Creative Cow: Media 100 Steps Out with Suite 1.5
01 May 2010

by Nick Griffin, May 2010

As one who frequents several of the Creative Cow's forums, I'm always struck by the questions from people using fairly old and out-dated versions of popular software programs. And while it may be understandable with people who can get by without always having the latest and greatest, nowhere does this stand out for me as much as it does within the Media 100 Cow community. Perhaps you've also noticed the posts which begin with:
"I'm using Media 100 version 8 and I ran into..."
"My Media 100i system recently began to..."
Having started on the Media 100 platform in 1995, moved away in the early part of the last decade only to rapidly return after seeing the feature set in Media100 Producer, I guess I can understand how some people and some businesses might want to try another NLE or be seduced by the latest flavor of the month. But what I simply don't get is the group that stays frozen on the same version for years and, in some cases, even more than a decade. Hello? Um... WHAT are you waiting for? Or is it that you simply don't know what modern software can do and how fast it can do it?
This is where I'm going to go into a little bit of a rant for a few paragraphs, if you want to skip ahead to the part where I talk about Media 100 Suite 1.5, just skip down to "What's it do now that it didn't do before?"
Let me throw a little perspective into the subject for anyone under 35. When non linear editing systems first came on the scene in the early nineties they were replacing three conventional ways of working: on-line/ broadcast quality editing (done in rooms using hundreds of thousands of dollars of gear), off-line editing (usually done as a less expensive way to work out in advance what you would be doing in an on-line session, but many times used for a non-broadcast products like industrials), and third of course was traditional flatbed editing which involved splicing together lengths of film. All three were expensive and the latter two were, out of necessity, almost always cuts only.
Early non linear systems we're in the low to mid tens of thousands of dollars. Media 100 was one of the first capable of working at high enough quality that for most things there was no need to take an edit decision list (EDL) from it over to an on-line system for "finishing." The picture I'm painting for you is a world in which several hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of decks, controllers, switchers, audio consoles, DVE and other specialty boxes, etc. -- along with the people needed to run them -- were replaced by off the shelf computers housing a few specialized cards, some big and fast (for the time) hard drive arrays, a single record/playback deck and a monitor all brought together for as little as $20,000 or so. What a revolution! Real work for a fraction of what it used to cost.
Jump ahead to today and we've almost taken another decimal point off the cost. In fact with many flavors of DV and with file-based rather than tape-based cameras, functional NLE systems can be assembled in the low thousands of dollars. To simplify, in twenty years the cost of being in the video editing business has gone from $400,000 to $20,000 to $2,000, or one half of one percent of what it used to cost. Oh, and don't even get me started on the fact that 1990's $400,000 facility was SD and 2010's NLE, with the right storage, is likely capable of glorious high definition.
What's my point and why have I offered a three paragraph history lesson? Because it makes me nuts that some people and some businesses are frozen in time, not updating their software for years and years when it is so unbelievably inexpensive to do so. Different production facilities have different cost structures and therefore different abilities to absorb operating expenses. I get it. But at my company the cost of a version upgrade or even a one year service agreement routinely gets earned in part of an afternoon. So why would we, or anyone else for that matter NOT want the multiple advances and improvements that come with successive upgrades?