Native High-Res Editing Will Be Enabled in Media Composer Later This Year

Avid is finally adding native support for higher-than-HD resolutions to the Media Composer workflow, with the new DNxHR codec helping users manage their bandwidth by making it easy to switch between high-resolution footage and proxy files.

The company said the new capabilities usher in an architecture called Avid Resolution Independence. Though it won't be possible to work in higher-than-4K resolution at first, those capabilities are coming soon. "The new architecture allows you to scale fluidly with any resolution, proxy to native," Avid CEO Louis Hernandez Jr. said during a stage presentation at Avid Connect Europe 2014, held on the eve of IBC in Amsterdam last week. "Work with 4K today, 8K tomorrow and — who knows? — even 64K [or] 128K in the future. There are no architectural limits."

The first stage of Resolution Independence comes later this year, when a new version of Media Composer offers a variety of new 2K, 4K, and UHD project types at up to 60fps, the company said. (See chart, below.) The timeline can be switched to a proxy mode at 1/4 or 1/16 resolution, improving performance during the creative edit. To return to full resolution, the editor turns the proxy timeline off and re-renders any applied effects at full resolution. Frame rates can be matched to projects, so the footage plays at normal speed on the timeline, or kept at their camera original so that, for instance, 60p footage will play in slow motion. 

High-resolution editing leverages the DNxHR codec, which comes in five different flavors: DNxHR LB, DNxHR SQ, DNxHR HQ, DNxHR HQX (10-bit) and DNxHR 444. (Avid's David Colantuoni, posting to the Avid-L2 mailing list, said a 12-bit variant is on the horizon.) HD-resolution media will continue to use the existing DNxHD codec.

New Avid Media Composer Project Types

Rasters Frame Rates Bit Depths Color Spaces
1998×1080 (1.85)
2048×858 (2.39)
3996×2160 (1.85)
4096×1716 (2.39)
23.98, 24, 25
29.97, 30, 47.95
48, 50, 59.94
or 60
BT 2020

 Source: Avid Blogs

Media can be monitored at full resolution using Avid's Open I/O support for third-party hardware or downscaled for HD monitoring, and high-res DPX export will be enabled through Avid's AMA architecture.

Other new features to be included in a future version of Media Composer include background rendering, GPU acceleration for Mac platforms, and the ability to export applied masks, Avid said. The company said Media Composer with native 4K editing will be released during the fourth quarter. 

An annual subscription to Media Composer is $49.99/month ($600/year) with standard support (and upgrades) included. Perpetual licenses start at $1299, plus $299/year after the first year for an Avid Support plan to keep it up to date (the support plan is included in the first year of a perpetual license).