Today Avid Technology issued a press release outlining the changes and new features in their latest version of the Media Composer software, Avid Media Composer 5.5. Among the new features is one that particularly excites me…and it has been very difficult to keep quiet about this (I’m on the Avid Beta, so I’ve been playing with this for a while). Media Composer 5.5 now works with AJA hardware, specifically, the AJA IO Express. What is major about this announcement, other than adding another third party partner to their list (they opened up MC5 to the Matrox MXO2 Mini last year) is that this isn’t just another monitoring solution…this is a capture solution as well.
Yes, you can capture and output using the AJA IO Express. Capture to Avid MXF media. Have deck control so that you can capture and output with accurate timecode. That’s a big deal! Sure, it doesn’t offer the hardware acceleration that the DX line of hardware does, but it is a great economical way to get your footage into and out of your system.
Not long ago…last year, around NAB in April…Avid announced Media Composer 5, and I blogged about it. One of the things that I mentioned that was HUGE was monitoring via non-Avid hardware, specifically the Matrox MXO2 mini. That was a huge thing…now we could monitor what we were doing without the expensive Avid hardware. Because that was a gripe of a lot of people, that yes, the Media Composer software is now inexpensive, but still they needed to shell out upwards of $8000 for a Mojo DX just to see what they were doing on a monitor. They didn’t need to capture, they just needed to monitor…as they shoot tapeless.
Still, this left more than a few people asking, why the MINI? We want this to work with AJA, Black-Magic. We want Avid to open up to the hardware we already have so that we can capture using the same card in Final Cut Pro as well as Avid. The answer Avid had to that was…”baby steps.” They were slowing working towards this…soon more and more hardware will be added. Sure enough, we have new hardware, and the ability to capture and output…for under $1000. And it works on a tower and laptop (if the laptop has an Express34 slot).
What else did they announce?
PHRASE FIND. This is much akin to GET from AV3 software. This software will index all of the spoken words in a project, and allow you to search for something someone said. For the times where you know that the interviewee talked about their life in Montana, but you don’t know where in the 2 hour interview they said this. You could spend the two hours looking for it, or use Phrase Find to find the word MONTANA within seconds.
Phrase Find isn’t part of the Avid Media Composer package…it is what they call an “addon” product. But, it is one that will be well worth the money, with the amount of time it saves.
They have also added native support for HDCAM Lite, expanded support for Euphonix hardware (no surprise since they bought the company, and enhances their Smart Tool functionality…allowing us to directly manipulate transitions on the timeline with the mouse.
Avid is advancing their Media Composer software faster than I would have imagined. It is very difficult to keep up with them now. Every time I turn around, BAM, new Media Composer with great new features. BAM! support for more hardware. Adding new functionality, and making changes to old functionality to make it better. Listening to editor’s needs and addressing them at the speed of light. Avid Media Composer is emerging as the leader in keeping up with current technologies…and losing the image of the old stagnant system that while rock solid, was very antiquated.
In the past I would find my self cursing under my breath…or rather loudly for people around me to hear…that Avid couldn’t do this or couldn’t do that….cursing that I wasn’t working on my lovely Final Cut Pro system. But now more and more often I find myself on Final Cut Pro cursing and swearing and wanting to be using Media Composer. Honestly, I want both systems at my beck and call. And Avid is making it easier for me to do that.