Improving Media Composer

digitalfilms by Oliver Peters

As an editor, I’ve probably used a dozen different editing systems for billable gigs. If you add the other systems I’ve reviewed, but didn’t use on client projects, coupled with those I’ve had working exposure to, that’s easily twice as many. This experience gives one a keen awareness of the pros and cons of different product designs. When you spend eight, ten, twelve hours or more staring at a screen, the user interface becomes a key factor in whether the system helps or hinders your work.

Within the past year or so, Apple, Adobe and Avid have all released updates to their flagship editing products. Since I use and have reviewed them all, it gives me a unique opportunity to compare apples-to-apples, so to speak, with the same footage and same projects.

I started nonlinear editing almost 20 years ago with early Avid systems (around version 4.5). A lot of my work today is on Apple Final Cut Pro, but I still do a certain percentage of Media Composer jobs and have a soft spot for the product. Competition is good and the release of Media Composer 5 was a milestone for the company.

Unfortunately, Avid has a large installed customer base, many of whom are reticent to change. They have two decades of muscle memory based on how the user interface has traditionally worked, so even the slightest change is met with very polarized responses. Some of the occasionally negative reactions are justified, because certain changes didn’t seem very well thought-out. In fact, a number of Avid product designers have responded on various forums to clarify that a few of these are “works in projects” and are likely to be improved in subsequent releases. read more...

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