Avid Support Forum: Building Your Media Composer Suite

Building your Media Composer Suite

Choosing a Platform - Mac or PC: The first question a user is faced with is what platform to run Media Composer on. It is possible that your current computer system will meet the requirements for Media Composer but it is also possible upgrades or additional hardware may be required. Avid has tested and qualified specific system requirements on both Macintosh and PC platforms and recommends that you use configurations that meet these Avid-tested specifications for CPU, graphics cards, Firewire cards, etc. We support each platform equally. Each seat of Media Composer is sold as dual-platform so you can use the application on a Mac or a PC or switch between both. You should always check the recommended system requirements of Macintosh-based or Windows-based qualified workstations and laptops for Avid Media Composer systems before purchasing or upgrading.

Macintosh Specifications

Windows Specifications

Graphics Cards – Important Consideration: Much like we recommend specific Mac and PC computers for use with Media Composer, we also recommend specific graphic cards.

Macintosh: The Macintosh platform currently does not offer NVIDIA graphics cards for use on any of the Macintosh systems that we test (only AMD/ATI or Intel). Avid qualifies the standard shipping graphics card with Mac Pro, iMac or MacBook Pro system that are outlined on the Macintosh Specifications document listed above.. If there is a choice, we will choose the card with more onboard memory for use with Media Composer. Also, we will choose any graphics card over the onboard Intel graphics. The Intel onboard graphics is part of the CPU chip and classified as low end graphics. It cost less since you are not buying an optional/additional graphics card but you get what you pay for. Older Macintosh systems had a choice between NVIDIA GeForce and ATI. Avid has qualified NVIDIA but the ATI should work just as well. There is no GPU acceleration on a Macintosh therefore the card choice is not as relevant as it is on a PC.

PC’s: For workstation PCs, there are many choices from HP and Dell for each system. If there is a choice, we will always pick NVIDIA (Quadro or FX series cards). Laptops have less of a choice in graphics card options but again, we will also pick NVIDIA (Quadro, FX, or GeForce series cards first). GPU acceleration only applies to certain NVIDIA Quadro or FX cards (mid range or higher) and there is no GPU acceleration on laptops or low end graphics.

What this Means to You: Many users coming from FCP who are installing Media Composer 5.5.x may want to use their existing Intel based Macintosh system. Important to note that future versions of Media Composer will only support Macintosh systems built from 2008 and later (with 64 bit kernel support). Media Composer 5.5.x is the last release to support the 32 bit architecture. Low end CPUs like the core2duo will have problems editing HD video and customers should already be aware of that restriction. As already indicted, many of you will want to use an existing Mac Pro with only one Xeon processor today and upgrade the CPU in the future – Note that Avid qualifies two CPUs for Mac Pro today. The performance of using a One Xeon versus a Two CPU is comparable to the HP Z800 vs HP Z400 (dual quad core CPUs in Z800 vs single quad core in Z400). Performance will not be as good on the single Xeon system but this should still work as MC software only even though Avid does not officially qualify that configuration. iMacs and Mac Book Pros are also qualified for Media Composer 5.5.x and performance will vary on these as well depending on CPU bought – the core2duo is fine for or SD but the i5 better and the i7 is the best for HD.

For customers that are using PCs and not on the Avid qualified list (Lenovo, Toshiba, Sony, etc), we would suggest something like this:

Good – SD only - Intel Core2duo with 2GB memory and any of the Avid approved graphics cards

Better – SD and HD - Intel i5/i7 quad core with 4GB memory and NVIDIA graphics

Best – SD/HD/3D/RGB 444 - Single or dual chip Xeon quad core or 6 core with 6GB/8GB memory and NVIDIA Quadro graphics (Q2000 or Q4000)

Testing Products: The testing group determines what products are tested based on availability, product requirements and features.


- The high performance workstation gets the high performance graphics card ( like the Z800 with NVIDIA Q4000).

- The mid performance workstation gets the mid performance graphics card (Like the Z400 with NVIDIA Q2000)

- The lower performance workstation gets the entry level graphics card (Like the Z210 with NVIDIA Q600).

Graphics Acceleration: Avid doesn’t have the time or resources to test every possible combination that HP, Apple or Dell offers so we try to match the systems with the graphics capabilities in terms of price and performance. Given this here are some guidelines to follow regarding graphics/graphics acceleration. From a raw computing perspective, Avid rates the graphics card performance from lowest to highest as an example: GeForce, FCX 1800, FX 3800, FX 4800 and so on. NVIDIA Quadro FX family (FX 560 or higher) is what we state as the minimum requirement and for full-screen playback we require a minimum of 128 MB of graphics memory.

