Cuts Price to $999, Makes AMA Media Perform Like Native Media

Avid announced Media Composer 7 at its pre-NAB press event this afternoon, dropping the price to $999 and dramatically simplifying the process for working with files using the AMA media architecture.

Specifically, Avid said, editors will no longer be exposed to the technical aspects of working with AMA media. Instead, file formats that are read via AMA will now behave more like native Avid media.

"We've married native media file management with AMA," Avid Senior VP of Products and Services Chris Gahagan told StudioDaily after the announcement. (He cautioned that the technical specifics aren't quite so simple, but said that is the gist.) AMA media is now managed without any transcoding or rewrapping. As a bonus, while AMA was formerly a read-only architecture, now it's read and write, meaning you can write out to the same formats that you ingest.

The idea, Gahagan said, is to hide technology from creative users so they can become more efficient as artists. One of the effects is that media-management tasks that formerly required that an editing suite be tied up can now run in the background, as Media Composer automatically processes files while the editor continues to work. And if you choose to use a proxy editing format because, for example, the original codec is too computationally intensive for your computer hardware, the full range of Avid tools are available for working with the media, which can be dynamically relnked.

Another new feature in Media Composer 7 is FrameFlex, which allows editors working in 2K, 4K or 5K to easily reframe or pan-and-scan the footage to HD resolution. A new Master Audio Fader offers new audio level controls, including support for plug-ins for compression, equalization, and metering for compliance with new broadcast standards. The Clip Gain tool allows gain to be adjusted on a clip-by-clip basis.

If you're feeling a little more spendy, there is a $1499 option that adds color-correction tools from Avid Symphony to Media Composer. Meanwhile, the $1499 "Interplay Edition" of Media Composer gives editors the ability to connect their systems to Avid Interplay for collaboration in the Interplay Production environment. Media Composer 7 is slated to ship in June.

Avid Interplay

Interplay got a big update today, too, with Avid bringing the Interplay Production system to version 3.0. It has a new 64-bit engine that allows it to support up to 10 million assets at once, a fully browser-based UI, multi-cam project support, AMA support, and a new messaging system for Media Composer editors.

The pricing is new, too, with Avid offering "solution packages" starting in June geared toward small post and broadcast facilities and workgroups. Five Interplay Production suites with a 16 TB ISIS 5000 system and three Media Composer seats is $49,900. A package supporting 10 seats of Interplay Production, Interplay Sphere (now with Mac support), a 32 TB ISIS 5000, four Media Composers seats and one Symphony seat, is $89,900.

Pro Tools 11

The liveliest part of the presentation was arguably the video promo for Pro Tools 11, which purported to show pro audio users reacting in unscripted, enthusiastic form to some of the new features. (It was like watching a whole bunch of audio geeks winning brand new cars on The Price is Right.) They were reacting to the first major platform change Pro Tools has seen since 2002.

Pro Tools 11 is built on a new, much faster audio engine with 64-bit architecture. The performance gains are so great, Avid said, that final mixes can be delivered at up to 150x real time. A new input buffer supports low-latency record monitoring without plug-in performance taking a hit, and processing resources are dynamically reallocated to different plug-ins as needed. And the Avid Video Engine from Media Composer is built in for timeline playback of HD formats without transcoding.

Pro Tools 11 is priced at $699, with upgrades available from $299. It is scheduled to be available in May.

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