Tuesday night a couple of our edit staff went to the Orlando Post Pros meeting to see a demonstration of the newly released Avid Media Composer 5 software. Generally speaking, they guys were very impressed, here’s a few highlights.
AMA Media Management- you can work natively with QuickTime media. You can mix QT media with Avid media and it doesn’t really act like there’s too much of a difference.
Frame Rate/Resolution Mixing- Avid is now much more flexible when mixing frame rates, something, quite frankly, they were lacking in the past. It isn’t perfect but it’s a great step forward. It interpolates the frames much better and you can now change the way it changes the field order. We had a project last month where this would have helped a lot.
Better Audio Editing- Avid now makes it much easier to solo tracks and play with key frames when editing audio. There’s a new stereo track option as well which is good for music. Also, they now put the waveform in your computer’s cache, so you can turn it on and off without using too much of your system resources. This is great because the Avid would practically crash when you would try to look at a waveform on a project with a couple tracks.
Smart Tools- The Avid now can edit in a similar style as the Final Cut. The smart tools allow you to tug and pull your clips the way a Final Cut does or you can still use the keyboard and mode-centric Avid way of doing things. The new trim mode is great and easier to use than Final Cut’s similar roller tools. If there is a thought out there that Avid is more difficult to learn than Final Cut, this is probably no longer the case.
Up/Down Conversion Tools- You can very simply set your up convert and down convert settings on the fly to work within your project size. So many of our projects require a mix of SD and HD material and you usually have to do a lot of cumbersome reformatting. MC5 lets you bring the media in and change it with two clicks and very little (if any) rendering.
Based on everything the guys saw last night, and considering we have both Avid and Final Cut to make apples to apples comparisons, it’s possible Avid has leapfrogged Final Cut when it comes to ease of use and cross-format compatibility. Not that I would expect anything different but our guys said we should definitely upgrade as soon as our software arrives. Lucky for them, that should be next week.