Avid is to overhaul the way that it certifies third party software in a bid to speed up the process of creating apps for use with the company’s MediaCentral Platform.
At IBC, Avid announced that its Interplay MAM asset management system and Avid Isis shared storage systems would now support third party non-linear editing (NLE) programs including Apple’s Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro and Edius from Grass Valley.
Avid chief executive, president and chairman Louis Hernandez Jr said the company had been “overwhelmed” by requests to link into its software and that a growing backlog of apps to be approved by Avid had prompted an overhaul of the certification process.
“What we need is to stand up a pre-certification testing area where [third parties] run their own application, with automated testing tools and a sandbox to pre-test. Then when they submit it they can be pretty confident it will meet all the requirements because it has already been tested.”
The Avid boss said it could take two years for the overhauled process to be introduced. “It’s an ongoing journey. I guess it will be 24 months before a new vendor can submit [via the overhauled process].”
Hernandez described the certification of products by rivals Apple and Adobe as “a big statement” that would ultimately help vendors to address the media industry’s most pressing concerns.
“Why allow [Apple and Adobe] to use their NLE on Avid’s shared platform? Because the problem today for the industry is not the need for a better editor. The problem is the economics behind the entire workflow,” Hernandez said.
“Forget about Avid for a moment; why would Adobe and Apple want to let their customers use our storage and MAM system? Because they know that for them to add value they have to solve the big problem too, which is security, tagging, repurposing, and doing these kind of things economically and getting all of these pieces to work more efficiently.
“That is what we are trying to do. We were able to convince them that they will be less and less valuable if you only solve one problem.
“Naturally I want the industry to use Media Composer, as I think it’s the best NLE in the world - but I know that if I don’t let you solve your big problem, I will never be in a position where I am a true partner of yours.”
Avid launches ‘exclusive’ club
At IBC, Avid introduced Avid All Access, a set of membership options which aims to add value to existing Avid Everywhere subscription and service plans through ‘premium’ support, early access to feature enhancements, certified plug ins, online training.
“It’s an exclusive club [Avid users] should want to belong to,” Hernandez said.
Avid All Access will be available to subscription licenses at no additional cost, and will be available to perpetual license owners as a renewable annual plan. Initially available for Pro Tools, Avid All Access will be also be rolled out to Media Composer and Sibelius.
Earlier this year, Avid unveiled a new price plan for Pro Tools which included a free version of the audio software as part of the company’s strategy to look beyond its traditional customer base of tier one and tier two media companies such as enterprise clients like the BBC and NBC Universal as well as post houses, universities, film studios and local TV stations.
The Pro Tools release was followed by the NAB launch of Avid Media Composer First – a free version of the editing software that has yet to be made available.
Hernandez said that although the rollout of the free version of Pro Tools had been a commercial success, thanks to users either upgrading to the full subscription version or through the purchase of additional storage packs, Avid had been caught out by the high level of interest shown in the offering.
Avid is now attempting to simplify the process of downloading Media Composer First before it is released to avoid having to field calls from non-paying users of the company’s software.
“[Media Composer First] is ready to go, we just want to make sure we are confident that when we roll it out we are able to service those downloads in a way that is productive for both sides,” Hernandez said.
“We want a user to click once and then by the next screen for them to be using the product. In comparison, if you download Pro Tools First you are taken through a series of steps before you get the key to download the product.
“At any step along the way where someone might have a question, our call volumes go up. So we have decided we have to make that much simpler so customers get what they want sooner, and we are not taking the time and money to answer questions on these kind of things.”
Hernandez said the experience of releasing free versions of its software had highlighted Avid’s lack of experience of dealing with the third tier of the market.
“Some of the best [individual creatives] in the world use our products, but we previously never made an intense effort to go after that tier three group and it’s showing up in our experiences, because a company that had a presence in that part of the market might already have known these things.”
Hernandez said the “transformation” of Avid, including a reorganisation of the company by tiers, would be complete by 2017.
“We are trying to match where we have employees according to which region supports us by mapping out our clients and employees, because we felt we were misaligned; we were under-invested in Europe and Asia compared to customers and revenues, about right in Latin America but over-invested in the US.
“So we are adding a few hundred people in Europe and we have also opened offices in Poland, Taiwan and the Philippines to get more people in the markets that support us. Even in the US, most of our employees are in Boston and Silicon Valley, but our clients are in LA and New York.
“2016 will see the launch of more products and suites, but from 2017 onwards there will be no more moving people around, no more big burst of releases that you have seen over the last 24 months, just a steady stream of products that clients want.”