- December 19, 2012 at 8:38 pm
Hi, I had the opportunity to talk to a few Avid people this past week, but wanted to extend my thoughts and notes to you for future Avid Media Composer needs in upcoming versions. Please note that these are all notes that I’m remembering, not all are here:
1.) Updated Interface – leaving the 1990’s text look, updating all interface buttons, everything. Final Cut Pro X may not be the most technically savvy tool out there for commercial editors, but it is a very ‘beautiful’ piece of software to look at – all day long. Though some editors do not care about how a software looks, to me, the user interface and using it as a ‘creation tool’, it makes the user experience somewhat more ‘enjoyable’, rather than using it as just a tool, it can feel more like an experience, just by really updating the interface even more.
2.) Asset Management – let the editor decide how he wants to organize. Instead of Avid’s tradition of clips going into bins, and bins going into folders, it’d be nice to be able to have clips just go into folders. Adobe Premiere and Final Cut let you do this. This kind of goes back to breaking out of the way Avid has been doing it for years, and where efficiency is now more important to the editor than past tradition.
3.) Improvement of Efficiency Tools – There are tons of Hollywood style editors, who have their certain tools they love, and maybe they use all 5000 tools Avid Media Composer offers, but most of the editors out there are not Hollywood film editors who edit long format media. A huge market is the smaller format or shorter format editors, who need to be in and out in minutes, instead of taking a day to prep, we have an hour to prep. AMA answered some of those concerns, however, the efficiency and stability in AMA is still not 100% if you talk to one editor to another. With Adobe Premiere, you can import any codec, edit it, and export, you are in and out, no transcoding, no AMA re-linking issues, etc. Much of the improvements to Adobe Premiere has been because of implementing many of the tools from Final Cut Pro 7, that are ‘still’ missing from Avid. In answering the FCP user’s plea, the advent of “Smart Tools” helped, but only a little bit. And I’ve talked to many Hollywood editors, who are actually loving “Smart Tools”, after giving them a chance and trying them, and using them now, after they once labeled them the “Dumb Tools”. Final Cut 7 had so many amazing efficiency tools and features that need to be included or implementing in Avid Media Composer.
4.) Updated Titling Tool – I cannot believe that Avid has still not fixed, updated, or addressed this. It’s easier to buy a third party software and offer it as a breakout tool, but it’s a band-aid, it’s not a fix. Avid needs a better “industry standard” graphics tool. Final Cut 7 was not great, but it’s title tool was and is still superior to AMC 6.5.
5.) Staying Updated – One of the big pushes recently is audio key-framing, and how you can now copy and paste audio key-frames from one clip to another, saving you a ton of work, as mentioned in the latest article written in “America Cinema Editor” magazine, which speaks highly of Avid Media Composer 6.5’s latest updates, these updates are not updates to show staying up to date. These updates are tools and funciotns that Final Cut Pro 7 had 2-3 years ago. I’m trying to continue to edit and learn Avid, but everyday I run Avid, I think, “Geese, I sure miss this easier way this was done in Final Cut 7”. In Final Cut 7, you have no modes of editing, in Avid, you have 4-5 modes you have to go into, just to perform the types of edits you want. It’s like to do something in Adobe Premiere or Final Cut 7, that takes you one step, it takes you 2-4 steps in Avid. Efficiency is not saying it has to be easy, but it has to be simple, fast, and intuitive. Stripping down software to software, we are talking about basic software functions, not styles of editing, preferences, or tradition. There are huge innovational tools in Final Cut Pro X, that though is not a prosummer tool, there are new functions that they introduced that are killer efficiency tools! They also try to anticipate the editor’s editing choices on and off the time-line. One tool, is the “combined clips” or compound clips – a video editor came up with this, there’s no way on earth this came from a software engineer’s head, this was a video editor thinking about how to edit faster and not have to worry about audio and audio sync issues and just getting audio levels set, and then out of the way. And it’s a great efficiency tool.
