Banking on Avid

Carl Greiner looks at why the DS Nitris is a hit at Macmillan Adam.
Analysis, Broadcast Business

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Carl Greiner of Macmillan Adam gives us his take on the AVID DS|HD Nitris Version 10

The AVID DS system includes a unique set of tools that allow a creative editor to easily do everything that is required to complete a project within one toolset, right from editing to audio mixing as well as achieving the most complex of effects. All of these aspects are handled seamlessly within a single environment. This is the basis for the AVID DS philosophy.

We begin in the system with a very familiar Media Composer interface layout. The functionality of the editor is identical to the Media Composer and designed for an editor to quickly adapt to the DS. This is the base of the software but it is deceptive in as much as that is where the similarity to the Media Composer ends. The DS system is an entire facility in a single environment.

The system has a complete audio suite for complex sound mixing. It incorporates a feature rich toolset for format conversions and technical corrections. It includes a powerful colour correction toolset that now incorporates the ‘Symphony’ secondary colour correction tools for very fine grading.

The DS has a powerful input/output module with the ability to simultaneously output HD and a down converted SD signal. DS is able to handle 4:4:4 uncompressed video and edit 4K or 2K with previews handled through HD proxies. It is now a full digital intermediate tool. The system is also redesigned in version 10 to handle RED work, which seems to be a major attraction in the region at the moment.

The DS tools, all working together, form the ‘meat’ of the DS but the real ‘heart’ of the system lies in its tree-based compositor. One simply needs to select any clip or clips on the timeline and drop into a container and suddenly the world is your oyster!

Multi-layered effects and complex hierarchical composites are created and controlled within this environment. The beauty of the container being accessed from the same timeline, using the same material, as the editor, is that everything is always ‘live’. This means that clips can be readily and easily replaced within the edit and the effects and composites are updated immediately.

For instance, a complex title or grade can be completed and then if the director or client wishes to replace the shot, the editor can simply replace the required shot in the layers. The effects and the titles are then automatically applied to the new shot.

The idea that these containers are multi layers all compacted into a single clip on the timeline also helps the editor to keep track of the edit without vast video tracks and requirement for massive screen real estate. And, it does not end there! Video effects can still be added to the finished container and the container itself can even form a clip in a new container. This means that the number of layers and the complexity of the edit really is unlimited!

Having said all of this, the system has two downsides. The first being render time. Even on the fastest available Quad core PC, there is a period of waiting for renders to complete. I guess the old school of thought applies here: no matter how much technology speeds up, the creatives will always find new ways to push it and try to break it! It seems that the time it takes to complete a job remains pretty much constant; the difference is the complexity and the creative input which just gets better! The second stumbling block of the DS is not really much of a problem but that depends on a user’s work flow is the fact that the system, unlike other rivals, has an environment that is only 2.5D, not true 3D.

There are definitely times when this is problematic but generally I think 3D, where possible, should be done in dedicated 3D packages.

This is an amazing tool that provides the best of both editing and compositing. It provides everything within a seamless environment that is very user friendly. Altogether, it is a full-featured, rich toolset that can tackle almost any job from start to finish.

Carl Greiner is director at Macmillan Adam.

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