Media Composer

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Avid Media Composer
Developer(s) Avid
Stable release 8.0.0 (May 15, 2014; 2 months ago (2014-05-15)) [±]
Operating system Windows 7 Pro x64, Windows Pro or Enterprise x64, Mac OS X 10.9
Type Film and video editing software
License Proprietary
Website http://www.avid.com/products/family/Media-Composer

Media Composer, frequently referred to as "The Avid", is a type of computer software application known as a non-linear editing system (NLE). It is the flagship product of Avid Technology. It was released in 1989 on the Macintosh II as an offline editing system. Since that time, the application features have increased to allow for film editing, uncompressed standard definition (SD) video and high definition (HD) editing and finishing. Since the early 1990s, Media Composer has been the dominant non-linear editing system in the film and television industry, first on Mac and then also on Windows. The Avid Newscutter, aimed at newsrooms, Avid Symphony, aimed at finishing, are all Avid products that were derived from Media Composer and share similar interfacing, as were Avid Xpress Pro (discontinued in 2008) and its predecessor Avid Xpress DV, which were aimed at the lower end of the market.

Current version[edit]

There is one version of Media Composer, which can be used as standalone software, or to which the user can add specific external Avid accelerators. These devices provide additional processing as well as input/output interfaces.

Avid designed hardware[edit]

Avid Mojo DX: a newer version of the Mojo with architecture offering faster processing and full 1920x1080 HD resolution in addition to standard definition video. This interface has SDI/HD-SDI inputs and outputs, HDMI outputs and stereo 1/4" TRS audio inputs and outputs.

Avid Nitris DX: a replacement of the Adrenaline hardware, a successor to the original Avid Nitris (used with Avid DS and Avid Symphony), with architecture offering faster processing and full 1920x1080 HD resolution (without extra cards) in addition to standard definition video. This interface also has a hardware DNxHD codec. Video connections include SDI, HD-SDI, Composite, S-Video and Component (SD or HD) inputs and outputs, it also has a HDMI output. Audio connections include XLR, AES, optical S/PDIF and ADAT inputs and outputs. It also has RCA inputs and 1/4" TRS outputs, plus LTC timecode I/O. Starting with Media Composer v5.5 an optional AVC-Intra codec module can be installed in the Nitris DX for native playback of this format. With Media Composer v6.0 is it now possible to have two DNxHD or AVC-Intra modules installed for dual stream stereoscopic capture and full resolution stereoscopic playback.

Third party supported hardware[edit]

Starting with Media Composer v6, Avid has introduced a new Open IO API to allow 3rd party companies to interface their hardware into Media Composer. AJA, Black Magic Design, Matrox, BlueFush and MOTU are supporting this API. Avid's own DX hardware is still natively interfaced into the application which currently allows some extra features that Open IO is limited in (LTC timecode support for example). It is expected that over time some of these missing APIs will be added. The majority of users will probably not be affected by these limations.

AJA IO Express: Starting with Media Composer v5.5, Avid has added support for the AJA IO Express interface. This interface will allow SD/HD input and output via SDI and HDMI. It also has analog video and audio outputs for monitoring. It connects to a desktop or laptop computer via PCIe or ExpressCard/34 interface.

Matrox MXO2 Mini: Starting with Media Composer v5, Avid has added support for the Matrox MXO2 Mini interface, as a breakout box with no additional processing. While this interface does have input connections, only output is supported by Media Composer v5.x, starting with Media Composer v6.x you can capture with this interface. The connections on the unit support analog video/audio and HDMI in both SD and HD formats. The device is connected by a cable to either a PCIe card or ExpressCard/34 interface, so this unit can be used on a desktop or laptop system.

Discontinued hardware[edit]

Recently discontinued

Avid Mojo: includes Composite and S-Video with two channels of RCA audio. There is an optional component video cable that can be added to this interface. This interface only supports SD video formats.

Avid Mojo SDI: includes Composite, S-Video, Component and SDI video, with 4 channels RCA, 4 channels AES and 2 channels optical S/PDIF audio. This interface only supports SD video formats.