6.) “Video Editor-Based” Software Development – this software was written and created by software engineers, not video editors, and what is very transparent, as I’ve gone to Avid events in Salt Lake City, is that I keep thinking that the software will get more innovative. There’s a lot of “sit and wait” mentality, and I think that it is not that Adobe wanted to capitalize on market share and mimic Final Cut Pro, but what Adobe did was not only incorporate all of the things the industry loved about Final Cut Pro 7, but they took those tools and not only made them better, but added more. For example, adding AMA as a new feature, it was not a “new” feature in the sense that it was “new” to workflow, but it was new to the software, and I think that it what is hurting Avid, is that the game of playing catch-up will never end. AMA already existed in Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere for years, way before. They saw that there was not real need for the extra labor-intensive steps to transcode media, which takes hours. Final Cut and Adobe thought “Why do we need to transcode, there’s no point.” So, they eliminated that workflow step. For larger corporations running massive networks of Avids, the idea of everyone using Avid on a network, the asset management part is important to have, however, the majority of editors out there are not running 100 Avid systems linked together on a network. This greatly influences the over-complexity of the software for your every-day user/editors. We do not need a jumbo jet to fly to New York, we need a private jet sized airplane.
7.) Promotions – Avid’s the best marketing campaign out there, but again, tons of the ads and campaigning is based around tons of hardware tools that a ton of post houses do not currently own. So there’s so much push to buy all Avid products, but in the end, there’s no way to keep up with all of it, and to be able to be in and out quick, whether it is color correction, audio, titles, graphics, etc. It’s not that Avid is not the right tool for me. Avid is a great tool, but there’s quite a bit of catch up to do, even with comparing it to the other editing software out there. There are essential efficiencies that AMC is missing.
8.) Culture Shift – Avid’s editing is heavily supported by its user, those guys who have used Avid from day 1. However, many media schools and colleges, are not teaching Avid, they are teaching Adobe Premeire, and some still teach Final Cut Pro 7 and X, because they are still very stable tools. Avid needs to be aware that there is a new generation out there that was not raised in the era Avid came to be. So this notion of maintaining a dominance, in Hollywood, may very well stay the norm, but eventually the generations of new-comers, and new editors, will not want to use Avid, or may not want to use Avid because it’s lack of efficiencies that they can find in other NLEs. The next 5-10 years, Avid needs to be ahead of the game in all aspects. Whether editing a short car commercial, a small web video, or a feature film, people use the tool that fits there needs, but why not be the tool that fits “all” those editor’s needs? Culture and tradition makes editors feel safe, but when editors see how other softwares works and bahave and how they operate, when compared to each other, it attracts the editor in terms of how much he can actually get done, regardless of how much experience he has, how many years of various NLE experence he has, or what he has used in the past, Avid has to be able to be there for 100% of all editors. Rather than fighting to maintain it’s own unique abilities based on past tradition, Avid needs to expand and kill their competition with an all-in-one solution. Take everytihng your current competition is doing, and do it better. Whether it’s the interface design, to buttons, tools, video, audio, graphics, etc. Take the best of the best from everyone, and use that as the first step, and THEN develop from there and innovate.
Digital Chop House
Salt Lake City, Utah
- December 19, 2012 at 9:44 pm
[Tom Laughlin] ”
1.) Updated Interface – leaving the 1990’s text look, updating all interface buttons, everything.”
Won’t happen. Not for a looooooong time. Avid has a very old user base that is resistent to change. Even changing the way the MARK IN icon looks, or the LIFT (taking out the weight-lifter) causes them to shout.
Besides, who CARES how it looks? It’s got great functionality. What’s the need for the new look? Who are you trying to impress?
No, Avid has a very installed user base that they need to please.
[Tom Laughlin] “2.) Asset Management – let the editor decide how he wants to organize. Instead of Avid’s tradition of clips going into bins, and bins going into folders, it’d be nice to be able to have clips just go into folders.”
Avid’s method results in the most rock solid media management of ANY NLE out there. Best in the business, hands down.
[Tom Laughlin] “Adobe Premiere and Final Cut let you do this.”
