In addition to announcing Pro Tools 11 and Media Composer 7 at last year's NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) trade show in Las Vegas, Avid unveiled "Avid Everywhere," its "strategic vision for creating the most fluid end-to-end, distributed media production environment in the industry." Spearheaded by its new president and CEO, Louis Hernandez Jr., the strategy promised to be a major paradigm shift for Avid's overall business model, though few details were presented.
This year, the company revealed the Avid MediaCentral Platform during Avid Connect, the inaugural gathering of the newly minted Avid Customer Association (ACA), which took place just days before the 2014 NAB show. The Avid MediaCentral Platform encompasses the entire life cycle of audio and video projects, including creation, monetization, and secure delivery and storage, with a major emphasis on collaboration. Any of the areas in the Platform you have permission to use can be accessed with a single sign-in. And although Avid's system was designed with the needs of major media organizations in mind, independent producers and artists can also take advantage of what the platform offers.
The most interesting news for Pro Tools users is Cloud Collaboration, a fully integrated system that gives you the ability to work in real time or offline with others around the world over the Internet. In addition to providing basic production tasks, the new technology promises versioning, cloud storage, archiving, metadata tagging, rights management, as well as delivery and distribution of assets (e.g., any part of your project that can be licensed, sold, or distributed) with encryption and authentication tools to provide a secure and streamlined workflow. Unlike the creative software tools from other developers that have gone to a cloud-only system, Avid will continue to provide Pro Tools software for local-only use on your computer, as well. A server-based version will also be available for production facilities that cannot send files outside of their firewall.
Visitors to Avid Connect were given demonstrations of the collaborative features, and the developer says it will roll out a new version of Pro Tools later this year that incorporates the new technology.
Using the new Cloud window in Pro Tools, you can invite online collaborators to join your session. Once they log into your Pro Tools Cloud project, you can then communicate with them by text or video in a chat window. The update will include the ability to freeze tracks in a project, which facilitates data sharing with your collaborators, as well as in-app plug-in purchases and rentals from within Pro Tools, so your collaborators can get access to effects or instruments that they need for the project. Avid says that downloaded plug-ins will automatically authorize, making the process painless.
Once your collaborators add their parts and you accept their changes, the updates are added to your Pro Tools project on a track-by-track basis (rather than updating the entire session). If you're collaborating with an offsite mix engineer, the workflow is similar: The engineer downloads the media, does the mix, and uploads only the changes.
When the project is ready, share it with others involved in the project (e.g., producers, label executives, etc.): From within Pro Tools, you can send a notification or link that allows them to securely stream the mix from a Web browser or a Pro Tools iPad app.
The final piece in the puzzle involves the new Avid Marketplace, a secure system for sharing your work with the public or between private parties. While the service provides an opportunity for content creators to monetize their work, Avid also intends it to be a source for organizations who license content. Your final mix can be uploaded to the Avid Marketplace from within Pro Tools, and the Avid MediaCentral Platform handles the transaction, licensing, and transfer of the assets, automatically.
Although specific release dates were not announced, I was told that we can expect to see some of these new products roll out within the year.