Review: Avid Media Composer 5

Studio Monthly by Scott Simmons

I can say without reservation that Avid Media Composer 5 is an upgrade that truly deserves the “Hot” rating from our product review ranking index. Media Composer has been one of the top nonlinear editors since the existence of NLEs. In fact, it pretty much jump-stared the whole NLE revolution. Version 5 contains a ton of new features (several quite earth-shattering, if you’re a longtime Avid editor) that answered many previous customer requests and complaints.

In the interest of full disclosure, earlier in the year I was asked to be a part of an Avid customer advisory board. It’s an unpaid group of editors from around the country who meet periodically by phone or in person with Avid staff and management to discuss many aspects of Avid’s video-related offerings. While we do get some advance information about the future path of products, the meetings tend to focus more on what we, as editors, think about the products and where we think the development direction should go. I find that kind of openness refreshing (and deeply reassuring). But even with a bit of inside knowledge under my belt, I was taken by surprise by Avid’s Media Composer 5 announcement at NAB 2010.

I’ve taken my time with this review for several reasons. First, Media Composer is a utilitarian product. I felt I really needed to dig in to the software for a few months on real jobs to get a sense of just what this upgrade has to offer and how these new features perform in real-world editing. I’m not going to go over what hasn’t changed in Avid Media Composer. It has been reviewed countless times over the years and most reading a Media Composer review will likely already know the basics about this product. This review will focus instead on three of the biggest changes in the 5 update, specifically those that have had the biggest impact on the way I work. read more...

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