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NAB 2013: Avid Everywhere

CreativeCOW presents NAB 2013: Avid Everywhere -- AVID Editorial


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The following is what I've gleaned from an Avid press conference the day before NAB 2013 began and a one-on-one meeting at the show.

"Avid Everywhere" was the core of this Burlington, Massachusetts-based company's message and meaning at NAB 2013. As a strategy moving forward, Avid Everywhere signifies an end-to-end workflow from input to output that acknowledges the increasing ways that media is created, distributed and consumed.

This year's new product introductions were made by the new Avid President/CEO Louis Hernandez, Jr., a board member for five years and lead director for the last 18 months. Hernandez was previously Chairman/CEO of Open Solutions, a financial services technology provider.

"I like Avid's huge install base, the emotionally engaged client base and a technology platform with a rich heritage combined with innovative technologies," said Hernandez, enumerating why taking the lead position at Avid appealed to him.

"The industry is changing quite a bit in how content is created and distributed, and we now have an opportunity to directly connect two people -- the creator and the enjoyer -- in many ways," he continued. "Though we have historically been on the editorial, creative side, we want to control and participate in everything from creation to consumption." Hernandez noted a second trend: how consumers pick when and how to consume content. "These two macro trends are changing our clients' work and they need to address it without spending a lot more money," he said.


MEDIA COMPOSER 7
Avid unveiled a new version of Media Composer that features a faster and simpler file-based workflow with optimized HD delivery from high-res sources and automated media operations. Now, media linked via AMA media management can be treated as native Avid media, thus taking advantage of a suite of media management tools. Dynamic media folders also speed up and simplify AMA media management, automatically and in the background. The FrameFlex tool and LUT support allows the user to ingest 2K, 4K and 5K media with real-time color space conversion and deliver content directly to HD.



Avid Media Composer 7 on a MacBook Pro


"Prior to Media Composer 7, there was a concept of "Avid native media" that gave you powerful media management capabilities for free," said Avid Senior VP of Products and Services Chris Gahagan. "It freed you as an editor. Then we had AMA media that we could edit directly but forced the customer to manage that media himself. Now all media is managed without transcoding or rewrapping -- exactly like native media. By freeing the editor from having to worry about media, this feature in Media Composer 7 is a very important step moving into the next phase of creation. The key is hiding the complexity being introduced to allow our customers to be as creative as possible."

Other new features include a Master Audio Fader that lets editors control program volume and insert plug-ins for compression, equalization and compliance metering; the ability to adjust gain on a specific clip, independent of track-based automation, without engaging separate audio tools; and a Symphony color correction option that offers editors these advanced tools in Media Composer. Media Composer 7 also offers full Mac support of Interplay Sphere, as part of the "Avid Everywhere" strategy.

But the biggest news for MC7 was the price: $999. MC7 Interplay Edition is priced at $1,499. The new version is available in June; anyone who purchases 6.5 now will get an upgrade to Version 7 for free.






PRO TOOLS 11
Avid debuted an all new audio engine and 64-bit performance for Pro Tools 11, the biggest upgrade since 2002, says the company. Other features include the ability to deliver mixes up to 150 times faster; dedicated low-latency input buffer; advanced metering; direct HD video workflows, and more. "This is a new standard for audio production," said Gahagan, who reported that Avid has been at work on Version 11 for three years. "The demo on a Mac Mini is equal to what it used to be like on a Mac Book Pro. This has got to be sonically identical to delivering a mix in real time -- and it is."






With the increase in speed, a two-hour movie can now be bounced in 48 seconds, said Gahagan, who notes that one of the most important innovations with Pro Tools 11 has been to put the Media Composer video engine inside, allowing audio post to play and edit HD video formats, including Avid DNxHD, directly into the Pro Tools timeline without transcoding. "Now, any Media Composer-capable file can be played in Pro Tools," he said. "You don't need to mix it down, render it and import it into Pro Tools. There's seamless communication between audio and video editor, and that's important to our post production clients." Video interfaces support monitoring of DNxHD and QuickTime media through Avid Nitris DX, Avid Mojo DX and other video interfaces.


