Media Composer 3.5

Avid is releasing Media Composer 3.5 today (with parallel updates to Symphony and Newscutter). It’s a big release and should have something for everybody.

Here’s an overview, based on an Avid conference call, Friday. There are some revolutionary changes, and some more pedestrian improvements, as well.

  • The End of the Dongle. Yes, it’s true. 3.5 will allow you to license your software over the net and get rid of that pesky little piece of plastic. (You can still use your dongle with this version if you prefer, but over time Avid plans to phase it out.) The software will give you 14 days to register, which results in a 14-day free trial period.
  • Avid Media Access (AMA). This is Avid’s new plug-in architecture for diverse media types. Initially it will support Sony XDCAM and Panasonic P2 flash media, allowing editors to work with these files on the flash card or on any drive that they’re copied to. You won’t have to import any longer — the MC will work the media in it’s native form. And you can store and work with this media anywhere you like — no need to keep it in a MediaFiles folder. This breaks one of our longest standing traditions, namely that your Media Composer takes care of organizing your media. The new approach is easier and faster, but it makes it easier to lose your media. Avid will encourage camera manufacturers to write plug-ins for AMA themselves, speeding development and improving compatibility with new media types.
  • Support for 3D Cinema. Avid is now offering simultaneous tracking of both cameras. You can work on either one or see them displayed together, one over the other.
  • Keyframeable Color Correction. You’ll finally be able to ramp corrections within a shot.
  • Fluid Stabilizer. A new, more intelligent motion tracker.
  • Media Composer and Pro Tools on the same workstation. You won’t be able to run them at the same time, but you can put them on the same CPU without problems.
  • 12 Channels of audio I/O via HD-SDI.
  • Simultaneous output of SD and HD. In Symphony, with frame accuracy.
  • Audio Improvements. The ability to set clip gain on import, and to change clip gain on a group of clips all at once, which should save a lot of keystrokes for some people. And the inclusion of several new AudioSuite plug-ins.
  • Improvements to the Timecode Burn-In Tool. You’ll now be able to display the contents of any bin column, live over video, without rendering. Clipname, ink number, audio timecode, whatever you like.

That represents a whole lotta work for Avid’s engineers and I applaud them for it. It modernizes the application in some important ways. Dumping the dongle is a big win in my book. The little thing is a hassle and I’m always afraid of losing it. AMA is a big win for people in documentaries and reality TV, and over time it will probably affect all of us. The same is true of the new tools for 3D — you probably don’t need it now, but you might in the future. The Fluid Stabilizer and keyframable color correction are nice features that I’ll be happy to use from time to time.

For details, see Avid’s press release, or the Media Composer product pages. Strangely, the home page just offers a small link to the press release.

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19 Comments on “Media Composer 3.5”

  1. Harry Miller Says:

    Buried at the bottom of the release notes is MC can now export Quicktimes with timecode. A very nice feature.

  2. Steve Says:

    A nice feature indeed. I’m surprised they didn’t mention it more prominently. Now all we need is the ability to read timecode when importing Quicktime, and we’re all set.

  3. Steve Says:

    I should also mention that 3.5 for Mac is Intel only — no more G5 support. And it’s Leopard-only, as well, with support for 10.5.6. System requirements are here:

  4. MarkB Says:

    Quicktime timecode is also brought in when importing now. No tape name support, but this is easy to apply manually.

    Another feature I really like is the ability to adjust audio gain before importing – great for temp music files.

    Also its 16, not 12 channels of audio over HD-SDI!

  5. Steve Says:

    Good news. Any problems so far?


  6. MarkB Says:

    Not hit it hard yet. So far only really noticed a few issues with the RT Timecode filter. Otherwise seems very solid and very quick.

    Another nice new tweak – ability to automatically load up last project when application starts.

  7. Steve Says:

    Ah — that one’s been there for a while. But it’s hidden in the “Interface” settings tab and many people don’t know about it — what I call stealth software development.

    Let us know how it goes …


  8. MarkB Says:

    Ha! Stealth indeed. Did that pop up in v3.0?

  9. Steve Says:

    Might have been since the beginning of Adrenaline. Certainly since v2.6 or so.

  10. MarkB Says:

    Its so wierd that I’ve never seen that before. I must have used every version since 1.6. Amazing!

  11. François-Xavier Noulens Says:

    I don’t get it, sorry.

    Can I now drag or import any QuickTime file and start working with it instantly like it is without ANY codec change ?

  12. Steve Says:

    No. Right now AMA is just for XDCAM and P2. With those file formats, as I understand it, you can just work with the media directly. Check the Avid site for specifics.

    Other file formats are coming, but whether QT will ever be supported is anybody’s guess.

  13. Adam S. Says:

    I’ve ran into a problem with Unity Mac clients once upgraded to 3.5. We are running 4.2.4 unity(server) and 5.x client on Mac’s, bins and projects are extremely slow to open and save.

    I’ve beat my head against that wall figuring out what is going on. Some clients don’t seem to be affected for whatever reason. Some bays were EXTREMELY slow opening and saving bins, 2-10 minutes for any bin no matter how big or small. Some just took 15 seconds but it was slow compared to before.

    The workaround for these bays seems to be changing the sharing name under SystemPrefs>Sharing. Keep in mind your media management once you do this though.

  14. Steve Says:

    Not good — let us know what happens.


  15. Michele Fuccio Says:

    my digital crew is happy of the news of this version, finally the customers of Finalcut will realize that Avid is leader of editing… Waiting for a more powerful color correction with a Davinci tool/remote style and a modern text edit!

    We love AviD

  16. enrique Says:

    does anybody know if they fixed the segment mode options (in the way xpress pro worked), so you won´t have to turn it on again and again?

  17. Steve Says:

    Unfortunately, it hasn’t changed. I agree with you — after using Xpress on a show, and initially wishing it was like MC, I ended up preferring it. It ought to be possible to have it either way, with a setting. (For those who don’t know, in MC, when you click on a time track you leave segment mode. In Xpress you don’t.)

    The workaround I’ve found is to put both of the segment mode buttons on the keyboard. Not the same thing, but a lot quicker than having to click the buttons with the mouse.

  18. enrique Says:

    oh no!! that´s bad news
    to me it seems like avid is in certain ways going backwards, not having xpress no more just to switch to media composer…i hated it when that happened. with this “little” changes like the segment mode one it was like using a completely different program, not talking of a simple detail. it really makes the whole work unbelievably slower in its functions and in its concept: before it was one click to that red arrow in 30 minutes, and you could manage the whole thing, now you have to be clicking all the time! it´s like you have to constantly ask for permission to catch the segments!
    i´ve been an avid fan forever, been editing with it for 10 years, but its interfase hasn´t really evolved in all that period. and now they´s missing the basic things they had!
    last year i had to edit something in fcp and being so used to avid (a fan really) i was all time talking against fcp while editing. but to be true i could see how they evolved in time. just after that, i did had to switch to MC and seen just the opposite
    thanks steve for answering so fast and for hosting such a cool place here

  19. Steve Says:

    Thanks Enrique. I think they had to get rid of Xpress and simplify the product line. MC is a better and more capable program, and 3.5 is a big step forward. But I agree completely about segment mode. It ought to be a setting so it could work either way.

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