For the Makers! How You Helped Us Create Media Composer 2019

By in Video Editing

Just a few weeks ago we revealed Media Composer 2019 at Connect 2019 and the NAB Show. We were pleased with your excitement about the new version—but not too surprised. We relied on your feedback to decide which features to change, add, or keep. The newest Media Composer is a direct response to what you have been telling us you want and need.

A modern, customizable user experience

You were clear: you don’t want to work with a dull or dated-looking interface. It’s not just a question of aesthetics: newer users and users who work with other applications are accustomed to a different look. Schools in particular told us that although students love using Media Composer, the learning curve was daunting. Seeing so many buttons and options and choices, and so many overlapping windows, as soon as you launch, can be intimidating. Getting up to speed on Media Composer is faster when the UI is more modern and intuitive.

Media Composer 2019 concept art

On the surface, you’ll notice we updated the color scheme and followed modern conventions, such as a flat UI. We’ve added task-oriented workspaces that allow you to see just the tools you need to use and hide what you don’t. The new paneled UI automatically links up windows in a clean, streamlined view that adjusts as you resize the panels, with no overlap.

Unless, of course, you want the overlap. Customers also told us that they want to work the way they want to work, so the UI is fully customizable. Not only can you drag, drop, and rearrange the panes of the paneled UI, you can float one or all of them over the top and create a workspace that fits your needs precisely.

One of our biggest UI changes came from a request broadcast to all NLE makers. ACE editor Alan E. Bell put out an open call online asking for a solution for the disorganized mess that occurs when a bin fills up with too many clips. We called him the next day and started developing a new bin mapping system, based directly on his request. If you like the new bin mapping feature in Media Composer, where you can see exactly which section of the bin you’re currently viewing, much credit is due to that vocal and inventive editor.

More performance where you want it

A lot of customer feedback understandably boils down to wanting more speed and more efficiency. For example, one longstanding request has been native support for OP1a wrapped media. In the past, users would have to rewrap and reprocess their media, which not only used up more storage, it takes time that could be better used elsewhere. Especially for our broadcast and sports customers, who have media that needs to be turned around very quickly for live broadcast. With the new release, Media Composer editors can link to and import OP1a media directly into their bins and projects, without rewrapping.  New OP1a media can also be created through transcodes, consolidates and mixdowns, and all of it benefits from native playback and processing performance.

Another feature developed directly with a customer is Media Composer | Distributed Processing. Some users voiced frustration with the time it takes to process super high resolution and high frame rate media, customers wanted a way to speed things up. Distributed Processing allows you to offload GPU and CPU intensive processes – like render and transcode – to dedicated systems used just for processing these jobs. This offloading increases a user’s efficiency simply by allowing them to continue working rather than waiting for a process to finish. Even better, by splitting up a process over multiple machines, the time is also cut down to a fraction of what it used to take. Something that takes 10 minutes on one machine may take only 2 minutes when using 5 machines.

Finishing capabilities for any media

Many of you are creating media for OTT services, which have very specific requirements for delivery. In order to meet those requirements, some users were faced with learning a new tool or moving to another application in order to complete their projects to the required specifications. From content creators to distributors, our customers wanted to make sure they could continue to hire the best talent, using the best editing tool. So, we made sure that this release was aligned with the most common standards for delivery and packaging. Now you can create and deliver SMPTE-compliant simple IMF packages straight from Media Composer. We also expanded the capabilities of Media Composer to ensure the content that’s delivered is of the highest quality, starting with the 32-bit full float color pipeline, support for reading Open EXR media, and the expansion of the DNx family to DNxUncompressed 32 bit.

For customers who don’t want to take the time or resources to export to an external application, they can work start to finish in Media Composer. But when you need to use an external application for grading or effects, you won’t lose any color data or quality. With this most recent release, Media Composer has also become the first video editor to join the ACES (Academy Color Encoding System) Logo Program under the Editing and Finishing category, to help maintain consistent color accuracy without sacrificing efficiency.

Creating a Media Composer for every user

While a lot of you value the expansiveness of Media Composer, we’ve also heard requests for a simpler, parred-down video editor. Some larger broadcasters would like to give an editor to journalists in the field with just the elements needed for them to do their jobs. We also heard from schools that a de-featured version of Media Composer could help students learn more quickly, without being overwhelmed by all the options until they’ve developed some mastery.

As we considered this request, one of the biggest challenges was determining which features to keep given the wide range of user needs. The solution was not a simplified version of Media Composer, but instead a version of Media Composer that could be customized by users for their users, however they saw fit. Using role-based deployment, an organization can create a Media Composer environment for a specific individual or a type of user, so regardless of the physical computer they log into, the experience is always the same. A journalist might just need a few tracks of video and audio and a few bins, without access to features they’ll never need like stereoscopic 3D. Schools could adapt the environment according to the class. A production can create profiles for producers, directors, craft editors and others according to their specific needs.

Apart from making work easier for the user, role-based deployment allows organizations to reduce training time, because they’re only training on the tools that user needs. They can also turn off access to codecs or permissions that could allow an inexperienced user to create the wrong type of media or put something in the wrong place. Turning off the ability to export for certain roles or individuals can prevent leaks that might diminish the value of an asset.

Getting customer feedback

We’ve always looked for customer feedback when updating Media Composer, from idealized user wish lists to direct collaboration. We rely on our customers to help us test the changes we make, whether that means talking through an idea or using a prototype in the alpha and beta versions. We count on those users not just to find bugs, but to tell us if the changes that looked great on paper are working in a real-world environment.

Getting input from the ACA and the ACA vote has only augmented our customer relationships. We’ve found that, since the start of the ACA, we get information from a wider range of customers, especially independent editors, smaller production companies, and schools. Information from the ACA vote also helps us adapt more quickly, so we can look at the long-term product roadmap and make adjustments sooner. It’s one more way that we can ensure that Media Composer delivers exactly what users expect while giving them the features they need to succeed in this ever-changing media environment.

The New Media Composer

Experience all the new capabilities the minute they’re ready.
We listened to you, what you liked, what you didn’t and what was missing.

Kate Ketcham is the Director of Product Management for Media Composer and has been with Avid for the past 16 years.