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March 14, 2013

Major NLE Updates Coming at NAB? What Adobe and Avid Should Do to Improve Their Products

NAB is an exciting time of year for us filmmaking folk. While there are certainly some exciting things on the horizon in terms of cameras, rigs, lenses, lights, and what have you, I'm making an educated guess that this will be another significant year for NLE development, especially from post-production giants Avid and Adobe. Avid is likely to make the jump to version 7 of its flagship Media Composer, and if they follow their previously mentioned product cycle plan, Adobe will release version 6.5 of their popular Creative Suite. With much of the editing market still undecided between the three major players in post-production, these new updates could be a crucial stepping stone into the future for these companies.

First and foremost, I should mention that these are the two NLEs which I use regularly. Premiere has taken over as my go-to editing platform, and I use it for most, if not all, of my personal work and for smaller films. Avid, on the other hand, is generally my tool of choice on larger scale productions where media management tends to be a little more unruly, or if it's something I'm collaboratively editing with another person. So as someone who uses both of these on a consistent basis, I have a solid idea of what I would like to see out of the programs in future versions. So without further ado, let the speculation begin.

Avid

The folks at Avid have found themselves in a peculiar predicament as of late. They still dominate the high-end broadcast and film markets with their various software solutions -- as evidenced by their near sweep in several post-production categories at this year's Academy Awards. Despite this seeming success, however, Avid has been hurting financially for the past several years as their sales have continued to decline. This financial downward spiral seems to be boiling over for the company, seeing as how they recently postponed the release of their 2012 4th quarter earnings, something widely regarded by both the business and editing communities as a desperate move.

It seems to me that if Avid really is in desperate financial trouble, they're going to need to make a splash at NAB in order to stimulate new sales of their software  solutions. For them to accomplish this, they are going to need to implement a major overhaul of the Media Composer interface and make it more accessible to younger editors, while simultaneously maintaining the level of professional precision that has made the application an industry workhorse for the past 20 years -- and they're going to have to do all of this while significantly lowering their price points.

Beyond these exterior changes to the software, Avid is going to have to heavily refine the way the software works internally. While they've subtly been doing this for the past 2 or 3 years with features such as AMA linking, OpenGL support, 3rd-party I/O options, and most importantly, 64-bit base code, Avid is still lagging well behind both Adobe and Apple in terms of performance and taking advantage of modern hardware. They need to follow in Adobe's and Apple's shoes with OpenCL support and background rendering. Beyond that, they need to bring resolution independence to both their project settings and to individual clips so that editors aren't restricted to the standard TV and film options that Avid currently offers.

However, despite the fact that a revamped version of Media Composer would likely get Avid's software division back on the track to profitability (especially if they could do the same with Pro Tools), whether or not the company has the cash or credit to cover the costs of the sure-to-be hefty research and development for such an overhaul is highly questionable. If the new version of Media Composer fails to gain traction in the broadcast and film communities, and Avid continues to lose money, it's likely that we could see some kind of company restructuring or even the sale of the company or its individual parts.

Adobe

Adobe, unlike Avid, seems to be thriving these days. After having snatched up many an editing professional after the Final Cut Pro X conundrum, and with the potential downfall of Avid, Adobe is now in a position to take the lead in the professional NLE market. In order to do this, however, they're also going to have to keep innovating with their suite of video post-production tools.

First and foremost, and I don't think I'm alone in this, it's time for Adobe to develop and embrace their own proprietary codec, a la ProRes or DNxHD. While the success of codec independence is part of what makes Premiere great, the performance of certain native codecs within the program is not what it could or should be. With a proprietary codec, Adobe would be able to completely optimize the performance of the software for that codec, as opposed to having a piece of software that deals with some codecs well, and others not nearly as much. Considering that many narrative-style films already transcode their raw camera data for both dallies and offline editing, it would be fantastic for Adobe to develop something to aid in that process. Sure, Cineform has been a decent 3rd party solution to this point, but it's time for Adobe to step up their game and cater to both independent folks as well as high-end professionals.

