Avid Media Composer 7 review - Positive updates and a speedier workflow

The market leader for traditional film and video editors extends its reach

While Media Composer may have unshackled itself from AVID certified hardware dependency, don’t for one minute think that it means it is going to be adopting the cutting-edge editing of FCP or the more visual style of Premiere Pro. It’s still as dour and idiosyncratic. Instead the focus with this release is on making everything that bit better, or in the case of background processing, a lot better. This is now a fully 64-bit app and that power is put to use when you want to transcode media. Before this would tie MC up while it processed the files but now it can run as a background task. Obviously, the more memory you have and the faster the processor the better but you will need a minimum of 8GB for this. Also on the filing front, there are Dynamic Media Folders that can automate many of those tedious tasks. Once a folder is acquired and made active you can set up how it will deal with media added to it, whether that’s copying, transcoding or consolidating. As before, this carries on as a background task.

Hi-res file access is better now, thanks to the unified AMA window that allows files and volumes to be linked directly into MC7 so that 2K, 4K and 5K footage can be edited. There’s also support for full-frame stereoscopic 3D material from capture to edit and output. This, along with 4K workflows, RAW format AMA plug-ins and those Dynamic Media Folders push the RAM requirement up to a recommended 16GB+. Read more Creative Software reviews.

The Marketplace is embedded into the software and here you can download AMA plug-ins for hi-res footage.

As MC7 is just about the most capable NLE for large amounts of media it’s good to see that one of the problems of dealing with disparate resolutions has a neat solution. FrameFlex let’s you keep the resolution of the original media but extracts the section or specific res you want from it. So, it’s easy to get 4K footage and extract a 1080p clip just by marking the area you want it from. A further use is to animate the extraction window so that different areas from the source media can be pulled out as it runs. Just as Premiere CC added Look Up Tables for quick colour grading, so MC7 has followed suite, specifically for dealing with extraction from higher than 1080p sources where the colours tend to be flat. This is in the form of 1D and 3D LUT support and can be applied to a single or multiple files simultaneously.

There are numerous small changes, but one of the more notable upgrades is with the Master Audio Fader. With this RTAS plug-ins can be inserted to make adjustments to tones and loudness. Any audio clips on the timeline can also be enhanced with the Clip Gain control, regardless of any other track-automated functions that are set up. Now, it had been that redrawing Waveforms was another area of finger-tapping tedium in MC but this is now cached and speeded up significantly. Also, when relinking media files, whether they are audio, video or data, there’s much more control over what is included and what is specifically ignored. It’s a small change but adds to making the system work that bit quicker. A more visual aid is that of spanned markers for the timeline, but implementing it is on the clunky side.

Adding the RTAS plug-in filter to adjust the tone and pitch of the audio soundtrack for both stereo and mono sources.

One developing field is collaborative editing on projects and that’s what Premiere Pro CC introduced with Adobe Anywhere. For MCP that comes with the Interplay Edition, rather than the base edition which has seen its price slashed to £862.80.

OUR VERDICT

Most of the changes with Media Composer 7 are performance related rather than adding killer new features. Existing Avid customers will love these changes as they are positive and speed up the workflow significantly, but if you’re not already committed to Media Composer then this probably won’t convince you.

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