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Old December 10th, 2006, 04:44 PM   #1
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Is Avid worth it?

I figured coming into the Avid chat would be the best bet, albeit biased. I've progressed from Premiere (you gotta start somewhere), and I'm now editing with FCP. I've taken no classes on editing, and everything is self inflicted ... I mean taught. Though, I want to make sure what I make looks it's best. I'm still using SD, and it'll be a while before I can upgrade that equipment, but I was wondering how Avid compared to FCP. I'm sure this isn't a new topis, but I couldn't find too much on it. Any help is great. Thanks!
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Old December 10th, 2006, 06:18 PM   #2
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Well having worked a lot with Premiere Pro, Xpress Pro (mostly training and personal projects, not professional work) and a little with Final Cut too, I can say that a simplistic way of looking at it would be choosing between power and reliability.

You have the horse power with Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro because they are new generation editing softwares, meaning they are designed to be an all-in-one application where you can edit but also create fairly complex effects and mix sound. They are great for projects where you will be doing everything by yourself and cannot afford to do the edit on one app, then send your edit to an effects guy and to a sound guy for special effects and sound mix. They have much more intuitive interfaces, designed with this new gen mentality, completely cut free of the film editing mentality.

But, on the flip side, I've experienced weird (and to me unacceptable) bugs with both Premiere and Final Cut, especially as your projects grow bigger. They are not up to Avid standards in terms of reliability yet (IMO).

Then you have the antic or the classic, depending on your philosophy regarding editing systems. Avid Xpress Pro is a reliable application. Even though at first, the older versions were VERY picky about hardware installation and the slightest hardware or driver change would be enough to crash the app and force re-installation. That being said, Avid adapted quickly, and new versions do seem very stable. But, with both the old and new versions, one thing was always for certain, you could have a project with hundreds of GBs in files spread accross multiple hard drives, many hours in length, spend months on your system, and you could be certain it would still load as fast and pain free as day one everytime. It is rock stable. All the features on Xpress Pro are solid and not buggy at all (in my experience) and they all make sense to the professional editor.

But, there's a flip side to that coin too. Avid Xpress Pro is a watered down application from their hundreds of thousands of dollars online film editing softwares. For that reason, the features are very limited. Don't even think about doing effective effects in Avid. Even doing a pan and zoom on a high res photo is a pain in Xpress Pro. It was not designed as such. This is an editing tool in the purest sense of the term. It is designed for professional editing yes, but editing only, Xpress Pro often being used for off-line stuff in the business.

Additionally, Avid's been around since the begining of online editing. That's probably why 1) it's THE reference in the business and 2) it's extremely stable and well thought out. BUT, it is also a design based on an old mentality. Avid was the bridge between the old school film cutting and the online systems. As a result, it had to be designed for traditional film cutters, so they would not be lost in the transition (some of them still were of course). Everything in there, from the roll/lift/cut tools to the way black fillers work are designed after film cutting. It is an interface that made perfect sense for the old film editors, but is completely counter-intuitive for the new generation editors. Don't even think about working the drag and drop into your Avid routine (it's somewhat possible, but wasn't designed for it and is very limited. Forget about moving your clips around in your timeline with your mouse).

Being familiar with both types of apps is a good thing. I know that personally, I would probably favor Avid for off-line editing and department oriented projects (meaning a different person for editing, sound mixing and effects), because the OMF file system gives you the ability to export your work to other departments without having to render. They can just work on your timeline from different apps like Pro Tools for example. This is a blessing for this kind of work flow and something where Premiere is certainly not up to speed yet (can't really comment on FC for that).

Also, the networking structure gives the ability in a production house to have the material spread across a network of computers that can all access the work and master files from their departments without having, again, to export anything.

I would also edit features and shorts on an Avid for the same reasons, because it will stay stable throughout the project no matter what you throw at it and narrative work is usually something that is very divided in terms of work load. Meaning one editor will take care of editing, usually with basic cuts and simple fades, then it will be sent elsewhere for effects, then elsewhere for sound, music, etc.

