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How AVID Editing Machines Work

Recent Avid Editing Developments
New Avid technology lets editors edit in HD (high-definition) technology.
New Avid technology lets editors edit in HD (high-definition) technology.
© Andy Sotiriou/Photodisc/Getty Images

The latest versions of Avid's video editing software and hardware, released in June 2008, include new features that make it easier to edit HD video. With more and more TV networks broadcasting in HD and more consumer HD video cameras on the market, editors need software that can handle the large file sizes of HD video without compromising speed.

Avid has developed a new codec (short for compress/decompress) that compresses HD video into a file size that retains the sharpness and image quality of HD without bogging down the system. The codec, called DNxHD, runs in both the standalone Media Composer software and in the hardware boxes. What this allows is for editors to edit their projects exactly how they will look in full HD. It's no longer necessary to do an offline edit in lower quality and then finish the project on an HD machine.

In the previous version of Media Composer, Avid introduced the concept of the Open Timeline. This means that the timeline can handle clips with wildly different specifications. You can put SD and HD clips side-by-side in the same project, as well as clips with different resolutions, frame rates and aspect ratios. The timeline can also handle audio files with different sampling speeds and file types. In the past, all these differences would have to be reconciled before you could begin editing, which could mean hours of converting files. Now everything works together in real time and is converted when it's time to export.

The newest Avid hardware boxes -- called Mojo DX, Nitris DX and Symphony DX -- are built with the new DX effects architecture. This new system helps distribute the computing and processing load between the host computer and the hardware box, making the system run more efficiently when processing HD or effects-heavy projects. The hardware is connected to the host computer using a PCIE connection that's 20 times faster than Firewire, ensuring lightening fast data transfer.

One new Media Composer tool, called ScriptSync, has already changed the way editors work. Say you're an editor working on a script-based TV drama, like "CSI." For every scene in the show, you might shoot three or four different takes. And within those takes, you might shoot the scene from two or three different angles simultaneously.

Before the editing process can begin, an assistant editor needs to take the script and match each source video clip with its associated lines. They do this to streamline the editing process. When it's time to start a new scene, the editor can quickly cue up the various takes and angles associated with the scene to assemble the best final product. In the past, the job of logging tape and cuing video was half the work of editing.

Now, with ScriptSync, Avid has created a tool that can upload the script as a text file, break the words down into their phonetic parts, and then analyze the audio waveforms of video clips to match them with the lines in the script. All the editor has to do is select the part of the script that he wants to edit. ScriptSync will pull up all of the different takes and angles associated with that part of the script. Then the editor can toggle from take to take and angle to angle to find the best shot for each line of dialogue.

Incredibly, ScriptSync works in nine different languages, including Arabic and Mandarin Chinese.

We hope this has been a helpful introduction to Avid. For more information on editing and video production, view the links on the next page.