I would also like to see better integration of the Production Premium suite with its newest member, Adobe SpeedGrade. The acquisition of SpeedGrade from Iridas last year was an excellent move for Adobe in terms of putting together a comprehensive suite of tools for the video professional. However, the implementation and insertion of SpeedGrade into the suite has been clunky, to say the least. If Adobe can manage to integrate the program with the same dynamic linking technologies that have made it a breeze to shoot back and forth between Premiere, After Effects, Audition, and Encore, then they'll finally have a complete, integrated set of high-end tools for the video professional. As it stands now, it's just as easy to take a sequence from Premiere into Resolve as it is to take it into SpeedGrade. This needs to change if they want SpeedGrade to become a more viable option for the folks already using their products.

What do you guys think? What would you like to see out of the new versions of Media Composer and Premiere Pro? What would Avid have to do with Media Composer to keep it relevant and profitable? Conversely, what do you think Adobe would have to do to catapult Premiere Pro into industry dominance? Let us know in the comments.

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151 Comments

Speedgrade is wonderfully intuitive but about as stable as a drunk on roller skates.
I ditched it for Resolve lite, which is less intuitive but more powerful in my opinion.
Even with a high end PC, the transfer between Prem. pro and Speedgrade was abysmal.
While I stand by Adobe for Prem. Pro and After Effects, they're going to have to pull a miracle out of the bag to get me interested in Speedgrade again.

March 14, 2013

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ben

Agree on the Speedgrade thing. It needs brought up to speed with the rest of the suite immediately. I've tried using it and like Ben said, it's just terrible to get anything from Premiere into Speedgrade, Speedgrade crashes constantly, it's just not a stellar program at the moment. There's so much that could be done to improve it and its integration into the suite.

March 14, 2013

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That's about how I feel as well. Resolve Lite really has taken over as my go-to color application, and that doesn't seem likely to change any time soon. However, if Adobe can implement dynamic linking and make it as seamless as it is with their other programs, they'll likely get quite a few more people staying exclusively within the Creative Suite.

March 14, 2013

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Robert Hardy
Writer
Cinematographer / Editor

This. SpeedGrade needs Adobeization I am all-in for Adobe these days. More often than ever, I've found myself ingesting and logging in Prelude, editing in Premiere, integrating graphics through AE/Photoshop through dynamic link, mixing in Audition, etc., etc., etc. What's missing is an equally smooth connection to SpeedGrade. I really like SpeedGrade, too... but the round-tripping is clunky right now. I'm sure Adobe will Adobe-ize it, but right now it feels like Apple Color in FCS.

I haven't learned Resolve Lite because, frankly, I want to stick with Adobe. If my hotkeys, GUI cues, etc. can all be the same when I have a quick turn around of projects at work... hey, I'll take that over almost anything. It's not fanboyism or loyalty or anything like that—it's about keeping things seamless, fast and easy to move between.

Even a few years ago, going between FCP or Avid and AE slowed me down, because it was difficult to shift my mind between hotkeys.

March 14, 2013

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David S.

The realities of media nowadays it's better to be as software and platform agnostic as possible. Not everything advances at the same place. And then there are the odd missteps that throw everyone for a loop.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't have your own preferences.

March 16, 2013

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Thomas

Speedgrade is still very new and it will become very intuitive and improve immensely. I couldn't tell you that timeline though

March 15, 2013

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Joe

I agree. I am using Resolve for all my color needs right now, and the integration with Premiere (which when you think about it, there is none) is better than the integration with SpeedGrade. I would love to see SG brought into the DynamicLink family. Why can't I open a sequence in SG, grade and correct it, and have it linked back to Premiere so that I can dynamically color correct?

That would also solve another problem I have with color grading: it takes up a lot of space. I usually end up with 2-3 versions of each clip as it moves through the production workflow. With resolutions and file sizes continually increasing, Adobe needs to find a better way to non-destructively color correct. If they could use XMP data for color correction (similar to Lightroom) and have Premiere do the final render it would give us all greater edibility and less storage space occupied.

I'm and Adobe fan, but ultimately I will use whatever tool is best for the job. For color, right now that is DaVinci.

