What You’re Missing In Meridien

This is going to sound like a plug for the Media Composer, and I guess it is, but if you’re not using a new Avid (version 3.0.5 or beyond), you’re missing out on a lot of new functionality that has gotten into the system over the last couple of years. Avid has not done a good job telling editors about this stuff, but for me many of these features are now requirements — I don’t want to work without them.

If you’re still using Meridien, this is what you’re missing:

  • 16 tracks of playable audio.
  • Realtime audio dissolves.
  • Multiple tracks of realtime visual effects.
  • Select everything to the right. This function, new in 3.0.5, makes it easy to open up space in the middle of an overlapped sequence. I use it every day now. (Covered in more detail in this post.)
  • Realtime timecode burnin. Display timecode, keynumbers, footage, a title and any data you want from bin columns — without rendering.
  • Stabilize effect. It let’s you smooth out a rocky shot, or even add a steadicam look to a static shot. (Covered here.)
  • Spectramatte. One button gets you a clean, realtime, greenscreen.
  • Faster waveform display (still not perfect, but good enough to leave on most of the time).
  • Much faster saves, even with big bins. (And autosave now works correctly. In older releases of Adrenaline, autosave saved every bin, whether it had changed or not.)
  • Timeline responsiveness. Earlier versions of Adrenaline couldn’t keep up with timeline dragging.
  • Overall responsiveness. Eight-core Macs make for a fast Avid.
  • Stability. I’ve been working with a Mac Pro and version 3.0.5, with Adrenaline and Unity for five weeks now with only one crash (in standard def., mind you).
  • Scroll Wheel support. If you have a mouse with a scroll wheel, you can use it to navigate bins or the project window.
  • OS X Leopard. Complete with Quickview, Spotlight and Time Machine.
  • Improved locators. They now work the way they did in ABVB. Hit a locator button and get a locator. No need to see the dialog box anymore, unless you want to.
  • Additional improvements to segment mode. The ability to select and move any arrangement of clips; the ability, at long last, to move a stereo pair from one adjacent track to another; better preservation of dissolves when dragging clips around.
  • Improvements to trim mode. The ability to select two head or tail frames and trim them together and stay in sync.
  • Restore last trim. One button brings your rollers back where you left them.
  • High Def. The pièce de résistance. With the new Mojo or Nitris hardware, or with software-only systems, I’m told that HD now works well. (But I haven’t used it in a production setting, so I can’t vouch for that.) With today’s storage prices, and the DNX36 codec, HD just isn’t that expensive anymore.

Bottom line: It’s time to try a new Media Composer. Yes, there are still bugs, and you’ll find them. But if you’re like me, once you begin using a up-to-date system, you’ll wonder how you lived without these new features for so long.

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9 Comments on “What You’re Missing In Meridien”

  1. Norman Says:

    I’ve been wokring on 3.0.5 for my most recent project and many of these improvements have now become so part of my daily thought process (and that is how an editing machines needs to work, I think) that I’ve forgotten when I didn’t have them.

    In particular, the scroll wheel support, waveform display improvements, select-to-the-right and segment mode and the trim improvements are now essential in my life.

    Thanks for the detailed list.

  2. Jay Cassidy Says:

    And don’t forget…

    Refined sensitivity to pen-based I/O devices, allowing more accurate manipulation of folders and bins in the project window.

    More accurate descriptions of options on Import settings.

    The incredible quality of DNxHD36 which changes the paradigm of the PP workflow:

    1. The image in the FULL SCREEN option on a quality LCD monitor is completely viable for software-only editing (better than NTSC 14:1 on the best NTSC monitor).

    2. An output of an editorial sequence – with titles & color correction – is of a quality that negates the need to conform higher resolution media for preview screenings on theatre-sized screens (40+).


  3. Steve,

    We just hit the half way point in shooting the latest feature I’m cutting. Our set-up is in 3.0.5, software only, film source (shooting on 35mm 3-perf) file-based workflow and cutting in HD DNx36. We have three systems connected over fibre channel and I’m pleased to report that Media Composer and our 8TB Dulce Systems RAID array is providing me with an extraordinary editing experience. Similar but different to Jay’s workflow we will be outputting a consolidated version of the media for preview (temp) color correction, eliminating a 5 figure line-item from our post budget, which as you can imagine pleased my producer immensely.

    Thanks for the concise list and Happy T-Day.

    Best,
    Larry

  4. Steve Says:

    Larry,

    Can you give us a little more detail?

