While supporting communication from the Avid Customer Association (ACA), I’ve had the opportunity to gather feedback from dedicated ACA leaders about why they have gotten involved, and the progress that their Advisory Councils are making.
I recently sat down with Jonathan Abrams, Chief Technical Engineer at Nutmeg, to get his thoughts on the ACA Audio Sub Committee meeting, recently held in-person and in conjunction with AES, and progress that he is seeing as the program begins to grow and develop.
Q: You are incredibly active in the industry. What motivates you to be so engaged and attend ACA events, such as the one at AES?
A: To make sure that my voice is heard on behalf of the needs of my co-workers. It’s one thing to be a user of any company’s products, go on their forum, and either vent your frustrations or sing their praises. It’s another to be actively involved and invested beyond whatever you have to pay for (the physical piece of hardware or a software license). When you are involved, you see the process go from “I’ve got a problem” to “now I’ve got a solution.”
Not only are these events a great way to meet up with other people who are involved in the same Council and discuss topics as a group, it’s also an opportunity to catch up with individuals from other Councils of the ACA. Information sharing is the greatest resource when it comes to networking, and the ACA provides an excellent forum for exactly that.
“I am seeing a shift in Avid; the company is listening to customers more than ever and it’s going to do what we are asking.”
Q: Can you share some highlights from the Audio Sub Committee discussion at AES?
A: One thing that I have been requesting of Avid for years now is a version of Pro Tools that just fixed bugs, issues, and crashes. To my delight, the number one request that came back in the ACA Audio Poll was “stability!” The position I had was the same as a majority of the ACA Community. During the recent ACA Leadership meeting, the message was clear that Avid is not saying, “Oh, this is what the customers really want, but we disagree, so we are going to forget about it.” The attitude is, “This is going to happen.”
An additional request, on behalf of one of Nutmeg’s clients, is the ability to specify the starting-take number in Pro Tools. This one particular client wants take numbers to always ascend: Meaning I need four-digit take numbers that start in the thousands. Right now, this is a bit of a challenging hack to pull off. The last time I brought this request up in an Audio Sub Committee meeting, an Avid product manager was accepting of a hack being okay. However, with the recent community poll, this point came up under the area of “track presets.” During the discussion, an Avid product manager said, “And, yes, this includes being able to specify your starting-take number.” I thought to myself, “Yes, thank you.” Avid could have had the same attitude as before, but instead they are doing something about what the community is requesting to address business challenges. I am seeing a shift in Avid; the company is listening to customers more than ever and it’s going to do what we are asking.
Q: At your current company and in your current position, where do you see the value in joining the ACA and remaining an active member?
A: It provides visibility, not just for me, but for Nutmeg as well. It shows that we have a stake in what is happening; we are not just going to sit on the sidelines, hoping and praying that certain things will change. We are engaged, we are involved, and we are part of the conversation. I am fortunate enough to be a leader for the Products and Solutions Advisory Council, but even if I weren’t a leader, I would still be invested and interested in what is going on in the ACA and trying to forward our cause.
Q: How well do you feel that Avid listens to the voice of your Council? Do you have any examples of this?
A: With regard to our Council input into Avid’s roadmaps, a meeting back in August was the first time I felt that there was going to be a significant shift in how the audio group would be proceeding. During this call, the group discussed features now present in Pro Tools 12.2 and 12.3. This included certain features that were only previously available to HD users being unlocked and given to Pro Tools users without HD licenses. This move was a clear sign that Avid’s previous thinking was not going to continue. It’s refreshing.
“If you don’t think change is happening fast enough, find out why. If you see change, but not in the direction you had hoped, get involved.”
Q: Do you feel that the ACA is having a significant influence on Avid?
A: Things are moving, perhaps not as fast as some customers would like, but making a difference takes time. With an initiative as large as the ACA, changes are not going to happen immediately. For example, the Audio Sub Committee is really only hitting its stride this year, more than a year into the initiative. I was hoping that there would be some immediate change when the ACA was first formed—almost like a spike. But it didn’t quite work out that way. Looking back on it now, perhaps that was naïve of me. The important thing is that progress is being made and actions are being taken. Avid is a large enterprise, and not everyone is going to move in lockstep right off the bat. As long as the company is working with us towards the common goal, that is progress. From my perspective, I see progress being made, and to those who are skeptical, I would say, “Just be patient, and if you don’t have the patience, then get involved and find out what is taking so long and if there is anything you can do to speed the process.”
In his closing remarks to me, Jonathan reiterated the importance of getting involved. He noted, “If you don’t think change is happening fast enough, find out why. If you see change, but not in the direction you had hoped, get involved. This is the most open that I have seen Avid with its customers in the 15 years that I can remember, and I hope it stays this way. Together, we are all able to create the tools that we can use to achieve our creative vision. Not everyone can expect to get everything they want, but as long as we understand why, that keeps us happy. And happy customers keep Avid operating effectively, and that is what we all need.”
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