Avid Media Composer 5

digitalfilms by Oliver Peters

Avid is on a roll in 2010, highlighted by the purchase of Euphonix and the release of Media Composer version 5, its signature creative editing application. The company has been on an accelerated development pace for the Media Composer/NewsCutter/Symphony editing family, with recent releases adding such innovative features as AMA (Avid Media Access), Stereo 3D editing tools and Frame Rate Mix and Match. New features in version 5 (approximately the seventeenth generation of Media Composer) encompass expanded AMA support, the ability to work in RGB color space, in-context timeline editing tools and a redesigned audio framework. This is also the first Media Composer product to formally support third-party monitoring hardware.

AMA (Avid Media Access) expands

AMA is a plug-in API for camera manufacturers that lets Media Composer systems natively open and edit various acquisition formats, without the need to first transcode these files into MXF media. Earlier versions supported Panasonic P2, Sony XDCAM and Ikegami GFCAM media, but AMA in version 5 has become an even more open environment, supporting more native formats than most of the competition. New support has been added for Canon’s XF format and RED camera raw files. The biggest news, however, is that Avid has taken the initiative to natively support QuickTime media. This is vitally important, as Apple’s ProRes codec has been adopted for acquisition on several devices, including the AJA Ki Pro and the new ARRI Alexa digital camera. This openness extends to the H.264 files recorded by HD-capable DSLRs, like the Canon EOS 5D/7D/1D hybrid cameras.

ProRes, RED and H.264 editing was the first thing I tested. Avid’s recommended workflow is to use AMA as a way to cull selects before transcoding the media into the MXF format, however the performance and stability indicate that it may be viable to stay in AMA for an entire project. To access AMA, you must link to an AMA volume, which can be a drive, folder or subfolder on your system. Unlike simply dragging a folder to your project window, Media Composer’s AMA imports all the camera metadata, where available, into a full-fledged Avid bin. The key difference is that the media is linked outside of Avid’s normal media databases. AMA-linked files are highlighted with yellow in the bin. read more...

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