Catch up with David Colantuoni, (pictured here) senior director of product management for Avid. He shares the company's plans, along with industry trends & his insight on 4K.
Q Anything new we can expect to see from Avid this year?
A As part of our continual commitment to innovation, we’ll be announcing significant new updates to Media Composer for our subscription and annual support plan customers in the coming weeks. We’ll also be announcing the next phase in bringing the Avid Everywhere vision to life at IBC in September.
Q What are the top 3 key features from Avid's Media Composer?
A As more content is created with 4K cameras and delivered as HD, editors typically must perform time-consuming transcode and resize operations before true editing can begin. Media Composer 7 eliminates this step by enabling editors to work directly in HD from the high-res source, while maintaining full creative control of image framing:
AMA (Avid Media Access) is an open plugin standard developed by Avid and used by major camera manufacturers. It enables instant access to camera original media and metadata. Media Composer can link and access 4K media through AMA.
The Dynamic Media Folders (DMF) feature allows users to automate AMA media management tasks such as transcoding, copying or consolidating media, and perform them as background tasks - removing what is typically a tedious and time-wasting import process.
The FrameFlex feature enables editors to precisely control which region of their high-resolution media is extracted from 4K media for HD editing output. Using the effect editor, the framing box can be animated over time to pan and zoom across an image. This selective framing allows the editor to focus the viewer’s attention while maintaining the original resolution of the source image. If a customer chooses to finish, the editor can export an AAF and link to the original 4K.
Q Do you feel 4K is over rated, or do you think it is here to stay for a while? Why?
A The difference in resolution between HD and 4K may not rival the revolutionary improvement that HD was to SD for the viewing public, but with its higher frame rates, wider color gamuts, and increased dynamic range, 4K represents a substantial next step in the evolution of digital media.
As high-resolution file-based cameras become affordable, one of the primary reasons to acquire in increasingly higher resolutions is to capture the performance in the highest possible quality, effectively “future proofing” the investment and extending the media’s shelf life.
By far the most significant benefit of acquiring high-resolution imagery is the increased flexibility and control achieved in postproduction. Assuming the broadcast delivery requirements are for an HD Master for some time to come, a 4K source image will most likely need to be re-framed, effectively extracting an HD image from the original source. Having four times the pixels provides enormous flexibility in deciding which part of the image to display in an HD raster. An editor can pan across the image dynamically, adding additional motion to the shot or zoom in significantly without any loss in quality.
Alongside spatial resolutions are the expanded color gamuts and dynamic ranges available from these cameras. Current HD cameras are limited to a 10-bit color depth, while higher resolution cameras typically provide 12- or even 16-bit color. Cinematographers can use techniques like HDR to capture light in new, dramatic ways and assign looks to images to be faithfully maintained throughout all stages of postproduction. This expanded range gives the colorist more latitude for changes in the final look of the production in terms of contrast and color without losing detail or introducing noise.
Q What trends are you noticing in the industry right now?
A Today’s video professionals are faced with a challenging media landscape of new formats, fewer resources, and tighter budgets:
• File-based workflows are increasing project complexity and the high number of disparate media formats is slowing down productivity
• As talent becomes more expensive in major media hubs, and tax breaks are luring production to different locations, demand is growing for flexible, remote collaboration
• Commoditized creative tools are lowering the barrier to entry for lower cost service providers, crowding the market and reducing margins in traditional post-production services
Q What does the future of Avid hold?
A We're dedicated to helping our customers address these key challenges by delivering on Avid Everywhere, our strategic vision for helping content creators and media organizations connect with their audiences in more powerful, efficient, collaborative, and profitable ways.
This vision is guiding our development of the most fluid end-to-end, distributed media production environment in the industry. The Avid MediaCentral Platform, in conjunction with the corresponding Artist Suite, Media Suite, Storage Suite, and upcoming private and public marketplaces, will together form a comprehensive ecosystem that encompasses everything from media creation to distribution and monetization, addressing every aspect of the new digital media value chain.
Q Why do you believe Avid's Media Composer is a must-have for production professionals?
A Media Composer is used to edit more top-tier content than any other NLE solution, and now new licensing options significantly lower the cost of entry for the industry’s most trusted editing tool, and give customers the freedom to choose how they deploy it.
Customers can now gain access to the latest Media Composer toolset, support and upgrades on a low-cost monthly or annual basis, starting at $49.99 a month. Or they can license the software on a perpetual basis and receive one year of Avid support and upgrades, with additional upgrades available thereafter if they renew their annual support plan.
A floating license option enables large-scale media enterprises, post houses and educational institutions to purchase a “pack” of shared Media Composer licenses to deploy facility-wide, enabling multiple editors to use Media Composer on any number of workstations up to the number of licenses purchased.
Media Composer | Cloud gives editors the option to connect remotely to access, edit and collaborate with others as if they were on premises.
Q Anything else, 4K related that you would like to share?
A As 4K acquisition and distribution continues to evolve, Avid is actively developing its infrastructure by moving all applications to 64bit for increased performance, while creating the modular Avid MediaCentral Platform with common components shared by all Avid products and open to third parties.
A high-resolution “pipeline” has to include all stages of production, postproduction and distribution, so we’re taking a holistic approach to meeting the challenges of these new formats and delivery requirements. To that end, we continue to develop the MediaCentral Platform to support such resolutions and accompanying metadata across all stages of a modern production pipeline - from editorial and storage to asset management, review and approval. Future versions of Media Composer will be resolution independent, supporting more than just large rasters like 4K, but also color and frame rates across the entire postproduction pipeline.
Throughout all of this, we’ll work openly with our partners to deliver the best solutions possible to our mutual customers with the goal of not constraining any of the efficient processes already in place when working with these challenging new formats.