Avid Training

First, a plug — Avid now has a podcast, consisting mainly of interviews with editors and created by Senior Product Specialist Matt Feury. Matt is an incisive and engaging host for these things (who knew he was so multi-talented?) and many have been quite interesting. Check them out on Avid’s podcast page, or via their iTunes page.

Avid should be doing a lot more of this. Norm Hollyn quotes one of his USC students talking about how expensive Avid’s online ALEX courses are. These things were clearly designed to make money — and there’s the rub. I don’t know of anybody who’s ever paid for one. I’ve run through a couple of the free episodes and they’ve been pretty helpful, but I sure didn’t have any use for all that nonsense that ALEX introduces, breaking up the flow with silly chapter breaks and reviews. Just give me the video, thank you very much. I can press the pause key any time I want.

Apple has done a much better job with its recent video demos. These things look deceptively easy, but it takes plenty of work to make something so substantive seem effortless and off-the-cuff.

And, just as I write this, a friend has called to say that Apple is offering free training for Hollywood editors. He received a fancy printed invitation, via his agent, offering a three-day class in Final Cut Studio, with a copy of the software given away to every participant on the last day. With the writers’ strike, the timing is perfect — lots of people are out of work and looking for something to do.

Apple is working a very good playbook here — written by Avid in the early ’90s. They’re actively seeking out opinion leaders and offering them free training. And in the world of software-only systems, they’ve got an advantage that wasn’t available a decade ago — you can now easily host a big class where everybody has their own machine.

Avid has to take the initiative with training. Far too many young people see the Media Composer as quirky and hard to learn. I got an earful of this over the weekend from a young friend. I don’t completely understand it — the MC seems plenty intuitive to me. It’s fast, and the way I use it, very refined. But it doesn’t feel like a desktop publishing application. That makes it a much better editing program, but it today’s world, I guess it makes it harder to learn.

I don’t think that’s the whole story, though. Some of the difference isn’t really substantive — both systems are intuitive once learned. Marketing, branding and pricing also play a key role. Apple has created a sense of excitement and accessibility around their products while Avid has plodded along, stuck in a didactic, schoolroom style that is anathema to a young person today.

Bottom line — ALEX needs a total overhaul. It needs to be colloquial, fun and, yes, free. And Avid needs to expand its podcast offerings with technical information and tips, in addition to interviews.

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One Comment on “Avid Training”

  1. Norman Says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more about these things. I was just up at Sundance and I spoke to one high school student who didn’t even KNOW about Avid. He thought it was a new app designed to compete with Final Cut Pro.

    How does Avid reach people like that? I’ve long said that they should just suck it up and pay whatever licensing fee they need to, to put a good free version of Avid onto every computer that Dell and HP ship (and one that actually will create projects and media that can be used in Media Composer, by the way).

    Then they need to make support friendlier. A web site that has a decent search engine, free tutorials that show basic features. Others that show more advanced features. AT Sundance Michael Phillips showed some simple color correction using the Macbeth chart, using an image file that he created. Six clicks and thirty seconds later, the audience saw a vastly improved snow scene. The audience was wowed. You’ve got to get that knowledge out to new and current users — whether they want it this afternoon or at 2am.

    There are a zillion user-generated tutorials on FCP in iTunes, YouTube and on the web. If Avid can get a quarter-zillion, they’d be moving at recapturing some of the same audience that thinks that it’s a new competitor (or an over-priced old one) to FCP and Premiere CS3.

    And you can’t look at support and education as a profit center.


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