2020.9 / September 30, 2020
|Operating system||macOS 10.12 and later, Windows 7 and later.|
|Type||Video editing software|
|Website||Avid Media Composer|
Avid Media Composer is a film and video editing software application or non-linear editing system (NLE) developed by Avid Technology. Initially released in 1989 on Macintosh II as an offline editing system, the application has since evolved to allow for both offline and online editing, including uncompressed standard definition (SD), high definition (HD), 2K and 4K editing and finishing. Since the 1990s, Media Composer has been the dominant non-linear editing system in the film and television industry, first on Macintosh and later on Windows. Avid NewsCutter, aimed at newsrooms, Avid Symphony, aimed at finishing, were 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.
There are 4 versions of Avid Media Composer; Media Composer | First (a freeware version), Media Composer, Media Composer | Ultimate, and Media Composer | Enterprise. Media Composer can be used as standalone software, or to which the user can add specific external I/O devices, either from Avid or from specific third parties.
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 1992. 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 (1993).
In 1994, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and 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 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 available, since all of its specific film editing features were implemented into the "regular" Media Composer.
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.
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 turnkey system.
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 9s; interlaced (finishing) resolutions were initially AVR 21–23, with the later improvements of AVR 24 through 27, and the later AVR 70 through 77. AVR12 was a two-field interlaced offline resolution. Additionally, Avid marketed the Media Composer 400 and 800 as offline-only editors. These systems exclusively used external fast SCSI drives (interfaced through a SCSI accelerator board) for media storage. Avid media was digitised as OMFI (Open Media Framework Interchange) format.
In the mid-nineties, versions 6 and 7 of Media Composer 1000, 8000 and 9000 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 bypass 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 XL available for the Windows operating system. Many users were concerned that Avid would abandon the Mac platform, which they eventually did not do. Media Composer XL versions 8 through 12.0.5 (models MC Offline XL, MC 1000 XL, MC 9000XL) 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 setups could 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.
Avid designed hardware
Avid systems used to ship with Avid branded I/O boxes, like Mojo, Adrenaline and Nitris, but in recent years have ceased to produce their own hardware, and have started collaborating with companies like Blackmagic Design and AJA, releasing customised, Avid-branded I/O boxes, like DNxIO, DNxIQ and DNxIV.
Third-party supported hardware
Starting with Media Composer 6, a new Open IO API allowed third-party companies to interface their hardware into Media Composer. AJA Video Systems, Blackmagic 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.
AJA IO Express: Starting with Media Composer 5.5, introduced 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 computer via PCIe or ExpressCard/34 interface.
Matrox MXO2 Mini: Starting with Media Composer 5, Avid introduced 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.
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.
Avid Mojo DX : rack mountable interface with various I/O
Avid Nitris DX: : rack mountable interface with various I/O
- 3D Warp
- Live Matte Key
- Tracker / Stabiliser
- 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
- PhraseFind - analyses clips and indexes all dialog phonetically allowing text search of spoken words. (reacquired as of 8.9.3)
- ScriptSync (with Nexidia phonetic indexing and sync) (reacquired as of 8.9.3)
Avid Symphony 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 (meaning that if the board is replaced, a new "blesser" floppy comes 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.
The installer used to include installers for:
- EDL Manager
- Avid Log Exchange (no longer in v8)
- MediaLog (no longer in v8)
- 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.
Some boxed versions of Media Composer came with the following third 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)
Revisions and Features
|Jul 1995||Mac OS 7.5||5.5||
|Sep 1995||Mac OS 7.5||6.0||
|Mar 1996||Mac OS 7.5||6.1||
|Dec 1996||MacOS 7.5||6.5||
|Feb 1998||Mac OS 7.5 - 8||7.0||
|1999||Mac OS 7.6 – 8.6||7.2||Last version based on the ABVB hardware.|
|1999||Mac OS 8.5||8.0||
|2000||Mac OS 9, Windows||10.0||
|2001||Mac OS 9, Windows||10.5|
|2002||Mac OS 9, Windows||11.0||
|May 2003||macOS, Windows||1.0||
|Nov 2003||macOS, Windows||12.0||
|Sept 2004||macOS, Windows||1.5||
|June 2006||macOS, Windows||2.5||
|Sept 2006||macOS, Windows||2.6||
|March 2007||macOS, Windows||2.6.4||
|May 2007||macOS, Windows||2.7||
|Dec 2007||macOS, Windows||2.8||
|June 2008||macOS, Windows||3.0||
|Sept 2008||macOS, Windows||3.05||
|Dec 2008||macOS, Windows||3.1||
|March 2009||macOS, Windows||3.5||
|Sept 2009||macOS, Windows||4.0||
|Nov 2009||macOS, Windows||4.0.4||
|June 2010||macOS, Windows||5.0||
|March 2011||macOS, Windows||5.5.1||
|August 2011||macOS, Windows||5.5.3||
|November 2011||macOS, Windows||6.0||
|September 2012||macOS, Windows||6.5||
|July 2013||macOS, Windows||7.0||
|September 2013||macOS, Windows||7.0.2||
|December 2013||macOS, Windows||7.0.3||
|May 2014||macOS, Windows||8.0.0||
|July 2014||macOS, Windows||8.1.0||
|October 2014||macOS, Windows||8.2.0||
|December 2014||macOS, Windows||8.3.0||
|March 2015||macOS, Windows||8.3.1||
|January 2016||macOS, Windows||8.5.0|
|June 2016||macOS, Windows||8.6.0||
|December 2016||macOS, Windows||8.7.0||
|February 2017||macOS, Windows||8.8.0||
|August 2017||macOS, Windows||8.9.0||
|January 2018||macOS, Windows||2018.1||Avid changed the version numbering starting in January 2018|
|July 2018||macOS, Windows||2018.7||
|August 2018||macOS, Windows||2018.8||
|September 2018||macOS, Windows||2018.9||
|October 2018||macOS, Windows||2018.10||
|December 2018||macOS, Windows||2018.12||
|January 2019||macOS, Windows||2018.12.1||Additional features|
|April 2019||macOS, Windows||2018.12.3 through 2018.12.11||Bug fixes|
|June 2019||macOS, Windows||2019.6||
|July 2019||macOS, Windows||2019.7||Bug fixes|
|August 2019||macOS, Windows||2019.8|
|September 2019||macOS, Windows||2019.9||UI Improvements|
|November 2019||macOS, Windows||2019.11||Bug fixes|
|January 2020||macOS, Windows||2019.12.1||Bug fixes|
|April 2020||macOS, Windows||2020.4||
|May 2020||macOS, Windows||2020.5||Bug fixes|
|June 2020||macOS, Windows||2020.6||
|August 2020||macOS, Windows||2020.8||Bug fixes|
- "Media Composer Version FAQ 2019". avid.secure.force.com. Retrieved 2020-07-14.
- "American Cinema Editors (ACE) Board Honors Avid Media Composer" (Press release). Archived from the original on 2009-12-12. Retrieved 2009-12-23.
- "Media Composer 8 FAQ". Avid.[dead link]
- "Media Composer - Compare". Avid.