But, for small corporate productions where you usually do everything, small budget music videos, personal no budget projects, event videography, those types of productions, I would certainly not consider an Avid. It is not worth it. Premiere now has built in multicam editing, which works very well, and correct me if I'm wrong but I think FC too, so that once only advantage by Avid for editing concerts and recitals is now gone. The interface in Premiere and Final Cut is much more intuitive and you can do everything but the more complex effects from that one app.

I'm sure some will disagree with me on some of those points, but to me this is the fundamental differences between them. I'll let the more experienced Avid and Final Cut users fill in the blanks on that subject.
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Old December 10th, 2006, 09:25 PM   #3
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It took me time to learn Avid...I went from Media 100 - Final Cut Express - Final Cut Pro - Avid Xpress Pro.

Avid took some time to learn as Media 100 and Final Cut are fairly similar, but now I love Avid...truely amazing but the company has been deficiant in supporting the JVC HD-100, so I have been back to Final Cut right now. I use the Final Cut Studio though, particularlly DVD Studio Pro w/ Compressor which is increadible.

The point made above about Timeline editing is the biggest difference between the two. I tried to handle Avid like a FCP system and I was cursing it out. That was until I figured out how to use it. Since then, I configured my keyboard in FCP like Avid and use FCP like an Avid Editor. I find it much better. I am 21 and never used film so it's not like I come from that backround. Once I learned how to cut something in Avid I found it to be better than the usual way in FCP. Of course though, Final Cut as I said can be conigured similarly to edit like an Avid but not the other way around. Avid also has the best Media Management around, particularlly the "Custom Sift" option which allows you to search your bins with amazing precision.

From what I gather, many post houses are also becoming more compatible with Final Cut since verison 5 came out. Avid is still the industry work-horse though. If you can afford it, the Media Composer Software Only Edition is the way to go. It contains things like Spectramate and Animate for compositing as well as other things.

The Premeire Studio (Adobe) looks very cool, but I am a Mac guy.

Yes, Final Cut has up to 16 tracks (I belive it can with a Quad-Core, but it is at least 9) of Multicam.
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Old December 11th, 2006, 12:16 PM   #4
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I think Steve and David have described/compared the Avid platform with the other "A's" in a very honest and unbiased fashion. And what David said about Avid's media management is very true and important. Media management affects everything, including the overall reliability of the project.

I've played with Premiere trial versions over the years and spent about an hour with FCP on a compadre's editing system, so my view is limited. Although I thought they handled very similar to each other and they we're pretty easy/intuitive to edit with. But, I was able to break clip links with ease when I moved media/projects around and around from drives to drives, etc. (That may change for FCP since one of the original Avid product managers now works for Apple)

In my career I have always had a point in time during a project (commercials/industrials) when a paying client (usually on a tight deadline) would want to sit down and do a supervised edit session, making changes and revisions quickly. And sometimes extreme changes like rearranginng the entire seuence, changing all of the titles,. And sometimes my agency clients want up to 10 different versions of a commercial. Paying clients want to see all of the options.

In this context I would only edit with an Avid, not only because that is with what I'm most familiar with, but it's media management gives me the peace of mind that my sequences, efx, and clips will always be there. Both online and offline.

If you're not editing projects or collaborating with others in an extreme fast changing environment, then the other editing systems are fantastic and ultimately you go with what works for you.

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Old December 11th, 2006, 12:24 PM   #5
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I've been editing on Avid since 1994, it was the logical choice for me, one because it used film terms that were somewhat familiar to me from my TV news days, and two because it was "ion state contract" and therefore easier (less red tape) to purchase. ;-)

One thing I always liked about Avid was that it only rendered effects and changes, so it played from the timeline out to tape. Now with having to go to mp2 etc, that point is a bit moot.

As for the media management, I don't collab with anyone, I'm a one man shop so one thing I would love to see change is the addeded ability to put OMFI folders inside of other folders on the hard drive. As it is the OMFI folder is first level and only one per drive. since I juggle multiple projects simultaneously, it is far too easy to get files from one project interspersed with another, and that creates issues at back up time.

