Avid announced Media Composer version 6 last week, a major software release for the company. Coming a little over 6 months after the release of Media Composer 5.5 it has a host of new features. The major ones are listed below:
Further User Interface Tweaks
Continuing on from the minor user interface tweaks in previous versions, Avid have changed the default colour scheme radically and have made all the UI elements a bit squarer and sharper. We particularly like the new tabbed bins which allows the user to dock multiple bins into a single tabbed window. This also works with some of the Tools which can be docked together i.e. you can dock the effect editor into the project window. Also of note is that AMA clips displayed in bins do not appear with a yellow colour any more but have a new icon.
A tabbed bin with AMA linked media
64 bit OS support only
Now that Media Composer and Symphony are pure 64 bit applications it means no more 32 bit OS support and the only supported OS’s are now Windows 7 64 bit and Mac OS X Lion. There have also been a number of system written off the supported CPU lists with the most important omission being the HP xw8400. The good news is that this paves the way for better performance and future development enhancements. We would strongly recommend reading the updated qualified systems list.
Avid Open IO
Building on foundations laid in Media Composer 5.5, Avid have opened up a new plug-in architecture to allow 3rd party video i/o hardware vendors to function with Avid Media Composer and Symphony. The majority of the AJA Kona family of products are supported as well Blackmagic, Matrox, Bluefish 444 and MOTU. Listed below are the Avid Open IO and individual manufacturers FAQs
There are a number of new AMA plug-in additions and enhancements. First and foremost is an AVCHD plug-in which has long been on production companies wish list. Also the Red plug-in has been enhanced with addition support for Red Epic cameras and a new simple colour balancing option called ‘White Balance’, simply use the colour picker and select a know white area in picture and Media Composer will automatically adjust the light balance creating a good place to start grading the rest of the shot.
UNC paths are now supported for AMA media and interestingly this also works cross platform so you can take a bin for a Windows Media Composer to a Mac and as long as the media is stored in the same location on the network it will link. The Media Composer application translates the UNC paths from a Windows friendly path to a Mac friendly path and visa versa.
As with Media Composer version 5.5 AMA plug-ins now need to be downloaded separately to the application.
OP1a Export Option
Now you can export XDCAM OP1a up to 50 Mbit from Media Composer, especially useful in a MAM environment and introduces endless workflow possibilities. See David Skeggs’ previous post for more details.
Interesting new avenue for Avid. Now you can purchase plug-ins and stock footage directly in the Media Composer application. Stock Footage is supplied through a partnership with Thought Equity who have the rights to footage from BBC Motion Gallery, National Geographic, NHK, The New York Times and Sony Pictures amongst many others. You pay for used footage on a frame by frame basis which downloads directly to your project bin. Its all in the cloud baby!
Avid Symphony Software Only
Symphony is now available as a software only package and this package will also support the Avid Open IO architecture. A price for the software only option has not been announced as of yet. Which brings us onto…
Avid Artist EU Control support
A feature that a lot of finishing editors have been asking for for a long time is a control surface that can be used with the Symphony Colour Corrector and its finally here via the Avid Artist Colour series. There is also supports Media Composer colour correction as well as the other artist control panels.
XML User Settings
User settings are no longer in a .avs setting but are now stored in an .xml file. These .xml files will enable movement between Media Composer software version going forward.
DNxHD444 Codec support
Avid now offers a new full colour space compressed 444 codec. Dual link capture can be achieved only through the Avid Nitris DX interface. Arri also announced this week that there Alexa series of cameras will be able to record directly to the full spectrum of DNX codecs.
Apple ProRes Support
On Mac you can now encode and decode to Apples ProRes codec which means you can now capture directly to ProRes from the capture tool. All of the ProRes codec variants are supported from ProRes Proxy to ProRes 4444. Avid wraps the Quicktime ProRes into an Avid MXF OP-atom file and drops it into the Avid MediaFiles folder as per a normal Avid media file. Again this brings in many workflow possibilities especially in a mixed FCP / Avid based house. Unfortunately this encode functionality is only available on the Mac platform at present, Window based systems can only playback/decode ProRes.
Other features and gotcha’s
- Title tool now opens as a separate application with a few minor enhancements.
- New licensing enhancements making it easier to license offline.
- Further 3D Stereoscopic workflow features and options
- 5.1 and 7.1 Multichannel support (Import / Capture / Output), audio monitoring is through an HDMI port. Realtime fades, clip gain automation and multi channel exports are also supported going to Protools v10
- ‘Locators’ are now referred to as ‘Markers’ to bring it into line with the Protools family.
- Ethernet attached Unity Medianet clients are no longer supported.
- Boris Continuum no longer ships with Media Composer upgrades or new licenses, it ships as standard with Symphony on Mac and Windows
- AVX 1 and 1.5 plugins are no longer supported. The previous version of Boris shipped with Media Composer 5.5 is only AVX 1.5 compliant.
Below are list of links for Media Composer version 6 release notes, what’s new guides, licensing FAQ, configuration guidelines and qualified systems.