The Working Pro

At NAB 2012, I had an opportunity to speak with Avid CEO Gary Greenfield. When Greenfield arrived at Avid in December 2005, he found a mishmash of products like Pinnacle Studio and Softimage|XSI. I was curious to find out what his long-range plans were, particularly with regard to consumer-editing products. "We’re definitely streamlining our business to focus on professional editors doing feature films, episodic television, sports and long-form documentaries," said Greenfield, implying that he might sell the Pinnacle line. In three months, he did just that.

Such a move certainly might have been prompted by Apple’s 2011 release of Final Cut Pro X. With professional editors leaving Apple in droves, Greenfield saw the possibility of wooing thousands of professional FCP editors who were looking for an NLE that would serve their projects better. Such a wooing would require Avid to demonstrate a willingness to make the transition to Media Composer an easy one.

Guillaume Aubuchon, senior post consultant at DigitalFilm Tree, a 60-seat facility currently working on NCIS: Los Angeles, confirmed Greenfield’s strategy. "We started as a Final Cut Pro company, but we’ve transitioned all of our current projects to Avid," he says. "Most of our shows are shooting ARRI ALEXA to ProRes 4444 and then converted to Avid DNx36 for offline editorial, final color in DaVinci Resolve, and finishing in Avid Symphony 6.5 at DNx444. Avid is still the only choice when it comes to the highest level of broadcast and theatrical editorial."

While CPUs took nearly 30 years to become powerful enough to edit multiple layers of HD video, Avid always produced an array of state-of-the-art hardware (Symphony, Meridian, Adrenaline, Mojo DX and Nitris DX) and integrated them with a wider array of third-party hardware to provide as real a real-time editing experience as possible. Their latest version, Media Composer 6.5, on certain host computers, can achieve real-time, uncompressed, multi-track HD video without external devices, although Nitris DX or similar third-party hardware will maximize the software’s performance beyond the limitations of the host computer.


After several weeks testing MC 6.5, sometimes with as many as six highly affected clips playing at once, the software never crashed. An on-screen utility displays red dashes wherever the software notices lost frames in playback. By taking a moment to render these scenes for preview, very smooth playback and a high degree of interactivity are achieved.

Avid engineers take great pains to assure all peripheral devices are compliant with Media Composer. Because the required testing time is always longer than the time between upgrades, it’s important to check the latest online documentation to make sure your host computer is compliant before installation. For instance, Avid specifies NVIDIA driver v.275.89 even though NVIDIA is currently up to v.307.45. The correct supported driver is available in the Utilities folder of the Avid install. For those who need a dedicated video monitor, users will want to install the Avid Nitris or Mojo DX options or a third-party device, such as those from AJA or Matrox.