Avid’s Media Composer is, despite all odds, the industry standard for video editing. So if it’s good enough for Star Wars, it’s good enough for you. Luckily, users will now be able to get a dumbed down version for free this year.
In a press release, Avid has finally spilled the beans on a much anticipated wing to their software packages. "Media Composer First" will be severely limited, however this could be exactly what some people need to bridge the gap between consumer and professional video editing. “First” will only allow for four video tracks and eight audio tracks. It will still allow you to output full HD video though, and apply effects to your clips, so it’s not all that bad a deal.
Is it right for you? We’re not talking about an easy to use system here, and it could well be too complicated for the regular user. Consider that they’re aiming at students, who will need to practice with Media Composer and find that the 30 day trial isn’t enough. Then there’s the hobbyist, who endeavours to learn new software for the fun of it. Finally, there may be broadcast journalists and assistant editors who could find this extremely useful, since their jobs may rely on Avid’s systems.
It's also worth noting that while Avid offering free software is a big deal, other pioneers in non-linear-editing have been doing just the same. Blackmagic Design and now even Media 100 has been dusted off and has returned as a free package.
Should You Use This?
I don’t see a big market for this, especially when we remember that Avid did this years ago and eventually shut it down. In fact, Apple had Final Cut Express and Adobe had Premiere Pro Elements. It seems like consumers are doing just fine with the likes of iMovie, even Windows Movie Maker – and the hobbyists always have the likes of Blender and DaVinci Resolve, for free, complicated, editing.
So I’m figuring that this is down to students, who don’t want to pay for the $400 academic discount on the full version, and journalists who may need to work with Avid tools outside their office. Beyond that, I’m not so sure.
I’m basically saying that you shouldn’t need to use this, unless you have to. To prove my point, I defy anybody who’s new to professional video editing, to download and try “Media Composer First” when it’s released this summer. It isn't a very friendly piece of software. What should be intuitive can be hidden behind keyboard shortcuts and awkward workarounds. It’s absolutely perfect for working with large teams in expensive post-production facilities, but it’s certainly not tailored for home use like Premiere Pro or Final Cut X can be. If you can afford it, Final Cut X is perfect for people starting out.
It seems as though Avid has been slowly dying off for the past decade. By aiming for the high end market, they’ve cut off massive streams of revenue from regular people. This is why Apple and Adobe can innovate, and Avid can’t. While we’re waiting in anticipation for the ability to edit via web browser (which both Adobe and Avid have promised), this is about all Avid is announcing this year to pull in fresh customers.
If you want in on “Media Composer First,” you can sign up for its June release right here.