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Avid Media Composer



Avid Media Composer is the software used to edit 90% of the worlds feature films and TV shows. It is packed with effects and features and is extremely reliable.  It is true to say that you can do more inside of Media Composer than with any other editing package. 

Media Composer has been around for so long that its interface is packed with features - in fact there is so much inside the program that sometimes it actually makes learning the program quite difficult.  Avid have tried and succeeded in making the interface more user friendly over the years, however, if you do switch from a different program there will be a bit of a learning curve.  An experienced Avid editor will simply say you are learning to do things "properly" and once you do know how to operate the program you can make it fly.

Avid Media Composer 8 was released in the middle of 2014.  A major update appeared on the 22nd December which added 4K editing support and a range of new features.  Under either a permanent licence or monthly subscription you will get all updates for Avid that come out during the licence period - see the "Avid licences Explained" tab for more information.



New Avid subscription service/Avid Media Composer 8

Avid Media Composer 8 can be bought as either a permanent licence or as a subscription.  There has been a reasonable amount of confusion over the different options so we aim to clarify this here.  You can always email us @sales@dvc.uk.com for more information or ring 01273 205700 .  

Adobe introduced this service for their Creative Cloud versions of the software in 2013 and now Avid followed suit in may 2014.  Unlike Adobe Avid are still letting you buy a "permanent" licence of the software - where you pay for the whole thing up front and it carries on working for ever (or as long as you have a computer that can run it).  If you want to keep up to date then you pay Avid an upgrade fee at the end of the year, although if you don't have to, and if you don't the software keeps working.  Full details of both packages are available below.

Subscription:

You pay a fee per month and if you stop paying the fee the software no longer works. All upgrades to the software that are released during the subscription are included in the price. You can rent for one month or commit for a year. You have slightly more software included with the subscription option than with the permanent licence. The software licence includes:
Avid Media Composer with Symphony option (superior colour correction to regular Media Composer), NewBlue Titler Pro v2, Sorenson Squeeze Lite & Boris Continuum Complete Lite. This also includes some calls to Avid support.

We do not current have information on what is in these "lite" versions of the software. The subscription costs:

  • 35.75 per month if you commit to a year ($39.99 if you already own MC 6.5 and above) = 429+VAT per year.
  • If you own Media Composer 6.5 or 7 you can get a reduced subscription for the first year of 349+VAT.  In the second year this raises to the normal subscription price.
  • $74.99 for 1 month subscription.  We do not yet have a UK price for the 1 month subscription currently and this may possibly only be available from the Avid website, with the year subscription available from us at DVC.

Permanent licence:

This includes: Avid Media Composer and NewBlue Titler Pro v2. Avid support for 1 year.  Subscribers get V2.5 of Titler Pro plus Boris Continuum Lite - 5 filters from the full BCC package - and the Symphony grading options for Media Composer. Of these the Symphony grading options are by far the most useful. These are available as add-ons for Media Composer perpetual licence.

Prices:

Media Composer perpetual licence: 939+VAT
Symphony option with Boris Continuum Lite : 539+VAT
1 year Avid support contract :
gives you all software updates to a permanent licence for 1 year (see more info below) : 190+VAT
Newscutter option  : 359+VAT
Avid Production Pack
(NewBlue Titler Pro 2, Sorenson Squeeze & IZotope Insight): 429+VAT
Dongle option (use a USB dongle to activate the licence rather than activating over the internet): 360+VAT

The price of 939 also includes all software updates, major or minor, for the first year. In the second year you will have the option of buying a support/upgrade package for Media Composer for 190+VAT. This will entitle you to all software updates for the second year and Avid support. In year 3 you can pay another 190+VAT to keep receiving updates. If you miss out a year- for example you pay for upgrades in year 2, but do not pay for anything in year 3, then when year 4 starts you cannot upgrade the software any more, but have to buy a completely new version for 939+VAT. So the permanent licence is a but like a subscription in that you have to pay Avid money every year if you want to keep the software up to date, but if you decide to stop paying them then you still have the current version which you can use for as long as you want.

Upgrading an old version of Media Composer to the new MC8 permanent licence

From the start of 2015 you can only upgrade to the latest version from a version that you have bought in the last 12 months.  Until the end of 2014 Avid were letting people update from ANY version but from the start of 2015 this has finished. If you have an earlier version and want to update you have to buy a new permanent licence or subscription.  You cannot use your old dongle either on a new version.  You must either switch to software activation or buy a new dongle.   At the end of March Avid introduced a special offer for owners of earlier version which does let them update to the current Avid at a reduced cost.  This offer ends on the 15th May 2015. See below for more details.

