NEW AVID MEDIA COMPOSER 5 FAQ!
Our Videoguys HD editing experts have been getting a lot of questions about the exciting new Avid Media Composer 3.0 and we'd like to share some of the most common answers with you to help you get "A Whole New Way of Thinking from Avid"
There have been significant changes over at Avid this year. A new management team has been put in place to re-vitalize the company and return Avid to the forefront of the video editing and post production market. At NAB2008 the new Avid Media Composer software and hardware was announced. The Videoguys have had the chance to meet with the new management, product, marketing and sales teams. We are very excited about what the future holds for Avid editors. We have put together this FAQ to better explain some of these changes and what they mean for you. We have broken it down into several areas:
- Avid New Thinking
- Media Composer 3.0
- Tapeless Workflows and Blu-Ray
- MojoDX Hardware
- Tech Tips & Tricks
Part I - Avid New Thinking
What is Avid "New Thinking"?
Officially it is Avid's new marketing campaign launched back in March, but we feel it is more then just that; it is a new corporate philosophy. In the past many Avid editors felt Avid was unapproachable. As part of the "New Thinking" campaign Avid reached out to their top customers, professional editors, loyal users and biggest dealers for honest feedback about the company, the brand image, the products, and other interesting stuff. We were asked to participate in these surveys and interviews as both a dealer and as loyal users and we were more then happy to oblige. Based on the changes we have seen already, it is clear that Avid is listening!
How is Avid listening to their customers?
Back in March Avid cut the price of Media Composer in half, dropping it from $4,995 to $2,495. Even more significant they reduced the upgrade price from Avid Xpress Pro to Media Composer to just $495! Now that is an offer that every Xpress Pro owner should be jumping on!! The upgrade is exactly the same as the full version, only it ships without a dongle. You will have to update your existing Avid Xpress Pro dongle before you can run the new Avid Media Composer.
Avid is now shipping Media Composer 3.5 at the same great prices! ($2495 for the full version, $495 upgrade for Xpress Pro owners). We have been running Media Composer 3.0 in our DIY6 machine and all we can say is WOW! The increased performance and handling is tremendous. Avid has done a great job and we are getting rock solid stability with unprecedented real-time performance, timeline responsiveness and incredibly faster rendering times! Xpress pro users looking to migrate to Avid Media Composer can check out this great tutorial!
As an added bonus Avid has updated all of the 3rd party software included with Media Composer to the latest versions and added in Avid FX. When you look at all of the 3rd party software included with Media Composer it is clearly not just an NLE, but also a full suite of video content creation tools. We have more information on the included 3rd party software later in the FAQ.
What about Students?
Avid recognizes that the future of Avid rests at the hands of future video editors. The editing program you use while learning your craft is likely to be the one you stay with as a professional. So Avid also launched Media Composer Academic at a $295 price for students! While the student version does not include all of the 3rd party software (more on that in the MC 3.0 portion later in the FAQ), it is still a tremendous offer. More than 80% of today's Hollywood movies, television shows, independent productions and TV commercials are edited on an Avid system. Being able to say you are an experienced Avid editor is a BIG deal when looking for those first job opportunities to get you in the door. The Avid Media Composer Academic version for $295 is available to Schools, teachers, and students. You will need to provide proof of academic eligibility when you order.
Dec 08 Update: Videoguys now offers students a fantastic bundle that includes the educational version of Media Composer 3, Class On Demand Training and all the 3rd party software for just $495!! Click here for more info
Can I get the 3rd party software if I already upgraded electronically or I have the Student version?
YES you can! We offer the 3rd party software upgrade for Medai Composer 3.x owners for just $199!! This is an amazing offer and yet another example of how Avid is thinking about their customers and their workflows. Avid Media Composer 3 is the best videoe diting tool in the world. When you add the 3rd party software it becomes a complete suite that allow Avid editors the best tools available for adding 3D filters, effects, transitions, and titles as well as royalty free soundtrack creation, top notch encoding to whatever format they need and interactive DVD authoring in SD or HD to Blu-ray.
Do Pinnacle/ Avid Liquid users get a special deal on Media Composer 3.0?
