David Austerberry /
05.02.2012
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
NLEs at NAB

NAB saw more good news for editors with major releases from Adobe and Autodesk. All the leading platforms have now been rewritten as 64-bit applications, delivering improved speeds.

Prices have dropped, too. A powerful edit suite can be had for $10k with a laptop, some Thunderbolt attached peripherals and a monitor, much less than the price of a tape deck. (How the tapeless world has radically changed equipment costs.)

NAB saw the expected release of Adobe’s CS6. The company had already upgraded the products under the hood with CS5, launching the Mercury engine and 64-bit processing. CS6 focuses more on features. The user interface for Premiere Pro has had a complete revamp, sporting a new stripped down user-interface that meets many of the demands of editor to speed up operation. After Effects sees new 3D tracking, and a new ingest and logging tool, Prelude, extends Adobe products across more of the workflow for acquisition.

There are now over two million seats of Premiere Pro around the world, and the application is gaining converts from Apple and Avid as competition heats up. For collaborative editing, Premiere still lacks the functionality of Media Composer/NewsCutter operation with an ISIS shared storage solution, but Adobe has stated that it is moving all of its applications into the cloud, so maybe something different is in store for the future?

Many a production have rented equipment for the duration of the project. In a new selling model, Adobe is offering applications via the Creative Cloud. Applications can be purchased on a month-by-month basis rather than outright purchase. It gives the advantage of the latest versions of the software for a single monthly fee.

Smoke for Mac

Another NAB surprise was from Autodesk. Best known for high-end compositing applications as 3-D tools, the company released Autodesk Smoke for Mac 2013. This adds timeline editing to the compositing application, to provide a powerful compositing and finishing tool that an editor more familiar with timeline editing can learn with very little difficulty. Aimed very much at the Final Cut user looking for more power, it offers many traditional Autodesk compositing tools at a competitive price. Many editors are used to round-tripping to other applications for compositing, but the new Smoke provides editing and visual effects all within a single user interface.

Avid in the cloud

Since Avid acquired Maximum Throughput in 2009, some fruits have been expected in the line of remote editing. NAB saw the release of Interplay Sphere. This allows editing from any location via the Internet to Interplay Sphere using Media Composer or Newscutter clients. It fits the bill for newsgathering, but could also find application in location-based editing. Locally-sourced content is uploaded to the remote servers, while editing takes place, typically on a laptop in the field. The application is currently in beta, to be available around IBC2012.

There was also the first NAB outing for Avid Motion Graphics, first released at IBC2011. A ground-up redesign to replace the Deko graphics, the product is a suite of tools for the newsroom or edit bay. It includes 3-D graphics, powered by GPU acceleration, and full NRCS integration for data-driven graphics in the newsroom environment.

From what was once a two-horse race, editors now have a comprehensive selection of post tools at a fraction of the price of five years ago. Questions remain about the future of that favored hardware platform, the MacPro, but laptops and the iMac provide a sufficient platform for many. For others looking for flexible towers that can be loaded up with multiple graphics cards, and don’t like the idea of a sprawl of Thunderbolt-linked peripherals, HP and Dell have powerful workstations aimed very much at the post production user. The drawback is the loss of favorite Apple-only applications.

Editing is encompassing the flexible workflows facilitated by file-based acquisition. As the lines are blurring between production and post, the advent of cloud storage is adding a new dimension to the post-production landscape. Traditional NLEs use a heavyweight client with direct-attached storage or connected to a local NAS or SAN. Web-based editing has been limited to logging and rough cuts using low-bandwidth proxies.

In another cloud-based announcement, Aframe and Panasonic are partnering to offer a cloud video production network. It neatly solves the problems of archiving P2 shoots, freeing the cards for re-use. Panasonic has targeted New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, Miami, Boston and Dallas as the first cities to locate its upload centers — drop in and upload uncompressed footage from P2 cards to the Aframe cloud. These link to Aframe’s cloud video production servers in the U.S. so that material can be logged and ultimately delivered to the post house.

Running through the “A”s, what of Apple? There were reports at NAB of Final Cut gaining a plugin to support MXF in a future release. With most camera vendors wrapping essence in an MXF wrapper, and MXF being the wrapper of choice for content delivery to broadcasters, such support could be considered essential.



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