Xpress Pro Exit Stage Left

Tell me again — what is Xpress Pro doing for Avid? Sure, when Media Composer meant Adrenaline, Xpress Pro gave Avid something that ran on the desktop. But now that Media Composer can run fine without extra hardware, Xpress just exists to support Media Composer’s high price. That might have looked ingenious to Avid management a year ago, but today it’s wasting resources and confusing editors.

Xpress is nobody’s first choice. The only reason you use it is because it’s cheaper. That breeds a subtle resentment. If you’re familiar with Media Composer, and you do a show with Xpress, you have to go through a week figuring out how to outsmart it and work around its limitations. The fact that you can do this makes you unconsciously lose respect for Avid. If you are a new user, your value proposition is this: either buy the full version of Final Cut, no limits, with all its applications, or get the stripped-down version of Media Composer — for $300 more! What kind of weird motivation makes you buy MC? “Well, it’s used by professionals. I better get it. Even though the pros use the pro version, I’ll be fine with the amateur version.” Nobody thinks that way. You get angry at Avid for its lack of respect for what you do — and you love Apple for liberating you.

But the worst part of this is that Xpress, by its very existence, is sucking resources from Media Composer and weakening Avid’s ability to compete. It requires its own engineers, support staff, testers, its own marketing, packaging, distribution, it’s own part of their website. Somebody has to figure out what features to take out of Media Composer to create Xpress and what features to put into Xpress to make it compete with Final Cut. It’s an impossible proposition.

Collectively, Avid has lots of great engineers — but they work on so many different products that their creativity is dissipated. How many editing applications does the company make? Xpress Pro, Media Composer, Symphony Nitris, DS, Pinnacle, Liquid and Newscutter. Many run on both Mac and PC.

Avid is making a valiant effort to support its margins by keeping the editing world segmented. Apple is breaking down those barriers by offering a Swiss Army Knife at a low price. Long term, Avid cannot win at this game. All the energy involved in differentiating its products is subtracted from the core issue: innovation and leadership. The first and easiest move is to get rid of Xpress — and lower the price of Media Composer.

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7 Comments on “Xpress Pro Exit Stage Left”

  1. L.R. Pebler Says:

    Hear, hear!

    Though, in truth, they don’t have to lower the price of MC /software/, just the price of the dongles ;)

  2. Michael Says:

    Couldn’t agree more. I was furious that (having just purchased Xpress a few months agao) would have to shell out another $50 for a .x revisions for it to run an a Macintel! Not to mention having to wait until the platform was more than a year old!

    My favorite quote about all this was Apple’s FCP product manager saying at NAB that Apple was in the business of democratizing editing. More power to them. Avid is looking more and more like Microsoft to me — still in business because they made massive inroads early on and their customers have invested way too much money in their now-antiquated platform to switch. But I know a few who are considering it, despite their hundreds of thousands of dollars worht of Avid gea.r. Avid needs to make some changes and I think the only way that will happen is with new corporate leadership. They need that kind of sweeping change.

    And by the way, why can’t Protools, or some version thereof, work as well or as seamlessly as FCP and Soundtrack? They ARE made by the same company, after all. This would be a top priority for me if I were running Digidesign.

  3. Acmade Says:

    I wholeheartedly agree on all points.

    Most of my work is on MC, but I am currently on location cutting a spot on Xpress Pro. I would have bought my own copy years ago, but this experience reminds me quite clearly why I never did.

    Although Xpress Pro itself is pretty decent these days, it is the small, petty differences from Media Composer that really get to me. All the little stuff that prevents me from tapping into years of motor memory. Why can’t I use the same button layout that I’ve used for the last ten years? Why doesn’t clicking the TC track take me out of segment mode? Where is center duration? Two rows of info?

    It’s as if Avid are actively trying to annoy some of their most loyal users — professional editors with years of Avid experience. Are they hoping that this will drive us to higher end products such as MC Soft, without deterring sales at the lower end of the market? For me and many others, that is quite a bitter pill to swallow. Bitter enough to put me off the whole thing.

    For my personal system, I bought FCP. It is far from perfect, but it is quite useful, and it was about time I got to know it anyway.

  4. Patrick Says:

    I don’t totally agree. I think that Xpress Pro is a good alternative to MC. You can get the two rows of buttons by bringing over your settings from a MC. A lot of people I have run into don’t know that. When you bring your settings over, the look is exactly the same. Also, Xpress Pro has many advantages over MC. For one, I can play 16 tracks of audio at the same time. I am not limited to 8 tracks – try to do that in a standard MC. I agree that Avid needs to spend more time innovating and bringing us better version of their software.

  5. Steve Says:

    I’m not sure, but I don’t think you can import settings to get two rows of buttons anymore. In any event, you can’t get center duration, or phantom marks, or the time remapping tool, and many other things (see this post for more: Xpress Pro First Impressions).
    Adrenaline has offered 16 tracks and real-time audio dissolves from the beginning. MC software now does the same thing.

  6. Patrick Says:

    Yes you can get 2 rows of buttons. My boss just upgraded to the latest Xpress Pro and it did still work. If I could get MC software for a better price that would be great. But on all the films I have worked on, the studios have never let us rent Adrenalines, mostly for the cost difference and most of the studios have the standard, old Media Composers and they want you to use their systems. I am working on a big New Line film now and they refused to rent us the Adrenalines. Even though we fought for them because of the ability to do 24 bit audio to help out our sound crew. I am hoping that they will start to upgrade their old systems so that it won’t be such a battle in the future.

  7. Steve Says:

    Of course, I totally agree that Avid needs to have a desktop product that competes with Final Cut on price. It just doesn’t need TWO products that do that. They’re wasting resources, confusing customers, and not competing effectively. Xpress should be retired and MC-software only should be priced at roughly $1300. Right now, you and others are buying Xpress because it’s cheaper. You’re getting an inferior product that you have to work around. That doesn’t serve anybody.

    As far as upgrades from Meridien are concerned — absolutely, a lot of people haven’t upgraded because Avid has been so slow to add features and because Adrenaline was released before it was fully cooked. This hurts editors and Avid, both. Avid doesn’t get the upgrade money and we lose influence in the product development cycle because we’re behind the times.

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