Avid chose Bellagio in Las Vegas USA to host the inaugural event of their Avid Customer Association – “Avid Connect 2014”. So I am here in Las Vegas to attend this year’s NAB show and, over the last few days, attend Avid’s Connect 2014 event.
Whatever your feelings about Las Vegas, if you have visited the city before I am sure that you would agree that you just can’t help but feel in awe of the whole spectacle of the city especially at night.
Bellagio is no exception and it is remarkable how no expense has been spared in creating this fantastic place (to call it simply a hotel would certainly be doing it a disservice!).
From the fountains in front of the building, the remarkable displays and installations inside (such as the Fiori di Como chandelier in the lobby reception area) and spectacular internal architecture, the Bellagio sets the scene with fanfare for what I believe is a refreshing and welcome new approach for Avid.
The day started after breakfast with Luis Hernandez Jr, the President and CEO of Avid giving a compelling, articulate and lucid explanation of the reasons why Avid wants to re-engage with its customers and partners. His interest in technology and its use to connect people was passionately voiced and he seemed genuinely grateful that so many people from all sorts of different backgrounds had made a point of attending. He emphasized the important role that many of Avid’s customers played in the media industry and re-iterated Avid’s invitation to everyone present to collaborate in Avid’s future through the Avid Customer Association (ACA), and indeed jointly in the future direction of the Media Industry.
To demonstrate support for the vision of the association, media industry leaders from a variety of high profile organisations such as ITV, Al Jazeera, ZDF, CBC, CBS, Universal Music Group, and Berklee College were invited to join Mr Hernandez on stage. More revealing however is the list of participants in the ACA meetings held on Friday. All walks of media production were represented in a variety of sessions, from Avid resellers to training instructors, Composers to CTOs, Editors to Engineers, News, Film, Music, well the list reads like a “Who is who” of the industry. It is very safe to say that those persons and organisations who are passionate about the future of the media industry and in Avid, certainly have a very healthy and strong voice with which to express their desires in the Avid Customer Association.
Mr Hernandez went on to reveal “Avid Everywhere” – a new application layer type integration approach across the spectrum of the Avid product line up. This exiting new approach not only delivers a whole new level of integration inside Avid products, it also opens up each product to an unprecedented level of access to third party organisations to collaborate with Avid products. Since third parties will have much greater access to the “Special Sauce” APIs (Application Programming Interface) that Avid used to hold close to their chest, a much greater level of integration with Avid products should be possible from here. It was emphasized in fact that third parties will be using the exact same APIs that Avid uses to develop its own products and a greater level of support and testing is promised to ensure that the software created by third parties is effectively qualified for use within Avid related workflows by Avid!
Avid Everywhere as a vision to allow users separated geographically to collaborate and contribute to workflows with a greater level of ease and convenience was demonstrated at a variety of levels in both music and video production. Remarkably many of the features discussed have already been merged into products either released now or about to be released over the next 30 days – clearly Avid development teams have been hard at work these last few months! Even this release program is something of a welcome departure from previous release schedules, where Avid would announce new product features at NAB, but the often protracted wait for the actual release was something of a let down for prospective customers.
Mr Hernandez wrapped up his session with a sincere and personal summation of his desire to connect Avid customers and their users. We were then invited to attend a presentation by Frost & Sullivan on increasing the return on investment in media usage as well as a number of specific sessions to reveal more detail on Avid’s new releases.
I attended the “Video Everywhere” track in which Avid Product Managers provided more detail of and explanation for the new features, products and approaches. I was particularly interested to hear that Avid is releasing a new License model for its products so that while users can continue to use existing license types, it will be possible to use a subscription type license or a floating type license to enable users make up for any short term increase in product need – something I am sure will be welcomed by many Avid based production facilities. I was also intrigued by Avid’s “Media | Director” product – a new tool designed to handle the ingest of file based material into the storage and Asset Management aspects of the production workflow.
Also discussed was Avid’s approach to newly emerging standards for larger than HD raster sizes such as 4K. In addition to discussion of existing features such as AMA and Dynamic Media Folders, it was suggested that attendees listen out for announcements at the NAB show for features in Avid ISIS (support for 4K data rate streams?) and Media Composer (additions to the Avid codec family for larger than HD raster sizes?) that would make these workflows possible. I suspect however that we may have to wait a year for 4 K for example to become more widely adopted before we will see features such as resolution independence part of the Media Composer feature set.
The day was rounded by attending the Gala Event where Nile Rodgers and his band CHIC gave a really enjoyable and energetic show of some of the many hits written and produced over a long and productive career working with artists such as Dianna Ross, David Bowie and of course recently Daft Punk. Many attendees let their hair down and enjoyed a good groove to a very tight set and it was great to hear and experience such excellent musicianship from all of the band members and the fantastic vocalists.
For me, one of the many pleasures in attending this event was meeting friends who I had not seen in some cases for many years. It was also an opportunity to meet folks who I have corresponded with over the years through Avid Communities such as the ACSR list but not actually met in person. And of course it was a chance to forge new connections with like minded folks.
As a result of this event, I feel a new sense of optimism for Avid and I am looking forward to learning more about the features and products discussed at this event at the NAB 2014 show over the next four days. I hope to share my observations on these in some further articles as time allows.