Avid Adrenaline: rack mountable interface which includes Composite, S-Video, Component and SDI video, 4 channels of XLR, 4 channels of AES, 2 channels of S/PDIF and 8 channels of ADAT audio. This interface also has an expansion slot for the DNxcel card which adds HD-SDI input and output as well as a DVI and HD component outputs. The DNxcel card uses Avid’s DNxHD compression which is available in 8-bit color formats up to 220mb as well as a 10-bit color format at 220mb. The DNxcel card also adds real-time SD down-convert and HD cross-convert.

Hardware history

Media Composer as standalone software (with optional hardware) has only been available since June, 2006 (version 2.5). Before that, Media Composer was only available as a combination of hardware and software, or as turnkey systems (including CPU and monitors).

From 1991 until 1998, Media Composer 1000, 4000 and 8000 systems were Macintosh-only, and based on the NuVista videoboard by Truevision. The first-release Avids (US) supported 640x480 30i video, at resolutions and compression identified by the prefix "AVR". Single-field resolutions were AVR 1 through 12; interlaced (finishing) resolutions were initially AVR 21-23, with the later improvements of AVR 24 through 27. Additionally, Avid marketed the Media Composer 800 as an offline-only editor. These systems exclusively used external fast SCSI drives (interfaced through a SCSI accelerator board) for media storage. Avid media was digitized as OMFI (Open Media Framework Interchange) format.

In the mid-nineties, versions 6 and 7 of Media Composer 1000 and 8000 were based on the Avid Broadcast Video Board (ABVB), supporting video resolutions up to AVR77. The video image was also improved to 720x480. 3D add-on boards (most notably the Pinnacle Alladin, externally, and the pinnacle genie pro board, internally, through special 100 pin by-pass cable ) and 16bit 48K 4-channel and 8-channel audio I/O (Avid/DigiDesign 442 and Avid/DigiDesign 888) were optional.

The 1998 introduction of the Avid Symphony marked the transition from ABVB to the Meridien hardware, allowing for uncompressed SD editing. This introduction was also the first version of Media Composer software available for both Mac and Windows operating systems. Media Composer 9000 versions 8 through 12.0.5 were built around Meridien hardware. Compression options were expressed in ratios for the first time in the evolution of the product. Even though the video board had changed, the audio I/O was still handled by the Avid/DigiDesign 888 (16bit 48K) hardware. At this time, 16x9 aspect ratios began to be supported. Avid Media Composer Meridien was released through November, 2003.

In 2003, Avid Mojo and Avid Adrenaline formed the new DNA (Digital Non-linear Accelerator) hardware line. The launch of Avid Media Composer Adrenaline brought along a software version renumbering, as it was labeled Avid Media Composer Adrenaline 1.0. At this time, Avid began using MXF (Material Exchange Format) formatting for media files. Avid products maintain compatibility with OMFI files.

Adrenaline was the first Media Composer system to support 24bit audio. It also meant the end of Film Composer and Media Composer Offline, since the Avid Media Composer Adrenaline featured most of the film options and online resolutions and features. From this point onward, Avid systems have supported media storage using SCSI, PCI-e, SATA, IEEE 1394a & b, Ethernet and fiberoptic interfaces.

In 2006, Media Composer 2.5 was the first version to be offered 'software-only', giving the user the option of purchasing and using the software without the additional cost of the external accelerators. Software-only Avid's use third-party breakout boxes, usually interfaced via Firewire, to acquire video from SDI and analog sources.

In 2008, the Mojo DX and Nitris DX were introduced, replacing the Adrenaline. Both are capable of handling uncompressed HD video, with the Nitris DX offering greater processing speed and input/output flexibility.

