NAB in Hindsight

Looking back at Apple’s DGA event and Keycode’s ScriptSync demo (described here and here), I’m starting to get a feeling for what those of you who went to NAB this year must have felt. Avid’s announcements for editors were just eclipsed by Apple’s. Our friends in Tewksbury seem much more focused on asset management and on pleasing big corporate customers than they are on inspiring their original customer base — editors like me.

The non-linear editing revolution has been all about democratizing our technology. Avid was at the forefront of this revolution for years. But at every turn now, it seems, Apple trumps Avid by bringing down the price point for yet another supposedly high-end product and integrating it into the Final Cut environment. Even though many editors will never use Color, they are drawn to what it represents: the destruction of another barrier to entry, the possibility that you can do it all from your spare bedroom.

Apple also continues to innovate in terms of the editing UI. Soundtrack, Motion and Color are chock full of interface improvements, new ways to visualize and manipulate our increasingly complex sequences. From Color’s 3D spectrum display, to Soundtrack’s intuitive panner and contextual toolbar, to Motion’s 3D controls and semi-automatic tracker, the message was that these tools feel responsive and expressive and are fun to use.

Media Composer is a whole lot better right now than it was even a year ago. Without a lot of flash, Avid has been slowly and steadily improving it, and it remains, despite everything we’ve seen from Apple, the best tool for the kind of work I do. ScriptSync and DNX36, though not particularly flashy, are probably going to change my life. Many of the new features in Final Cut Studio, exciting as they are, won’t.

Avid’s new ad, on the back of Post Magazine this month, uses the tagline “Pure Belief.” That’s better than anything I’ve heard from them in a long time. But I sure hope they’re busy working on new features, too. They face the real challenge of re-inventing the Media Composer from the inside out — without damaging the hundreds of subtle enhancements that have been built up over nearly two decades of editor feedback. That won’t be easy.

More than ever, they need to inspire editors with a clear vision of the future.

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2 Comments on “NAB in Hindsight”

  1. L.R. Pebler Says:

    There’s just not much more to say, both because you’ve stated it so nicely, Steve, and because this has essentially been the case for years now.

    As someone who cut their teeth on FCP, I suppose I stand to benefit if its penetration continues. However, I truly do believe that each program has its unique strengths and ideal uses, and the horse race (in theory, at least) drives both companies forward.

    Ball’s in Avid’s court. They can’t say you didn’t warn them.

  2. Edit Says:

    Pure Belief? Sorry, I don’t like faith based editing.


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