Avid announced to day that it’s shedding it’s consumer divisions, to focus solely on the enterprise and professional markets. It’s selling off all of the apps that it acquired from Pinnacle (Avid Studio, Pinnacle Studio, and the Avid Studio App for the Apple iPad), to Corel, and all of its M-Audio software and hardware to inMusic. This leaves them selling the Media Composer family, and ProTools, as well as their media storage systems.
I just came back from Broadcast Asia 2012, and had a great time. Like I alluded to in my last post, because of it’s intimate nature, I was able to walk right up and have a demo of the new Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera, get a one on one with Avid, attend the Zacuto 2012 shootout, try out an F65, and cap it off with a nice dinner from Cine-Equipment. I also saw the latest gear from Canon, Panasonic, Sony, Sound Devices, Go-Pro, Assimilate, etc., all in the same day.
The state of the film and video tech industry in 2012? Book it. Done. And my feet didn’t even get sore. I wish more trade shows were like this.
At the NYU Grad Film department at Tisch Asia, we used to teach FCP the first year, and Avid the second year. The third year students were allowed to use either program. We felt that knowing both programs was essential to getting hired in the feature film and broadcast industry.
It’s not necessarily an easy job, being in charge of a film school. Especially in a field that is changing as rapidly as video post-production. It’s hard enough right now to figure out which direction the industry is headed in, but we have to figure out where the industry is going to be three years from now and prepare our students to have those skills when they graduate.
I can tell you one thing, in three years, no one will be using FCP 7. Apple has stopped development of FCP Studio, in favor of FCPX, and in a field that changes this fast, if you stop, you’re dead.
As professional NLE software users, we’ve been conditioned to the 18 month release cycle, wherein we dole out our hard-earned cash about every year and a half for a new version of the software we already use, with a new number attached (i.e. version 6 becomes version 7, etc).
In the meantime we’ve come to expect that any version of the software that includes our original version number (say 6.3. 6.6 etc), should be ours to download for free. On the whole this is because successive versions are generally bug-fixes that fix problems that should not have been there in the first place, that they released anyway. They modify our ire at purchasing buggy or broken software, by making the fixes downloadable for free. It’s an assumption that’s now built into the customer-software vendor relationship.
This somewhat masochistic policy of buying known buggy software and hoping that the company eventually fixes most of the major issues, was the price we paid for the rapidly developing technical capabilities of our software and hardware. While the software was buggy, it made up for it in additional productivity features that our old version and old hardware just couldn’t handle.
Avid Symphony is supposed to be Avid’s High-End finishing system. To justify it’s $35,000 price tag over the $2,500 version of Media Composer it comes with a workstation, a Nitris breakout box, and additional features that Media Composer Software doesn’t have, those features are:
- Universal Mastering (allowing you to output at a different format and frame rate than your sequence setting)
- Some Secondary Color Correction Tools
That is all.
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.