Features[edit]

The current version of Media Composer has the following features:

  • Animatte
  • 3D Warp
  • Paint
  • Live Matte Key
  • Tracker / Stabilizer
  • Timewarps with motion estimation (FluidMotion)
  • SpectraMatte (high quality chroma keyer)
  • Color Correction toolset (with Natural Match)
  • Stereoscopic editing abilities (expanded in MC v6)
  • AMA - Avid Media Access, the ability to link to and edit with P2, XDCAM, R3D, QuickTime and AVCHD native material directly without capture or transcoding.
  • Mix and Match - put clips of any frame rate, compression, scan mode or video format on the same timeline
  • SmartTools - drag and drop style editing on timeline, can be selectively adjusted to the types of actions that the user wants to use when clicking on timeline.
  • RTAS - (RealTime AudioSuite), support for realtime track-based audio plug-ins on the timeline.
  • 5.1 and 7.1 Surround Sound audio mixing, compatible with Pro Tools

Previous versions also included:

  • PhraseFind - analyzes clips and indexes all dialog phonetically allowing text search of spoken words. (with Nexidia phonetic indexing and search) (discontinued in v8[1])
  • ScriptSync (with Nexidia phonetic indexing and sync) (discontinued in v8[1])

Avid Symphony additionally includes Advanced/Secondary/Relational Color Correction and Universal HD Mastering. Starting with version 7, Symphony became paid option for Media Composer; with version 8, it was included with monthly and annual subscription licenses.

The software used to be protected by means of "blesser" floppy, tied to the Nubus's TrueVista board (means that if the board is replace, new "blesser" floppy come with the board), and later with USB dongles. As of version 3.5 the dongle is optional, and existing users may choose to use software activation or keep using their dongles, while new licenses are sold exclusively with software activation. The software ships with installers for both Mac and Windows and can physically be installed on several computers, allowing the user to move the software license between systems or platforms depending on the licensing method.

With Media Composer 8, Avid introduced monthly and annual subscription licensing systems similar to Adobe Creative Cloud, allowing users to install and activate Avid without purchasing a perpetual license. Media Composer licenses must be confirmed either by Avid's internet servers every 30 days or by an on-site floating license server. Starting with version 8, updates and support for perpetual licenses also require annual support agreements; support is included with subscription licenses.[2]

The installer includes installers for:[3]

  • EDL Manager
  • Avid Log Exchange
  • FilmScribe
  • MediaLog
  • Interplay Transfer
  • MetaSync Manager (no longer in v6)
  • MetaSync Publisher (no longer in v6)
  • MetaFuze (Windows only), a standalone application to convert files (R3D, DPX, TIFF) from film scanning, CGI systems or RED camera into MXF media files. Actually based on an import module that was taken from Avid DS.

Also included with the boxed version of Media Composer is the following 3rd party software:

  • Avid FX - 2D & 3D compositing and titling software (aka Boris RED)
  • Sorenson Squeeze - Compression software to create, Windows Media, QuickTime, MPEG 1/2, MPEG 4 or Flash video (v8 monthly/annual subscription only)
  • SonicFire Pro 5 - music creation software (includes 2 CDs of music tracks)
  • Avid DVD by Sonic - DVD and Blu-ray authoring software (Windows only; no longer updated as of v8)
  • NewBlue Titler Pro - 2D and 3D video title software (v8 perpetual licenses bundled with v1, subscription licenses with v2)
  • Boris Continuum Complete - 2D and 3D graphics and effects (v8 monthly/annual subscription only)

Software are full versions with online manuals.

Avid Media Composer (Symphony) used in movies[edit]