Jan 09 Update: While the official program from Avid has expired, we discovered that we still have a few units in inventory!
Hurry - While Supplies Last! - When they're gone, they're gone!!
YES! Avid is offering $1,000 off on Media Composer – that means you can buy Avid Media Composer for only $1,495!! In order to qualify for this special offer we must verify your Liquid serial number, but once that process is done (it only takes a few minutes) we will process your order!! You will need to make sure that your computer system is ready for Media Composer and for many Liquid owners that probably means upgrading your graphics card to a Quadro FX 1500/1700 or higher. For more information on recommended system specs for Media Composer, see the Tech Tips & Tricks section later in this FAQ. Liquid users looking to migrate to Avid Media Composer can check out these great tutorials!
Besides new pricing, what else can you tell me about Avid's "New Thinking" campaign?
The Avid website has been re-launched and if you go over to the new community section you will find on-line tutorials, tech tips & tricks, a newly updated and indexed knowledge base and one of the very best user forums in the business. Avid has been listening and reacting to customer feedback and they have implemented a steady stream of improvements to make the Avid user experience even better on their website.
Part II - Avid Media Composer 3.0
What's so great about Avid Media Composer?
That is a great question and one we get asked all the time. Avid Media Composer is more expensive then other NLEs on the market because it is a professional application designed for people who edit and produce video for a living. It is not for everyone, but that doesn't mean that everyone can't use it. I know this sounds a bit confusing, so let me explain it a little more.
TIME = MONEY
In the world of video editing time is money. The more time it takes to finish a project, the more it costs. Professional editors work on a deadline - if the job isn't done in time, they don't get hired again. If they get forced to compromise the artistic level of their work in order to meet their deadline because they lost precious time due to downtime, lost media or inefficiencies, they make less money. That is why we talk so much about the "Avid Workflow"
What is the Avid Workflow?
This is the heart of the matter and the reason why being an Avid Editor and editing on Avid Media Composer is so special.
- The Media Composer interface and the way the editor interacts with it is fully customizable. You can map the tools you use most to keyboard shortcuts that place them right at your fingertips. As you get more experienced with Media Composer, you will find that these shortcuts become second nature and an integral part of how you go about editing.
- Cutting on Avid. Although we no longer use film, the term cutting is still how we describe the process of finding the clips you want, trimming them and laying them down on the timeline. The Media Composer toolset supports every kind of method used for editing, with tools that are by far and away the most efficient and powerful in the industry. No matter what style of work you do, or what methods you use to get the job done, Media Composer has the right tools for the job. You don't have to compromise the way you edit, so that all your creative energy can be put into the editing itself.
- The Hamburger menu. I know this sounds funny, but I think it's one of the most productive tools in the Media Composer interface and one that gets so often overlooked. The Hamburger menu is a fast menu that takes you directly to the most important tools you need based on what you are doing at that time.
- Intelligent Color Correction tools. Today just about every NLE out there has color correction tools that allow you to manipulate the color of your video to change the look or to fix poor lighting. Avid takes this much further. The Media Composer color correction tools have built in capabilities that allow to automatically color correct your footage. Media Composer can analyze one, several, or all of your clips and automatically color correct them. You can also match the color between multiple scenes automatically. You select the scene with the color the way you like it, then Avid automatically adjusts the others to match. These two features alone can save you countless hours editing. Even though Media Composer automatically corrected the color, you can still go back in and make any additional adjustments you deem necessary.
- Avid's media management tools are the gold standard by which all other NLEs aspire, but none can reach. Avid is designed around organizing your footage and allowing you to find the clips you need quickly without any hassles. The reality is that the more complex your production is, the more likely it is that you run into issues with other video editing products. With Media Composer your media is never mangled, you never waste time trying to find lost footage, and you always have the footage you need at your fingertips.
Explain more to me about how Avid Manages Media?
