Buying Euphonix earlier this year opened up the high-end post production mixing market for nonlinear video editing pioneer Avid, writes Kevin Hilton.
As well as this, the acquisition has also given the audio-vision group a foot in the live broadcast mixing market and allowed it to pursue its aim of greater openness between sound and video systems.
Avid first ventured out of its core market of video editing in the early 1990s when it bought Digidesign. The sound division was built up over the years, notably with the addition of M Audio. But despite growing with each acquisition Avid maintained a policy of autonomy for its subsidiaries, with all companies under the main corporate umbrella retaining a separate identity and brand.
In recent years there has been more cross-development between Avid and Digidesign. The audio subsidiary also expanded into mixing outside the Pro Tools workstation by producing a range of controllers.
But now the Digidesign name is no more. Avid has re-branded its sound component and in the process it has become an audio manufacturer. Now Euphonix is part of that. The console manufacturer’s established products are alongside Pro Tools and Media Composer video workstations in the overall offering but its former corporate identity has been absorbed within the Avid group.
Patrick McLean (pictured), director of segment marketing for post production and broadcast at Avid, says that formally Euphonix became Avid the moment the deal was signed. The reality is a little more complicated. McLean acknowledges there is currently a transition period, with the Euphonix name still being used, which was clear during IBC. “That’s going to make understanding the situation easier for people,” he comments, “and we’re going to continue to make reference to it for a while.”
The integrated audio range within Avid now runs from live sound through recording and mixing for music studios and small to medium post production facilities to systems for higher-end film and broadcast work.
Thomas Graham, worldwide marketing manager for post production segment marketing, says that before the acquisition Avid was targeting the broadcast and post audio markets with a range of controllers; the Command 8, the C24, the ICON D Command and the ICON D Control, ranging in price from $1200 to $130,000.
The addition of Euphonix’s Artist series, says Graham, “really fills in the entry level market”. From a starting point of eight faders Avid can now offer up to 24-faders, plus “more of a tactile work surface and the option of having a transport-only system”.
As well as offering more on the console/controller itself, Graham says there is a growing demand from customers for an greater degree of openness on systems. “The trend we are seeing is for people to have several applications running on a computer at the same time,” he explains. “Having something like the Artist Series, which supports the EuCon protocol, means that the customer can switch between Logic, Pro Tools and Steinberg’s Nuendo. That’s part of the reason why the acquisition of Euphonix was so attractive to us.”
This need to work with different systems and applications simultaneously also exists on the video side. Graham says many video customers who are new to Avid want to have audio on the on same machine as their vision projects. “Switching back and forth between video applications like Media Composer and Final Cut Pro is key today,” he comments, “and the Artist series is able to handle that as well.”
Operationally the bringing together of the former Digidesign controllers and Euphonix consoles gives users more choice depending on their needs. Graham points out that the D Control has six knobs per channel, while the System 5 MC has eight, plus more substantial metering through TFT displays.
There is the marketing imperative of having products complement each other in terms of price points and features but Graham says the Euphonix range gives Avid the opportunity to extend its reach further. “Although the ICON has been widely accepted, it hasn’t quite penetrated into the higher end film dubbing market,” he comments. “So we’re excited that the Euphonix products move us into that area, as well as into the broadcast market, which has specific needs, like redundancy and trigger starts.”
For high end film and TV drama post Avid now has Euphonix’s S5 Fusion and System 5, while the live broadcast market is catered for with the Max Air and System 5B. “The console range fits really nicely together and offers customers a choice,” says Graham. “If you want to mix in the box we have something for you, or if you want a DSP console or a DSP broadcast console, we have something for you there.”
There is also the possibility for more integration with Pro Tools, through the new HD MADI interfaces introduced just before IBC. “That compatibility fits well with the 5B or the Max Air through that standard protocol,” says Graham. “But by the end of the year we also hope to have moved to having the EuCon protocol on Pro Tools, which will allow you to switch over on a layer from the DSP engine to the hybrid engine. Controlling Pro Tools directly will be a very strong combination.”
This integration is set to continue, with the former Digidesign and Euphonix product teams working together. “The engineering groups continue for Euphonix and by good fortune they’re just down the road in Mountain View from our Daly City offices,” says McLean. “These are all under common management so they’re looking to see how they can cross-pollinate each other.” This corporate melding is being seen round the world, with Euphonix offices merged with Avid offices.
Avid - and Digidesign - always faced competition but with Euphonix’s very specific products the group is facing a whole new gallery of established and very specialised competitors. However, this is where Graham and McLean think the corporate machine can work in their favour.
“Something that Avid can bring to the table that’s difficult for a small company is our size,” comments McLean. “It takes resources to be established internationally, so what we can do relative to having Euphonix within Avid, instead of separate, is that we have an international presence and sales force and we can bring a balance over many different regions.”
Being able to sell products on a global scale is now key but that offering has got to be something that increasingly demanding users will want to use. Once again, Avid feels it has that. “Ultimately the integration with Pro Tools as a recorder and an editor in a broadcast truck, along with, say, a System 5B will prove to have advantages in workflow, like it has with ICON and Pro Tools in the post market,” concludes Graham. “It’s early days and we’re still learning a lot about this business but I see a bright future ahead in the broadcast realm.”