Film title Year Director Editor Software
The Celibacy 2011 Horacio Bocaranda Avid Media Composer Symphony Nitris DX 6
American Hardcore 2006 Paul Rachman Paul Rachman Avid Xpress Pro and Symphony
Summercamp! 2006 Sarah Price JoLynn Garness Avid Xpress Pro and Symphony
When the Levees Broke 2006 Spike Lee Barry Alexander Brown, Geeta Gandbhir, Nancy Novack, Samuel D. Pollard, Craig Gordon Avid Media Composer Symphony Nitris
Superman Returns 2006 Bryan Singer John Ottman, Elliot Graham Avid Media Composer Symphony
Die Another Day 2002 Lee Tamahori Christian Wagner Avid Media Composer Symphony
Collateral 2004 Michael Mann Jim Miller, Paul Rubell Avid Media Composer
Just Like Heaven 2005 Mark Waters Bruce Green Avid Media Composer Symphony
Transformers 2007 Michael Bay Tom Muldoon, Paul Rubell, Glen Scantlebury Avid Media Composer Symphony Nitris DX
The Dark Knight 2008 Christopher Nolan Lee Smith Avid Media Composer
Iron Man 2008 Jon Favreau Dan Lebental, Glen Scantlebury Avid Media Composer
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen 2009 Michael Bay Roger Barton, Paul Rubell, Joel Negron, Tom Muldoon Avid Media Composer
Avatar 2009 James Cameron James Cameron, John Refoua, Stephen E. Rivkin Avid Media Composer
Iron Man 2 2010 Jon Favreau Dan Lebental, Richard Pearson Avid Media Composer
Predators 2010 Nimród Antal Dan Zimmerman Avid Media Composer
The Expendables 2010 Sylvester Stallone Ken Blackwell, Paul Harb Avid Media Composer
Black Swan 2010 Darren Aronofsky Andrew Weisblum Avid Media Composer
127 Hours 2010 Danny Boyle Jon Harris Avid Media Composer
Inception 2010 Christopher Nolan Lee Smith Avid Media Composer Symphony 5
Unstoppable 2010 Tony Scott Chris Lebenzon, Robert Duffy Avid Media Composer
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader 2010 Michael Apted Rick Shaine Avid Media Composer
Tron: Legacy 2010 Joseph Kosinski James Haygood Avid Media Composer Symphony
The Avengers 2012 Joss Whedon Jeffrey Ford, Lisa Lassek Avid Media Composer
The Hunger Games 2012 Gary Ross Stephen Mirrione, Juliette Welfling Avid Media Composer
Kizhakku Paatha Veedu 2012 Balagurusamy B.Lenin Avid Media Composer
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire 2013 Francis Lawrence Alan Edward Bell Avid Media Composer

History[edit]

According to Eric Peters, one of the company's founders, most prototypes of "the Avid" were built on Apollo workstations. At some point, Avid demo'd one of their products at Siggraph. Says Peters: "Some Apple people saw that demo at the show and said, "Nice demo. Wrong platform!" It turned out they were evangelists for the then new Mac II (with *six* slots!). When we got back to our office (actually a converted machine shop) after the show, there was a pile of Fedex packages on our doorstep. They were from Apple, and they contained two of their prototype Mac II machines (so early they didn't even have cases, just open chassis). Also there were four large multisync monitors. Each computer was loaded with full memory (probably 4 megs at the time), and a full complement of Apple software (pre-Claris). That afternoon, a consultant knocked on our door saying, "Hi. I'm being paid by Apple to come here and port your applications from Apollo to Macintosh." He worked for us for several weeks, and actually taught us how to program the Macs." At the time, Macs were not considered to be fast enough for video purposes. The Avid engineering team, however, managed to get 1,200 kBytes per second, which allowed them to do offline video on the Macs.

The Avid Film Composer was introduced in August of 1992. The Film Composer was the first non-linear digital editing system to capture and edit natively at 24fps. Steven Cohen was the first editor to use Film Composer for a major motion picture on Lost in Yonkers.

The system has been used by other top editors such as Walter Murch on The English Patient (the first digitally edited film to receive a Best Editing Oscar).

In 1994, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences awarded the Avid Film Composer with a plaque for Science & Technical Achievement. Six persons were recognized in that effort; Bill Warner, Eric Peters, Joe Rice, Patrick O'Connor, Tom Ohanian, and Michael Phillips. For continued development, Avid received an Oscar statuette representing the 1998 Scientific and Technical Award for the concept, design, and engineering of the Avid Film Composer system for motion picture editing.

Film Composer is no longer sold as a separate product, since - over time - all of its specific film editing features were implemented into the "regular" Media Composer and/or the Avid Symphony.

