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S ince last month's comprehensive re- view of Media Composer V.3.5 by AlphaDogs' Terrence Curren (see is still fresh, I'll just touch on the newest features of 4.0, which are pretty significant. I'd also like to extend my thanks to Mr. Curren and AlphaDogs, who have been beta testers on 4.0 for several months, for pro- viding additional feedback for this review. One of the first things you'll notice about Avid's new 4.0 release, which runs on Mac and PC, isn't in the feature set…it's in the price. At $2,295, it's $200 cheaper than the previous version (but still almost $1,300 more than its chief competitor, Final Cut, which runs only on Macs). With new Media Composer releases oc- curring about ever y six months, it's clear Avid is aggressive about regaining not just market share but the marketplace. V.4 is the most dynamic release in years. M I X A N D M AT C H First, the big news: With this release, Media Composer finally catches up (and sur- passes in some respects) something FCP ed- itors have been familiar with for some time — the ability to mix different frame rates, formats and resolutions thanks to a feature called Mix and Match, all without transcod- ing. Avid's implementation of this is quite dif- ferent than FCP's, offering wider control over the way fields and frames are handled. Plus, rendering is not required to play back mixed material. Play back is smooth, not jit- ter y. Plus, MC4's handling of the 2:3 pull- down in 24-frame material is true 2:3, not 4+1, eliminating mastering problems. Motion Adapter Parameters are auto- matically applied to the clips, which are viewed in full quality, and the ability to change the overall sequence frame rate al- lows for tremendous flexibility. In practice, Mix and Match works great within the Avid timeline itself, where no on- line workflow is necessary, but not so great in an offline/online environment where un- conver ted 24- and 30-frame source mater- ial doesn't translate to the changes. But the fact this is all done in software-only is a deft technological feat. C L I P C O L O R Tied in with Mix and Match are enhance- ments to the Clip Color feature in the time- line. This ability to customize and color clips has always been a powerful feature of Media Composer over the competition, and its im- plementation with Mix and Match only ups the ante. Now, in addition to the standard array of customizable clip color choices, you are able to see your mixed rate clips by eye. This is extremely handy when sor ting out a complicated build with looming deadlines. T R A N S I T I O N S This could also be called "Sanity Preser- vation." For some frustrated users, transition preservation alone might be the biggest rea- son for upgrading to 4.0 and has been a long time coming. No longer are you faced with error messages when tr ying to edit a se- quence containing a transition into another sequence; you are free to cut where you need to. Also, transitions in the timeline will follow the segment as you move it into filler, instead of disappearing, Also, when splicing or overwriting a sequence onto another se- quence, transitions in the source are kept in- tact, Additionally, you can now trim past the limits of a transition effect up to the cut. There's more, but trust me, explaining this doesn't do it justice… once you've used it you'll wonder how you lived without it. Lesser, but vital enhancements include: • Improved keyboard suppor t for switch- ing multicam using the numeric keypad and mouse — much more intuitive than the F keys. • From the Final Cut world: 100 levels of Undo! (but here you actually get to see what you're undoing or redoing). • A new AAF (Advanced Authoring For- mat) Edit protocol (for bridging different editing systems) which supplies useful metadata information. • The ability to replace multicamera grouped clips with their original master clip (saving bandwidth on some systems) using one click. • 1080p/24 SD/HD downconversion and crossconversion in multiple formats. • Auto-Zoom for motion tracking and sta- bilization — really handy at removing black edges for tracked images. • Suppor t for Ikegami GFCAM using AMA to edit directly from Ikegami GFPAKs. • A 16-track mixer display. • Improved 3D source handling. • The ability to integrate with Pro Tools using Video Satellite. W H AT I T N E E D S There are many more upgrade features, but let's talk about what Media Composer 4 doesn't have (that users are waiting for) but needs to compete: • Suppor t for third-par ty hardware solu- tions. (Even the ability to monitor in HD without spending $7,500 for Avid hard- ware vs. $200 for a BlackMagic card in FCP would be a major step forward).Yes, it's a tough engineering feat, but it's Avid's major weakness. • XML, XML, XML. Avid has to open up Media Composer to truly compete. With so many other platforms going with XML, Avid is still shooting itself in the foot with its semi-open AAF imple- mentation. It's time to change to keep themselves in true competition. They need a powerful, interactive suite of usable, dynamic tools to compete with Apple's Final Cut Studio.You have the an- cillary companies for audio with • Digidesign, but Avid FX, Avid DVD, Sonic- fire and Marquee can't compete with Motion, Soundtrack Pro, LiveType, DVD Studio Pro and Color. Sorenson is on a par with Compressor. Convergence of various apps is a key to the future. F I N A L T H O U G H T S Those complaints notwithstanding, MC4 is a knockout. Well thought-out, it's a flexi- ble, sophisticated, solidly-performing work- horse. These new implementations place it firmly back in the game. As it continues to evolve, the decision to choose between the competing platforms is getting harder and harder to make." 48 Post By JONATHAN MOSER Freelance Video Editor Flashcut Productions New York V I T A L S T AT S R E V I E W Avid Media Composer 4 PRODUCT: Avid Media Composer 4 (software only) WEBSITE: PRICE: $2,295, software only, includes bundled third-party software. Academic pricing is $295. SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: XP, Vista Business, OSX 10.57 (Intel Mac only) · Mix and Match formats with no transcoding · Customizable clip color choices, and ability to see mixed rate clips by eye A flexible, sophisticated, solidly-performing workhorse. Mix and Match allows mixing of different film rates with no transcoding.

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