I guess a great place to start is the Superbin. This is tabbed window in the Media Composer interface that allows you to instantly reach your bins, settings, effects and other important information. Media Composer allows you to organize your footage into bins. When you look for you footage in a bin Media Composer uses metadata to help you organize and find it. You can search and sift through your bins using this metadata. While you are capturing your clips you can enter the metadata you will use in the future. As an example if I am shooting footage of the local HS football team, I can label the clips as offense or defense, great plays, turnovers, quarterback, poor shots, great shots – I think you get the picture. Speaking of picture, I know that I have lots of footage from different sources. Some is DV, some is HDV, some is old VHS. Media Composer allows you to color code your timeline so that you can easily identify what resolutions your clips are in. Media Composer can also search and highlight any duplicate footage you may have on your timeline. All of these features add up to the best media management on the planet.
What other Special FX, filters and editing tools are included in Media Composer?
Media Composer is the video editing software used to create the world's most acclaimed feature films and primetime television programs, including King Kong, Crash, Walk the Line, "Gray's Anatomy," and "American Idol." Media Composer is more then just the world’s best video editor, it is an integrated post production solution! Here are some of our favorite integrated plug-ins and feature included with Media Composer:
We were able to pull a key from this difficult footage in less than a minute.
- Real-time 16-bit SpectraMatte™ keying featuring SpectraGraph™ Viewer Chroma keying is a fundamental element in compositing and everybody needs it.
- FluidFilm™ and FluidMotion™ - Create incredibly smooth slow-motion effects and "fit-to-fill" video using patented FluidMotion pixel morphing technology while you control speed and position using intuitive curve-based keyframing.
- 8-point Motion Tracker system for advanced tracking operations including offset tracks, applicable to most real-time and non-real-time effect operators
- Patented SteadyGlide™ technology to remove image shakiness while preserving desirable camera motion like pans and tilts.
- AniMatte™ toolset for fast matte key creation within the editor
- Scratch Removal – remove unwanted imperfections in your footage
- Fully customizable TimeWarp effects
- Multicamera Editing with Multigroup capability for grouping multiple "banks" of camera angles. Multicam is available at any Avid resolution from single field to uncompressed.
- ScriptSync™ for incredibly fast matching of source clips to a text script or transcript.
- Blend Effects including Real-time 3D warp with 23 customizable parameters and Blur effect for deep defocus of images and keys with alphas
What additional 3rd party software is included with Media Composer 3?
When you order Media Composer (full version $2495, Liquid Upgrade $1,495 or Upgrade $495) you also get these fantastic 3rd party software titles to make your post production qworkflow even stronger!
- Avid DVD by Sonic V6 with Blu-ray Disc authoring software. Create standard definition and Blu-ray DVDs with motion menus and interactive navigation.
- Boris Continuum Complete 5 AVX – A powerful add-on package with more than 160 filters, including: Lens Flare, Glint, Match Grain, DeInterlace, Optical Flow, Motion Blur, Wire Remover, and Witness Protection effects.
- Avid FX v 5.8 - Based on Boris Red this completes the full suite of Boris FX plug-in filters and effects for Avid
- SmartSound Sonic Fire Pro 4.5 with Mood Mapping. Create rich, multi-layered royalty free soundtracks for your productions. You also get 2 Strata Series Multi-track Libraries Core Foundations and Core Sessions.
- Sorenson Squeeze V5 with Sorenson Video Pro, Sorenson Spark Pro, Sorenson MPEG-4 Pro & Sorenson AVC Pro. Easily encode your videos into multiple formats while maintaining the highest possible video quality.
Is Media Composer hard to learn?
No it is not. One of the biggest problems most folks have migrating from Adobe Premiere, or Apple Final Cut Pro or Avid Liquid or any other NLE to Avid media Composer is that they try to make Media Composer work the way they did before. That was my problem the first time I sat down with Avid Xpress DV so many years ago. I was getting frustrated because the Avid was not doing what I wanted to do. One of our sales guys is an experienced Avid editor and he walked into the demo room while I was muttering under my breath. He asked me if he could help, so I said sure. He had but one simple piece of advice. "Avid is not Premiere, so stop trying to use it like Premiere. Clear your head and pretend you have never used any editing software. Allow yourself to become an Avid editor and edit the Avid way" That was the best piece of advice I have ever received about video editing, and it is now MY #1 piece of advice for all new Avid editors!