Catering to the mid and high end of the non-linear editing market, Avid is still used in a lot of major film productions, though it's facing increasing competition from Apple's Final Cut Studio.[4][5]

In July 2009 American Cinema Editors (ACE) announced that the ACE Board of Directors had recognized Avid Media Composer software with the Board’s first-ever “ACE Technical Excellence Award” - recognizing it as the preferred choice of the industry’s most acclaimed editors.[6]

Year Operating System Version Notes/Major Features
1989 Macintosh Avid/1
  • First release
  • Serial #001 ships to Alan Miller @ Rebo Studios in June on a Mac IIx
  • Jeff Bernstein becomes second editor on the Avid
1992 Macintosh
  • Avid Film Composer
  • True 24-frame capture, editing, and playback
  • Open Media Framework (OMF), introduced in April
Jan 1993 Macintosh
  • Model 210 (unbundled) ($15.000)
  • Model 220 (with Mac IIci) ($24.900)
Dec 1994 Macintosh 5.2
  • AVR27
  • Multicamera editing
  • Realtime chroma and luma keys
  • Avid Media Reader support
  • 3rd party Photoshop plugins support
Jul 1995 Mac OS 7.5 5.5
  • Film Cutter (simplified version of Film Composer)
  • Hardware-independent QuickTime codec
  • 3D effects module
Sep 1995 Mac OS 6.0
  • Macintosh 68K hardware support dropped
  • Based on the Avid Broadcast Video Board (ABVB) hardware
Mar 1996 Mac OS 6.1
  • PCI-based system
Dec 1996 Mac OS 6.5
  • Script-based editing
  • AVR77
  • AVR9s
Feb 1998 Mac OS 7.0
  • Models like MC 1000 ($66.500) and MC 8000 ($94.625)
  • Paint
  • Animatte
  • AVX plugins
  • Spot color correction
  • Image cloning
  • Intraframe Editing
  • AudioSuite plugins
1999 Mac OS 7.6 to 8.6 7.2 Last version based on the ABVB hardware.
1999 Mac OS 8.5.1 8.0
  • Meridien hardware based
  • ABVB hardware support dropped
  • Uncompressed SD video support
  • Media Composer XL
1999 Windows NT 9.0
  • Meridien hardware based
  • Windows NT 4.0 release
2000 WinNT/Mac OS9 10.0
  • SD 24p support on Mac
2001 Win2K/Mac OS9 10.5
  • Windows 2000 support
2002 Win2K/Mac OS9 11.0
  • Marquee (Windows only)
  • DV support (option)
Feb 2003 Mac OS X 11.7
  • Mac OS X support
  • MetaSync
May 2003 WinXP/Mac OS X 1.0
  • Based on the Adrenaline hardware
Nov 2003 Win2K/Mac OS X 12.0
  • Last version on based on the Meridien hardware
Sept 2004 WinXP/Mac OS X 1.5
  • MXF support
  • Marquee on Mac
Dec 2004 WinXP 2.0
  • HD support
  • HD-SDI I/O with DNxcel card option
  • 10-bit video support
  • SpectraMatte keyer
  • AVX2
March 2005 WinXP 2.1
  • P2 support
  • XDCam support
Dec 2005 WinXP 2.2
  • HDV support
June 2006 WinXP/Mac OS X 2.5
  • No longer hardware based
  • HD support on Mac
  • Media Composer soft
  • Mojo and Mojo SDI support
  • XDCam HD
  • Tracker
Sept 2006 WinXP/Mac OS X 2.6
  • Interplay
  • Safe Color Limiter effect
March 2007 WinXP/Mac OS X 2.6.4

DNxHD36

  • Low-bandwidth HD compression rate for offline editing
May 2007 WinXP/Mac OS X 2.7