I started NLE with Avid, I have used a few others, but no matter which came first the chicken or the egg, I'm faster with Avid, even with having to export to AE for composites.

they are all just tools, none is "better" than another, just different.
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Old December 11th, 2006, 12:46 PM   #6
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the answer to your question really depends on what kind of work you do. from a pure editing point of view - cutting, trimming, organizing and putting it all together, Avid is stillt he best. That's not to say you can;t do it with FCP or Premeire, but from a day in, day out, editing standpoint the Avid toolset is the most productive. <i>Now I must add a caveate to that statement - Once you accept the Avid way of editing</i>. Many folks who don't like Avid are used to anothe r NLE and they are trying to make Avid work the same way. it doesn;t Avid isn't just an editing interface, it's and editing workflow. If you embrace it, you will love it!

Some of the tools in Avid Xpress Pro that really set it apart:

1) Color correction and color matching. Sure other NLEs can color correct, but none do it as easily and effeciently with professional results. With Avid you can match skin tones from two different clips, then have the second clip automatically adjusted to match the first. Youc n also click on multiple clips and have Avid auto color correct them with astonishing results. Which you can still dig into deeper and adjust further.

2) Media management. Sorting, sifting and finding media is Avid's strength. Nothing comes close. You can color code clips by source footage, camera, content. It's just so much better at keeping trtack and organizing all your clips.

3) Collaboration. If you are going to work with others on your project, you'll be glad you picked Avid.

4) 24p and film support. Xpres pro ships with a full suite of film tools.

5) HD Open timeline. You can mix DV and HD footage on the timeline. No need to render first. While Avid does not support every flavor of HDV (yet), this is a very productive workflow.

Note on HD flavors: No vendor has this perfect yet. It seems like every new HD camera comes with a new twist on the format. If you have an HD camera and a specific format you plan on using, the first thing you need to do is make sure any NLEs you wish to consider give you full support for the formats you will shoot.

Gary
http://www.videoguys.com/XpressProHD.html
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Old December 11th, 2006, 03:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Bettan
Many folks who don't like Avid are used to anothe r NLE and they are trying to make Avid work the same way. it doesn;t Avid isn't just an editing interface, it's and editing workflow. If you embrace it, you will love it!
I'm not sure I follow. Editing workflow?
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Old December 11th, 2006, 08:54 PM   #8
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OK Alex, I'll explain it better. My story with Avid:

When we first began selling Avid Xpress DV, I found I could use it, but I just didn't love the feel of it. I thought it was becuase I was intimidated by the fact that it was based on the professional Avid application, and for that reason i wasn't getting it. At the time realtime card like the DV500, DV Storm and RT2500 where the hot products and they all had one thing in comon - Adobe Premiere 6.x

So one day I'm working on some clips from my daughters gymnastics open house. I figured it was the perfect time to work more with Avid. We had a pre-release verison of Xpresss DV 3.0 which was the first software based real-time DV solution. Man was I getting frustrated. I knew it was real-time, but I wasn't feeling productive. So one fo our sales guys comes up to me and asks how it's going. I show him what I'm working on and I compaian about the interface. He turns to me and says " The problems not Avid, it's you. Stop trying edit the way you do on Preemeire with Avid, edit the Avid way". I was kind of stunned, but he said it again. "Clear your mind. Stop fighting with the software. Use it the way it was designed to work". He then spent about 5 minutes showing me the Avid way to do stuff. things like trimming, applying filters and effects, and most importantly the bins and the hamburger tool. The hamburger tool (Fast Menu) is a button shortcut that puts the tools you need and use most just a click away.

I was hooked. I got it. I stopped fighting with Avid and instead started editing the "Avid" way. I could not believe how quickly and effeciently I could edit. Then I started learning the keyboard shortcuts - it just got better.

I get to use all the NLEs we sell: Premiere, Liquid, Vegas, Edius, FCP and Avid Xpress. When it comes to doing long format work with tons of footage, Avid is the best choice. I'm still a big fan of Liquid (the best bang for your editing buck) and Vegas (incredibly efficient tool). Premeire Pro w/ a Matrox RT.X2 is a fantastic real-time HDV editing solution. Edius is still a little crude compared to the others, but man, can it slice through all kinds of HD footage - especially DVCPro50 & 100. As for FCP, I like it, but I don't love it. I can see why it is so popular, but I think the other apps deliver a better experience for me. I'm sure my PC bias has alot to do with it, but I just think it's over-rated. But, then again, I think Macs are over-rated as well (there's my PC bias again).

