I had a chance to watch the live stream of today's announcement from Avid of their new version of Media Composer 6. Avid previewed this software late last spring in order to try and capitalize on Apple's misfortune, but today's preview answered a lot of lingering questions surrounding the software. So what are some of the things we learned today, and what does that mean to filmmakers like you and me? Is Avid serious about gaining back all the editors and business they lost to Final Cut over the past decade or so?
First things first: the biggest 'advance' Avid had to offer today is 64-bit architecture - which would be great except that Adobe and Apple already beat them to the punch. The next feature that Avid had up its sleeve was the graphic overhaul of the software, and it's about time. Media Composer looked almost indentical to versions 10+ years old. But again, Apple and Adobe still dust MC6 in the looks department. (and I think we can all agree that FCP X proved that power trumps 'sexy' every time)
The third big card Avid had to play was that MC6 will now 'play nice' with 3rd party hardware. Which Apple and Adobe have been doing for . . . well, you get the idea. 3D editing and Surround-Sound mixing? Has anyone been paying attention to Sony Vegas at all in the last 2-3 years???
Unfortunately, there' absolutely nothing new or revolutionary about the sofrware. At all. This is a straight-up, catch-up, me-too release. There is nothing whatsover to excite people (like me), who have previously checked out Media Composer and passed.
And the worst part: Avid wants you to fork over $2,500(!!!) for the privilege of owning MC6. Are they out of their minds?
Consider their chief rivals for a moment -
Final Cut Pro X: Apple's newest editor might be gimped, but they throw in Compressor and Motion for $500 total.
Premiere Pro: Adobe will sell you the ENTIRE Production Premium (including Premiere, After Effects, Photoshop, Encore, Audition, Illustrator, and Flash) for $1,700. That's $800 less for seven times as much functionality.
Again, Avid is out of their minds.
So why do they think they can pull something like this. The answer is simple. At the moment Avid's deeply entrenched in the Hollywood infrastructure. Understand, until Final Cut Pro came along Avid used to charge $80,000 for this software. It is still an absolute industry standard. But after today's announcement you have to wonder for how long.
Things are changing. Don't believe me? Just look at what's happened to Kodak in the last year. Look at how quickly disruptive technology like the Canon 5d Mark II upset everything. Avid had better wake up, and soon. (Adobe has got to be thinking that 2011 is going to be the best year of their collective lives)
Which is why Avid made their announcement today. Avid wasn't ready for the Final Cut Pro X debacle; they were complacent, thinking the had a pretty good bead on the market situation. Then Apple take a flying leap of the high dive (or Sears Tower, depending on who you believe), and Adobe pounces all over it. Suddenly the ground is shifting, and Avid finds itself in danger of becoming an also-ran to Adobe moving into the future.
So they try to do damage control, in a hurry. They throw together a press conference last spring to show editors that, yes, the do have something up their sleeves. They can't promise anything for sure, but it will be better, definitely.
Fast forward to today. Avid announces their new software featuring no groundbreaking features, without so much a release date for the software. Again you ask - are they out of their minds?
You may not be able to tell, but I'm actually rooting for Avid to get it's crap in gear. Competition is good for the industry, and if Avid ceases to exist in the next five years there aren't going to be too many companies left to keep Adobe honest and on its toes. But honestly, MC6 is not a step in the right direction.
What do you think? Leave a Comment below and let's kick it around...