Other new features include dynamic host processing, which maximizes plug-in count by reallocating processing resources as needed; an extended range of built-in metering standards, from peak and average to VU and PPM, to maintain adherence to regional broadcast requirements; and gain reduction for all dynamics plug-ins on each channel.

Pro Tools 11 and Pro Tools HD 11 will be available by end of June this year. Pro Tools 11 is priced at just under $700. The price of an upgrade depends on the software to be upgraded and ranges from just under $300 to just under $1,000.


INTERPLAY PRODUCTION 3.0
The latest version of this production asset management solution, Interplay Production 3.0 simplifies file-based workflows for post production and broadcast. Today's extraordinarily high shooting ratios -- due to digital acquisition and the huge quantities of assets generated by multi-cam reality shows -- have resulted in an explosion of assets. "With 1,400 deployments, Interplay Production is used every day for very complicated workflows," said Gahagan. "A new 64-bit engine underlies this offering and supports handling of 10 million assets at any time. Version 3.0 also offers new workgroup capabilities. Another innovation is moving to a full web-based interface, which makes Avid Everywhere easier."



Interplay Central Sequence Creation UI


One feature of 3.0 enables the user to log and generate sequences of multi-cam projects from anywhere via the browser-based interface and support simultaneous playback of up to nine angles with audio handling and group clips with up to 18 total angles. Integration with Media Composer lets editors/producers communicate via the Interplay Production messaging system, exchanging asset links and notes. Broadcast clients can use the standard Unified Client with Interplay Production and optionally extend to iNEWS, allowing contributors to search, browse, create, annotate and review from any location. Avid Media Access (AMA) support also now extends to Interplay Production; a single command relinks a sequence to the original native media without transcoding.

Avid has put together two packages that combine Interplay, ISIS and Media Composer and are configured for small post and broadcast workgroups. Both will be available with the release of Interplay Production 3.0. The first package includes five seats of Interplay Production; ISIS 5000 15 TB; three Media Composer Seats; installation services and one year of ExpertPlus support for just under $50,000. The second package includes 10 seats of Interplay Production; Interplay Sphere; ISIS 5000 32 TB; four Media Composer Seats, one Symphony seat; installation services and one year of ExpertPlus support for just under $90,000. Both packages are scheduled to be available in June 2013.



Interplay Central on a MacBook Pro


INTERPLAY PULSE
Another Avid Everywhere solution, Interplay Pulse is now an option with iNEWS and Interplay Production. A multi-platform content distribution solution that delivers to online, mobile and social platforms in the right format, Interplay Pulse, in conjunction with the connected newsroom solution set, enables broadcasters to deliver breaking news to multiple platforms.

"The ability to connect with these and automate the movement of finished assets into any distribution outlet important to our customers, in an automated way," explained Gahagan. "Pulse introduces some user interfaces for Interplay Central that, for example, allows the journalist in the newsroom to post on Twitter or the web." Gahagan reported an "achievable price point" of $8,000 for Interplay, $2,000 for iNEWS and $5,000 for each connector. This is a scalable solution that will be available in June.



Interplay Sphere on a MacBook Pro


Interplay Central is now standard with Interplay Production 3.0, but customers will continue to be able to use Production client interfaces and transition gradually. Interplay Central is $2K for base connection and $5K for advance connections. Avid Interplay Pulse and the connected newsroom solution are slated for release in June 2013.



Interplay Central Logging Subclipping UI


CONCLUSION
Avid did not disappoint at NAB 2013. With Apple's FCP in declining use, Avid's editing solutions are more important than ever. Despite turmoil in the company's management level, Avid has managed to make some significant improvements to its core offerings -- Media Composer, Pro Tools and the Broadcast News solution suite of tools -- and offer a path to the future, its Avid Everywhere. Pricing Media Composer at under $1,000 was a smart move -- perhaps a little late to have maximum impact -- but welcomed nonetheless.






Follow Debra Kaufman on Twitter @MobilizedDebra




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