I do still find that if I spend time working with other NLEs the going back to Avid - I have to remind myself to edit the Avid way, when I get back to using it. Once I do, it all goes so much smoother.

Visit the websites and doenload the trial versions. Give them a spin. When you do decide which one to go with, invest an extra $50 or $100 in some training DVDs. (Note: Videoguys includes training DVDs with almost all of our NLE packages)

gary
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Old December 11th, 2006, 09:18 PM   #9
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Awesome, thanks man! I really appreciate it. A few last questions:
FCP vs. FCXpress is night and day to me. i don't like Xpress at all. Is this going to be the same with Avid?
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Old December 11th, 2006, 11:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Sprinkle
Awesome, thanks man! I really appreciate it. A few last questions:
FCP vs. FCXpress is night and day to me. i don't like Xpress at all. Is this going to be the same with Avid?
I haven't used FCP or FCXpress but I have used many Avids, and the interface is very consistent between versions. And I love all of them.
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Old December 12th, 2006, 10:42 AM   #11
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FCP Express is similar to Avid DV except that Express offers HD support.

In the pro realm, FCP is really more in between XPress Pro and Media Composer in terms of functionality. FCP even offers Secondary Color Correction, something only the Symphony Nitris has and that will cost an arm and a leg.

FCP has the same multicam functionality as Media Composer and is more advanced than Xpress Pro in this area.

Media Composer does have things like Animatte and Sprectrematte for pulling really good keys, but if you add Shake onto the FCP price, you have it all...Editing, Authoring, Sound, Effects, Compositing all for about $100 more than Xpress Pro and $3000 less than Media Composer Software. This is something else to think about. If you are on Windows, you could of course add the Avid Studio Toolkit, but that will run you another $1000 and it does not contain Pro Tools anymore.
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Old December 12th, 2006, 02:13 PM   #12
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To characterize the overall difference (I learned on the Avid, and I now use FCP, so I've experienced both worlds).

FCP is a good choice when you're working on your own and very cost conscious and need real HD editing and monitoring for under $15,000 and have the patience to deal with rendering time and don't plan to mix media. Modest Performance, Good Value. Ideal for the cost concious independent producer.

Working in a facility where you share media with other editors working on projects with tight deadlines and need to work in real time with mixed media formata and can't afford to deal with rendering time? Avid + Unity. Professional, Industrial Strength Performance. Expensive, but delivers the performance that post facilities demand.

Both are good systems. Each was designed for a different marketplace. Now with costs going down and the era of the large post facility coming to an end, Avid will be forced to come down to the indie level. The introduction of the $5K software-only Media Composer is a step in this direction. The two systems will eventually converge in price performance. While Avid is moving downstream, FCP is working it's way upstream. I hope both vendors survive, competition is good for this marketplace.
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Old December 12th, 2006, 06:59 PM   #13
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To be pragmatic I'm just gonna say what's "worth it" is what fits your budget and your work flow. With a few exceptions FCP and Avid are equally able to get the job done.

I learned editing on an Avid and stumbled onto FCP a few years later. I do have personal preferences, but both system are very capable. If I could get FCP's front end (UI) + Avid's back end (media management) I'd be in NLE heaven though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Bettan
OK Alex, I'll explain it better. My story with Avid
I think that rings true all around. I've met Avid guys that get would get frustrated working on FCP until they stopped trying to do things the "Avid way" and actually learned how FCP worked. After that things went a lot smoother.


-A
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Old December 13th, 2006, 11:50 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Mecca
one thing I would love to see change is the addeded ability to put OMFI folders inside of other folders on the hard drive. As it is the OMFI folder is first level and only one per drive. since I juggle multiple projects simultaneously, it is far too easy to get files from one project interspersed with another, and that creates issues at back up time.
Bill, you should check out Media Sift. A free software that will let you move or copy projects, and also sort by project in subfolders under the main OMFI folder. The footage in the subfolders shows as offline, of course, but it's easy to archive since it's organized by project.

http://www.senkou.com/
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