No Avid Booth at NAB

Avid announced today that they won’t have a booth at NAB 2008. Instead they’re planning private meetings in Vegas and “a series of customer-focused initiatives in 2008 – all of which will be designed to make it easier for customers, prospects and the media to interact with the company.” They’ll reveal the details in February.

For long-time Avid watchers like myself, that’s a huge change. The company has lived and died for NAB every year for nearly two decades now. But, no question, Avid needs to interact with editors much more effectively than it has in recent years and NAB hasn’t necessarily been the best place to do that.

There was a lot of talk on the net yesterday about this announcement, most of it positive. Lots of people, me included, want to see Avid strike out in a new direction, and any sense that they’re doing that is a good sign. But the press release tells us mostly what Avid isn’t going to do. It seems like we’ll have to wait until February to learn more about what positive steps the company plans to take.

Ultimately Avid lives or dies based on the quality of its products. It spent a great deal of effort in 2007 fixing bugs. The result is that Adrenaline is a much better application, and for me, choosing it now is a no-brainer. But there’s still plenty to do.

Long term, it’s hard to see how Avid can compete effectively for the hearts and minds of newbies if they don’t stand up and do battle with Apple in the public arena, staking out a vision for the future of post production. In the past, that’s always started with NAB. For many Avid watchers, it’s going to be hard to avoid the interpretation that the company is avoiding NAB in order to avoid going head-to-head with Apple. But only time will tell.

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8 Comments on “No Avid Booth at NAB”

  1. Ryan Cates Says:

    NAB is their single greatest opportunity to put their product in front of new faces. Without a presence it seems like Avid has given on trying to recruit new editors and is just hoping to hold on to the ones they already have.

  2. Norman Says:

    There are so many ways to interpret this and I’m afraid that my best take on this is that it’s really not so great for present Avid customers in general. I’m not sure hat sort of presence they’re talking about in Las Vegas next year — a card table in front of the Paris Hotel?

    Sure, the Avid booth/s have been fairly impenetrable the last few years. It was hard to meet the people you wanted to meet, unless you already knew who they were. But it’s also hard to take away any other message from this announcement then they are retrenching and going smaller. It’s hard to believe that they would show up in Vegas minus their million dollar booth and announce anything that would compete with FCP.

    In short, this seems to be an admission that they’re not going to compete with Apple next year in new products.

    What does this mean? What are they going to announce? What are they going to rope in new customers with (since solidifying old customer seems to be admission that they’ve already lost the battle)? Why do they think that their best bet is to show things to old customers and to hope that their announcements leak outwards from there?

    In short, this seems to be an admission that they can’t compete with Apple in features or in ad dollars.

    And that, I’m afraid, doesn’t bode well for them. As a feature editor centered user who might attend NAB or might not, I like the concept of them saying that they’ll speak more directly to me. As someone who thinks that they should be speaking to many more types of people than me (including my students, who aren’t about to head to NAB without some impetus), I’m not happy.

    Please please please prove me wrong. I need to feel good about this announcement, like the rest of you do.

  3. Larry Jordan Says:

    Steve,

    I wish I could agree with you, but I can’t. I’m doing my first project with Adrenaline (2.7.2) and although I was really looking forward to working on an OS X version of the software, I am very disappointed. The Avid is unbearably slow. Even on a dual core, Intel-based Mac bins take forever to open and close. I also find my system crashing much more than it ever did on Meridian and the lack of stability and blanket incompatibility with so many of the simple things we all have become accustomed to, i.e. plugging in firewire drives or flash drives is just plain wrong. After doing my last two projects in FCP, it has become abundantly clear how inorganic the Avid interface is to basic Macintosh GUI design. I mean what is with SuperBins? They suck. What a poor implementation of “tabs”, a standard GUI feature that most companies designing software for the Mac adhere to.

    Steve, you know me pretty well, I’m not writing this to start a flame war or an Avid vs. FCP pissing match. I’m just stating my real feelings about Adrenaline’s shortcomings in the short time I’ve been working with it. I too am hoping for big changes out of Avid with the latest executive reshuffling. Because of Apple’s size it seems as if the only place Avid can win is on customer service and support. Maybe this is part of the “private discussions” strategy at NAB 2008 which will result in great products, I don’t know, but at this point I’m assuming Avid management understands that an unbelievable level of service and support is the company’s only real competitive advantage.

  4. Mark Raudonis Says:

    I remember seeing my first Avid at the “Show biz Expo” in Santa Monica way back in the early nineties. It was operating on a Mac IIFX, the source and record windows were tiny, and they were using scenes from “Top GUN” to demo it’s capabilities. I was blown away. I knew back then that I was seeing the future of editing…and it would be non-linear.

