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Can Adobe take on Avid?

One of the talking points at NAB this year was Adobe clearly signalling its intention to square up to Avid – the industry’s major video editing platform.

Adobe has been gradually improving its Adobe Premiere Pro package with smoother workflows with its other key video editing applications Audition, Prelude, Premiere, Speedgrade and After Effects.

The next much-anticipated event will be the launch of its collaborative editing tool Adobe Anywhere, allowing editors to login via the internet to access files as if they were on a local network.

Avid’s response has been the announcement of a substantial price cut and the rolling out of a series of under-the-bonnet improvements to Media Composer, including the incorporation of a lot more background processing in Media Composer 7.

So to what extent will Adobe challenge Avid as the industry’s favourite editing platform?

Avid is anecdotally used on over 90% of major broadcast TV editing, with Adobe Premiere Pro used more by digital design houses and producers looking for a smooth integration of editing, vfx and animation, as seen in shows such as A Liar’s Autobiography (pictured).

The reality is that the most likely converts are not post houses immersed in Avid but former Final Cut Pro users. 

Mytherapy’s Dado Valentic, who has Beta tested the new look Premiere, is a fan of its flexibility. “It supports almost any media in its raw format without any conversion, and it is far more flexible when it comes to exports. This is a characteristic that FCP used to have and is one of the main reasons why ex-FCP users are moving to Premiere Pro.”

Envy Post Production head of workflow Adam Davies explains that the potential appeal of Adobe to companies such as Envy, which are heavily invested in Avid, is that it “integrates well with the other Adobe applications – so for adding or generating graphics, Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects are easily accessible”. Plus it has innovative ‘cloud’ rental pricing options.

Prime Focus Broadcast UK head of operations Kate Robson adds that Premiere has advantages on some vfx workflows.

“We recently worked with Adobe to build a system that would provide a fluid vfx workflow to and from our broadcast vfx department for October Films’ World War II from Space. Premiere has the Dynamic Link function that allows for live vfx updates from After FX.”

She continues: “As an editing system it is great for working with native media because it often omits the need for a conform, plus editors like the way you can choose your playback resolution.”

For Stitch Editing’s Tim Hardy Avid remains the perfect editing tool: well organised and very, very stable. “A lot of the young guys learn stuff at entry level on FCP and Adobe – because they are low cost, user-friendly and intuitive. But once you get your head around Avid it’s much more solid.”

Collaborative workflows

Avid also has the edge with collaborative workflows, as Envy’s Adam Davies explains. “When working on ISIS Avid functions extremely well with multiple editors working on a single project.

Premiere does not yet have the same sophistication here, unless you commit to using Adobe Anywhere. This looks interesting but it is a very new product and will need a certain amount of market testing. There is also the issue of familiarity – most offline editors are able to drive Media Composer.”

Valentic agrees: “Editors know how to use Media Composer and are reluctant to learn a new system.” The other big issue that Adobe faces is the level at which many production companies have invested in Avid and the kit that goes with it such as Unity ISIS.

Rich Orrick at Work Post comments: “That kind of investment is expensive and unlikely to be updated until things become outdated or broken.” 

The reality, concludes Valentic, is that there is little scope for Adobe Premiere to make inroads in the broadcast market at the moment. “But in many other areas – such as commercials, feature, online, it will certainly become a standard.”

Posted 05 June 2013 by David Wood
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