Avid Enhances Edit Systems With Native XDCAM Support and 3D Editing, Eliminates Dongles

By Ken Kerschbaumer

Avid Technology is heading to NAB with a number of enhancements to its editing systems that will speed the editing process and open the door to 3D stereoscopic editing. The improvements are featured on Media Composer v3.5, Symphony v 3.5, and NewsCutter v 7.5 software.

The biggest improvement may be the subtlest: ending the need for editors to use dongles to activate editing systems when on laptops. Avid users have had to carry a dongle that served as the software key. But the company has moved to a software-based activation scheme for all new editing system sales and single-seat upgrades.

“Avid customers will no longer need a dongle to protrude from the laptop that is susceptible to theft,” says Angus Mackay, Avid Technology segment marketing manager for professional products. “We also get calls from customers who remember their laptop editor but forget the dongle. It’s now easy to install the software license on multiple systems and activate and deactivate the license from one machine to another.”

For professionals who use Sony XDCAM and Panasonic P2, there is even better news: end-to-end native support of Sony XDCAM HD, EX, and Panasonic P2 formats at all bandwidths. Customers can now play back and edit directly from the disc or P2 card, render, mixdown, export sequences and clips with eight audio tracks, and write back with sequence timecode.

“This is a significant enhancement, as the user no longer needs to transcode, wrap, and unwrap content,” says Mackay of what the company calls Avid Media Access Architecture (AMA). “It’s available immediately for editing, and there is no need to drag and drop the content. It will be presented in the media bin, and the editor can take care of the rest, linking to footage on the disk.”

The new plug-in–based system means that other video formats will be supported in the future. “We can now add support for additional codecs much more quickly,” says Mackay. Content can be displayed with stereo-monitoring capabilities in both the composer window and full-screen playback.

“This is a huge improvement because, currently, the only way editors are able to have confidence in the quality of the production is to go through a costly conform during the finishing process,” says Mackay. “Now they can keep everything at a lower resolution, and the feedback from our customer base has been very positive.”

Other new features that could be useful for sports networks are keyframeable color correction and a new Fluid Stabilizer, a 2D tracking engine designed to track and remove camera motion when used in combination with the Avid SteadyGlide feature. “It can analyze the camera motion in a scene and filter out the false results by defining the objects in a scene,” says Mackay. “Better motion analysis of the scene produces higher-end results.”

The systems also now support up to 16 channels of embedded audio, and users can access both Avid editing systems and Digidesign Protools audio-editing systems at the same time, allowing audio to follow video edits. “It allows users to have a smaller investment in hardware and allows Protools to connect and control the Media Composer timeline,” says Mackay.

Avid Media Composer and Symphony (v 3.5) and NewsCutter (v 7.5) software are available now. For a complete list of new features, supported devices, and operating systems, visit http://www.avid.com/products/professional-film-video.asp.