March 15, 2013

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Joel

Guys, feel free to make feature requests here: http://www.adobe.com/go/wish

Thanks,
Kevin Monahan
Social Support Lead, DV Products
Adobe

March 18, 2013

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I would love to see them come out with a controller application of their own (Like controller+). Also one that would work with speed grade rather than spending thousands on a controller board. I completely agree with integrating some sort of dynamic link to speed grade

March 14, 2013

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You can make a feature request for control surface support: http://www.adobe.com/go/wish

Thanks,

Kevin Monahan
Social Support Lead, DV products
Adobe

March 18, 2013

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I just want a split and unlink shortcut key in Premiere Pro... :/

March 14, 2013

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Antony Alvarez

Do you mean a shortcut for linking and unlinking clips within the timeline? Because you can definitely map your keyboard to do that.

March 14, 2013

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Robert Hardy
Writer
Cinematographer / Editor

You can. "G" will unlink. Coming from Vegas, I remapped "Add Edit" from CTRL + K to "S". It will now split any tracks that are selected

March 14, 2013

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Most of my projects have extensive use of VFX and I don't use AE, I end up having to render plates clip per clip from my timeline to use in my 3d and compositing packages, then I have to re import back into my timeline the vfx rendered plates, I'd love Premiere to have it done in a easier way, just like The Foundry Hiero does.

March 14, 2013

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Marcus

Hello,

What's software are you using? ThanKs.

Mikael

March 14, 2013

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Bellina mikael

Maya and Nuke

March 14, 2013

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Marcus

Tell us how you want it to work here: http://www.adobe.com/go/wish

Thanks,
Kevin Monahan
Social Support Lead, DV products
Adobe

March 18, 2013

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Adobe missed the boat BIG TIME not buying out cineform. To let them be snapped up by go pro who lets face it, until now have no real use for the codec, was the biggest f-up this century. But maybe they have something else up their sleeve?

What they REALLY need to fix is the completely broken multicam workflow. Currently there is no way to flatten a multicam timeline or export it as a readable XML meaning you can't use it in speed grade, resolve or even after effects. FCP7 had this, avid has it as well but Premier Pro does not and neither does FCPX.

March 14, 2013

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Peter

I'm agree with you the multicam is a bit weird if you want to use IT with after effect. It exports In after effect all the média and not only the part you sélect.

And I want something more efficient between the multi camera monitor and the timeline.

You have to click inside the multi monitor and click play because if you do In the timeline all the camera won't play. IT saves some power but lot of Time wasted to switch between the multi camera monitor and the timeline.

And is there a way to improve the performance In not using proxy media.

March 14, 2013

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Bellina mikael

If you want a better intermediate codec and improved multi cam workflow, let us know the particulars here: http://www.adobe.com/go/wish

Thanks,
Kevin Monahan
Social Support Lead, DV products
Adobe

March 18, 2013

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Ugh, please no Avid Media Composer X.

March 14, 2013

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Mike

If Avid does decide to go in that direction, they'll really have to make sure that the new product is still appealing to current Avid editors. That's absolutely key, in my opinion. I'm sure both Avid and Adobe learned exactly what not to do with their software releases from Final Cut though. I'm also fairly confident that we won't see another fiasco like that again, especially not from a company like Avid which is wholeheartedly devoted to their professional users.

March 14, 2013

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Robert Hardy
Writer
Cinematographer / Editor

"If Avid does decide to go in that direction, they’ll really have to make sure that the new product is still appealing to current Avid editors." This is especially true, since Avid is one of the few platforms with people who have been sincerely using it for decades. There are some VERY old school editors using it, and they would not like any drastic change.

March 14, 2013

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David S.

What I want from Adobe:

New pro codec. YES! great idea.

After effects shortcut customization. after effects is still locked into its archaic shortcuts. its not a stand alone product anymore, its very integrated. as such, it needs to be allowed to be customized to the same keys as other software, namely premiere.

premiere media broswer that understands the sub-folder organization that modern cameras do when they record video. as it stands, media broswer chokes up on all the other files / metadata that the camera records to the card.

functioning premiere media manager? literally the premiere one does not work at all. three hours of "copying your files over" and then error. useless.

one-click online / offline, proxy editing. its great that premiere can edit native avc, but 14 layers of avc? nope. Proxy editing should not be abandoned. make a way for us to easily toggle back and forth, online / offline, to maximize performance.

