Avid Releases MC6

Avid began distributing Media Composer 6 today. The new version has been upgraded to offer 64-bit support, and includes many new features, including a complete reinvention of the application’s approach to 3D-Stereo editing, the ability to mix in 5.1 and 7.1, “Open I/O” which allows you to use a variety of third party hardware options, tabbed bins, and a “reskinning” of the user interface. If you purchased version 5.5 in the last month or so, the upgrade is free, otherwise, it’s $300. Pricing for new licenses remains the same as with previous versions, and Avid has instituted a permanent “cross-grade” from FCP7 for $1500.

This version represents a bigger break from the past than previous upgrades. The new UI looks a lot like Premiere, and depending on your taste, you’re either going to love it or hate it. As with Version 5 and 5.5, it offers a brightness slider, but the lighter settings, which I suspect will be a lot easier to look at over the course of a long day, are flatter and less dimensional than in the past, making icons and buttons harder to see. Some icons have been changed, too, notably Mark In and Mark Out, and some terminology has been altered (Locators are now called Markers).

64-bit is important, but for the moment, it only permits the application to address more RAM. There’s no background rendering or saving or timeline manipulation, or any of the other exciting things that you may associate with the concept — that’s all been left for the future. The application seems stable, but keep in mind that everything has been recompiled, and your mileage may vary. (The Title Tool is one of the few exceptions — as a result, it now runs as a separate application.) 64-bit also means that older computers won’t work. If your Mac is more than about 3 years old you’re probably out of luck. (Go to System Profiler, click on “Software” and look for “64-bit Kernel and Extensions: Yes.” [Update: this may not be strictly necessary. See my Dec 1 comment.]) On the Mac, this version is officially supported only on OS X Lion, but it should run on Snow Leopard if you’re not using shared storage. You’ll also have to upgrade all of your AVX plug-ins.

Avid’s goal was reinvent 3D-Stereo editing and they seem to have done it in spades, with tools that are unmatched in any other offline editing application. There’s also support for a new 444 DNX format, which opens the door to high-quality conforms, though raster size is still limited to HD. 5.1 and 7.1 mixing are welcome, but their utility is limited because the playable track count is still stuck at 16. You’ll max things out with just three 5.1 stems (18 tracks).

Avid seems to be aiming this release at least partly at those who’ve been left high and dry by Apple, and support for many common third-party I/O cards will be welcomed by anybody making the switch. There’s also support for Avid’s “Artist Color,” three-ball controller. Symphony is now available in a software-only configuration for those using 3rd party hardware.

AMA has been expanded to include support for AVCHD and Red Epic, along with improvements to Quicktime and Pro Res, and AMA clips no longer display with yellow highlighting. There’s also an online purchasing option, something the company has dubbed “Avid Marketplace,” which allows you to purchase stock footage and plug-ins from within the application, and, yes, download your purchases in the background.

For more about MC6, see Avid’s Features List or this Creative Cow Article. You’ll find complete details in the What’s New pdf. Specific purchase and upgrade links can be found on this forum post from Avid’s Marianna Montague.

In other news, and for those of you who may have missed it, Avid laid off about 200 people a couple of weeks ago, or roughly 10% of its workforce. (Its quarterly report indicated roughly flat income compared to the same period last year, and a small loss of about $8 million.) One of those to go was Michael Phillips, an old friend, who had been at Avid since the beginning. He was a tireless advocate for the needs of longform editors, working with us personally and at countless seminars, and influencing the work of the entire community. Glenn Lea, the principle engineer responsible for FilmScribe, has also departed. I wish them success in whatever they do.

And on a personal note, many thanks to those of you who have been wondering why I haven’t been posting lately. I’ve been traveling. But I’m back now and I intend to get up to speed over the next few days. Stay tuned.

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14 Comments on “Avid Releases MC6”

  1. Scott Says:

    Bummer about Michael–super good guy. Kinda wanna hold out until they expand upon the 64-bit support, but super excited about this release and the future of Media Composer.

  2. Travis Greene Says:

    Do you know if there are any LA based demo’s of MC6 in November or December, 2011?
    Thanks for SPLICENOW. Thoroughly enjoy reading.

  3. Thanks for the update! Look foward to more… cheers!

  4. Mark Burton Says:

    Very sad to hear that Michael has been moved on. He has helped me with numerous questions and issues over the years. I read he has now taken a CTO role at Cineworks.

    Very surprised to hear about Glenn. I emailed him just a few weeks ago about a FilmScribe issue we were having trouble with and he said he would look into it soon, but that they had a busy few weeks coming up. He didn’t say it, but that obviously turned out to be the MC v6.0 release.

    What a great shame, Avid is moving ahead in the right direction, but I can’t help but feel the loss of these two at Avid will eventually be felt very heavily.

    Best of luck to them both.

    • Glenn Lea Says:

      Hi Mark,
      Thanks for the kind words. I’m sorry I couldn’t get back to your issue before the axe fell. I don’t have access to my Avid emails any more, but if you send me some info to refresh my memory, there might be something I could do if the problem is in the templates and not the actual code.

      • Mark Burton Says:

        Hi Glenn,

        Good to hear from you and incredibly generous of you to offer to help considering the circumstances. I’m hesitant to ask as it feels so wrong leaning on you for help.

        The issue was well discussed in this thread:
        I think it may go beyond the templates though as it seems to be a counting problem.

        Are you able to tell us what you plan to do next?

      • Glenn Lea Says:

        The bug is in the compiled code, which is now out of reach to me. Too bad, I wish I could have fixed it.

        What’s next for me? I want to continue writing software that supports the work of filmmakers. I’d also like to develop on devices like the iPad. Whether I do these in a company or on my own isn’t clear yet. I’m open to suggestions, job offers, leads, whatever.


      • Mark Burton Says:

        OK, thanks for taking a look anyway.
        I’ll ping you an email soon.

  5. Steve Says:

    Update — if you’re running Media Composer software with no outboard hardware (Mojo, Nitris Matrox, AJA, etc.) then Macs running the 32-bit kernel will probably work. Avid doesn’t sanction this, but even if your system profiler says “64-bit Kernel and Extensions: No”, the software will probably run. On Snow Leopard or Lion.


  6. James N Says:

    In version 5.0 & 5.5 Avid reworked the Set Clip Color from being a friendly color palette where you were given the choice of 7 basic colors and the ability to customize many, many more. In ver. 5+ they changed the Set Clip Color to a palette that had nearly 70 colors, however the boxes were so small it was very hard to tell one shade of blue from another. But, they moved the custom colors into the bin under Color heading, sorry Choose Columns… Now in ver.6 the Set Clip Color has about a 1/3 less colors and customized palette is gone. Or is it hiding somewhere new?

    When you make a new release please improve your product, do not remove features that we (your customers) have been using for years.

    • Mark Burton Says:

      Show the colour column in the bin and then Alt right click on it to bring up the full colour palette. Its, there but hidden.

  7. JamesN Says:

    Thanks. With the early version I just had to right click on the color column, didn’t think about the good old alt button.

  8. JamesN Says:

    Has anyone tried any of the Euphonix keyboards? We are trying Artist Color, Control, Mix & Transport “keyboards” on several HP Z400 computers running 5.0, 5.5 & 6.0 and none of them work.
    Appreciate any feedback or pointing me to a better site for information.

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