Avid intros 64-bit version of Media Composer
By Randi Altman
November 3, 2011

Avid intros 64-bit version of Media Composer

BURLINGTON, MA — Since Apple introduced FCP X and followed up with 10.1, many who didn’t jump to Adobe’s Premiere Pro have been eagerly awaiting the next iteration of Avid Media Composer. Well wait no more. It’s here, it’s 64-bit, offers a familiar but rejuvenated UI and it will work with all the Media Composer projects you have ever created.

There are also updated stereo tools, two more formats supported by AMA, and more openness thanks to a new SDK. There is also a software version of Symphony and lower pricing.

On a recent conference call, Avid’s Angus Mackay ran us through the newest features. The product is available for purchase on November 15.

Version 6 is actually the sixth release of Media Composer in three years, points out Mackay, adding that this update is a complete rebuild from the app’s core, designed with openness in mind and with huge increases in productivity thanks to its 64-bit design. Some advantages of this include access to greater amounts of RAM and improved performance, playback, and responsiveness, as well as increases in the speed in which users can play numerous formats.

Mackay acknowledges that the porting the product over to 64-bit was a huge undertaking, but says the architecture itself doesn’t dictate what you present to customers or what your UI is. “We did it while preserving all the muscle memory and our customer’s investment in training.”

The updated user interface was designed to modernize it, taking advantage of contemporary best practices while still respecting existing users. “They can preserve all of their work,” says Mackay (pictured).  “We’ve moved toward a tab interface, cleaned up the clutter, but still existing users will feel comfortable and familiar with the updates.”

Editors working in stereo have specific challenges, including management of additional metadata and the doubling of media. “Being able to have an editing syntax that makes sense and having right kind of technical and creative tools is very important to them,” he says. “The industry’s redefining stereo editorial on our solution,” boasts Mackay, reporting that there are users in the field who are actively post producing stereo content with the tool, which comes standard in every Media Composer.

There is a full stereo metadata understanding in Media Composer 6 that allows you to group and match left eye and right eye, and allows editors to work single eye or double eye on one project. “The timeline and effects and bins are the same, and there is also the ability to do convergence and color and temporal adjustments, as well as a 3D titling tool.” He emphasizes that in addition to the ability for creative editing for a stereo film or program, if you are working at HD resolution you can also finish it in Media Composer, package up an AAF and send it off to visual effects, etc.

The stereo tools are built into every version of Media Composer; it’s standard. “We want to give our customers the ability to always say ‘yes.’”


Media Composer has opened up over the past few years, working with Matrox and AJA devices, and now they’ve taken that a step further, offering a new SDK that allows partners to write I/O support tools for the system.

Mackay reports that five companies have already signed up: AJA, Blackmagic Design, Bluefish, MOTU and Matrox. “We will now have what our users have been asking for: support for Decklink and the Kona card and more.”

There are two new formats supported by Avid’s AMA — AVCHD and Red Epic —which allow for editing of files natively within the timeline. Support for a 444 version of DNxHD provides extra color detail for keying and color correction.

Avid Marketplace is now part of V.6 and it’s built into all of the company’s editing tools, including the new version of NewsCutter. “When you need software plug-ins or stock footage you can now browse the Marketplace and acquire them directly within Media Composer, so it doesn’t break the artist’s creative flow,” says Mackay.

On the stock footage front they have partnered with Thought Equity Motion, allowing users to browse their library and download directly into bins and timelines. When the edit is down, users can then download a high-res version of the clip.

In terms of audio updates, you can now edit and mix 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound directly within the Media Composer video editing application.

As they did with Media Composer a few years ago, Avid is now offering Symphony as software-only solution. There is also a lower price for Nitris DX, which is now available for sale as a standalone item. Who are they targeting with this? Anyone who wants to use its advanced color correction tools on-set.

Mackay points out that Media Composer software users can now add Avid Nitris DX to their system, including a choice of two encoding modules – DNXHD and AVC Intra — for full frame, full res capture monitoring and output.

Avid has added support for its Artist Series, including its Avid Artist Color Panel, which was formerly a Euphonix device. Users now have the ability to control multiple parameters separately, and in Symphony can control the advanced secondary color capabilities.

The Artist Series can be used with other software as well.  “We want to play nice with others and have our products fit into pipelines,” says Mackay.

Media Composer 6 starts at $2,499. Upgrade pricing starts at $299. Pricing for the software-only version of Symphony 6 starts at $5,999. Upgrade pricing starts at $499. Nitris DX starts at $5,499. Media Composer Academic 6 starts at $295 for educational institutions and students.

Also, Final Cut Pro (excluding Final Cut Pro X) users can purchase Media Composer with free online training to help them move from Final Cut Pro to Media Composer, for $1,499.