Stop Competing with Yourself

To restate the obvious: editing is being democratized. The market is getting shorter and wider — less money per sale, more sales, more and more power in the box, less need for specialized hardware.

Avid has to lead in this world, not the old world of big hardware and fewer, higher-priced sales. The question is not whether they have the expertise to aggressively innovate — they do. The question is whether they can pry themselves loose from their old business model to do it.

In some ways, they don’t have to invent anything. They could make a very good start by rolling together all the goodness that now resides in the diverse and still separate applications they’ve bought over the years.

Wouldn’t you like to have some of these capabilities?

  • Background saves (never again be interrupted by a save).
  • Background rendering.
  • 5.1 mixing in the main application.
  • The ability to generate a DVD directly out of the timeline.
  • Compatibility with AJA hardware.

Where do you get all that? Not from Final Cut — from Liquid, which is now an Avid product.

Or this:

  • DPX file editing and conforming, all the way up to 4K.
  • Sample-based editing.
  • Nested sequences.

You get all that, plus all kinds of terrific effects capabilities, in DS.

And aren’t you eager to benefit from some of the sound editing and mixing capabilities that reside in Pro Tools? (Details in this post.)

Bottom line — Avid has to show it can lead in the way it empowers creative people. It once did that in spades — and it beat every competitor. It can do it again. But it has to take off the gloves and change the way it does business. Anything less than that is a formula for slow death.

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6 Comments on “Stop Competing with Yourself”

  1. L. Jordan Says:

    Hi Steve,

    I really appreciate your valiant effort to save Avid from themselves. They invented the digital non-linear editing paradigm and their software has always been a relative joy to work with, particularly for anyone who had exposure to working with celluloid or linear tape. Unfortunately, aside from the the first few “glory” years I’ve never felt a creative “kinship” with anyone or with any product out of Avid.

    If memory serves me correctly, quickly after MC’s acceptance here in town, their corporate “relations” with feature film editors all but ceased, however, they had no qualms about exploiting our high profile work as the backbone of their marketing campaigns. Avid proceeded in their quest for world domination and individual editors felt slighted. They went after their many other markets, which is fine in itself, but basically continued to ignore small creative shops, which as we both know, make up the core of the editorial business. Resentment grew at their non-responsiveness to our needs and their concentration on “facilities”. However IMO the straw that broke the camel’s back was around 1999 when they decided to (younger readers might get a chuckle from this) END DEVELOPMENT on the Mac platform! Not a very visionary move, particularly in light of Apple’s release of Final Cut Pro. I won’t even mention the majority of the creative community’s affinity towards the Mac. (Do you have to be a CEO to know that?). Everyone laughed and many with small minds STILL laugh at the thought of cutting something longform (or anything for that matter) in FCP.

    Oh how times have changed. Here it is 8 years later and with the exception of feature films, Apple all but owns many of Avid’s former markets (and markets Avid never even dreamed of). But even in feature films FCP/FCS has made significant inroads. Many trailblazers, i.e. The Coen Brothers, Walter Murch, David Fincher, (dare I say David Gaines?) have seen the advantages to working on a cost effective, and for the most part, open platform. With the ALL data centric workflow rapidly approaching, FCP/FCS is poised to own longform too.

    Is Apple that responsive to our needs here in Hollywood? Not really. But having had the experience of cutting a feature film with it, in FCP/FCS they have released a suite of products whose advantages, financially and creatively, seriously outweigh it’s disadvantages.

    Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE cutting on the Avid but they just doesn’t “get it”. Well, maybe they are starting to now that their profits have dried up and their CEO has stepped down. You are spot-on in your observation that they need to rework their product matrix and re-establish their relationships with individual artists before it’s too late.

    I keep getting this picture of all those kids you see when you walk into an Apple Store. They sit their excitedly playing on their eMacs as their parents shop for iPods and MacBook Pro’s. Do you think they’ve ever heard of Avid? Now I’m emphasizing to make a point but I guess this is where that “kinship” I mentioned earlier starts. Apple has become the McDonald’s of content creation. They start future “Dworkers” (my word, it’s trademarked!) off with Happy Meals (iMovie, iDVD, Garage Band etc.) and grow with them into Big Macs with their “Pro” offerings.

    Too bad the corporate world doesn’t have the wherewithal to make somebody with your insight, intelligence and experience CEO. Possibly then, they would have a chance at survival.

    Best,
    LJ

  2. L. Jordan Says:

    P.S. Thanks for the great blog. Keep it up!

  3. Jd Says:

    My fear is that Avid’s reluctance to “give away” these features will cause them to wait until FCP does it first and forces them into it. By then, they will have already demonstrated who’s leading the innovation curve (or *not* leading). And we all will have migrated to the other side of the fence.

    A bold move would be to offer a package that is so feature-rich, as you listed above, that they actually start winning back FCP defectors -as opposed to just “keeping up” with FCP sales.

    Ever since I started working on my DS, I’ve been asking “why hasn’t Avid combined all the best features of DS with the best features of Symphony?” Combined, this would be a truly killer app. But Avid seems to think that they *have* combined them with the Dual Boot option. This is not a solution. This was a solution that came from Marketing or Accounting (or the Board Room as it tries to deal with the egos in Boston and Montreal). Meanwhile, all the ingredients to the perfect cake sit in the kitchens of Pinnacle, SoftImage, and classic Avid with no chef around to cook the damn thing!

    Now I’ve gone and worked myself up. So let me get to my real point:

    How do you create a DVD from the timeline in DS? I didn’t know that was possible.

    : )

    -Jd

  4. Steve Says:

    DVD from the timeline is in Liquid, not DS.

  5. Norman Says:

    We know that the Liquid code base is way different from Avid’s but the only advantage that I’ve ever been able to see from Avid’s purchase of Pinnacle would be if they could introduce a no-cost entry level NLE that looked and felt like Avid.

    And then GOT IT ONTO EVERY DAMNED PC THAT CAME OUT OF DELL OR HP. Think, if you will, iMovie (up until ’08).

  6. Steve Says:

    Sure, Liquid’s codebase is totally different, and it’s PC only. But it’s the ideas that matter, and that application has some very good ideas that the MC needs to adopt pronto.


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