Media Composer 6

One of the most persuasive product upgrades in Avid’s history happened today at noon ET, when a new family of Media Composer products was released. (That makes it a day behind schedule by our reckoning, but nobody’s perfect.) If you missed the news earlier this month, you can see our full coverage at the main StudioDaily site, or you can read on for a quick round-up of the most-anticipated features in the new software. Or, heck, you can hit this link to download the trial version of MC6:

Here’s what MC6 brings to the editing room:

Native support for AVCHD and RED Epic

Media Composer expands AMA support to handle bleeding-edge RED Epic files as well as the highly compressed AVCHD footage output by many consumer and “prosumer” cameras.

ProRes import and export

It’s limited to the Mac platform, but OS X users now have a way to fit Media Composer
into existing Final Cut Pro workflows. Avid and Adobe have both been pushing hard to get Final Cut users to “crossgrade,” so this is a key usability upgrade for the Avid.

A new interface, but not too new

Avid has toned up the interface, but company officials are stressing that this is a facelift, not an overhaul of the Avid editing process. Media Composer is still Media Composer, but with new stuff.

Dramatically improved third-party workflow options

For years Avid has paid lip-service to the idea of open standards in the editing room, but in reality editors have complained bitterly about the mostly closed universe Media Composer operated in. No more. Starting with this release, the Avid Open I/O initiative pays dividends with support for hardware from Blackmagic Design, AJA, MOTU, and Bluefish444 in addition to Matrox. And Avid will provide an open SDK for anyone who wants to hook their own tools into it.

64-bit code

In the long run, this may be the most significant news. With a complete rewrite of its code base, Avid freshens up the under-the-hood technology and puts the foundation in place for new features making more efficient use of 64-bit operating systems. It’ll be interesting to hear what kind of performance advantages editors see in the real world.

And third-party vendors are getting up to speed quickly. Digital Film Tools announced that all of its plug-ins (Composite Suite Pro, Photocopy, Rays, and zMatte) have been upgraded to 64-bit versions. Founder and President Marco Paolini called the 64-bit upgrades “a no-brainer” for DFT. If you own those DFT products, you can upgrade them here:

Update 11/17/11: The popular RE:Vision Effects Twixtor 5 plug-in, which uses frame interpolation to simulate super-slow-motion shots, is out in 32-bit and 64-bit versions for Media Composer, Symphony, and NewsCutter. It’s $329.95 new, or $82.49 for the upgrade. Here’s the press release with more details.

Update 11/18/11: Tiffen’s Dfx v3 digital filter suite has now been upgraded to support 64-bit Media Composer 6. One $599.95 license lets you run it in Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro 6 and 7 as well as Avid as long as they’re all installed on the same machine.