DO NOT FIGHT THE AVID WAY! Have an open mind and start from the very beginning accepting and learning the Avid workflow. Media Composer is designed for people who edit for a living, who face impossible deadlines and even more impossible directors or producers. That's why so much emphasis is put on the media management and the workflow. To watch an experienced Avid editor at the helm is a thing of beauty. Over time you will make Media Composer your own with keyboard shortcuts and your workspace will become customized for your most important tasks. One of the coolest things about being an Avid editor is that you can save these presets and take them with you to any other Media Composer editing suite. The #2 piece of advice I give is this:
Don't be afraid of Avid, it is not that tough or complicated. Just because it is designed to handle the highest pressure editing environments doesn't mean it's not for you. It is for everybody who wants to edit video as efficiently as possible. If you follow rule #1 above, you will find that you will take to Avid very quickly and it is actually the most logical NLE of them all. Don't try to master all aspects at once. You will be amazed how with each new editing job/project you pick up another tool or shortcut or feature that you never realized Avid had, but it had it all along. Invest some time in a good Avid training DVD, book or online course and you will find it worth every penny.
Here are some great links to help you migrate over to Media Composer:
- Avid On-Line Training page http://www.avid.com/training/alex.asp
- Avid Community tips and tutorials http://community.avid.com/forums/TipsAndTutorials.aspx
- Doug Bruce's Migrating from Pinnacle Liquid to Avid Media Composer Tutorials http://www.gaijin-eyes.com/tutorials/xyz/migrate00.htm
- Todd Sanderson's Final Cut Pro to Avid website http://www.fcp2avid.net/
Class on Demand Complete Training for Avid Media Composer
What's new in Media Composer 3.0?
Avid Media Composer 3.0 is a MAJOR upgrade. Here are just some of the goodies Avid has added into the software – we'll discuss the hardware afterwards.
- Media Composer 3.0 is a true multi-threaded application with support for Mac OSX Leopard and Windows Vista. It will run 32 bit on Windows Vista 64 but you will still get the benefit of being able to use huge amounts of RAM. Avid Media Composer 3.0 will also still run under Windows XP Pro for those users not yet willing to make the jump to Vista.
- CPU and GPU performance taps into all processing cores in your machine. Avid has designed something in Media Composer called Domain Management, which allows the software to identify what is the best way to handle the load and manage it between all the CPU cores and the GPU and Avid's new line of DX hardware. Media Composer does all the work, you just edit and let the software get the optimal performance from your workstation.
- Multiple layers of HD with support for all flavors in native rasters. This means that HDV and DVC Pro HD thin rasters are no longer an issue. You simply select the format you want to edit in and Media Composer takes care of the rest. Multiple layers of HD footage are a breeze and you can even mix formats including 720p and 1080i in the timeline in real-time.
- How much real-time HD? Depends on the speed of the computer. They were running demos on 8-core Macs and HP workstations. 6 layers of DVC Pro HD in real-time full resolution. I think they got up to 9 when they lowered the preview to 1/4 resolution. Then we saw 3 or 4 layers of HDV in real-time full resolution output. Even more amazing was 6+ layers of DNxHD (up to 10+ with the Nitris DX hardware). Most impressive to me was when they dragged and dropped multiple layers of mixed HD formats while still maintaining full resolution, real-time playback.
- You can drag and drop multiple layers of footage together on the timeline - in multiple HD formats. This was one of my favorite parts of the demo. Before this you would have to re-create a multi-layered sequence if you wanted to add a layer anywhere but the top. Now you can just grab a stack of clips and move them anywhere on the timeline. They stay perfectly synced together and you get instant real-time performance.
- The handling of Media Composer 3.0 is superb. When you hit the keyboard, the timeline reacts instantaneously. No delays, no waiting. Dead-on accurate response times.
How Well Does Avid Media Composer 3.5 support Tapeless Workflows?
Media Composer is fantastic for working with all of the tapeless workflows including P2, XDCAM, Red and more!
