Avid Pounces in the Wake of Apple's Final Cut Pro X 'Debacle'

"Cowboys & Aliens" editor Dan Lebental is among those who see opportunity for Avid, which offered a glimpse at its product roadmap during this week’s customer event.

In the latest step in a fierce battle between editing software makers Avid and Apple — and just weeks after the release of Apple’s Final Cut Pro X, which the company said was aimed at professionals but was then met with discontent in many such circles — Avid on Wednesday evening hosted a large presentation and cocktail reception on the Warner Bros. lot, during which Avid chairman and CEO Gary Greenfield emphasized that professionals are Avid’s “lifeblood.”

Kicking off the event, which packed an estimated 550 capacity crowd into Warner’s Steven J. Ross Theater, Greenfield asserted that Avid is “listening” to its customers and offering a glimpse at the development roadmap for its Media Composer software.

While it remains to be seen how much of it was preaching to the choir, Avid’s message and product plans generated enthusiastic cheers from the crowd.

“I think it was really important, in the wake of the debacle of what Apple did with Final Cut, that Avid stayed and are there for the professionals,” Dan Lebental, editor of upcoming Cowboys & Aliens -- which was cut on an Avid system -- told The Hollywood Reporter during the event. “It would be easy for them to sit back and say, ‘OK, we cleared our biggest enemy.’ ... [But] they are listening; that was their message tonight and they wanted to pound it home.”

Avid was already considered the tool of choice in the professional community. The majority of American Cinema Editors members use the Avid system, according to the latest poll from honorary society.

But Apple claims that Final Cut is the overall market leader with a 55 percent share and more than 2 million users, which range from hobbyists to professionals.

Lebental admitted that many in the professional editing community are likening the recently launched Final Cut Pro X to the much hyped but failed rollout of New Coke in the ‘80s. “Apple pulled a New Coke with Final Cut and they took a professional product and made it — at least for the time being – not a professional product, which is a tremendous opening for Avid and for others.

“Professionals need to move [cuts] around to all different collaborators — sound, music, finishing, coloring — and you have to have the tools to do it,” he explained as one area where he feels Final Cut falls short.

“Avid always was the most advanced [in this area],” he added. “I think they are going to grab back an awful lot of the market share.” Lebental also suggested that Adobe might now be positioned to potentially “come up and take some of [Apple’s] share.”

During the presentation, Avid outlined a Media Composer development strategy that the company said included a 64-bit architecture, a new user interface, increased support for color correction within the editing system, and more tools for stereoscopic 3D. It said it plan also includes greater integration of picture and sound tools [Avid manufacturers the widely used Pro Tools professional audio production system], as well as increased support for third-party tools. Avid pointed out that it already supports certain products from manufacturers AJA and Matrox, and is additionally working with Blackmagic Design, Bluefish 4:4:4 and Motu.

Avid also aimed to close the pricing gap with Final Cut Pro X, which lists for $299.99.

Avid already offers a $295 student price. Last week, it launched a promotion through which Final Cut owners can purchase Media Composer for $995.

Adobe similarly responded to the Final Cut Pro X launch with a promotion to enable Final Cut Pro or Media Composer users to switch to Adobe Premiere Pro.