Avid Media Composer version 6 is one of the most significant major releases we’ve seen in the Media Composer family in years. This is the 6th software release in the last three years and shows that Avid is aggressively asserting Symphony, Media Composer and NewsCutter as the top choices for professional editors in the changing media market.
The Media Composer family has been completely rewritten to take advantage of 64 bit OSX Lion and Windows 7 operating systems. What this means to the end user is better RAM management which in turn delivers greater speed and stability in memory demanding high definition and stereoscopic projects.
The software is available for download on November 15 from Avid Store and turnkey systems are shipping on November 17, 2011. The pricing structure is flexible in the number of available options.
Pricing and Third Party Hardware Support
Avid has indefinitely extended the Final Cut Pro to Media Composer crossgrade for $1,499 (all prices quoted in USD). Standalone Media Composer 6 software only is priced at $2,499. Add in Mojo DX I/O box for $4,499 total or hardware accelerated Nitris DX box for the total of $6,999.
The top of the line turnkey Symphony system includes the optional stereoscopic 3D I/O card, Nitris DX and Avid Artist color surface for $21,999. Contact your local Avid dealer for the full list of options and prices.
Although the legacy Mojo SDI and Nitris hardware are no longer supported, Media Composer v6 is not exclusively tied to Avid brand hardware.
In version 5 we’ve seen support for Matrox display hardware. The lineup of third party supported I/O products now also include AJA, BlackMagic, BlueFish 4:4:4 and Motu. This is a valuable option to companies with existing I/O hardware from workstations that are being converted from Final Cut Pro over to Media Composer. It’s important to note that unlike Nitris DX the third party hardware does not offer any acceleration and only facilitates video input and output.
Revamped User Interface
Media Composer 6 had a significant UI makeover. Editors with years of experience on Avid don’t need to worry though. While the new UI takes cues from similar products like Premiere Pro, the dark gray layout and the style closely resemble the traditional, clean Avid look.
Avid Artist Color Control Surface
After initially being compatible with non-Avid applications only, the optional Artist color surface turns Symphony into a formidable color corrector. The color correctors within Media Composer and Symphony are the same as in the previous version, but the tactile surface now allows colorists to work faster than before.
The version 5 enabled Media Composer family to work in 4:4:4 sampling but only at the expense of full uncompressed storage bandwidth. The DNxHD codec can now encode 4:4:4 video and achieve high color precision at much lower bitrate which translates in lower storage costs.
AMA has been able to play back ProRes video in real time on previous versions of Media Composer. It is now possible to encode the popular ProRes codec, but only on OSX Lion based platforms.
Stereoscopic 3D Enhancements
The optional stereoscopic I/O board for Nitris DX enables full resolution tape capture and output of simultaneous L and R eyes. The new stereoscopic tools don’t stop there. Even without any hardware, the version 6 has an all new set of tools for fixing of stereoscopic asymmetries, and a brand new way of working in stereoscopic projects.
This module allows editors to browse for content, plugins and other tools from within Media Composer. This type of tool is not new. Other products include simple web browsers, but Avid takes the concept one step further. Editors can search stock shot libraries (currently only Thought Equity) and use AMA to seamlessly link to lores stock shots without ever leaving Media Composer. This is a small but significant step towards cloud based editorial.
AMA Plugin Additions
AVCHD codec and RED Epic are both supported via AMA in Media Composer 6 for real time playback without transcoding.
Things to Watch For
Better safe than sorry. Before you upgrade there are several things to consider:
- Boris Continuum Complete plugins are no longer included with Media Composer, but they are part of the Symphony package.
- Some older models of Intel Macs don’t boot into 64 bit kernel and are not supported.
- Full resolution stereoscopic editing requires 12GB of RAM.
- Nitris and Mojo SDI are no longer supported.