The new Media Composer at Key Code Media

Great event at Key Code Media Burbank last night. Avid gave a 30 minute presentation of the new Media Composer interface, Tridib Chakravarty of StorageDNA gave a (too brief) presentation on the different Nexis cloud storage options, and there was a brief panel about the ‘reality’ of reality television post production. You can watch a stream of the event with my thoughts below:

I’m excited to work with the new Media Composer interface. Full stop.

…but I firmly believe that Avid needs to open up the “.avb” Bin file format. The future of the NLE is extensibility. One look at Premiere’s integration with Frame.io or Transcriptive is enough to show you how far behind Avid Media Composer is. This gap is only going to accelerate as the practical application of AI/ML increases.

Even if Avid Technology opens Media Composer up, it could already be too little, too late. The editor who only edits is becoming rarer and rarer these days. The new generation of editors are fluent in the peripheral tools like Photoshop and After Effects. Adobe clearly has the advantage here with their Creative Cloud offering. Premiere is the Final Cut Pro 8 we wanted but never got. The financial equation is very much Adobe + Avid. So what is Avid really bringing to the table?

The storageDNA presentation was much too short, but clearly described the differences between all of Avid’s Nexis cloud offerings. Avid really needs to make this stuff clearer if they want to help migrate our workflows into the cloud.

Finally, the panel discussion evoked the following thought: scripted production is the triumph of production management, reality production is the triumph of post production management.

NAB 2019 Wrap up

Oliver Peters wrote the NAB wrap up I wanted to write. I completely agree with his assessment of this year’s show overall:

This year the NAB Show seemed to emphasize its roots – the “B” in National Association of Broadcasters. Gone or barely visible were the fads of past years, such as stereoscopic 3D, 360-degree video, virtual/augmented reality, drones, etc. Not that these are gone – merely that they have refocused on the smaller segment of marketshare that reflects reality. There’s not much point in promoting stereo 3D at NAB if most of the industry goes ‘meh’.

Like Peters, I was also very impressed with Cinamaker and hope to use their product for one of my upcoming presentations. I think they need to offer a turnkey kit that includes everything (tripods, cables, travel case, etc) to further simplify the process. But they were definitely one of my favorite booths this year.

I was also impressed by how far all of the cloud service providers have come. Make no mistake, the future of collaboration is going to be software run in the cloud. I think the biggest short coming is that these services don’t know how to speak to Producers. It’s great that Sony Animations is partnering with Google Cloud Platform, but as an independent producer I’m used to working with a post house and saying, “I need five edit bays for six weeks.” None of the cloud providers I spoke with understood that … by a mile. I think the next step for these companies is going to be some User Research into this area.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • The Birds of a Feather ACES 2.0 event was aces all around.
  • My thoughts about Avid’s huge changes to Media Composer remain the same since my “Opening Salvo” live post.
  • Resolve 16 looks sweet but that keyboard…

Opening Salvo (Updated)

Bravo Avid! You really made a bold statement on Saturday, announcing the next version of #Mediacomposer featuring a major UI overhaul just two days before Blackmagic Design will unveil Resolve 16. The last time the “NLE Wars” ran so hot Apple had the largest booth at NAB.

The infrastructure changes to Nexis are also big, (I mean, cloudspaces!!!) but beyond the scope of this particular post. Right now we are going to focus on why the UI overhaul is so revolutionary.

A curmudgeon’s meme.

Avid Editors will swap tales about which version of Media Composer was the most stable. ˆMeridien vs. Post-Meridien; the fabled 4.6.2 that never crashed … with SD; and 8.9.4 was pretty good until 2018. when Avid tried to be all like Adobe.

Part of Media Composer’s speed and stability is the enduring nature of it’s interface. Avid has changed MC multiple times in the past: Think AMA, and the dynamic timeline. But since the interface remains consistent an Editor’s valuable muscle memory doesn’t need to be retrained. An experience Editor and MC is a form of an existing BMI between man and machine.

Changing the interface could effect muscle memory, which in the Avid world could cause riots. Therefore every change needs to carefully weigh the costs and benefits. So this is a big gamble for Avid.