And they are a MESS! FCP’s media management was iffy at best, and Premiere’s…DISMAL, horrid. Worse than bad. Sorry, I take stability over here, thank you.
[Tom Laughlin] “This kind of goes back to breaking out of the way Avid has been doing it for years, and where efficiency is now more important to the editor than past tradition.”
I take stability over the other options any day. AMA allows you to do it the way you want, but then Avid’s media management sucks with AMA, because it isn’t in the Avid format. Don’t like it? Don’t use it. Nothing stopping you from using Adobe.
[Tom Laughlin] “3.) Improvement of Efficiency Tools – There are tons of Hollywood style editors, who have their certain tools they love, and maybe they use all 5000 tools Avid Media Composer offers, but most of the editors out there are not Hollywood film editors who edit long format media.”
Then don’t use Avid. You have other options, why not use those? This app works very well for our needs in Hollywood. VERY well. If you want a tool for a different need…get a different tool. Don’t say “you need to change the screwdriver from a flat head to a phillips, because there are very few flat head screws out there. Phillips is more efficient.” The thing is, they are still out there, and we need the flathead screwdriver to deal with them.
[Tom Laughlin] “AMA answered some of those concerns, however, the efficiency and stability in AMA is still not 100%”
Yup…because it is employing that media management style that Adobe and FCP did…the one that isn’t nearly all that stable. There are reasons why Avid works the way it does, and well. for years.
[Tom Laughlin] “4.) Updated Titling Tool – I cannot believe that Avid has still not fixed, updated, or addressed this. It’s easier to buy a third party software and offer it as a breakout tool, but it’s a band-aid, it’s not a fix. Avid needs a better “industry standard” graphics tool. Final Cut 7 was not great, but it’s title tool was and is still superior to AMC 6.5″
I agree here. WHOLE HEARTEDLY. Avid’s answer is “use Marquee. Or the new Avid Motion Graphics app.” No, their built in tool needs to be improved…for sure.
[Tom Laughlin] “everyday I run Avid, I think, “Geese, I sure miss this easier way this was done in Final Cut 7″. In Final Cut 7, you have no modes of editing, in Avid, you have 4-5 modes you have to go into, just to perform the types of edits you want. It’s like to do something in Adobe Premiere or Final Cut 7, that takes you one step, it takes you 2-4 steps in Avid.”
That’s because you are trying to do things the FCP or Adobe way, not the “Avid way.” I love FCP legacy, hands down my favorite editing app. But it is gone, so I went back to Avid. I had to relearn how Avid did things, but now that I did, I work great. I can grab things in segment mode (and get there with by pressing a modifier key rather quickly) or get into an out of trim mode quickly. These are things you haven’t figured out yet, or were taught yet. The Avid Agility book by Steve Cohen is a great book you should look at. It really speeds up the way you work.
Or…if you want things to work like they do in Premiere…use Premiere.
[Tom Laughlin] “There are huge innovational tools in Final Cut Pro X, that though is not a prosummer tool, there are new functions that they introduced that are killer efficiency tools! They also try to anticipate the editor’s editing choices on and off the time-line.”
They anticipate incorrectly. At least for my needs. FCX is a fine tool, just not one that fulfills any of my needs. It does well for other people…so I’m fine with them having a great tool they need. It doesn’t work for me at all. I’d need to buy like 5 separate apps just to get what is built into Avid MC, and even then it doesn’t measure up. Not to mention the horrid Magnetic Timeline and Roles. Lack of tracks drives me NUTS!
[Tom Laughlin] “8.) Culture Shift -“
When one of these fine young upstarts edits a feature film or broadcast TV series successfully and easily with FCX or Adobe…and if they can plug into the system…then we will listen. It took me years to try to get FCP 2…then 3…then finally 4.5 used on a broadcast TV show for History. FCP 3 was used on Cold Mountain due to Digital Film Tree making software to allow it to do so (Cinema Tools)…to allow it to plug into the Hollywood system. Same with Automatic Duck…that helped too. So, sure, those kids can learn and use what they want. When they finally make things with those apps that make the big time, then Avid users will pay attention.
