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Media 100 breaks out of its shell at last

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Media 100 Review from The Creative COW Magazine


Creative COW Magazine presents Media 100 breaks out of its shell at last



CowdogCowdog
Paso Robles California, USA

©2007 Cowdog and CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.

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Have a bunch of Media 100 projects archived that you'd like to have access to, again? Media 100 breaks out of its shell at long last, releasing new versions of their editing system that are software-only, or that can run on cards like the AJA Kona.


Once upon a time, Media 100 was the most important, most influential NLE in the land. It was the very first to establish beyond the doubt of even the stodgiest broadcast engineer that desktop Macs could produce broadcastready, pristine images. You youngsters take this for granted, but it was a very, very big deal barely more than a decade ago. Media 100 software also set a new benchmark for ease of use, which in many ways has yet to be matched.

In fact, to my knowledge, the very first for-broadcast project ever handled online by a computerbased system, was the Media 100 NUBUS-based system which produced Blues Clues for Viacom. With little more than a Media 100, a box of After Effects and a few tools like Elastic Reality and Infini-D, Blues Clues was born and grew.

So how did Media 100 fall so quickly and completely off the radar? First, they failed to meet the challenge of software-only editing with FireWire I/O. Second, they passed when they had the opportunity to buy Final Cut when it was offered to them by Macromedia. Oops. This was a second oops, as the company had also turned up its nose to After Effects years earlier. They bought Cleaner and Digital Origin instead. More “owies.”

Boris FX, recently acquired Media 100. and they've completed the product's transformation into today's Media 100 Producer, a software- only editor with FireWire and P2 support alongside AJA Kona PCIe hardware.

Nick Griffin recently wrote a review at CreativeCOW.net about getting reacquainted with his old flame, Media 100. In addition to letting him resurrect Media 100 projects, it works with his new Final Cut Pro media.

Aside from things like allowing past Media 100 users to resurrect old projects and files, it's greatest strength remains to be found in Its ease of use. Nick said he loved the updated features but when he could use even the most powerful of its newest features immediately, it reminded him why he fell in love with Media 100 in the first place.

As one who felt, and feels, the same, I'd like to extol its virtues in another direction. While Nick focused on the software itself, including its uses alongside Final Cut Pro, I'm going to focus on the flexibility that Media 100 Producer offers when combined with AJA hardware.

Media 100 Producer software is very flexible all by itself. It mixes formats, codecs, and aspect ratios in the same timeline. That kind of flexibility, while not unique to Media 100, offers speed and ease of use that are unique. It broadens workflow options while also relieving the pain of repurposing of materials and intermixing of formats we are confronted with on a daily basis.

Nick's article at The COW goes into full detail on the features in Media 100 producer. I'll add I've always been a fan of how Media 100 handles audio, with the exception of the unfixed and unhelpful audio scrubbing “feature.”

That aside, Media 100 provides a great implementation of EQ features, with saveable presets that can be applied to individual clips and can fix almost any issue. In addition, a master audio track allows for dynamics controls (compression and limiter), reverb, and keyframeable levels to be applied to longer sections or even the entire timeline. Think of it as an adjustment layer for audio.

The audio filters in Media 100 are the equal of those in any application I have used, and make it possible to finesse just about any mix. The one feature still missing is an implementation of OMF export, which I understand is in the pipeline for a future release

The AJA Kona lineup obviously adds even more options. Media 100 has started with the same software, with the same capabilities, and added different Kona cards to create three packages: Media 100 HD Suite, Media 100 HDe, and Media 100 SDe are product names given to the combination of the very same Producer software with the same features, integrated with the Kona 3, Kona LHe, and Kona HD cards, respectively. (See sidebar for details.)

While AJA's hardware tends to be slightly more expensive than some of the competitors' boards, my experience is that the price difference is more than made up for in quality, features, and support, all the way up to advanced board exchange in case of failure. The company is engineering focused and has produced a range of products that can be used confidently: worthy of building a studio and business around.

Speaking of flexibility: the same AJA board that runs Media 100 will also run Final Cut Pro, with only a minor software change: the AJA drivers for FCP and Media 100 conflict, and have to be swapped before the other app can run.

So, who needs it and why should you care? If you enjoy the Media 100 interface, bemoaning the fate of Media 100 in days when it was languishing and lost, this is the way to go, especially if you've still got legacy Media 100 projects and media. The same is true if you're still working with Media 100 software and are looking to make the step up to HD production: the upgrade price of only $399 is a very good deal indeed.

If you've bought AJA Kona hardware for your FCP system, keep using it as you bring Media 100 back into your workflow it. If you already own AJA hardware, if you need to work on Media 100 and Final Cut Pro projects on the same system, you should carefully consider what Media 100 Producer with AJA Kona offers.


The Flavors of Media 100 on AJA...

You'll want to check Media100.com for the full rundown, but here are some of the highlights of the three combinations.

All three iterations have SD SDI with embedded audio, a breakout box with cables, reference inputs, and RS-422 machine control.

With the exception of analog I/O (analog video output only, and no balanced analog audio), Media 100 HD Suite offers the most: realtime HD-to-HD crossconvert and HD and SD downconvert/upconvert. It also offers 8 channels of AES audio to the other systems' 2 channels. It also includes Boris Red for a complete effects, titling, paint, and 3D compositing solution.

Media 100 HDe offers realtime, hardware-enabled HD to SD downconvert. HD crossconversion or SD upconvert are software renders. Instead of Boris Red, it includes Boris FX and Graffiti.

Media 100 SDe is an SD-only system that, like HDe, offers balanced audio along with AES and SDI-embedded audio. It offers the same 10- bit uncompressed SDI and analog component I/O found in the HDe package, but as an SD-only system, doesn't include upconvert or any other HD I/0 beyond the FireWire (HDV) and P2 (DVCPRO HD) options available for every Media 100 package. Boris Graffiti is included.



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