The advantage of taking this risk is that Avid is looking to tackle the widespread problem of non-editor usability. Avid isn’t Discoverable and it’s interface is very dated in the age of the single screen workstations (iMac, laptop, story producer screening station), iOS-era interactions, and the continued drift away from Log and Capture metaphors. Avid is gambling that making custom interfaces depending on “role” and with tailored toolsets is the way to go. Agitating a few to the benefit of the many.

From the website MC will support Resolve-style roles: Edit, Color, Finish, etc. But Avid is also introducing roles like Producer, Assistant, Logger. These interfaces will put the tools these roles needs front and center while hiding the more esoteric buttons. This would enable larger teams to collaborate more efficiently and within the Avid (Microsoft) eco-system.

Last year you would have barely realize that Media Composer as a product of Avid Technologies. I bet that’s going to very different this.

There is is. Media Composer does Premiere meets Resolve

Update: Just had a hands on demo with 2019.5 and the new interface is a big deal. I think Bin management is going to require a rethink of an AE’s/Editor’s habits. The demo is running on a MacBook Pro, Avid is definitely trying to show off interface efficiency.

Update: Media Composer is just a small slice of Avid’s booth.

Pre-NAB 2019

Another year, another NAB Show to look forward to. If you’ve never been, NAB is the show to gain hands-on knowledge of the newest tools available to our industry. In no particular order, here are some of the things I’ll be looking out for this April:

NAB Throwback. Do you see it? 🙂

Canon: The C300 is the new unscripted workhorse camera. So I was intrigued by last year’s introduction of the C200, especially by the metadata friendly, easy to use Canon RAW Light recording format. Unfortunately, Canon limited the C200’s usefulness in multi-camera productions. So I’m curious to see if Canon will introduce its RAW format to the C300 or release a C300 Mark III. Side note:I’m also interested in learning what 3rd party lens manufacturers for the EF mount. 

Here’s hoping Canon will add TC I/O.

ACES & Color Managed Pipelines: have you read the Netflix primer on Color Managed Pipelines? It’s a good read. This year at NAB I’m curious to see how the maker’s of Color Correction software like Digital Vision’s Nucoda are educating their users about these ideas that I’m confident will go industrywide.

Get ready for CDL to be part of your acronym vocabulary.

Avid: if you visited Avid’s booth in the last two years you wouldn’t know that they are the makers of Media Composer. So I’m curious to see whether 2019 will be any different. I’m also excited to see how Avid’s partnership with Microsoft Azure has developed; in particular if the cognitive services have been integrated into Media Central in a meaningful way.

Reminds me of an old joke…

Media Asset Managers: Speaking of cognitive services… I’m still on the look out for cloud based MAM that seamlessly connects to Google Cloud Video Intelligence or Microsoft Azure Vision. I was recently given access to a fully functional version of Cantemo’s Iconik.

When the A.I. does the tagging it will be perfectly consistent, right?

Social: Each year I tell myself that I’m going to be more social and attend some meet-ups. Instead I use the time to catch up with old friends and talk shop. This year I plan on going to the Blue Collar Post Collective’s NAB meet-up, and we’ll see if I make it 🙂

Avid Interview with A.E. Ryan Axe

Avid has posted an excellent interview with Assistant Editor Ryan Axe. A few miscellaneous thoughts:

  • Axe’s advice about networking and resuming writing in part 5 is solid. If you’re looking for work I’d highly recommend that you pay particular attention to what he says about timing.
  • For all of my enthusiasm about artificial intelligence in the edit suite, Axe’s interview is a sobering reminder that we have a long way to go. Just read his detailed description of his organizational tasks:

If there’s dialogue for a scene we’d make a “line string”, where we take each individual line of dialogue from every take and cut them back to back in a sequence. This allows the editor and director to quickly review alternates for each line with uninterrupted playback, rather than scrolling through all the takes manually.

We’d add a marker for each line and write out the dialogue in the comments column, and have each setup on a different labelled track in the timeline. Then we can see at a glance what dialogue each setup covers. For example, while looking for a close up for a particular line you can jump straight to the marker for that line, scroll to the close-up, and play the readings back-to-back to find the best one. Think of it like ScriptSync but timeline-based.
  • The “algorithm” is there. You just read it. But the execution is just awfully complex.