Avid Insider Seminar (Part 2 – Media Composer)

Though most of Avid’s Tuesday night Insider Seminar was devoted to Interplay, several other technologies were demonstrated that in the short term might mean more to feature and TV editors.

The first is DNxHD-36 compression. This is a highly compressed HD codec that’s looking more and more like an upcoming standard for our editing rooms. At 1080p, it takes up roughly triple the space on disk that our trusty 1:14 media did (100,000 feet of film would use 300 GB), but in exchange, you get images that look dramatically better and can be projected and used for previews. Real-time visual effects are said to work well with this codec and Michael Phillips, who did the demo, indicated that you could play six multi-cam images simultaneously with it.

We saw some comparisons on a projector but the system was downrezing everything to 720P and that, more than anything, limited our ability to see differences. Nevertheless, DNx36 is a huge improvement over our old standard-def editing materials and I, for one, am eager to start using it. The catch, for those of you still hanging on to your Meridien systems, is that you can’t do this with your old machines.

Phillips also demonstrated automatic voice recognition for Avid’s venerable script-integration tools. You load your script from a word processing file and attach a shot to the script. Then, you tell the software to listen to the audio and, in just a couple of seconds, it automatically “lines” the take, indicating the place where every line of dialog begins. Once your dailies are loaded this way, you can instantly and easily listen to all the coverage for a particular line or group of lines, back to back. The software is amazingly effective and very fast.

Avid’s script-integration has never caught on here, partially because the extra time and effort required to line the film. That issue has now been eliminated and we may see more people using these tools. Again, Adrenaline or MC-software is required for this feature.

Both of these things will be available shortly. Another Media Composer technology, and perhaps the most important one, wasn’t actually demonstrated. That’s Media Composer for the Mac-Intel platform. The company has been working on this for a long time and many of us are eager to get our hands on it. It’s now slated for release in mid-March, just a week or two from now.

Another long-awaited feature, Avid’s real-time footage and timecode burn-in tool, is slated for release in the next couple of months. The current version works pretty well but is awkward to use, and the fact that it has to be rendered makes it useful only to the most patient. A real-time version would do a lot to streamline the turnover process for many cutting rooms.

Tomorrow — a new Avid-centric video player for Pro Tools.

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