    What you’re using for a CPU?
    What’s your monitoring situation? How many monitors do you have, how are they hooked up and what’s displayed on them?

    I assume that you are able to share media but not the project. True?

    Steve


  5. Sure. We are all working on Mac Pro’s with 2 Quad-Core Xeon CPU’s. My first assist, Dawn King and I have “Harpertown” 3.0 and 2.8 procs respectively and our 2nd has a 1st generation dual quad 2.66. Each machine has 6GB RAM and 500GB internal hard drives. The 3.0 and 2.8 have stock ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT video cards. I added a second video card, a Nvidia 8800GT (512) to my system, which drives a 3rd monitor, a 40″ Samsung LCD TV, for our director and guests viewing pleasure. Note: the Samsung has no DVI connector, but you can use a DVI to HDMI adapter. System monitors are a variety of NEC, Samsung, Viewsonic and LG LCD flat screens 24″ and 22″. I’ve also calibrated my displays with a Pantone Huey Pro. Nifty little gadget for, if not perfect, much better than average color calibration.

    Dawn’s machine is also running a Firewire Mojo SDI. We use this for down-converted DVD outputs to a Pioneer DVD-R. The Pioneer drives a big, old and heavy flat screen CRT TV from which we can monitor our outputs. (with the exception of some minor pixel loss at each vertical side).

    As far as storage is concerned, our Dulce Systems ProFC array, is populated with 16 500GB drives striped RAID 5. The Mac Pros all have 4GB, single channel, ATTO Celerity (41ES) PCIe FC cards and the storage is managed by SANmp sharing software. So yes, no shared project, we’re going old school on this one, back to transfer folders, which is working out just fine. If it were a larger scale film I might feel the need for it but to this point on this one, I haven’t felt the need or missed it at all.

    Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  6. Steve Says:

    So you’ve got three monitors on your system, without Avid hardware? What are you seeing on each of them and how’s the quality? Do you wish you had better HD client monitoring?


  7. ? Not sure I understand the question. The quality is phenomenal; Dnx36HD. I want to use 145 on the next film. The only Avid hardware on my system is the dongle. Which, BTW is a pain in the arse as I’ve already left it at home a few times (grin). My set-up is driven by off the shelf hardware; Macs, Video Cards, RAM, RAID etc… Avid finally got the message! Give customers more freedom and flexibility. I would love to see them take it a step further and let end users work with 3rd party i/o cards.

    Again, would I do it this way if this was a feature with 3 editors and a huge support crew? Most likely not, but for my situation it’s working out really well. And the topper is that it’s solid. Crashing is not an issue, neither is latency or sluggishness in the interface or timeline. It’s far and away the best Avid setup I’ve had in the nearly 20 years of working on it. I’ve also been consolidating and cutting at home on my laptop with an external monitor. The crew is on location so I’ve been sending the director cut footage over a secure server.

    Low profile systems (relatively) telecommuting, and portable media. It’s a new era for editing and as it catches on it will make editors and filmmakers lives much more flexible.

  8. Steve Says:

    Larry,
    My question had to do with monitoring. In the past, Avid didn’t support more than two monitors with a software-only setup. So you couldn’t have the traditional bin monitor + composer-timeline monitor + client monitor.

    I’ve seen setups with a big 30″ display where you’d combine bin and timeline/composer or even do that with a 24.” Then you’d add a second monitor or projector and have that display full-screen video as a poor-mans “client” monitor. It’s not a true video display but it can look good.

    I know some people have been experimenting with using a second video card so you could simulate the old three monitor configuration.

    So that was what I was asking. What monitors do you have and what are you showing on them? And how is it working?

    Steve

  9. Larry Jordan Says:

    >>Avid didn’t support more than two monitors with a software-only setup.<<

    Oh sorry, I didn’t know that.

    Anyhow, it is working great for me using the 2nd video card, off the shelf 24″ LCD monitors, and an off the shelf 40″ LCD TV. There are absolutely no quality compromises on any of the three monitors. One thing I have found is that having the 3rd monitor (LCD TV) connected prohibits me from getting smooth playback on my bin monitor (24″) even if it is turned off. Maybe it has to do with the sync rates I’m not sure, but physically disconnecting the 3rd monitor eliminates this.

    I would have been really disappointed if it didn’t work. That would have been a throwback to Avid’s “Old Thinking”. They have got to continue to give individuals and smaller editing houses more flexibility in their configuration options. Otherwise they will never be able to stop the exodus to FCP.

    Larry


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