I say ditch speedgrade altogether. Integrate it right into premiere. the idea of "going back and forth" between edit system and color correction is outdated. find an intelligent way to do this in premiere. so you can go back and forth between editing and CC with ease.

March 14, 2013

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dv

Integrated Speedgrade would be fantastic indeed.

March 14, 2013

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hansd

I completely agree about the media browser not knowing what's going on with sub-folders and metadata. That absolutely drives me up a wall, and it would be great for Adobe to fix those issues as soon as possible.

Also, I like the idea of integrating Speedgrade into Premiere. It would very easily solve the integration issues, and it would push Premiere's already strong color tools even further. I like that idea a lot.

March 14, 2013

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Robert Hardy
Writer
Cinematographer / Editor

Just curious; What formats do you have difficulties with? I have lots of different material, and have not encountered any problems. I just want to know stuff. :-)

March 21, 2013

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I wholeheartedly agree on the Project Manager. That actually needs to become a piece of usable software. For one, Adobe does not copy over any dynamically linked Ae Comps upon archiving. If you don't think about that, you can easily end up with major holes in your archived projects.

And, let's not forget the Titler. If they can only make it remember it's position. Plus - ability to export to .srt or .sub format would be great, so you can actually use it as a subtitling tool.

March 14, 2013

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Being able to do a bit more in Premiere of what currently has to be done in AE would be v helpful, like simple compositing, masking, decent titling. These you can either do properly in AE which entails a lot of faff going back and forth (and this is sold as a virtue - "round tripping", yeah right), or do badly in PPro.

Similarly you can do all sorts of great stuff in AE, but forget about having scopes! And how about being able to play a comp contain one clip in real time? No - can't be done?

So you get two apps that are mostly brilliant with just enough crapness to each to make most jobs just that little bit annoying, so you go into it knowing it should be dead simple but that in reality it's going to be a pain in the arse sooner or later.

It's like having two cars. Both are perfect but one has no air con and the other has no heater. So for any journey over a certain duration you have to tow one behind the other and swap as the weather changes. Not the most elegant analogy, I know.

March 14, 2013

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Graham Kay

That's a fantastic analogy haha!

March 14, 2013

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Robert Hardy
Writer
Cinematographer / Editor

I too like the analogy and often find myself thinking the same thing... Smoke is taking this route on the higher end and I'd love to see AE and Premiere Pro merge, especially now that everyone buys the bundles or Creative Cloud subscription so there's really not much money to be made by selling them separately...

March 14, 2013

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

No. Merging Premiere and After Effects would be bad.

Using the car analogy, Premiere is a sports car, it's about speed and maneuverability. Get to your destination fast. After Effects is a rugged pick up, designed for heavy lifting.

If you merge the two, you get more of a mess. After Effects users can typically have multiple nested comps with dozens of layers each. Throw in effects, expressions and 3d layers, and you can really slow down even a fast machine.

I've seen how badly this can turn out in Final Cut Pro with some users who decided to do everything including effects in it.

I think it would be better for Adobe to create a unified plug in architecture, so that Premiere and After Effects uses essentially the same plug ins. It could be like how Final Cut X uses Motion for effects generation.

Merging the two will just become a more awkward beast that won't benefit anyone.

Smoke was designed with client interaction in mind, and was more hardware integrated like Flame.

March 16, 2013

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Thomas

Perfect analogy for Premiere & AE. I'd like to see Speedgrade and Premiere merge instead of roundtripping. That will give Premiere a huge advantage over other most other NLE's.

At the very least, instead of merging the two programs, which can be potentially very difficult to do, if Speedgrade can simply open up a pproj and write to it, that will be more than sufficient!

March 14, 2013

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Oliver

Ditching SpeedGrade and having it integrated into Premiere is fine for those who work alone, but not in a collaborative environment.

Adobe needs to bring core features of SpeedGrade into Premiere, so do as much as possible in Premiere. For those times you need to go into Speedgrade, any color settings already applied will carry over.

It's time Adobe created a unified plugin architecture, so effects in Premiere, SpeedGrade and AE are the same.

March 16, 2013

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Thomas

"Ditching SpeedGrade and having it integrated into Premiere is fine for those who work alone, but not in a collaborative environment."

