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Avid Intros Updated Products at NAB 2005

Symphony Nitris, DS upgrade, no native HDV codec yet By Charlie White

(4/17/05) Avid introduced numerous improvements to its line of digital video and film editing and compositing products at NAB 2005 in Las Vegas. On the high end, it debuted its new Avid Symphony Nitris, and at the low end it announced improvements in HD support and lower pricing. Missing was the release of its much-anticipated native HDV codec. Digital Media Nets Charlie White talked with Avid officials and gives you this wrap-up of new features, products and pricing Avid is offering at this years NAB.

Symphony Nitris
At the high end, Avids Product Marketing Specialist Matt Feury told Digital Media Net about the companys high-end postproduction product line. Top of the list is the debut of Avid Symphony Nitris ($89,995, shipping Q3 of this year). Noting an upswing in demand for HD editing, Avid has responded by combining the until-now standard definition Symphony toolset with its DNA hardware and DNxHD software codec that was previously only available on its DS Nitris systems. Avid Nitris DNA hardware offers guaranteed real-time uncompressed HD performance. With this new Avid Symphony Nitris, Avid says users will be able to work with two streams of uncompressed HD video in 10 bit resolution, or eight streams of uncompressed SD. Said Feury, ?Theyre guaranteed that each HD stream will be capable of real-time primary and secondary color correction, real time DVE, blurs, titles and keys, the same high quality I/O that you see on the DS Nitris box?HD and SD SDI with embedded audio?its all there.

The new Symphony Nitris will also support DNxHD, a 10-bit and 8-bit 4:2:2 HD codec created by Avid which compresses HD video but results in what Avid justifiably calls ?mastering quality. The 10-bit version of DNxHD requires 220Mb per second bandwidth and compresses high definition video at a ratio of 6:1. With the DNxHD codec, introduced at last years NAB, its possible to do even more in real time with high definition video. For example, compressing at 220Mb, compared to the 1185Mb of bandwidth required for uncompressed 10-bit HD, makes collaborative workflows and layered effects more practical. Also enhancing the workflow concept is the fact that Symphony Nitris will support Avid Unity workgroups and productivity tools from Avid such as Media Manager, TransferManager, and its asset management system called ?Nearchive.

Updated for HD use with this industrial-strength DNA hardware is one of the highlights of the Symphony toolset its primary and secondary color correction. Thats now available in 10-bit uncompressed HD with the new Symphony Nitris product. Another feature of the original Symphony that previously worked only in standard definition is its real-time 16-bit SpectraMatte keyer that Avid says works even better than the respected high-end keyer Ultimatte. Avids product specialist Matt Feury, said SpectraMatte not only has an improved user interface, but its also ?a little more interactive. Were using whats called SpectraGraph to make it a little more obvious to the users whats going to happen to the parameters as they move around?showing them how they can get a better key. 

Allard also told Digital Media Net about how Symphony Nitris will also take advantage of Total Conform, allowing footage from all Avid editing systems, including its Media Composer and Xpress Pro line, to be edited and then moved up to the Symphony Nitris HD platform. Said Feury, ?Essentially every element from the off-line?the layers, the effects, the titles, you name it?will come through to the HD online. Feury emphasized how important total conform has been when working in SD, and noted that this interoperability will be a more important factor in high definition production, which is much more expensive. Because of that added expense, many production facilities will be reverting to an older method of production where time-consuming editorial decisions are made on lower-cost equipment, and then quickly conformed in HD quality in a higher-priced edit suite.

DS Nitris
Avid DS Nitris will also be sporting an upgrade, and will now ship version 7.6 starting April 18. One of the principal objectives of this release is expansion into the emerging digital intermediate (DI) marketplace. This is not necessarily a stretch, since Avid DS Nitris has been resolution independent for some time now. DS Nitris now picks up the capability to decode DPX metadata, where digital intermediate users will be able to track DPX file names, file locations, or any lookup table (LUT) information that can be captured in the off-line. Avid plans to release a further enhancement, an applet called MetaFuze that will allow users to convert DPX files into the DNxHD format so that proxies of these enormous 2K and 4K files can be easily edited in real time and shared in a workgroup environment. According to Avid, MetaFuze will allow a better workflow between Media Composer and DS for file-based editing and management. The new applet will also let users track both time code and KeyKode and will be able to track every element of the process. Rounding out the workflow, DS will be able to easily conform the digital intermediate off-line via an EDL (edit decision list) using an ALE (Avid Log Exchange) file to track against the KeyKode metadata.

Feury also told Digital Media Net about features that have been asked for by traditional DS customers. Said Feury, ?There are a lot of choices out there for HD formats there are a lot of frame rates, and these users want to be able to have the freedom to mix those in the timeline. DS 7.6 is going to allow for that. Feury also talked about ?Source Side Effects, a feature similar to one that was first seen in the original Symphony, where it was called Source Side Color Correction. It lets users color correct one clip and then replicate that correction across the timeline to related clips based on a common tape name or master clip. Now, that feature has been expanded to include more than just color correction?that same process can be used to apply any kind of effect to any number of related clips.

Also included in this new version of DS is Avids FluidMotion TimeWarp technology, a feature thats already available in Media Composer Adrenaline and Symphony. Said Feury, ?Its a new kind of motion effect where you track every pixel to create new frames. It results in an effect that youre not going to see in a traditional blended, or duplicated affect. 

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Related Keywords:Avid, digital video, film editing, compositing, NAB 2005, Avid Symphony Nitris, HD support, lower pricing, native HDV codec, Charlie White, new features

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