Whether you are an editor working with a high-efficiency Long GOP format or a filmmaker working with 4K files from a RED ONE camera, tapeless acquisition can add new levels of speed and flexibility to your production process. Avid Media Composer editing systems let you take full advantage of file-based media with Open Timeline technology, integrated media management tools, and best-of-breed metadata support. And because Avid editing systems enable seamless file-based workflows for ingest, edit, and archive using native formats or high-efficiency proxy files, you can focus on the telling the story - instead of the technology behind it.
In fact the folks at Avid have put out some great guides and micro-sites dedicated to each. Here are the links for you to use:
With Avid, editing Panasonic P2 footage is fast and easy. Native file support for DVCPRO HD and AVC-I means no transcoding, digitizing, or file conversion of any kind. Edit directly from the P2 card or from a drive. It’s simple, efficient, immediate gratification for your creative and business sides.Avid makes editing footage captured with Panasonic cameras using P2 cards fast and easy. Avid systems use the same native MXF file format as Panasonic P2 memory cards, so there’s no transcoding, digitizing or file conversion process of any kind. You can edit directly from the P2 card or from a drive. Nothing could be simpler - or more immediate.
Avid solutions deliver all the advantages of working with the RED camera, plus the unmatched professional support and flexibility of cutting on an Avid editing system. From a streamline import of picture and sound to extensive metadata management for accurate HD and DPX finishing, Avid manages the details so you don’t have to.
Avid editing systems provide fast access, import, and playback of native XDCAM material regardless of how it’s delivered to your edit suites. Maximize editing efficiencies with low-resolution proxies, mixed codecs, and multi-stream real-time playback. Meet all output deliverables via an easy one step conform. Simply put, save time, money and headaches with workflow that works the way you need it to.
Does Avid Media Composer 3.0 support Blu-ray Disc?
YES IT DOES! Avid Media Composer 3.0 ships with the latest version of Avid DVD with Blu-ray Disc by Sonic. This means that you can author and burn your own Blu-ray Discs using a Blu-ray Disc burner such as the Pioneer BDR-202. You can create an interactive Blu-ray Disc that will play back on stand alone Blu-ray Disc players, the Sony Playstation 3 or computers equipped with Blu-ray Disc drives. Your Blu-ray Discs will include High Definition video, menus and graphics plus all of the navigation you are used to with standard DVDs. You can add chapter points and other metadata in the Media Composer timeline and they will come along with your video clips when you export to Avid DVD! You can also burn your HD video directly from the timeline to Blu-ray Disc without any authoring and navigation. Note: Avid DVD is a Windows only application; it will not run on a Mac.
Part III - Avid MojoDX Hardware
What is MojoDX?
MojoDX is the new HD hardware from Avid. It will allow you to ingest and output SD & HD video via SDI. MojoDX does not offer you hardware rendering acceleration, but there are some video related tasks that Avid Media Composer Software will hand-off to the Mojo DX allowing the CPU & GPU to take on more. So you will find that you may find some additional performance gains with MojoDX and HD footage, but they will be the result of Media Composer spreading the processing load even more efficiently.
What is the HDMI output for on MojoDX?
MojoDX has an HDMI output that will allow you to preview your timeline in all its HD glory on any HDMI equipped HDTV. Even cooler, the HMDI output is also surround sound. This means that you can use an off the shelf HDTV and any home theater surround system and you have a complete HD home theater editing suite.
I love the HDMI output of the MojoDX hardware. For me, the ability to view my work while I'm editing on big flat screen LCD HDTV is very important. I find that being able to view my work the same way my audience will allows me to be more creative and efficient.
Why is MojoDX so expensive?
Mojo DX with Media Composer 3.0 software will be $9,995. We will also be offering the hardware along with the Media Composer 3.0 upgrade for $7,495. We realize this makes it a pretty expensive piece of hardware, but you need to look at it as an investment. When combined with Media Composer 3.0 you will be able to output multiple layers of HD footage directly from your timeline. Depending on the work you do, and what value you place on your time, the MojoDX could pay for itself in just a few jobs, or it may take longer. What you have to ask yourself is this: "Does any other workflow and solution come close to this level of power, performance and productivity?". While there are cheaper hardware HD I/O devices on the market, they all share one thing in common; they do not work with Avid Media Composer.
