Release Details: Avid Media Composer 2019
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By Benjamin Walsh, Annex Pro Video Post-Production Specialist
When it comes to software releases, the common wisdom seems to be that there are new versions that are evolutionary, and others that are revolutionary. The release of Avid Media Composer 2019 falls undeniably into the latter camp. When it comes to non-linear editing programs, Avid Media Composer has always been considered “old faithful”, with unparalleled adoption in the feature film, television, and journalism fields. With so many editors already relying on Avid, it seems almost a given that the changes made year-to-year would be iterative, at best – a small new feature, here, a bug fix, there. Why fix what isn’t broken?
After all, Avid has always worked, full stop, with a deserved reputation for stability, speed and power. None of that has changed, yet Media Composer 2019 is still easily the biggest revolution in both interface and engine that the software has undergone since it was first decoupled from expensive turn-key hardware solutions more than a decade ago.
Similar to when Avid became available as a software-only option, this latest release of Media Composer will likely prove to be an introduction of sorts to great swaths of editors; professionals, students, and hobbyists alike. Avid has never been as accessible as this. Media Composer has always held a deserved reputation as an incredibly powerful, absurdly deep, and efficiently collaborative NLE solution. Along with those superlatives, however, there were other adjectives that would often be thrown around in the same sentence as Media Composer. Difficult, as a generality. Steep, when describing its learning curve. Unforgiving, when workflow was discussed. Even ugly, when its user interface was mentioned. Suffice it to say, Media Composer was never an especially intuitive piece of software.
All that has changed with Media Composer 2019, as the new release is sleek and intuitive, fast and responsive, and a direct response to all challengers who dare come at the “King of NLEs”.
Over the years, it became clear that Media Composer needed a refresh. In fact, I would say that it is direct credit to how great Adobe Premiere and DaVinci Resolve have become, that drastic changes to Media Composer became inevitable. Especially in larger, enterprise sized operations, Avid has always been the natural choice because of how it facilitates collaboration and asset sharing between many editors and AEs across projects. Lately, however, it was not often a first choice for smaller projects, or for beginning editors, simply because it had an encompassing reputation as being difficult to learn. It often slowed you down in the beginning stages; forcing many people to work differently, and less intuitively than they were used to, as it was unforgiving if you deviated from best-practice workflows. This perhaps led to less adoption, as people simply defaulted to easier to learn software. That has been fully addressed in Media Composer 2019. The completely redesigned UI looks better, handles smoother, and allows you to be more creative at a quicker pace. The steep learning curve is no longer an excuse to shy away from what is undeniably still the deepest and most powerful NLE on the market. If the intention was to make it easier for new users to adopt Media Composer as their editing software of choice, then Media Composer 2019 is nothing less than a rousing success.
What about long-time Avid editors, you may be asking? Put any fears of the software being dumbed down and nerfed aside, as you will still be able to work as quickly as you ever could, using the same time-tested and refined workflow that has allowed for so many great pieces of work over so many years. Media Composer is as powerful as it ever has been. It just looks better now.
The changes are not only cosmetic, though. Open the hood, and Media Composer 2019 is running on an all new and completely redesigned engine, bringing it into a new decade a year early. Of particular note to Enterprise clients working in larger facilities, Media Composer 2019 now allows for distributed processing. You can set up render farms to handle transcodes and processing, letting you work quicker with fewer interruptions, and at the end of the day, what that means is more time to be creative. It handles heavy 4K, 8K, and 16K (!!!) video with ease. The 2019 release also handles OP1a files natively, and has added the ability to finish to IMF, welcome news for anyone finishing for OTT platforms like Netflix. Speaking of finishing, Media Composer 2019 has also added a 32-bit full float Colour Pipeline, with HDR supported in 4K, 8K, and even 16K resolutions. This means no quality loss when roundtripping for colour correction and grading, whether it’s done in Media Composer itself or another program.
As alluded earlier, Enterprise level clients will find lots to love in the new release. One feature that is available in Media Composer 2019: Enterprise Edition that is particularly cool is the ability to provision different levels of permissions to different users. This could mean that AEs, editors, colourists, producers, heck even runners can be granted access to the features they need to best complete their work and locked off from features that could potentially destroy someone else’s (looking squarely at you, producers and directors ). This is a feature that also facilitates security in today’s (justifiably) paranoid world. Media Composer 2019 grants an additional level of comfort by, say, allowing you to remove the ability to export files so that only the eyes that need to gaze upon pre-release content will see it, at least until it is time for it to hit theatre, broadcast, or streaming screens.
Never shy of challengers, upstarts, and competitors, Avid’s new release of Media Composer is one of the most exciting upgrades to an NLE in recent memory. Media Composer 2019 is a nothing less than a statement that re-asserts Avid’s place at the top of the Non-Linear Editing mountain.
Benjamin Walsh is a video post-production specialist at Annex Pro.
We invite your feedback or questions. To learn more about upgrading to Avid Media Composer 2019, or getting a trial version to check out, contact Benjamin at firstname.lastname@example.org.