Why? If the colorist could open Premiere, choose the Color Correction workspace, and just use the grading tools - then what would be so horribly bad about that?

March 21, 2013

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If you want us to develop an intermediate codec or have better interoperation with existing ones, customizable keyboard shortcuts in After Effects, better native camera support, a better media manager, proxy editing, and better SpeedGrade integration, let us know: http://www.adobe.com/go/wish

Sorry you had trouble with the Project Manager. In the future, please bring your problems to the forum: http://forums.adobe.com/community/premiere/premierepro_current

Thanks,
Kevin Monahan
Social Support Lead, DV products
Adobe

March 18, 2013

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Better Premiere to Speedgrade workflow.

March 14, 2013

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hansd

Yes, we all want that. Vote for it here: http://www.adobe.com/go/wish

Thanks,

Kevin Monahan
Social Support Lead, DV Products
Adobe

March 18, 2013

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Great article Robert, I find myself agreeing with your thoughts; I believe that Avid is a bit more dependent on what Adobe does, than it can rely on itself. If Avid doesn't do an overhaul and stays true to its current workings, then eventually it might fade, as more Adobe users find their way into the industry. Lets face it, Avid works and plays like a 10 year old software. However, if they do decide to have a makeover, then a lot of people who love Avid will be pissed about the change (Some people have a problem with technological advancement in this industry).

So I believe that if Adobe really pushes themselves forward to show why they can be the most high-end professional tool for editing - Both in aggressive marketing and in tech, then Avid may be in deep trouble.

March 14, 2013

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avid: total agreement. it has improved a lot, but still seems archaic in many respects.

adobe: huh? you ask for ANOTHER codec? i get what you are saying re. NLE + preferred codec working together to increase speed, but it would have to be the mother of all codecs to have me welcome yet another to the fold.
speedgrade v. resolve: yes to the drunken skater, yes resolve kills, yes improve the roundtripping, yes, yes.

March 14, 2013

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j williams

Lend your voice to product improvement here: http://www.adobe.com/go/wish We read all feature requests, swear!

Thanks,

Kevin Monahan
Social Support Lead, DV Products
Adobe

March 18, 2013

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I can't believe you're recommending that Adobe comes up with a proprietary codec! That is exactly what we don't want them to do! I am happy that Adobe's recent formats have most been focused on being open source. If they could come up with an open source codec that beats ProRes 4444, I'd be much more excited about that.

March 14, 2013

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Harry Pray IV

Cinema DNG is open source, but Adobe barely supports that. There were very enthusiastic when they introduced it a few years ago.

They do need a mastering codec, it's not about being proprietary, it's about optimizing their software and hardware advantages.

Adobe will be always patching problems if updates of ProRes and DNxHD break something.

March 16, 2013

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Thomas

I'd like to see Adobe announce OpenCL for AMD hardware outside of the two MBP models it supports. I have a Windows 7 workstation that I use CS6 on, right now it has an AMD graphics card so no OpenCL in my Mercury Playback Engine, If Adobe and AMD don't come up with something my new graphics card will be Nvidia.

March 14, 2013

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Ashley Hakker

OpenCL performance (on Mac or PC) will not likely come close to the performance of CUDA architecture.

March 14, 2013

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In the future, it's possible that ATI cards could be better.

It makes sense for Adobe not be tied to one brand.

March 16, 2013

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Thomas

Make your request for more supported GPUs: http://www.adobe.com/go/wish
I'd be down with more supported GPUs!

Thanks,

Kevin Monahan
Social Support Lead, DV Products
Adobe

March 18, 2013

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I use adobe and It's good but the performance are not enough... I've got a gtx 680 and It's almost never use... You still have to do lot of render... Render In background with the graphic card would be great like fcpx? But something which doesn't slow down the Pc.

I would like to see all the effect with gpu accélération. Some effect like stabilization don't use all the core and take a while...

So I want more speeeeeedddd.

I still use color correction inside Pp because I don't like the workflow with speedgrade so yes a big improvment on this part would je great.

March 14, 2013

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Bellina mikael

+100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

March 14, 2013

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Luke

Make all your requests known to us here: http://www.adobe.com/go/wish

Thanks,

Kevin Monahan
Social Support Lead, DV Products
Adobe

March 18, 2013

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