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NLE Report: Upgrades, Increments and Rumor Control

By Ned Soltz

The annual NAB show saw major announcements, incremental changes and drifting rumors about some of the top non-linear editing systems. Here are the highlights on six major of the players.

MEDIA100_MultiCamScreenshot

The addition of Multicam Editing with sync via timecode is one of the major upgrades to Media 100.
 
Media Composer 3.5     
Avid    
Avid announced a whole host of new features in Media Composer and Symphony. Native XDCAM editing. Stereoscopic 3D editing. AMA IAvid Media Access Architecture) allows automatic linking of clips from devices such as SxS or P2 without transcoding or storing media on host system. Dongle replaced by msystem activation key. Keyframable color correction. New Fluid Stabilizer. General enhancements to FX. Media Composer and ProTools 8 integration allows control of MC system from PT. ProTools and MC can now be installed on same system. Enhanced audio capabilities. This is a major upgrade, and everyone can admit that Stereoscopic 3D editing is way cool. Also announced was the ability to store FCP files on Avid Unity system. I’m not mourning the phase-out of the dongle.       

Edius 5.1      
Grass Valley
This update adds tighter integration with Grass Valley Aurora allowing import of Aurora EDLs and create an Aurora smart bin directly from Edius timeline. Using optional Firecoder Blu H.264/MPEG-2 hardware transcoder board can quickly output to Blu Ray directly from timeline. Now imports partial P2 or XDCAM clips. Audio normalization tool. Capture reel names. Output finished edits to multiple discs. With this update, Grass Valley continues to position Edius squarely in news environments with Aurora integration and building upon Edius’ ability to read P2 and XDCAM natively. A worthwhile update to this fast and solid NLE.     

Vegas 9      
Sony Creative Software
Vegas has long been a favorite of a dedicated following of editors, and there is good reason. It's fast, versatile and integrates across the Sony Creative Software product line. Vegas 9 features an entirely new and user-customizable interface, direct import of XDAM and AVCHD files, native support for RED One, compression to MXF format during capture, scalable 4K workflow, and new transitions including a Gradient Wipewith organic and artistic transitions. But that's not all. Also here are DPX and OpenEXR formats, new audio waveforms and audio-only edits. Both 32 and 64-bit versions are included. Vegas 9 is a must-have upgrade. It's also a worthy contender for PC editors looking for a solid NLE.     

Premier Pro CS4  
Adobe    
There were no new product announcements at NAB 2009 but… Adobe demonstrated workflows between FCP and CS4 on the Mac platform. Essentially, export XML from FCP and import that XML into Premiere Pro. The entire FCP timeline imports along with any shared plug-in effects. You’re then able to take advantage of CS4’s tight integration and virtually seemless transitions between Premier-Photoshop-After Effects-Encore. Cool trick and makes owning the entire CS4 Production Premium package very attractive to FCP users.     

Media 100 Suite      
Media 100
This is a major update to the venerable Media 100 NLE. Multicam Editing with sync via timecode, sync marks or in-points. VO tool which allows multiple takes. Voice Over can be stereo or 2 channels. Support for Matrox MXO2 for i/o, monitoring and up/down/cross conversion. Integration with Apple Color. Support for 1080PsF. Support for QuickTime TC tracks. Export burn-in timecode. 24 bit audio import. Export RP188 timecode to supported AJA cards. Since BorisFX purchased Media100, product development has been enhanced and what seemed to be the forgotten pioneer of NLEs now returns to the forefront. Media 100 has already supported the line of AJA products in addition to its own Media 100 HDx board. The added support of the Matrox MXO2 adds to the versatility of the product through MXO2’s ability to be used both on MacPro and MacBook Pro systems. Media 100 is yet another of those products that should not be overlooked and the Media 100 suite provides a reasonably-priced solution that runs well both on desktop as well as notebook computers.     

Final Cut Studio 2
Apple
No, nothing new. The rumor sites were abuzz and the bar talk pitted one guess against another. What’s Apple got up its sleeve? Some of us expected some kind of Final Cut Studio 3 teaser in the weeks leading up to NAB. Others said to be patient because something big is coming. Suffice it to say, nothing happened. Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing. With a new OS on the way, we can imagine that a new version of FCS will emerge to take advantage of advances in the OS. The big news for FCP users, however, is in the area of integration. Avid Unity now supports FCP files. EditShare and Automatic Duck are collaborating to allow sharing of FCP and Avid files across both NLEs on an EditShare platform. These are two great strides forward for FCP users. The Instant Expert awaits Apple’s announcements.