Avid Media Composer 3.5 Reviewed

Videomaker by John Burkhart
Note: Videoguys realizes that Avid Media Composer 4.0 is the latest version. Unfortunately this article was not published sooner. It's still a very good read and with MC 4 things have only gotten better!

Compose Yourself
Avid Media Composer is one of the oldest video-editing programs. It was cutting feature films when Premiere was looking at postage stamp-sized video and Final Cut wasn't even a gleam in the eye of Apple. So what can you do new with a program that's well into its teens? The answer: refine, refine, refine - and that's what Avid has done with Media Composer 3.5.

For most of its run in the professional world of non-linear editing, Avid came with a five-figure price tag, keeping it out of reach for many independent producers. In more recent times, Avid Media Composer has come down to a much more reasonable $2,495, in order to compete with other video application bundles. In addition, if you're a student or educator, you can get the software for a song at $295, and there is now a 14-day free trial at Avid.com, so you can test it out for yourself.

We highly recommend that you download the free trial and give it a try on your own system before purchasing. Avid can be very picky about what versions of Windows or Mac OS X that it installs on, and you'll want to make sure it runs well on your machine before you pull the trigger on a purchase.

New Features in Media Composer 3.5
There are some new additions to Media Composer, and probably the most revolutionary among them is AMA or Avid Media Access. AMA allows you to edit natively in a variety of formats, including XDCAM EX and P2. Native editing means that the software can edit with the footage straight from the camera - there is no re-wrapping or time-consuming transcoding needed. Simply pop your P2 card into your editing computer, and edit away. You have the choice of copying the footage to your local hard drive (recommended), or, if time is of the essence, you can edit right off the card! I tried this out using both P2 and SxS media, and it worked nicely. As of this writing, however, there was a bug in using AMA that would report the media as being offline when it wasn't. However, by the time you read this, Avid will have had a patch out to fix the problem. AMA is a nice addition that finally fulfills the promise of tapeless editing, by removing the time-consuming process of transcoding. Direct to edit is no longer a pipe dream. read more...
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