Open-Door Policy: Avid's Media Composer 6 and Symphony 6 Offer Editors 64-Bit Code and Open IO

DV by Oliver Peters

Avid made the jump to 64-bit in November with its mainstream Media Composer 6, Symphony 6 and NewsCutter 10 software. This highly anticipated release includes 10 cornerstone features: 64-bit code, Open IO, ProRes integration (Mac only), Avid Marketplace, AMA support for AVCHD, a new DNxHD 444 codec, expanded stereo 3D tools, 5.1/7.1 surround mixing, Avid Artist Color control surface support and a modernized user interface. Avid has made significant architectural changes to the product without altering the behavior and interaction that veteran users rely on. A few hoped-for features, like resolution independence and background rendering, had to be left on the back burner, but they're still slated for a future release.

I installed Symphony 6 on my two-year-old Apple Mac Pro, along with a simultaneous upgrade to Lion (Mac OS X 10.7.2 recommended) and the installation of a Blackmagic Design DeckLink HD Extreme 3D card. Symphony is now available as software, so without Avid hardware, there's little functional difference between Media Composer and Symphony. Symphony offers a more complete color corrector (more on that later), but for the purpose of this review, the evaluation is the same.

Avid was swamped by the demand on day one of the launch. Traffic settled down after a few days, so my download was fast with no activation issues. Some older software may not be compatible with OS X Lion, including Avid Pro Tools 9 and all of the 32-bit Avid AVX filters. I had to reinstall the latest drivers for my Avid Mbox2 Mini, which I use as a core audio interface. The unit would work only if these drivers were installed last.

The software installers include all the third-party products (Avid FX, Sorenson Squeeze and Avid DVD), but the Boris Continuum Complete filters ship only with Symphony, not Media Composer. You'll need to update any third-party AVX effects when upgrading from previous Media Composer versions. Digital Film Tools and Tiffen offer free updates for their most recent versions, but Boris FX and GenArts require paid updates to BCC8 and Sapphire AVX v6, respectively. Red Giant Magic Bullet Looks is no longer compatible. In addition, Avid supplies the AMA plug-in only for QuickTime. Plug-ins for the various native camera formats (Panasonic, Sony, RED, Canon, etc.) are downloadable directly from those manufacturers. read more...

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