Avid’s CEO David Krall recently stepped down and the Avid Technology Inc. board of directors is now searching for his replacement. As an Avid editor for many years I would like to throw my hat into the ring to fill that position. I will be the first to admit that I don’t know a lot about running a publicly traded company. I don’t know what GAAP financial measures are but I do know that shareholders probably don’t like that a “GAAP net loss for the quarter was $6.0 million, or $.15 per share” according to a recent Avid press release. But I do know about editing and quite a bit about Avid’s video editing product lines. I don’t know everything there is to know about Avid’s other holdings like Digidesign, Pinnacle, and Softimage so my first duties as the new CEO will be to revamp the video editing side of things, more specifically the Media Composer brand and the Media Composer offerings. I will try to gather a great support team to help with the other brands and all of those other pesky details running the rest of the company.
Here’s the first 8 things I would do as the new CEO of Avid Technology Inc.:
Brand Everything Media Composer. The Media Composer name in itself is a very strong brand. Though Final Cut Pro has made inroads in the non-linear editing world that early versions of Adobe Premiere and Sony Vegas never seemed to have made, the Avid Media Composer brand is still a strong name that is synonymous with a high-end, high-quality product. Unfortunately it’s also synonymous with high cost and draconian support so my tenure as CEO will fix that. If it’s a video editing product with Avid’s logo on it, it’s going to contain the name Media Composer somehow, someway. Film Composer becomes Media Composer Film. I would have to study the Newscutter product line as I don’t know a lot about it but I can say that from my first press conference it will be re-branded Media Composer News at the very least. And I will probably keep the Avid DS development continuing and move it even more toward the Media Composer interface, eventually melding it into the Symphony Nitris creating the Media Composer Finishing product line.
Kill Xpress Pro and the Liquid family. A low cost version of Media Composer seems like a good idea and it does have good functionality as I’ve used it for many years on many, many jobs. But when you have such a strong brand in the Media Composer I will use it whenever I can, see above. The functionality of Xpress Pro is quite good as there isn’t that much different between it and Media Composer Software, especially for offline editing so it can be confusing to some as to why it is offered at all. Quite simply, a low cost editor must be to offered compete with Final Cut Pro so if I am appointed CEO we kill Xpress Pro, Xpress DV and anything else Xpress and go Media Composer only. While I’m at it I will euthanize the Avid Liquid family. There are some Liquid users out there and maybe more than I think but offering this entirely different product line is down right confusing. Offer current Liquid uses an easy upgrade to Media Composer Software and it’s new suite of supporting apps and it’s gone like the dodo bird.
Cut Media Composer Software price. At $5,000 it’s just too expensive for many independent editors and smaller post houses to afford. And there are too many lower cost application suites available for a fraction of the cost. Media Composer Software is cut to $999 if I am appointed CEO.
Get a full featured application suite on both Mac and PC. We’ve already got the Avid Studio Toolkit and the Avid Liquid family. If I were appointed CEO I would study both of these suites and apps very closely and see what best aligns Avid with the studio offerings from Adobe and Apple. Editing, effects, audio, authoring all in one affordable suite is a product that it seems a post production software company must offer at an affordable price to help it achieve profitability. The Hollywood studios won’t use it, the broadcast networks won’t use it … but thousands and thousands of post houses, independent editors, production companies, schools, universities, churches, corporate communication departments, ad agencies, cable networks, documentary producers, web content producers and the like will. And their money will spend just as well as anyone’s. There is only one suite offered on both Mac and PC, the Adobe bundle, so by offering both in the same box like Media Composer Software we would have a unique product. Price $1,599.
Get some type of mid-range I/O box. Avid Mojo SDI is $2,500. Avid Adrenaline is in and around in the $30 grand range. That’s a $27,500 difference. Quite a big hole. It may be another addition to the DNA family or it may be opening the platform a bit to allow someone like AJA to develop some I/O cards to interface with Media Composer Software but something has to be done to allow for input and output of SD and HD, compressed and uncompressed without the cost of an Adrenaline. There is money in that market. AJA already makes I/O cards that work with the Liquid family so since I will be killing Liquid why not let AJA (who makes great I/O solutions for everyone else) make a line of mid-range cards for Media Composer Software?
Have distinct product paradigms company wide, in software and support. I’m not exactly sure how this would work, I’m a creative editor after all not a business school graduate, but there should be some kind of distinctive “tracts” if you will for the different markets. The Media Composer Software and Media Composer Studio that is geared toward the “lower end” of the market (if I am appointed CEO I would try to erase this “lower end” distinction as the end product might be more lower end than broadcast but the sheer numbers in that market could mean profit) would be marketed and supported by the Media Composer Editing distinction. That’s sales and support in the trade publications, web forums, special telephone support and trade shows targeted to the corporate, worship, education and lower cost type of post. Media Composer Broadcast would step up to the customer geared to broadcast and cable programs, commercials, high-end industrial and things of that type. Productions that see the typical (and more expensive) acquisition>offline>audio mixing>online>color correction type of workflow; all done by dedicated professionals at their own studio using their own tools of choice. Finally there is Media Composer Film. The history of Avid in the feature film editing world is storied and grand. The tools in Film Composer that allow for tracking of keycode and match back capabilities are second to none. The Media Composer Film department would have a renewed vigor when it comes to supporting this market and developing tools just for the feature film and episodic television workflow. Even though the word film is in the the title it would also reach out to the new acquisition tools like RED, Viper, Silicon Imaging and all of the high end digital acquisition tools to be sure that movies shot on these new formats will continue to be cut on an Avid.
3 words: Media Composer Free. Yes Avid has had the Avid Free DV product for a long while (but it is being discontinued) and yes it does allow some of the goodness that is the Avid edit world but to be honest I have never heard of one single person using it. I would make Media Composer Free a basic editor that teaches a few key Avid things: the concept of 3-point editing, how effects and transitions are applied and manipulated (with just a few basic ones available), the glory that is the Avid trim mode, proper match framing and how Avid Segment modes work. If you understand those things you understand Avid and how it differs from other NLEs. Make Media Composer Free only work with firewire and USB connections for editing DV, HDV, AVCHD and the new consumer format of the moment and you have a great low end tool to show the basics of the ease of Avid editing and to bring some new young editors into the fold. All the kids today use Final Cut Pro or Final Cut Express in high school and college so what incentive do they have to learn a new app when FCP works great?
Challenge Final Cut Pro on their own turf. Hire a flock of evangelists to sing the praises of this new Avid to current Final Cut Pro users and offer a competitive cross grade… and maybe a money back guarantee. Show how you can run Avid and Final Cut Pro side-by-side on a dual boot system and offer both to clients and editors. Hook the Avid software into the Mac OS and harness the power of core audio, core animation and core video and make it look like Avid was meant to pounce Final Cut Pro all along.
Now I’m sure I won’t be appointed Avid’s new CEO. Heck, I haven’t even been contacted by any headhunters about interviewing for the position. But as an editor working outside out of the crush of Hollywoodland I can see what people are using, hear what editors are saying, and work on what post houses are buying. If I was appointed Avid’s new CEO I think these changes just might help with market-share and profitability. But what do I know about running apublicly traded company … I’m just an editor.
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