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Interview 2: Avid CEO David Krall

DNA explained, a look into Avid's future, Mac vs. PC By Charlie White
Missed Part 1? Read it first by clicking on these words.

Avid President and CEO David KrallIn the second of an exclusive two-part series of interviews from Avid's headquarters in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, Avid President and CEO David Krall talks with DMN's Charlie White about Avid's new DNA family of accelerated editing products, Mac vs. PC, Avid's competitors, and drops a few hints about what Avid is doing with its huge R&D budget.

DMN: Let's talk about HD -- the industry overall. I know you're watching this carefully. A lot of us have kept saying that HD is around the corner. Is it here, yet?

Krall: I think so, yes.

DMN: This is it, now? When did you think the big tipping point was?

Krall: All of the pieces are in place. Camera technology -- you have a lot of choices now in HD acquisition. It's everything from cinematic quality, variable frame rate capabilities, all the way down to JVC with a sub-$3000 camera you're going to be wanting to use everywhere, and it's going to enter the home. So you have acquisition technology. You have compression technology that is now effective, with high image quality. You can take the very high bit rates, compress it, but still end up with an image that is now at SD data rates, but with much higher resolution and image quality than an uncompressed SD image. You have processing speeds that are fast enough to actually do things on HD signals, and look at the very fact that we can build a Nitris system, to deliver two streams of real time 10-bit HD. So now the authoring tools are in place to let you manipulate that media. Drive prices are going down, so all of a sudden the concept of storing HD and media -- even in compressed format, but storing it digitally -- is cost-effective, it's no longer cost-prohibitive. The acquisition, the compression, the manipulation and the storage, and now you just need playout and distribution, and you have opportunities there, too. So satellite distribution of HD, cable distribution, terrestrial broadcast of HD, and then compressed HD formats for distribution over the Web, and then all the way to the user, costs are going down for display technology -- now, you say, wait a minute. We now have an end-to-end workflow, a chain of acquisition, production, consumption that fits, and is now economical. Then you find people, when they're seeing an HD image are amazed. Somebody said, HD resolution makes anything look interesting.

DMN: I agree. It does.

Krall: It really does. I was watching a documentary on Chronicle, and they were just panning over a still photo, and the image resolution was so detailed, it made me want to just stare, and watch the photo. There was nothing but panning across a still photo and it was just captivating. Will that wear off over time? I don't know, but I'll tell you, right now, it's incredibly compelling.

DMN: It is. We're experimenting with HD at the Midwest Test Facility, too, and every time somebody comes in and we show them this HD footage -- some people have never seen it -- everybody who sees it says, "I want that! How much does it cost?" And now, you can tell them, you can get a receiver for $600, cable systems are giving away the HDTV boxes.

Krall: And on top of that, you can either have a flat panel display, or you can use a projector. The DLP technology is making it cost-effective now. Maybe the way you view at home is no longer going to be a glass tube at all. But in fact, it's going to be a projector on some blank section of your wall, and you have now a seven-foot diagonal display that you're watching. You can make it larger just by moving your table back. It's not going to cost you anything. I think it's pretty remarkable. And if you say, how does that tie into Avid's mission? It's "Serve the industries that make, manage and move media," and if you look at HD, it's all of those pieces, and the fact that if you can tie all those pieces together you can deliver an entire value chain from acquisition through production through delivery, and our goal is to deliver the same offering in HD that we were able to make the industry standard in SD. Avid is really the industry standard in SD production and we want to achieve that same position in HD.

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Related Keywords:exclusive two-part series of interviews, Avids headquarters in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, Avid President and CEO David Krall, DMN, Charlie White, DNA family of accelerated editing products, Mac vs. PC, Avids competitors, hints, R&D budget


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