    Why do I recount this story? It was a TRADE SHOW where I witnessed this. Not a “touchy feely” customer appreciation event, but a competitive, noisy, trade show floor. Even in those less than perfect conditions I knew I had seen something important. A year later I bought one.

    My point is: If Avid chooses not to participate in this marketplace, then they are giving up a place at the table. The hearts and minds of future editors will be drawn to what’s on display and it won’t be Avid.

    They can spin it all they want, but I’ve just heard the scrape of the iceberg along the starboard side. Too bad they’re aren’t enough lifejackets on board.

    mark

  5. Steve Says:

    Larry,

    I’d get version 2.7.5 (or later) as soon as you can. Regarding speed — the thing you’re talking about, I believe, is how slowly new bins open and close now. That is, indeed, a real (and recent) problem, and Avid ought to fix it ASAP. But in all other ways, I find late versions of Adrenaline pretty darn responsive. Timeline performance is as fast as it’s ever bin, scrubbing works well — at least as well as Meridien.

    I’ve been using a quad-G5 with 4 Gigs of RAM and have only crashed two or three times in several months of work.

    Steve

  6. Shane Ross Says:

    I too am now working on an Adrenaline…my first time with one. I just finished a job on an OLD Avid Meridian media composer, and I can tell you, I much prefer editing on the Meridian. BOTH systems were on Unity, and the Adrenaline on Unity is like editing in molasses. And talk about unresponsive. Yeah, the bins are slow to open…and I too don’t get SUPERBINS. Took me a day to figure out where my bins where going when I opened new ones, and what to click on to see them. and this shop is running 2.7.5.

    ANYWAY…I digress. I admit that I have been a FCP convert for 2 years, but I did enjoy going back to the Meridian for a while. POWERFUL machine that.

    As for the Convention thing…Avid has always been very snobbish…and they have only gotten worse. The fact that they are pulling out and only meeting with certain people behind closed doors seems odd. I hope that I can get in there and tell them my ideas and complaints. I tried at NAB…and couldn’t find the right person to talk to. And they did this EXACT thing at IBC, but I was hard pressed to find them, and when I did, I wasn’t allowed in. So this, to me, seems like “Go away kid, you bother me.” While I HOPE that they lower the prices on the Media Composer to make it more in the reach of lower end editors, and stop this “If you can’t afford it you don’t DESERVE to edit with it” attitude, I fear that they are going to drop the low end and stick wtih the HIGH END film and facility market. And with more and more production companies trying to save costs, this means that Avid will lose market share, rather than gain it.

    But, who can read minds. I just know from experience that they really don’t give a rat’s ass about many people. The reason I switched to FCP was that in the middle of an HD project, ONLINING the HD project, Avid stopped supporting the version of the Adrenaline we were using completely…and said that if we wanted to continue working, we needed to buy the upgrade for tens of thousands of dollars. What could we do? We were stuck…and thus went WAY over budget. Right then and there, I lost faith in Avid.

    While I hope they restore that faith, I don’t put a lot of stock in that hope…

  7. Steve Says:

    Those of you who are saying that Adrenaline is slow — can you be a little more specific? Yes, it is slow to open and close bins, and yes, that is maddening, but other than that, what are you seeing?

    Steve

  8. Larry Jordan Says:

    Steve,

    Monday 11/19:

    Most any procedure requiring you to open or close windows (bins, folders, tools) is painfully slow. This evening we had an actor in recording temp loop lines. It was almost embarrassing as all of us stood around waiting for the digitize tool to catch up with my assistants clicks. Another thing that is completely annoying is when going in or out of the app (to another app or the finder let’s say) there is always some sort of pause or delay. It’s just not a fluid thing like when you work in other Mac apps like Photoshop, After Effects, Safari, or, frankly, FCP.

    Unquestionably, with the exception of it’s implementation of segment mode, the Avid timeline and trim interface are exceptional. They give you tremendous speed and power. But there are many ways to accomplish the same tasks in FCP that are fully function-able and creatively satisfying.

    Update: Weds. 11/21

    No longer able to bear the sluggishness of the system, we the had the techs at Runway work on our set-up today. Interface speed and some crashing issues were ameliorated by doing the following:

    Recreating the project
    Deleting all of the .log and .lck files
    Deleting all of the ._ (dot underscore) files on the Unity.

    Avid is noticeably more responsive now. I no longer get rainbow colored beach balls, only black and white ones, which according to our techs is a good thing. Also, at their recommendation, We are not upgrading software mid-project as of right now. We will re-evaluate after working on the system for a few days next week.

    Happy Turkey Day,
    LJ


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