But I see Apple not looking at traditional movies or TV shows…but aiming ahead of the curve to what they think might be the next big thing, like web videos. Those are a big thing, for sure. And they might indeed be the future. But we are still in the present and need tools to deal with present technical needs and issues. FCX doesn’t deal with my current needs. Avid does. Adobe doesn’t deal with my current needs (a lot of them, not all…tape capture is still iffy), but it might soon.
If you like those other tools…use those. If you are irked because Avid doesn’t do things the same way those other ones do…and by this list you want it to be EXACTLY like those other tools…why do you want that? Those tools are out there and do that, why should Avid conform to those needs rather than the ones it currently serves? Those are the tools we need. If I needed Adobe Premiere, I’d use it. And I do…I have projects I wouldn’t go near with Avid MC. Instead, I use premiere.
Again…the right tool for the right situation. We don’t need a tool belt full of screw drivers. Not everything is a screw.
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- December 19, 2012 at 10:17 pm
I totally agree with you, the right tool for the right job. I’m only sharing some of my initial thoughts based on a 1st year FCP switcher. I know we’ve all had to switch back and forth numerous times, and that there are strengths and weaknesses to every NLE. I love Avid, I do. So it’s not meant to be a rant, this is simply a wish-it-had list. Avid has implemented many things that FCP7 had, like “Smart Tools”, so it’s nice to see some of that trade-off. The other issue I’m fearing is that again, the idea that this is the ‘kids’ vs the ‘big boys’. This all comes from Avid culture, so I want to continue to edit using and learning Premiere, Avid, and FCP X, this was mostly observational wants, and I’m sure more will come as times flies. But I also don’t look at this list as a huge deal. It’s not like asking Avid to move a mountain. These are functionality items, not preferences from tradition. I use the same efficiency tools in other NLEs, some ones Avid lacks.
I failed to mention being able to work on and have multiple time-lines open. Not a big deal, but in Avid you can only work in one sequence at a time. Yes, I know you can load a second in the source monitor, and I’ve rarely actual worked on 2 time-lines at once, but something very small like that, can’t be done in Avid. Not a big deal. Not a big deal.
Thanks for sharing!
Digital Chop House
Salt Lake City, Utah
- December 19, 2012 at 10:24 pm
Yes, I’m probably going to look back here in 6-8 months, after having MUCH more “consistent” and editing experience with Avid, and laugh at this posting!
But it is nice to hear from everyone about their current needs and wants with Avid and other NLEs at large.
Merry Christmas Creative Cow,
Digital Chop House
Salt Lake City, Utah
- December 19, 2012 at 10:43 pm
I agree with a lot of Shane’s responses, as well as yours. There are advantages to some of the rigid ways Media Composer works, but it doesn’t mean there can’t be improvements that can’t be designed to satisfy both an existing user-base and new methodologies seen in other NLE’s
For example, in addition to just changing the timecode windows above the monitors to looks slicker (neon green), change position with resize, etc. it would have been the perfect opportunity to also add the ability to directly interact with timecode entry for a lot of different purposes; go to, set duration, log timecode offsets into clip in bin, etc. It would also be more intuitive than just clicking to make a window active and start typing – that is a leap of faith.
Same thing with SmartTool – I don’t think anyone denies the need to have direct manipulation in the timeline, but “how” it was implemented didn’t please existing users, nor did it do everything “the new kids” wanted. For example, dragging a clip directly up and down past the window view does not automatically scroll the window – pain in the ass that it doesn’t. Drop the clip, scroll the window, start again… etc. And there is plenty of other “improvements” that thing needs.
Bin as bin are extremely handy when working with other editor and their systems, be it on the same shared storage or across the country. The ability to zip a a bin file, and send it is priceless. But I also recognize the value of AMA and knowing its current limitations work within those.
All of these improvements from Avid are described as being in phases – I just hope they get to Phase 2 on a lot of them (like the Find window…), etc.
- December 19, 2012 at 10:59 pm
Gotcha gotcha gotcha.
