The preferred choice of editors in feature film and television productions, Avid’s non-linear editor comes with a price tag to match its high reputation. For independent filmmakers, the high cost can price it out. Even rentals can push the budget into the red. But with the introduction of Express Pro, Avid moved into the cost-conscious realm of the indies, and now, with its recently released Media Composer v3.0.5 software for Windows XP and Mac OSX, the company has made a serious offer to the that filmmaking community. And at a price tag of $2,495, it’s one that’s hard to refuse.
The familiar Avid interface and award-winning toolset— auto audio and video syncing, seamless tracking of timecode, Keykode and other metadata—is sure to attract veteran editors that have been working within the Avid range of products for years. It’s an inexpensive system that can be a project’s main editing tool or an additional home or location system; and it seamlessly integrates into an offline/ online workflow with the ability to share projects and media between Media Composer and Symphony systems, while totally conforming all edits and effects.
In deciding on an edit system, compatibility is one of the largest determining factors. With new cameras coming into the marketplace or evolving, numerous different formats or codecs exist. The big question is always whether editorial can transfer or capture the camera’s video codec into a codec that the editing system can read and manipulate. In other words, can the computers read each other’s software language?
Avid has worked with camera manufacturers to interface with prevalent codecs, whether as an Avid codec or a native codec. n a standard-def project, the formats have known Avid names, such as 1:1, 2:1, 3:1. In a 24-frame project, the offline codec of choice might be 14:1, a common standard-def resolution used in feature filmmaking and television. In the DV space, DV 25 would be the codec for mini DV when you work in native format. Those come in a variety of flavors as well: 4:2:0, 4:2:2, 4:2:1. Depending on if you’re Pal or NTSC, they’ll work in different color spaces.
Media Composer has native support for a wide range of HD codecs including HDV, XDCANHD, DVCPRO HD and AVC-1, in progressive 720p, 1080 and interlaced formats, as well as support for native “tapeless” file-based workflows such as P2 and XDCAM. This variety of codecs allows the user to match the codec so that the decode is proper for editorial. New in version 3 is additional HD support for Sony XDCAM-EX (using Sony clip browser software), Panasonic AVC-I and JVC 23.97p and 25p HDV.
Another feature we’ve come to expect from Avid is fast, realtime performance. Avid comes through with improved realtime effects, a realtime multi-window timecode burn-in tool, improved rendering with optimized multithreading on multi-core CPUs, and improved realtime performance for non-full-raster HD codecs. Media Composer’s performance is supercharged when run on multi-core CPUs. Other new features are a sub-cap subtitling tool and timestamp export for BWF. Available on Windows systems only, the new Metafuz tool merges single-frame files from film scanning or CGI systems into a single media clip.
The software includes perennially popular features such as Avid’s unique ScriptSync, which synchronizes source clips to the script; Avid MediaLog for logging and metadata management; Avid FilmScribe for film metadata export, cut lists, change lists and XML; and Avid EDL Manager for timecode metadata export in all industry standard formats. The complete software suite has a comprehensive set of productivity tools including Avid FX for 2D and 3D compositing, titles, animation and effects. Add to the package new support for Mac OSX Leopard and Windows Vista 32- and 64-bit, and filmmakers have a fast, flexible and powerful editing solution for a wide range of productions that won’t break the bank.