Avid Embracing Third Party Hardware?

An alert user on the Avid forum noticed this small quote in a Studio Daily post about senior Avid managers meeting with users:

Our goal is clearly to be more open. […] We’re providing the SDK (software development kit) to 3rd party vendors so they can create drivers for Avid. Whether it’s AJA or Blackmagic… Everyone has their own favorite. We recognize the need for low-cost  I/O.  We will provide the SDKs to these folks as we have with all the camera manufacturers.

What this seems to suggest is that the hardware barrier is soon to fall. One of the most common criticisms of Avid’s systems in the last few years has been the cost of proprietary hardware, while Final Cut Pro and Premiere have been supporting a wide range of low-cost I/O hardware. From Avid’s perspective there have been good technical and business reasons for this, but with the changing face of post-production it’s become increasingly difficult for buyers to justify the cost of the hardware in the current market, especially when it may only be utilised for monitoring or a small number of jobs.

With the release of Media Composer 5.0 Avid announced support for the Matrox MXO2 Mini for external monitoring, but there was no support for digitial-cut output, or capture. However this announcement suggests that the Matrox support is just the tip of the iceburg.

Avid has obviously figured out that giving manufacturers the power to implement their products in Media Composer is a great advantage for the company. For example AMA means a manufacturer can release a driver for Media Composer at the same time as they release a new format, instead of having to wait months for Avid to incorporate support into the software and craft a new release. The same approach seems to be being adopted with regard to video I/O now, where hardware manufacturers will be able to develop support of their products in their own time.

While it’s not been confirmed officially by Avid it’s clear that this SDK program is in place and seems likely to deliver full featured I/O support into Media Composer for popular hardware for companys like AJA and Blackmagic Design.

One of the most interesting aspects of this development, I think, is that when this support arrives the majority of existing FCP suites will immedately be only a copy of Media Composer away from being a full-featured ‘Avid’.

So it seems clear that this is the future, it is still very unclear about when this support might arrive, and where it might arrive from, will it be possible to capture DNxHD 185 from a $295 Blackmagic Decklink in two months, or will we have to wait longer? Perhaps it’ll just be full Matrox support first, with others to follow?

And, will this support arrive before Apple ships their next “awesome” version of Final Cut Pro?

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