With Graphics acceleration, the Media Composer application sends effects to the graphics card GPU for processing. This capability is only available with the NVIDIA Quadro cards. The transfer of the data to the GPU takes up cycles so if an effect is complex, lots of Color correction, Multi layer, etc. the transfer time is more than offset by the ability of the GPU to process the effects quicker than the CPU could by itself.

If you have a simple effect, you run the risk of loading the bus with the transfer and you don’t see much benefit. With simple effects stream counts can actually drop slightly as cycle are spent on the transfer and the advanced processing doesn’t offset that amount of time.

Choosing an OS: It is purely a matter of user preference, a requirement of the CPU being used, and the version of Media Composer being installed which may dictates which OS is installed/run. Currently Media Composer 5.5.x is compatible on:

1. Mac OS X 10.6.6 and 10.6.7 (Snow Leopard)

2. Window 7 64-bit Professional with SP1

3. Vista 64-bit Business and Ultimate with SP2

4. Windows XP 32-bit with SP3

Choosing QuickTime: Avid currently recommends QuickTime v7.6.9 for Windows and v10 X for Snow Leopard.

Media Composer Version Matrix: Avid has created a Media Composer Version Matrix so that you may quickly identify compatibility requirements for each specific version of Avid Media Composer – PC and Mac. Place your mouse on top of your version of Media Composer for a clearer view, or click the version of Media Composer to launch the ReadMe documentation.

Using the Production Suite: The Media Composer product either a new seat or an upgrade (shippable box only), comes with over $3800 (US MSRP) worth of complimentary applications designed to help you get the most out of your editing system. Software downloads DO NOT come with the Production Suite components so if you buy a new Media Composer seat as a software download or an upgrade as a software download you will NOT receive the production suite components. Inside the Media Composer shippable box is a 5 disc CD sleeve that contains the following applications.

  • Avid DVD by Sonic - Author professional DVDs and Blu-ray discs quickly and easily, with complete control over the entire process with Avid DVD by Sonic, which works with Windows-based systems (PC Only)
  • Avid FX - Easily create dazzling 2D and 3D composites, titles, animation, and effects with Avid FX, a powerful collection of creative tools designed by Boris FX. This latest version sports a new interface and offers new 16-bit color, clone paint tool, image brushes, motion path and key tools, vector trace, optical stabilization, subtitle generator, and more.
  • Boris Continuum Complete - Create the look you want with nearly 200 filters at your fingertips - including 15 new filters - using the new Boris Continuum Complete. This latest version offers significant performance gains and enhancements, so you can create dramatic effects quickly and easily.
  • SmartSound Sonicfire Pro - Create music soundtracks for your films, TV shows, commercials, and other video effortlessly with SmartSound Sonicfire Pro. Choose from a variety of loops and pre-recorded soundtracks and then customize the music to fit your scene.
  • Sorenson Squeeze - Optimize and deliver content in a create-once-publish-anywhere world. With Sorenson Squeeze, you can optimize content in a variety of formats (including HD, DVD, MPEG-2, MPEG-4/H.264, Flash, and 3GPP) for web or DVD delivery, author DVDs and Blu-ray Discs on Windows, and burn discs on a PC and now Macs too.

To activate each of the 5 applications, there is a serial # for each located on the back of the 5 disc CD sleeve that comes with the Production Suite.

Using Software you already have:

Many other applications work in conjunction with Media Composer like Adobe AfterEffects, Avid MetaFuze, Roxio, GenArts, NewBlue, etc. Should you want to use an existing application or effects with Media Composer, you should first contact the Third Party vendor to make sure the application is compatible especially if you have upgraded your system based on our requirements.

Third Party Tips and Tutorials: Many of the Third Party vendors provide tips and tutorials on Community to assist you when using these applications.

Using Hardware you already have (Third Party hardware): Several hardware vendors work closely with Avid to provide editing solutions for use with Media Composer. Currently, we recommend and approve the Matrox MXO2 Mini and AJA Io Express as well as a number of Firewire cards, deck control products, etc. Technical Information, compatibility and FAQs on these and other products can be found on the Knowledge Base.

Adding Matrox MXO2 Mini: Avid has partnered with Matrox to support the Matrox MXO2 Mini and Matrox MXO2 Mini (MAX) as a solution for program monitoring only. This cost-effective solution provides customers of software-only versions of Avid Media Composer 5.5.x (Windows and Mac) with the external monitoring solution they have been looking for. For more details read the following article Matrox MXO2 FAQ

Adding AJA Io Express: The AJA Io Express is supported for use with Media Composer 5.5.x and higher. For PC systems, Windows 7 is the only supported OS. For more details read the following article AJA io Express FAQ

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