Comparing the cost

The main decision about whether to choose a subscription or permanent licence is probably how much does it cost.  The following table compares the cost of 5 years:

Avid Media Composer permanent licence : Year 1:  939+VAT, Year 2: 1,158, Year 3: 1,377, Year 4: 1,596, Year 5: 1,815

Avid Media Composer Permanent licence with similar add on software as subscription:   Year 1:   1,478+VAT , Year 2: 1,697, Year 3: 1,916, Year 4: 2,135, Year 5: 2,354

Avid Media Composer subscription Year 1 429, Year 2  858,Year 3   1,287, Year 4 1,716, Year 5 2,145

All prices are ex-VAT.  These prices show how much each option will cost over 5 years.  The figures are cumulative so the amount for 5 years is how much in total you will have paid in those 5 years.  What they are proving is that if you keep your permanent licence up to date the cost is pretty much the same as paying for Avid with a yearly subscription.

The permanent licence with "similar" software to the subscription version is the permanent licence plus the "Symphony option" which adds the Symphony-style colour correction and Boris Continuum to Avid Media Composer.  The subscription will still have NewBlue Titler Pro 2 included which this permanent licence option will not have.  You can add this too buy adding the production pack, however, this also adds some iZoTope plug-ins and the full version of Squeeze so would give you more than the subscription, hence we left it out.  We are not trying to convince you that you should buy a subscription or a permanent licence (something we sometimes get accused of by subscription hating people!) just trying to lay out the facts so that you can decide what is best for you.

What happened to Avid FX?

Avid FX is a compositing program, which is also sold under the name of Boris RED.  It is a very powerful compositing program and some thing which has been a major asset to Media Composer for many years as it has been bundled with the software.  With the advent of Media Composer 8 it is no longer bundled and you need to buy it separately.  We have been told that Avid FX 6, which shipped with Avid Media Composer 6.5 & 7 will work with Media Composer 8;  presumably some time in the future you will need to pay to upgrade to a new version when we reach Media Composer 9 or 10, but not at the moment.

If you want to buy Avid FX the best option is to buy Boris RED which is 629+VAT and available here: http://www.dvc.uk.com/acatalog/Boris_Red.html.  If you owne Avid FX already you can upgarde to Boris Red for 184+VAT (http://www.dvc.uk.com/acatalog/Avid-FX-to-Boris-Red-5.5-upgrade.html)

You can do many of the thing that you could do in Boris RED, like animated masks, painting and high quality slow motion in Avid itself so you may decide you do not need it, but there are many things you can do in RED that you cannot do in Avid on its own.

What happened to Avid DVD?

Avid DVD is the DVD and Blu-ray authoring program which up to now shipped with Avid Media Composer. Although this program will still be available to anyone who currently owns Avid it does not ship with MC8. It will also not be getting any updates. The program has not been updated in the last few years anyway, so the lack of any improvements is not unexpected, however, now Avid users won't get an authoring tool at all and will have to look elsewhere. This is almost like Adobe, who have said that Adobe Encore will not be updated, although if you rent Adobe software via the Creative Cloud you still get access to Encore CS6, even if you know it will not get any improvements.

A good option is to buy Sony DVD Architect which is a very comprehensive authoring program and works withAvid Quicktime reference files.




What is good about Media Composer?

  • Avid is one of the best programs for sharing projects with other users, or if conforming the final edit on an Avid broadcast system.
  • It is one of the best programs for large complex projects with lots of cuts and effects. Long projects are a problem for most editing programs - some programs are better than others - but Media Composer is the king of large project.
  • You can achieve most effects you want in Media Composer - it can paint on video, has a very good keyer built in, you can make animated masks that follow objects on screen, you can motion track effects, correct glitches in the image, stabilise an image and much more.. It also has an excellent colour correction tool which gets the colour looking how you want with the minimum fuss. All this without even touching the add-on  Avid FX which is also supplied.
  • There is just so much in it - you can customise everything, save preset layouts of on screen buttons, colour, column layouts etc and move them between workstations. You also have access to huge control over the program, not just through the preferences but also using the command line, console.
  • Everything is does is excellent quality. Avid editors expect nothing less. You can control everything about how the effect render either per effect or in global settings.
  • Many time saving short cut ways of doing things - you can apply and effect to multiple clips really easily; the auto colour corrector gets colour and image correction right within a few clicks on lots of clips and you can even customise its "automaticness"; want to take your footage to another program - a "QuickTime reference file" will quickly export a file which references your original clips instead of making news ones.
  • Lots of plug-ins - there are lots of plug-ins available, so if you want to do something you can probably do it - want to export your timeline from Avid into After Effects and have it come in as a series of layers with as many of your Avid effects intact as possible? Then you use Automatic Duck, which is now free thanks to Adobe.
  • The way media is stored in the MXF media folder means that you can move projects from machine to machine with minimum fuss.
  • Mac and PC - Media Composer works on both and you can share the media between both. Of all the other programs only Adobe Premiere Pro also works on both platforms. However with Premiere, although you can copy projects from one computer to another, you cannot do the same with the clips. On Windows, Adobe Premiere Pro works with AVIs and on the Mac it works with QuickTime movies, so its not as cross-platform as Media Composer.
  • Media Management - with Avid you control all your clips inside Avid. You move, delete, consolidate etc all from Avid's own tool. No more looking around with explorer to find a missing file or wondering whether its safe to delete a file an if its being used somewhere. On large projects this is a great time saver.
  • Lots of different internal formats - say you want to take a large project and edit on a laptop, then just "consolidate" your footage into a lower resolution format that takes up less space and will fit on your laptop drive. Edit on the laptop, then transfer the project back to the desktop with the full quality footage and re-link the files. There are formats that range from a low resolution where and hour of video can be squeezed in about 2GB space, to higher resolution formats that you can use for HD editing.

