Review: Avid Media Composer 2.5

Digital Content Producer By S. D. Katz MC SoftIf you are looking for a large workgroup solution for a cable station, news department, or other high- volume operation, Avid is the industry standard and the hands-down winner for managing media and projects in shared-workflow environments. Things become a bit more complicated when it comes to indie filmmaking and low- to mid-budget production, where Apple Final Cut Pro (FCP) is a definite alternative. At NAB 2006, Avid broke new ground by releasing its venerable Media Composer (MC) software in a full version that requires no additional hardware for its operation. We're here to look at Media Composer 2.5 as a software-only solution — even though many of the NLE's strengths lie in hardware-assisted versions such as Adrenaline with the DNxcel board. So what does the $5,000 base Media Composer 2.5 product have that is not available in Avid's entry-level product, Avid Xpress Pro? Mainly, Xpress Pro is not designed for complete integration with the Adrenaline family of hardware-based solutions. Beyond that, it does not have the full complement of visual effects and compositing tools, and several other features are scaled down. Adrenaline-based Media Composer systems offer simultaneous output of HD and SD, and because that SD output is hardware-generated, the results are faster than those of Xpress Pro. And while Media Composer offers multiple streams of uncompressed 8- and 10-bit SD, Xpress Pro handles only one stream of uncompressed 8-bit SD. If you do multi-camera editing, Media Composer offers nine streams of video while Xpress Pro does only four. Media Composer boasts more complete support for Sony's XDCAM and XDCAM HD, and it offers all Avid resolutions for capture, playback, rendering, and output. Despite those advantages, XpressPro is fairly robust. The bigger advantages of Media Composer are the new features — largely in the effects category — that the new software includes. read more...

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