MacPro (Intel) support

  • ScriptSync
  • P2 / XDCam writeout
Dec 2007 WinXP/Mac OS X 2.8
  • VC-1/MXF (SMPTE 421M) support
  • ASC CDL metadata support
June 2008 WinXP & Vista/
Mac OS X
3.0
  • 'DX' hardware support
  • new render engine (better multi-threading and GPU support)
  • RT timecode generator
  • SubCap effect
  • AVC-I codec support
Sept 2008 WinXP & Vista/
Mac OS X
3.05
  • XDCAM 50mb format
  • DNA hardware on MacOS 10.5.5
  • RED workflow support
Dec 2008 WinXP & Vista/
Mac OS X
3.1
  • Video Satellite option for Pro Tools (Windows only)
March 2009 WinXP & Vista/
Mac OS X
3.5
  • Avid Media Access (AMA) for better file based workflows
  • FluidStabilizer
  • Keyframeable color correction
  • Native XDCAM EX support
  • Timecode in QuickTime files
  • basic stereoscopic 3D support
  • Software Activation
  • 14-day Downloadable Trial
Sept 2009 WinXP & Vista/
Mac OS X
4.0
  • Mix and Match frame rates on timeline
  • Expert Decompose
  • AVC-I writeout
  • Macintosh Video Satellite support
  • 1080p24 (not-PsF) output
  • HD Ancillary data support on DX hardware
  • GFCAM 50mb/100mb support
  • Stereoscopic enchantments
  • Updated 3rd party software bundle
Nov 2009 WinXP & Vista/
Mac OS X
4.0.4
  • Mac OS X 10.6.3 Snow Leopard support
June 2010 WinXP, Vista, Win7/
Mac OS X
5.0
  • Windows 7 support
  • AMA support for RED
  • QuickTime and Canon cameras
  • Matrox MXO2 Mini output
  • SmartTool 'drag & drop' editing
  • HD-RGB support
  • AVCHD import
  • SMPTE 436M support
  • RTAS audio plug-in support
March 2011 WinXP, Vista, Win7/
Mac OS X
5.5.1
  • AJA Io Express hardware support
  • HDCAM SR Lite native editing
  • AVC-Intra codec module for Nitris DX
  • PhraseFind option
  • Support for EUCON hardware interfaces
  • SmartTool improvements
  • ScriptSync dropped from the trail version
August 2011 WinXP, Vista, Win7/
Mac OS X
5.5.3
  • Mac OS X 10.7 Lion support
November 2011 Windows 7 x64/
Mac OS X 10.7
6.0
  • Native 64-bit application
  • Improved UI (more tabs & less modal)
  • Redesigned stereoscopic toolset
  • Open I/O (Supports 3rd party video hardware)
  • 5.1/7.1 audio mixing support with interoperability with Pro Tools
  • RED EPIC and AVCHD support for AMA
  • Support for EUCON Artist hardware interface in the Color Corrector
  • DNxHD 4:4:4 format
  • ProRes encoding on OS X
  • Built-in Marketplace for purchase of stock footage and plug-ins
  • MetaSync dropped
September 2012 Windows 7 x64/
Mac OS X 10.7, 10.8
6.5
  • MXF AS-02 support
  • Remote editing via Interplay Sphere
  • Audio Punch-In with 3rd party hardware
  • 64 voice audio playback
  • AMA relink enhancements
  • DNxHD 100, SD JPEG 2K Playback
  • Active Format Description metadata support
  • ProRes as a native codec
July 2013 Windows 7/8 x64/
Mac OS X 10.7, 10.8
7.0
  • FrameFlex
  • Source side LUTs
  • Managed AMA
  • Background file transcode
  • Waveform caching
  • Master Audio Fader
  • Avid Symphony sold as an optional package to Media Composer
September 2013 Windows 7/8 x64/
Mac os X 10.7, 10.8
7.0.2
  • XDCAM EX 35 capture
  • Dynamic Bin Naming
December 2013 Windows 7/8/8.1 x64/
Mac OS X 10.7, 10.8, 10.9
7.0.3
  • OS X Mavericks and Windows 8.1 support
  • Setting to enable or disable frame blending in Motion Adapters
  • New Nvidia drivers support
May 2014 Windows 7/8/8.1 x64/
Mac OS X 10.8, 10.9
8.0.0
  • Monthly/annual subscription licensing support
  • Support agreement requirements for future updates

See also[edit]

Portal icon Software portal

References[edit]

External links[edit]

User groups