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Avid Copes With Static Charge

by David Fox

Avid's market is changing. "The core Media Composer business is static," admits Graham Sharp, its vice president, European sales and operations. The growth areas are at the top and bottom ends, which its European organisation wasn't structured for.

For example, high definition is doing far better in Europe than expected. "All over Europe, HD is starting to happen," he says. However, because of the dot-gone crash, there are now very few customers for Web-versions of its systems, although it is still developing it. It has also introduced NetReview, which enables producers and their clients to review and approve media more easily on the Internet.

The Media Composer line has been updated with a DV option (25 and 50 Mbps), with real-time DVE. NewsCutter XP (v.2.1), including the NewsCutter XP Mobile laptop editing system, is now working in Pal (4:1:1). It also has PortServer Pro support for use with Avid's Unity networking system.

It also showed the newly available Avid Symphony version 3.5, Media Composer 10.5 and Xpress version 4.5 systems at IBC 2001. They are all now Windows-2000 compatible, with new titling and editing features, better collaboration tools and multi-format mastering.

At the top end, Sharp claims its D|S NLE is faster than Discreet's smoke, due to its enhanced workflow and distributed networking.

The D|S HD can now store nine hours of HD (at one quarter resolution - there are five HD resolutions to choose from) on a single machine, making it more suited for film work. New version 5.0 software (for both SD and HD versions) gives it a better feature set for broadcast use, including additional real-time capabilities. He claims "it is now the complete post-production solution for broadcast."

Version 5.0 includes enhanced real-time effects (including picture-in-picture), a source-side timeline display, animated camera views in the 3D DVE, Photoshop layer import and improved remote processing for better workflow.

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Greater Unity

The new Windows 2000-based MediaStation XL does background digitising and playout from Unity at a lower cost, at all Avid resolutions, including uncompressed 24p. It can also do film-to-disk transfers from telecine. It reduces loading times and improves post-production workflow. It comes with either Fibre Channel or SCSI connections, and costs from $25,000 for a system with two-channel audio and analogue i/o, or $30,000 with eight audio channels and SDI.

More than 600 Unity systems have been installed and almost all of Avid's products now work with Unity, including its Pro Tools audio system.

The latest version (Avid MediaNet 2.1), can have up to 50 clients operating on the same media, with 14 dual, uncompressed streams and the ability to simultaneously share uncompressed media between all its systems, including Mac-based.

It has also released a lower-cost Ethernet-based Unity LANshare for facilities with 6 or fewer clients.

New, Media Browse 2.1 can have up to 40 browse and eight digitise streams, allows voice over recording at the desktop, audio level control, split audio, and dual digitisation of media into Media Browse and Unity.

Avid's new Windows 2000-based PortServer and PortServer Pro allow Unity to work with other servers. They have Fibre Channel and Gigabit Ethernet physical connections. Format convertors are available for SGI files now and Quantel and Omneon soon. The Pro version allows more Avid equipment to connect to Unity (up to 50 workstations, including NewsCutter XP clients via Ethernet).

The latest version of its AirSPACE server allows journalists to do a rough cut and conform seamlessly in AirSPACE. It is now better integrated with Unity for news. Users can start to record on AirSPACE and instantly transfer into Unity. It can also now play to air as it is recording.

It can do four streams of 50Mbps IMX or eight channels of 25Mbps DV (the IMX codecs use a wider card so can only fit four of them). It will be selling as a stand-alone server, with either 100Mb or Gigabit Ethernet.

NOV 2001

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David Fox