Avid Fires The Next Shot In Battle With Apple, Introduces New Media Composer

Avid Introduces Media Composer 6 with a new 64-bit architecture, 3D tools and more third-party hardware support.

The anticipated next version of Avid’s Media Composer editing system—version 6—as well as its NewsCutter version 10 and Symphony version 6, will be available on Nov. 15. The new software includes a 64-bit architecture, as well as new 3D editing tools and increased support for third-party hardware.

Media Composer 6 in particular will be closely watched as it will be the first major new release of Avid’s flagship editing system since its chief rival in the editing space, Apple, launched Final Cut Pro X—which generated quite a bit of discontent in the professional community.

Apple claims to have the largest percentage of the nonlinear editing customer base with more than 2 million users, from hobbyists to professionals. Avid positions its Media Composer as the tool of choice in the professional space; American Cinema Editors’ most recent member survey found that the majority of its members use Avid.

Many of the new Media Composer features announced this morning will not come as a complete surprise to customers. Following the Final Cut Pro X launch last spring, Avid hosted a customer meeting at Warner Bros., during which—in an atypical move for Avid—it offered a glimpse at its Media Composer development roadmap. Avid also previewed some of these future tools in a technology demonstration at the International Broadcasting Convention in September.

A key Avid message is that it aims to increase speed and flexibility. Specifically, features include a new user interface; AVCHD and Red Epic support with Avid Media Access; Avid DNxHD 444, a high-quality HD codec; further integration with Avid’s audio post system Pro Tools, including 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound support; and color correction capabilities through support for the Avid Artist Color control surface.

The new 3D toolset is being tested by certain editors, who are using it to cut upcoming 3D features; Avid declined to name the editors and the film titles.

Avid reported that support for third-party tools includes video and audio cards from AJA Video Systems, Blackmagic Design, Bluefish444, Matrox and MOTU; and it gains the ability to encode Apple ProRes (Mac OS-based systems only).

“Those customers that kind of got stranded with Apple, now have a place to go,” said Chris Gahagan, senior vp of products and solutions at Avid. “Some of them were being held back because we didn’t support Pro Res or they wanted to use third-party I/O like AJA Kona. We are now going to make it easier for them to consider switching. We removed two of the big barriers. … They really do need a company that is more committed to their profession.”

Avid is offering Final Cut Pro (excluding Final Cut Pro X) users the ability to purchase Media Composer with free online training for $1499.

Pricing for Media Composer 6 starts at $2499; upgrade pricing begins at $299, with student pricing from $295.

Final Cut Pro X lists for $299.99.