Yeah, the SELECT ALL FORWARD and BACKWARD and I to O was a good borrow from FCP. The Smart Tool…well, an odd one. But both of them don’t work as well as they did in Avid because Avid considers the areas devoid of clips or media, as FILLER…clear film if you will. It isn’t empty, there’s something there. That’s a big difference and one I don’t see going away, as it does serve some pretty useful purposes. But the fact that it is there messes up the smooth implimentation of the Smart Tool and other things.
OK…wish list. Gotcha. Still, check out the Avid Agility book. It certainly sped me back up right quick.
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def
- December 19, 2012 at 11:15 pm
Thanks guys for the comments, I’m going to purchase “Avid Agility” for sure.
Digital Chop House
Salt Lake City, Utah
- December 20, 2012 at 10:18 am
I agree with Shane on most of his points.
Many of the changes suggested by the OP would break the backwards and forwards compatibility of Avid. I know this hasn’t been possibly with many if the other NLEs mentioned or at best tricky but its been a key feature of MC
For broadcast post houses like ours the ability to take a V6 project back tk clients V4 or earlier system us crucial. Being able to open a 3year old project is crucial.
Having portable bins rather than a full bloated project all day crucial for fast reliable jobs.
And a massive pool of talented editors who know that interface and can work any version is far more important than a complete overhaul of the look just to be pretty.
Its not a fashion show its a tool for a job.
And don’t forget there are many non Avid folks working on improving the interface and features in the background.
And finally the Avid community forms have a feature request forum that is read and managed directly by Avid engineers. There aren’t many other tools on the market so easy to gave an impact on. and why has all that impact produced such a slow pace to changes? Because Avid want afford to do an Apple FCPX !
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- December 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm
Definitely agree with Shane.
I started in Premiere and used it for 6 years through high school and college, switched to FCP for 4 years, and then spent the last 6 in Avid. Avid is by far the most stable, cleanest, “adult” NLE. For silly, short, fast turnaround projects I still use FCP (phasing into Premiere… CUDA is amazing). If its under 2 days and has a bunch of random assets, it’s FCP or Premiere. It it’s longer, has video, and (most important) clients in the room, Avid is the only way to go.
I can’t understand why folks want to organize a project bin structure AND a folder structure. It just gets overwhelming, duped filenames always come up (even with the most organized people). It’s just too dangerous.
If I’m forced to work in FCP or Premiere for larger/longer projects, I usually pile all of the media in one folder, Avid style. FCP is abysmal when it comes to keeping track of its own media (especially with more than one editor), and I’ve found this method prevents duped filenames indefinitely.
But yeah, as someone who grew up in the Premiere/FCP world and converted to Avid, I’m here to say its a far superior product. And you can’t beat Avid’s frame mode 🙂
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- December 20, 2012 at 8:46 pm
Yea, August, I can understand your perspective a little more in that Avid is more of an “adult” NLE, that’s kind an interesting way of putting it. Many features have been cut on FCP, and Walter Murch was a huge advocate of Final Cut. In many of his interviews, he liked how it worked. Experience on, familiarity with, and personal preferences are all over, but basic improvements are needed regardless what tools are or are not already there in Avid. Feels like a Pepsi vs Coke conversation. But taking off our editor lenses, Avid is missing some efficiency tools that were very useful in FCP7 and that are in Adobe Premiere today. We look at Adobe Premiere, not as a fan or a follower, but seeing what they are doing. It’s like at NAB, when shopping for a camera. Is bigger better or smaller better? In the end they all do the same thing right? They all record the same way or look and feel the same way? It’s like when we went from VHS to digital then to 2K to 4K. It’s like when you hear people talking about how awesome consumer 4K cameras are vs the Red Epics or whatever. Avid as an editor being compared to like the Alexa of cameras? I’ve seen some really beautful footage come out of the Canon 5D MII. Do I need an Alexa or a 5D? Questions, questions, thank for everyone’s comments, they’re are great.
Digital Chop House
Salt Lake City, Utah
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