What is not so good about Media Composer?

  • It is not as intuitive to use as a program like Adobe Premiere or Grass Valley EDIUS. It was designed to be like cutting film and still retains quite a lot of that "logic". If you are used to the way a a typical Windows program works then a program like Premiere generally works in the same way, but Avid has its own ways of doing thing which need learning. That does not mean that is a huge amount of hard work to learn, just that it is a bit different. Its means if you don't use it regularly you may forget how to do certain things.
  • No DVD or Blu-ray program supplied with the package.
  • Avid officially only support you if you buy a validated platform - which is generally an HP or Dell computer of a certain specification, and quite expensive. However, they are a lot less strict than they were a few years ago and there is a lot of help for people on non-validated platforms.
  • AVCHD support is better in other programs - Avid will link to AVCHD files and edit them natively but it is not as fluid as other programs. Ideally you still transcode to Avid's own format which will add time to the edit. The same is true of other H264-based formats like the footage from DSLR cameras. Avid links via AMA or Avid Media Access.  AMA essentially means linking to a file rather than importing an copying to a central media store (the way Avid has worked since it inception). This works well for some formats like XDCAM and DVCPro HD but not so well on others - unlike programs like EDIUS and Premiere which were invented to work like this.

We complied a document showing a comparison between Avid, Premiere and EDIUS which you can read here: The great Avid/Premiere/EDIUS shootout!



What are Xpress Pro and Xpress DV?

Avid used to have three versions of their program - Xpress DV, Xpress Pro and Media Composer. They were all variations of the same program, with the same interface and more features on more expensive versions. These days Avid just sell Media Composer.

Avid DV and Xpress Pro no longer qualify as programs from which you can upgrade although you can still upgrade from all versions of Media Composer - unlike all the other programs which generally only let you upgrade from the previous version..

Do we offer training?

We can do one-to-one courses in Avid Media Composer aimed at those starting in Avid or moving to it from a different platform.

We do not have any of our own training DVDs concerning Avid but there is a vast amount available on the Avid website..

Do we do Avid systems?

Of course!  At DVC making and supporting complete systems is what we do best.   We have both laptop and desk top Avid systems available and all can be customised.  Click here for more information.


More Information

The following links have a variety of information regarding Avid's various features.

  • WHAT'S NEW IN MC - if you are on an early version of Media Composer you may want to see the major enhancements in version 6 & 7, which are also included in version 8.
  • EDITING WITH MC- Details of the main editing features of Media Composer for people unfamiliar with the program.
  • HD & AVID - How different formats are supported by Media Composer.
  • STEREOCOPIC EDITING- Avid has excellent Stereoscopic editing which was added in version 6.
  • COLOUR CORRECTION- Avid has had excellent colour correction and grading features for many years. See some information on this here.
  • HARDWARE FOR AVID - Avid can be used with a variety of hardware from Matrox, AJA and Blackmagic. This page details the various options.
  • AUDIO EDITING - The audio editing in Avid is pretty comprehensive, and includes full surround sound mixing.
  • LIST OF ALL AVID PRODUCTS - A full list of all Avid software.
  • DVC AVID SYSTEMS - Details of the various systems we make for Avid at DVC. This include our own custom-built systems and HP Avid approved systems - both laptops and desktops.
  • Comparing Avid to other editing programs - a comprehensive look at Avid and how it compares to other programs available.

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