCP experience. Just always seemed like I was more efficient doing things the original Avid way.
The Smart Tool Doesn't really mimic FCP behavior and js just plain clunky and weird within the Avid editing paradigm....and now FCP is dead...FCPX is totally different!
Well that's interesting to hear, as one of the SmartTool's design goals was to appeal to FCP users and make that decision transition to Media Composer before Apple forced that decision upon them. But it's not the first time I've heard it as everyone approaches editing differently and I believe that interaction style also changed based on footage and genre. For example, an MOS montage style versus a dialog intense scene. I would consider SmartTool for the former, but not for the latter as more precision (JKL) and audio monitoring is needed.
As I mentioned, there are many good starts to features in Media Composer, but I wish they would get properly refined in the very next follow up releases. SmartTool got tweaked due to a a very loud and unhappy user feedback which truthfully could have been avoided right with the first release in my opinion. Same goes for "Find". Nice start, but only being able to load the one clip at a time in the source monitor as the only resulting action is limiting. Also its inability to filter based on clip type (master, sub, sync, group) and not seeing metadata on audio clips coming from audio in an AutoSync function lowers the proposition value depending on the situation. Add to that the inability to have a results view that displays the columns in which the search term was found, having to re-nter the search time twice when you know what you're looking for is in a particular column, etc, no shortcut syntax in original search term, etc. and of course the ability to take all the results of a search term and so something with it, like batch enter metadata or save to a bin for future use, search locators, etc. etc. etc. So, the promise is there, but when dealing with feature filmproduction, hundreds of bins (studio level features have thousands of bins by the way. I am told that Alice in Wonderland had over 5000 bins), scores of metadata columns, all autosynced or grouped, the need to sort results with no filtering at times make the feature more work than it needs to be when it could be the best thing going for such large projects.
There's my soapbox for the day. It would be great to see these types of feature refinement/enhancement in follow up releases along with new innovative ones - we shall see what NAB brings. The good news is, there's no shortage of things to be done, the bad news is, there's no shortage of things to be done... ;)
Just wanted to say that I found this to be a very interesting discussion.
I'll bet Avid wants to make all of these changes, but given finite engineering resources many things probably get pushed down the list all the time.
I wonder if backwards compatibility makes updating more difficult given that their core code is around 20 years old. Does anyone think Avid could pull off a fresh-slate piece of software that learns from and leapfrogs its competitors?
That was exactly what one of the engineers I talked to at Avid has confirmed, the code is very very old. This is REALLY alarming, if you think about how much longer they will want to stay in the same mold? How many more years will we stare at 90's font with a 80s/90s architecture? Eventually, like the other NLE companies who constantly are innovating and changing, they will need to "over-haul" this code.
Digital Chop House
Salt Lake City, Utah
[i]Avid considers the areas devoid of clips or media, as FILLER...clear film if you will.[/i]
This has changed in 6.5.2, where you can now select multiple segments sans filler.
want the code supposed be totally refreshed with MC 6.0? Wasnt that the point of the whole 64 bit rewrite? Tom ove on from the old code? Thats what they were saying upon its release. Definantly feels alot snappier than the older builds.
Anyways, i think Avid is all around the most complete editor out there, but like other have said, Theres and FCP way of doing things and an Avid way. Trying to force on into the another is not gonna be ideal. In my experience nothing is as satiusfying as editing on an Avid tho. It just feels like your really operating something and the keyboard centric editing lets me really get lost in an edit.
That said, id like to see a few changes too. Scalable interface is one. On a 30 inch screen having to jump down to 1920 x 1080 resolution isn't ideal as i have to keep switching back and forth when goin to other other apps. Id also like for Avid to not stop whats its coin or playback with every mouse click/command especially volume adjustments in them mixer. FX/Keyframe manipulation in the timeline wouldbe nice, and mainly id love for some more after market plugin manufacture to start making Avid stuff. Its rediculous how many people make plugins for FCP/X, PPRO, etc and how cheap some if it is. In Avid we get Boris (ok, but expensive) Saphire (great but unreasonably expensive) and New Blue (ok, great price). Not too many other options out there tho besides red giant.
Neil Goodman: Editor of New Media Production - NBC/Universal
There is a big difference between a 64 bit total rewrite and supporting 64 bit when it comes to the application. Now granted, it doesn't mean that some parts of the code haven't been rewritten to take advantage of additional memory and access to more CPU processing, but if it was a total rewrite, then why put back in the same limitations such as not being able to save in the background, click in the UI while still playing without stopping, etc.? :)
I believe the marketing message was, the 64 bit architecture is now available so they can add all these types of features in the future as it was impossible with 32 bit OS - now it is possible. For example, additional memory in theory would give access to true frame based metadata that is not just an offset count from head of clip (timecode, KeyKode, etc.) but lens metadata, GPS on moving shots, etc.
I agree on the plug-ins - perhaps it is the AVX plug-in architecture, or simply a matter of priorities and market share for the manufactures when they develop - a lot more people buying Adobe based plug-ins as well as FCP sheer numbers wise compared to Media Composer I would think. Don't know for sure, but every vendor sets their priorities based on resources, and ROI.
I believe the editing interface can be enhanced and still maintain the goodness of what has been done since the first Avid/1 - it's about setting a design goal of getting work done while staying focused on the picture and sound and not where you are clicking.
OK - credit when credit is due - Avid did do a very nice follow up refinement with the latest point release (6.5.2) to the select left or right feature with an option modifier to not select filler. So while I may be critical to features taking many version to be refined from the v1 release, this one was done within a 12-18 month period.
[Michael Phillips] "OK - credit when credit is due - Avid did do a very nice follow up refinement with the latest point release (6.5.2) to the select left or right feature with an option modifier to not select filler. So while I may be critical to features taking many version to be refined from the v1 release, this one was done within a 12-18 month period.
Dang. I would like that. Time to upgrade from 6. Have to say, once I got the hang of it, I've been really enjoying MC.
Can we add to the list a better handling of alpha channel information. Every time I apply an effect to a layer with a matte and is effects the background as well it frustrates the hell out of me. It's time to fix this Avid!!!
Michael W. Towe
President M2 Digital Post
I agree soooooo much with what you say here. I recently bought Symphony 6 and I was quite disappointed. I started editing in the 90's with AVID and loved it back then. But now that I was looking where to go after Apple abandoned Final Cut Pro (real PRO) and went back to AVID, I felt like I was really working with a really archaic editing system. Really buggy, not very intuitive I must say, and yes... I also felt, geeeeeeesss... This think that I'm struggling with would take me one min in Final Cut Pro! So, I left Symphony. I'm kind of reluctant to go to Premiere, but the more I read, the more it sounds it's the real answer. Although, they could also make the interface a little more elegant!