How FCX Saved Avid

Little Frog in Hi Def by Shane Ross

A friend of mine mentioned that at a user group meeting, an editor said, “Apple was literally on the verge of killing Avid and taking over the Post Production market. Instead they gave a tremendous lifeline to Avid and said ‘here’s a gift from us to you. We’re fucking up our editing tool so folks will return to you.” (paraphrasing, I’m sure, but that is entirely true.)

Avid was in trouble…BIG trouble. It was losing market share to Final Cut Pro in the main market it dealt with…broadcast television. The town used to be ALL Avid, but in recent years it became more like 60% Avid and 40% FCP. Now, I’m guessing at that number, but based on all the job postings I have seen, all the production companies I worked at…and at the absolute infiltration of ProRes as the new codec standard that every device seemed to be touting (AJA KiPro, Atmos Ninja/Samura, Arri Alexa, Red Rocket…the list goes on and on…). Avid systems used to be the only game in town, and they cost A BUNDLE. I’m talking between $35,000 for an offline only (low res) system, and upwards of $250,000 for an online finishing system. And companies owned several Avid systems.

But then FCP comes along, and is not only cheap ($1200), but the hardware is cheap ($3500 for the top of the line capture card). A good full res system would run you $25,000 (including storage and broadcast monitoring). Heck, you could have a basic edit-only (no monitoring, deck, capture card) for under $5000. And when Avid initially made Media Composer software only (not tied to hardware), the software alone was that much. And since FCP did everything we needed for delivering broadcast shows, for many productions who had lower budgets, the choice was obvious. And with more and more projects being given shoe-string budgets, FCP became the NLE of choice. This meant that Avid, in order to stay competitive, had to make the hardware cheaper. And they did. But that only worsened their outlook. Now they had less market share, and their systems cost a fraction of what they used to. Instead of $95,000 for a decent mid-range system, you could get it for about $30,000. Which was still a bit too much for many people, who continued to flock to FCP. read more...

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