But I don't need HD I/O, I work with file based footage (P2, XDCAM, FireStore) or HDV. Should I buy MojoDX?
Then quite honestly, MojoDX may not be for you. As I said earlier, the real-time HDMI output from the Media Composer timeline is a very big benefit of the MojoDX hardware.
I wish we had a more inexpensive HD preview solution for Media Composer. Mojo and MojoSDI will allow you to down-convert your HD footage to SD and preview on a standard defintion monitor, but that's not the same thing as true HD output. If and when any third-party hardware (like the Matrox MXO) becomes compatible with Avid Media Composer we will be shouting it from the rooftops.
What is the difference between MojoDX and the more expensive NitrisDX?
The NitrisDX hardware adds a plethora of analog I/O as well as DNxHD hardware encoding/decoding. For those Avid editors used to working with Adrenaline, this is the product for you. At $15K it is beyond the reach of many independent editors/ producers, but if you are a corporate shop, ad agency or editing facility I strongly suggest you contact your local Avid dealer for a demonstration of this amazing new hardware. You will not be disappointed. Note: Videoguys does not sell NitrisDX, if you are interested in purchasing one you can give us a call and we'll be glad to recommend a certified Avid Gold Premiere dealer in your area.
Part IV - Tech Tips & Tricks
Will Avid Media Composer run on my computer?
That is a very good question and one that Videoguys can and will answer for you, although our answer is not quite the same as Avid's. Avid has a very short list of tested and approved computers for use with Media Composer. These include workstations and laptops from Apple and HP. With version 3.0 you can now run Media Composer under Apple OSX Leopard or Microsoft Windows XP Professional or Vista.
We know that Avid Media Composer will run great in a far wider variety of hardware, and we are willing to support you if you go that route. Avid Media Composer 3.0 is scalable and multi-processor optimized. The more CPU cores you give it, the better your performance will be. We have Media Composer running great in our DIY6 Quad Core machine under Windows XP. We used an Asus P5K3 Deluxe motherboard and an Intel Q6600 processor. You can follow our DIY guide here.
In general we recommend a minimum of an Intel Quad Core processor (Q6600, Q9300 or Q9450), 2GB of RAM, QuadroFX 1500/1700 graphics card, and a dedicated RAID for your video storage.
Power users will want to step up to dual Xeon Quad Core processors. If you are looking to build the most powerful 8-Core workstation you can, we recommend the latest new motherboard from Tyan, the Tempest i5400XT (S5396). Based on the new Intel 5400 chipset this Dual Xeon motherboard gives you two 16x PCIe and one 8x PCIe slots so you'll be able to add all the addition hardware you need for more professional level work.
The Videoguys' techs are just a toll free phone call away at 800-323-2325. We are more then happy to review your computer system and recommend any needed upgrades, or help you pick the right components for your new system. Whichever way you decide to go, the Videoguys' tech support team is here to help you, before, during and after the sale.
Does Avid Media Composer really run on Vista64?
Yes and no. Media Composer is a 32-bit application. Avid has designed it to run under Vista64, but you will not see any processing advantage. What you will get from Vista64 is support for more memory. Windows XP can only really use 3GB of RAM, while under Vista64 you can go with as many pairs of 2GB sticks as your motherboard allows - for most users that would be 8GB of RAM (4 x 2GB). We're not sure exactly how much additional performance the additional RAM will give you, but we also know that many times we run into performance hits that having more RAM should eliminate.
Do I really need an NVIDIA QuadroFX card for Media Composer?
Avid Media Composer will run on other graphics cards, but for best results you really want to go with an NVIDIA Quadro FX1500/1700 or higher. Over the past few years we have found that graphics card issues are the number one tech support problem for our Avid customers. By simply upgrading the graphics card to a QuadroFX 1500/1700 we have resolved more then 75% of these issues and our customers report not only improved stability, but far better performance.
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