Avid 5.5 – The “meh” release

Don’t get me wrong, on the whole I love Avid Media Composer. I’ve been editing with it since the 90’s, and for periods in my career, I owed my living to working with Media Composer. I still think its the best editor money can buy.

That said, I’m giving version 5.5 a miss, and not upgrading the 15 Media Composers and 1 Symphony we have in house. The upgrade price is reasonable, at $150 for the software download, though the $995 upgrade for the Symphony is simply a crime (the woes of being an Avid Symphony owner are worthy of it’s own post). No, while I think that charging at all for the “.5” releases is a bit cheeky, even if Avid 5.5 was a free update I’d still think it’s probably not even worth the manpower to install and test. Bug-fixes are one thing, and there still are some fairly major ones in 5.3 at the moment, but paid upgrade for these features only? At best it’s a “meh” release, at worst it’s a little embarrassing.

  • Capture, monitor, and output video with support for the AJA Io Express interface
  • Natively access and edit Sony HDCAM SR Lite media through AMA (Avid Media Access)
  • Accelerate Panasonic AVC-Intra projects—and use multiple streams—with support for the new Nitris DX AVC-Intra hardware interface
  • Take hands-on control of your video and audio editing/mixing with EUCON support for Artist Control, Artist Mix, and Artist Transport control surfaces (watch the video)
  • Find the right clips fast with support for the new PhraseFind option (watch the video)
  • Directly manipulate transitions in the timeline with the expanded Smart Tool (watch the video)
  • Be more creative with updates to production suite (watch the video)
  • Quickly find files across local and shared storage bins using the improved Find tool
  • Capture and monitor audio in Media Composer projects using Pro Tools hardware
  • Specify audio track formats during import or through AMA, and expand your creative palette with 20 included AIR effects plug-ins
  • Be more creative with new updates to the included Production Suite (sold separately from download purchases)
  • Get more flexibility with audio signal routing when sending material to air (Send to Playback), with up to 16 audio output channels
  • View portions of the software interface in localized languages, including Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Korean, French, Spanish, German, and Italian
  • Get better Long GOP performance when using Send to Playback with AirSpeed servers
  • Use proxies of H.264 material in AirSpeed MultiStream environments for faster response time and increased stream counts
  • New format support with Matrox MX02 Mini now includes SD 23.976, 720p 23.98, 1080p 23.98, 1080p 24, 1080p 25, and 1080p 29.97 as well as the ability to select PsF or true P output in 1080p modes. Also MX02 Mini with Max acceleration has been qualified on Mac OS systems.

First of all due to some Avid licensing issues, if I upgrade from my current version of Avid, I have to pay $995 for a separate Script Sync plugin, that was included in my previous release for free. So really, the upgrade price is $1,145 if I want to keep the same functionality I have now, or only $150 if I want to pay for the privilege of getting rid of one of the most useful editing tools to come out this last decade. Seriously if you’ve never tried script-sync, it’s amazing.

Second of all, the only really intriguing feature upgrade in 5.5, is Phrase Find, which also looks incredibly useful, especially for doc work. However, that too, is a $500 additional plugin. So far I’m in the hole $1,645 for an upgrade, that actually adds a feature that I’d want, and doesn’t remove any that I need.

There’s no way I can find an economical, rational, or even emotional reason to upgrade to 5.5 (and I’ve upgraded on emotion a lot).

Avid version 6.0 is supposed to be a complete re-write of the code to finally bring Media Composer into the 64 bit, multi-processing computing world, that we’ve been living in for the last five years. I eagerly await its release, but Avid won’t be getting our money until then…

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