Meridien, Anyone?

Hollywood editors often function as Avid’s poster children — and deservedly so. Despite Final Cut’s inroads into many markets, LA remains primarily an Avid town. But our dirty little secret is that many, and perhaps most, TV and feature editors are still using Meridien systems and don’t want to upgrade. Despite the fact that Adrenaline was introduced nearly four years ago, long-form editors have heard that it’s buggy and slow, and they don’t see a strong reason to switch.

This situation mirrors the one we saw with Meridien. It took Hollywood years to make that move and the town only switched en masse when Avid stopped supporting ABVB. The perception then was that the new version didn’t offer anything important enough to compensate for the pain and expense of an upgrade.

Avid has made much of its terrific user interface and hasn’t wanted to tamper with it. Instead, the focus has been on improved visual effects and finishing capabilities. While these things are wonderful, long-form editors tend to be more interested in bread and butter editing features: the things that help us turn hundreds of thousands of feet of film into coherent stories. And those capabilities, warts and all, haven’t changed much in over a decade.

I’ve used Adrenaline or Xpress on three shows now and would choose it again without hesitation. But I have to wonder how a glacially slow upgrade pace affects Avid and its Hollywood user base. The company can’t get useful feedback because so many of us are using old machines. And Avid isn’t making the money from us that it could be. The result is a self-reinforcing feedback loop. Editors are so certain that nothing will change that they have long since stopped asking for improvements. And Avid isn’t asking because we’re not upgrading.

Editors once drove the upgrade cycle and new features would elicit thunderous applause at user group meetings. That can happen again, but Avid needs to put more focus on figuring out what people like me want and need. The kinds of things that motivate us might not be all that hard to do. For many people here, the most desireable improvement in Adrenaline is the ability to play 16 tracks of audio and use real-time audio dissolves. Not exactly rocket science anymore.

Avid took a commanding lead worldwide in the ’90s partly because the Media Composer won in Hollywood. I hear that the Intel/Mac Media Composer is very fast and I’m hopeful that we’ll see new features introduced in April at NAB. But Avid isn’t going to drive the upgrade cycle here until it offers improvements that Hollywood editors really want.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Avid, Avid vs. Final Cut

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