Q&A: AVID COO KIRK ARNOLD
Recently, Kirk Arnold, COO of Avid Technology, spoke with Post about their new Media Composer 5 and the future of the company.
POST: What does Media Composer 5.0 represent to Avid as a company?
KIRK ARNOLD: Over the past few years, Avid has been very focused on listening to our customers, improving the value, quality and performance of our solutions and making those solutions more open and flexible. Media Composer 5 is a great example of how we’ve delivered on all of these promises. We’re revolutionizing workflows by offering customers native support for popular industry formats like Red, QuickTime and Canon XF, and basically removing a number of time-intensive processes that have long been associated with file-based projects. And, with support for low-cost third-party hardware (the Matrox MX02 Mini), Media Composer is now more open than ever. This is just the beginning of what is to come. We are committed to making greater enhancements and further opening up our solutions to make it easier for our customers to work the way they want to work — whether they are independent editors or producers or editors or directors of Hollywood blockbusters. And the future enhancements we’re working continue to be the result of the ongoing dialogue we’re having through our Customer Advisory Boards, our Editors Advisory Committee (comprised of ACE editors,) beta groups and visits to customer sites.
POST: How do you see Media Composer 5 positioned in terms of the future of Avid?
ARNOLD: Media Composer 5 is the result of Avid’s focus on 1) listening to customers, 2) becoming more open, 3) implementing innovation and 4) delivering fluid and dependable workflows.
These are key pillars for us – all of which are critically important to helping our customers be more productive and creative. This isn’t restricted to Media Composer. This is something we are focused on at every level of our customer base. Feedback from our customers has been consistent across the board. Whether we’re talking to consumers, independent artists or executives who lead large-scale enterprise businesses, a few key themes continue to come across: they want technology that will allow them to remove content production boundaries, empower them to be more creative and allow them to work the way they want to work.
POST: What else needs to be done for Avid and Media Composer to recoup the hearts and minds of facilities and buyers in the marketplace you may have lost?
ARNOLD: I’d say we’ve made great inroads with a lot of influential editors and their enthusiasm and understanding of our solutions has helped us increase adoption and awareness among their peers.
For Avid, continuing to have a two-way dialogue with customers is critical. We need to understand their business problems and assure that our solutions help to address them. In addition to editors, we’ve started to talk more frequently to producers and directors to educate them on why Avid solutions are the best for their project. For instance, directors may want to know how AMA (Avid Media Access) allows them to work with the format of their choice and make better creative decisions on set. Producers want to understand how our products are going to give them the biggest return on their investment with no “surprises” along the way in the post production process. We’re more involved with groups like the Producers Guild of America to better understand what goes into their decision making process and how we can become a part of it.
We’ve also done a lot of work with educational institutions to get our products into the hands of future editors, directors and producers. In addition to offering curriculum designed to help teach the students the art of editing, we’ve made it easier for institutions and students to purchase our solutions – with aggressive pricing. Now, students can get Media Composer for $295 with free upgrades for four years – and we need help from people like you, Jon, to help us spread the word! After all, these students are the next-generation of professionals and it’s so important to us that they get a chance to work with great tools like Media Composer now – so that they are prepared for the professional world when they graduate.
We’re also connecting with our customers in a variety of new ways. Avid has a very active online community and we continue to open the dialogue with these folks to create a tight nit community, share domain expertise and educate the masses. Whether it be places like the Avid.com forums or new mediums like Facebook and Twitter, we encourage customers and prospects to come to these places and share their stories, ask questions, create tutorials and participate in various discussions. This allows Avid to have a better understanding of our customers, escalate any common thread issues and better understand product needs and requests. Another benefit is that customers get a chance to meet and interact with their peers to share ideas, best practices and tutorials/tips and tricks that highlight new features and workflows. These things, coupled with a steady flow of written and video testimonials, provide customers with the rich content they need to make better informed creative and business decisions.
POST: What comes next after Media Composer? What is the next big thing?
ARNOLD: Cloud-based editing is certainly becoming more of a reality. We had demonstrations at NAB this year of how we envision it working as a model in the future. The presentations were packed with very interested customers and we had a lot of great questions. While I can’t reveal too much about our product plans in this area yet, I can tell you that we are deeply engaged in a dialogue with customers about the potential this type of cloud-based capability has for the future of our industry.
We are also very focused on what we are calling the Integrated Media Enterprise, or IME. IME is a technology framework, based on SOA Web services, designed to help large enterprise media organizations deal with changing business models for content creation, management, and distribution. IME empowers customers to integrate various technologies and deliver a broad range of business applications that provide them with the flexibility and agility that they need to respond to new demands.
We hear three consistent requests from large media organizations – the need to be agile in responding to new opportunities, the ability to get a clearer picture of how to monetize their assets and the necessity to promote deeper collaboration across every aspect of their business and we believe IME addresses these needs. To date, customer response has been very positive.