Can Avid Still Lead?

I’ve spent the last couple of days browsing through some of the post-NAB dialog on Avid-L2, the venerable Avid mail list and discussion group (now located in Yahoo Groups). Many of the people on the list have been active in the Avid community since the beginning, and their responses to this year’s NAB were pretty discouraging. Comments included:

  • “Avid hasn’t really upgraded the toolset in years.”
  • “While the basic edit functions are stable and reliable, the user experience remains lacking.”
  • “Avid is about Interplay and Unity and enterprise level solutions and not about editing systems.”
  • “Apple hasn’t told themselves that there’s no room to grow in the NLE market, and that’s why they steal customers from Avid every day.”
  • “If Avid is serious about staying in the NLE business for the long haul and taking a leadership position, it’s time for it to show editors something — anything — new and innovative.”
  • “I remember when the crowds at NAB around Avid’s booth were so large that security would have to try to clear the aisles. That’s sort of what the Apple booth was like.”
  • “It’s time for Avid to learn to innovate and lead again.”

Personally, I’m not quite so negative. Avid did introduce some new things — ScriptSync comes to mind, along with DNxHD 36. And the importance of a fast, portable Media Composer should not be underestimated. But I am also frustrated by how old and creaky some parts of the application feel.

Some people think that editing tools are now a commodity. I don’t agree. There’s plenty left to do. Here are just a few examples:

  • A Live Interface. I’m tired of being able to do absolutely nothing while video plays, or while exporting a Quicktime, or rendering an effect. A live interface will make everything else seem antiquated.
  • Background Saves. Heck, we had this in the Montage, and Pro Tools has it now.
  • Automatic Version Control. All I do all day is manage versions. The machine should help.
  • Better Mixing Capabilities. We need to be able to cut and paste keyframes and move them in groups. We need to be able to mix with sparse keyframes. We need waveforms that don’t extract a performance penalty. We need 5.1 capabilities and track nesting.
  • A New Titler. The Title Tool is almost 15 years old. It’s been showing it’s age for a decade.
  • Search Across Bins. How long have we been asking for this?
  • Improvements to Segment Mode. FCP is in segment mode all the time. I prefer Avid’s approach most of the time, but with a few improvements it would be possible to have the best of both worlds.

Give us just a few things like this and I wager we’d all get pretty excited again.

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4 Comments on “Can Avid Still Lead?”

  1. Travis Finstein Says:

    I agree!

  2. editblog Says:

    You are absolutely correct. I those little things like a live interface that would make MC feel really new. As for Segment Mode…. DS has the ability to turn this on and off so it’s the best of both worlds!

  3. Harry Miller Says:

    I agree on your suggested improvements. Another big advance would being able to ‘group’ clips in the way Pro Tools does. Sometimes we’re working with 5 layers of video and 16 audio tracks. I will do mixdowns in another sequence. But the ProTools grouping is very cool.
    As to the Title Tool, Marquee has some interesting features. But it has a steep learning curve, and the last thing I need is to take a lot of time creating simple titles.

  4. Steve Says:

    I think track grouping is what I meant by nesting. It’s crazy that we have to independently mix both tracks of a stereo pair, or drag them or trim them. The clip is conceptually one thing and it would be nice to be able to view it that way in the timeline, and also be able to expand the group and view the clips normally.

    Regarding Marquee, I’ve spent some time with it and it’s pretty capable in some respects and absolutely maddening in others. And the integration with the Media Composer is very awkward. But I haven’t played with the animation capabilities. As you say, steep learning curve. Not intuitive.


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