In case anybody was still wondering if Avid’s recent rebranding was a good idea, I recently attended two industry events that helped prove that the company that brought us Media Composer twenty years ago is not going anywhere anytime soon.  With a renewed sense of forward thinking and a commitment to actually listening to the users of their product, Avid’s recent releases of their 3.0 and 4.0 versions of Media Composer, along with a spiffy new series of hardware, helped prove to customers that there are still some advantages to throwing down a little extra cash to buy the editing toolset used by the majority of big-budget Hollywood productions.

The first event I attended (GenCre8 at The Echoplex on November 7) took me completely by surprise, as I was unaware it was an Avid-sponsored event until I arrived.  Billed as a “secret performance by The Crystal Method” (the celebrated hard-edged electronic music duo whose music you’d probably recognize from various TV shows and car commercials), the event attracted a niche crowd of music enthusiasts from the Los Angeles area.  Arriving at the event not fully sure how or why it was free (or even if I would make it inside), I was pleasantly surprised to see Avid banners draped everywhere upon entering and instantly recalled how Avid rebranded all of their subsidiary companies under the single name “Avid” last year to minimize confusion and unify their many divisions.

In addition to being a full-fledged electronic music performance, the event featured a 20-minute demonstration by the opening act (a rap duo called “The Chosen Few,” who were actually pretty talented) to promote Pro Tools and demonstrate how easy and fast it is to create beats using their software.  While the spiel itself could have been streamlined a little bit (it seemed to drag on at times, partly because the guy working the computer was also simultaneously trying to describe how Pro Tools works), the entire event was a pretty savvy marketing maneuver.  What better way to promote a product and establish brand identity than a demonstration to a captive audience who has already proven interest and dedication to electronic music just by showing up to a “secret” show?  Not to mention the fact that attendees would have a positive association with the Avid brand regardless of the demonstration, simply due to the fact that The Crystal Method played an incredible set afterward.  Very slick, Avid.  I tip my hat to you.

The second event I attended was billed as an Avid event from the start.  The LAFCPUG (Los Angeles Final Cut Pro User Group) spent an evening (November 18) discussing the differences between Avid Media Composer and Final Cut Pro and evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each.  Fellow editing bloggers Shane Ross and Steve Cohen each gave demonstrations on the new Media Composer 4.0’s ability to Mix-and-Match frame rates and resolutions in real-time, as well as the new AMA architecture and advancements in Trim Mode and Segment Mode.  The highlight of the night, however, was the keynote address by Walter Murch, the undisputed “godfather of editing.”  After spending the last 7 years using Final Cut Pro, Walter recently joined the film “The Wolfman” mid-stream when they were already firmly entrenched in an Avid workflow.  Given his unique perspective having gone from Avid to Final Cut and back again, Walter was able to give candid insight into the technical advantages and disadvantages of each system.  It was interesteing to note that while Walter praised some of Avid’s new features, when prodded by an audience member’s question, he responded that if given the choice, he would still cut his next feature on Final Cut.

Aside from being a great networking opportunity (I got to introduce myself to three of my favorite editing bloggers and shake hands with my idol), the event reinforced the notion that both platforms are moving in the right direction and that the rivalry between the two companies is good for the industry (competition = innovation and aggressively low pricing).  As technology continues to advance and workflows move increasingly toward high definition, tapeless acquisition, and web-based delivery, it will be fascinating to see how Avid and Final Cut each adapt to the continuously changing landscape of the film and television industries.