Calling it "a milestone" for its most popular nonlinear editing product lines, Avid (www.avid.com) unveiled its latest Media Composer software (version 6) that now includes a new user interface, 64-bit image processing and a new DNxHD 4:4:4 codec. The new look and workflow-streamlining features make it ideally suited to data-intensive projects, such as 1080p/60 HD, 2K, 4K and stereoscopic 3-D post production.
Because they all use the same code base, the addition of 64-it processing is included in Avid's Symphony Nitris 6 and NewsCutter 10 products as well.
The new GUI includes new tools for stereoscopic post work, but provides them in a way that is transparent to the novice 3-D editor.
"We've tried to make 3-D editing as easy as editing in 2-D," Chris Gahagan, senior vice president of products at Avid, said. "We hide the fact that there's a left eye and a right eye, but the editor is surrounded by tools that help them understand if they're making good decisions from a 3-D standpoint."
Avid is now also providing an open SDK for third-party vendors looking to attract Avid customers and several key peripheral vendors have already announced immediate support among their products lines. This includes AJA Video (www.aja.com), Blackmagic Design (www.blackmagic-design.com/), Bluefish444 (www.bluefish444.com/), and Matrox Video Products Group (http://www.matrox.com/). The Matrox MXO2 mini is one of the first to ship, as its universal I/O box already works with Media Composer 5.)
"We have been waiting to do this for years," said Grant Petty, CEO of Blackmagic Design. "To have full integration with Avid Media Composer 6 with our capture and playback devices, plus AAF round trip with DaVinci Resolve, are truly defining moments for all our creative customers and for the film and television industry, this changes everything."
Petty said Blackmagic would support Media Composer 6 across its entire line of capture and playback cards, including Decklink, Intensity, Multibridge and UltraStudio. This is made possible due to Blackmagic Design's new Desktop Video 9.0, new software update with advanced capture and playback for Avid Symphony and NewsCutter (for both Windows 7 and Mac OS X users). Desktop Video 9.0 is available for download now and free of charge for all Blackmagic Design customers.
The current family of AJA Video KONA cards, KONA 3G, KONA 3, KONA LHi and KONA LHe Plus, will all support Avid Media Composer 6.0, NewsCutter 10.0 and Symphony 6.0 with the addition of Avid Open I/O enabling support for third-party audio and video interfaces. AJA's Io Express portable video I/O device already supports Avid Media Composer and NewsCutter, offering HD/SD capture, monitoring and output; AJA's recently announced Io XT will offer a similar feature set for Thunderbolt-enabled workflows.
"With KONA 3G, Avid editors can have access to very cost-effective, high quality video I/O. Avid editors have been clamoring for KONA support for Avid, and we're thrilled that the Avid Open I/O initiative is making this possible," said Nick Rashby, President, AJA Video Systems. "We also have an array of products from AJA for Avid editors that deliver industry proven quality and reliability."
In addition to its KONA and Io family of products, AJA said it is also working jointly with Avid to build support for the Avid DNxHD 4:4:4 video codec into the Ki Pro Mini portable video recorder, to allow further production efficiencies to Avid Media Composer.
The entire range of Matrox MXO2 I/O devices and the new Matrox Mojito MAX card now support Avid Media Composer 6 as well. The company said that not only do Matrox I/O products provide broadcast-quality input and output, they also let users deliver H.264 files for the Web, mobile devices and Blu-ray up to five times faster than software alone, without sacrificing quality. Other important features include 10-bit hardware scaling, inexpensive HD monitoring with the exclusive Matrox HDMI Calibration Utility, and 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound monitoring using professional connections.
"Matrox MXO2 MAX I/O devices are unique on the market in giving Avid editors lightning-fast H.264 encoding directly from Media Composer 6," said Alberto Cieri, senior director of sales and marketing at Matrox.
Avid also announced its desire to help editing professionals easily connect to the outside world with an initiative called Avid Marketplace. The company said it is working with stock-footage provider Thought Equity on a system that allows editors to preview stock footage stored in a remote cloud via a special browser built by Avid and Thought Equity. Users can drag watermarked versions into their timeline as if the clips were already in their bin. If a clip works in the edit, the user can purchase rights to the content without leaving Media Composer.
Finally, Avid has lowered the cost of its customer support services, called Avid Vantage. For $149/year, subscribers get unlimited online support, with half-price Avid Support Codes for discounted pay-as-you-go pricing for telephone support, plus a one-year license for five NewBlueFX plug-ins and a $99 coupon good for downloadable Avid software purchases. (Avid audio hardware can be added to the Vantage package for $29/year.) The Avid Standard Support package, which includes free software updates and patches, is available for $995/year.
All of the new products will be available on Nov. 15. Media Composer 6 will cost $2499, Nitris DX will be $5499, and Symphony 6 (available for the first time as a software-only version) will start at $5999. Upgrades from Media Composer 5.5 to 6.0 are $299, while Symphony upgrades will cost $599.