Avid Media Composer 3.5 review

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10 We rate this 7 out of 10

  • Price When Reviewed: £1,680 . upgrade £217

  • Pros: Covers every aspect of production; improved effects; greater GPU acceleration.

  • Cons: Pricier than suites from Adobe and Apple, and even more so than standalone apps from Sony and Grass Valley.

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This camera is reviewed as part of our group test of Video-editing applications

Avid is still the ‘Hoover’ of desktop video editing: its brand is almost synonymous with the concept. But its pole position has been under attack from the lower-cost, suite-based approach of Apple Final Cut Studio. So, with Media Composer 3, Avid slashed the price and threw in a wad of extra software, including the Avid DVD disc authoring app and Boris Red-based Avid FX.

In fact, the suite spreads across 10 discs and bundles SmartSound SonicFire Pro 4 with Core Foundations and Core Sessions libraries, the Sorensen Squeeze 5 encoder, and the excellent Boris FX Continuum Complete plug-in collection, plus a host of logging and EDL compatibility applets. So in terms of providing something for every aspect of the production process, Avid is on par with Adobe and Apple, it lacks their seamless integration.

Media Composer is still at the suite’s core, and version 3.5 adds some significant power. You can change the parameters of nested effects at any time, without the need to drag their priority icons around, and colour correction can be keyframed. The FluidStabilizer tracking engine provides powerful tools for dealing with camera shake.

More effects are GPU accelerated, and global Image Interpolation now dictates the level of quality with which resizing and repositioning are rendered.

The Capture Tool supports up to 16 channels HD-SDI audio, and Media Composer will work with Digidesign AudioSuite plug-ins.

At the time of writing, Avid was about to launch version 4, but code wasn’t available in time for us to test. The chief enhancement with this update is the ability to mix standard and high definition footage and different frame rates on the same timeline. This is something other programs (notably Edius) have been capable of for some time, but it’s still welcome.

While Avid remains the industry standard and a very powerful editing toolset, it’s the most expensive option here, with Apple offering a particularly attractively priced alternative.

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