Building your Media Composer or Symphony Suite
Choosing a Platform - Mac or PC: The first question a user is faced with is what platform to run Media Composer or Symphony on. It is possible that your current computer system will meet the requirements for the editing application but it is also possible that you will need to upgrade or add additional hardware especially since version 6.5 of both editing applications is a 64 bit application. Media Composer v5.5 and earlier is 32-bit.
Avid has tested and qualified specific system requirements on both Mac and PC platforms and recommends that you use configurations that meet these Avid-tested specifications for CPU, graphics cards, Firewire cards, etc. We support each platform equally. Each seat of Media Composer or Symphony for example is sold as a dual-platform product so you can use these applications on a Mac or a PC or switch between.
Note that NewsCutter which is not discussed in depth here is a PC only application.
You should always check the recommended system requirements of Macintosh-based or Windows-based qualified workstations and laptops for Avid Media Composer or Symphony systems before purchasing or upgrading.
A good URL from VideoGuys.com which contains a lot of information to help folks build their edit suite.
Media Composer and Symphony Specifications
Both the Mac and Win specifications pdf files can be found here.
Once you have determined which way you wish to go, you then need to look at the recommended configuration and slot guidelines especially if you add an Avid Mojo DX, Nitris DX or any of the recommended and supported Open I/O hardware.
Avid Configuration and Slot Guidelines
Graphics Cards – Important Consideration: Much like we recommend specific Mac and PC computers for use with Media Composer, Symphony and NewsCutter, we also recommend specific graphic cards.
Macintosh: The Macintosh platform currently offers ATI and NVIDIA graphics cards for use on any of the Mac systems that we test. Avid qualifies the standard shipping graphics card with Mac Pro, iMac or MacBook Pro system that are outlined on the Mac Specifications document listed at the link above.
If there is a choice, we will choose the card with more onboard memory for use with Media Composer 6.5 or Symphony 6.5. Also, we will choose any graphics card over the onboard Intel graphics. The Intel onboard graphics is part of the CPU chip and classified as low end graphics. It cost less since you are not buying an optional/additional graphics card but you get what you pay for. Best to add a card - either a NVIDIA GeForce and ATI Radeon. Avid has qualified several NVIDIA card but the ATI should work just as well. There is no GPU acceleration on a Mac today so therefore the card choice is relevant but not the main focus as it is on a PC.
Choosing an OS: It is purely a matter of user preference, a requirement of the CPU being used, and the version of Media Composer or Symphony being installed which may dictates which OS is installed/run or which platform. Always check the recommended specifications for each platform before you forge ahead and NEVER turn automatic updates on which will impact your system and performance.
Testing Products: The Avid Hardware testing group determines what products are tested based on availability, product requirements and features.
- The high performance workstation gets the high performance graphics card ( like the Z800 with NVIDIA Q4000).
- The mid performance workstation gets the mid performance graphics card (Like the Z400 with NVIDIA Q2000)
- The lower performance workstation gets the entry level graphics card (Like the Z210 with NVIDIA Q600).
Graphics Acceleration: Avid doesn’t have the time or resources to test every possible combination that HP, Apple or Dell offers so we try to match the systems with the graphics capabilities in terms of price and performance.
Given this, here are some guidelines to follow regarding graphics/graphics acceleration. From a raw computing perspective, Avid rates the graphics card performance from lowest to highest as an example: GeForce, FCX 1800, FX 3800, FX 4800 and so on. NVIDIA Quadro FX family (FX 560 or higher) is what we state as the minimum requirement and for full-screen playback we require a minimum of 128 MB of graphics memory. With Graphics acceleration, the Media Composer or Symphony application sends effects to the graphics card GPU for processing. The transfer of the data to the GPU takes up cycles so if an effect is complex, lots of Color correction, Multi layer, etc. the transfer time is more than offset by the ability of the GPU to process the effects quicker than the CPU could by itself.
If you have a simple effect, you run the risk of loading the bus with the transfer and you don’t see much benefit. With simple effects stream counts can actually drop slightly as cycle are spent on the transfer and the advanced processing doesn’t offset that amount of time.
PC’s: For workstation PCs, there are many choices from HP and Dell for each system. If there is a choice, we will always pick NVIDIA (Quadro or FX series cards). Laptops have less of a choice in graphics card options but again, we will also pick NVIDIA (Quadro, FX, or GeForce series cards first). GPU acceleration only applies to certain NVIDIA Quadro or FX cards (mid range or higher) and there is no GPU acceleration on laptops or low end graphics.
What this Means to You: Many users coming from say FCP who are installing Media Composer 6.5 or Symphony 6.5 may want to use their existing Mac system. Important to note that Media Composer 6.5 and Symphony 6.5 will only support Mac systems built from 2008 and later with 64 bit kernel support.
32 bit - Media Composer 5.5.x was the last releases to support the 32 bit architecture.
64 bit - Media Composer 6 and Symphony 6 are the first releases to support 64 bit.
Low end CPUs like the core2duo will have problems editing HD video and customers should already be aware of that restriction with Media composer 5.5.x. As already indicted, many of you will want to use an existing Mac Pro with only one Xeon processor today and upgrade the CPU in the future – Note that Avid qualifies two CPUs for Mac Pro today. The performance of using a One Xeon versus a Two CPU is comparable to the HP Z800 vs HP Z400 (dual quad core CPUs in Z800 vs single quad core in Z400).
Performance will not be as good on the single Xeon system but this should still work as MC 5.5.x software only (not MC 6/Sym 6 ) even though Avid does not officially qualify that configuration. iMacs, Mac Mini's and Mac Book Pros are also qualified for Media Composer 5.5.x and Media Composer 6.5 /Symphony 6.5 and performance will vary on these depending on CPU bought – the core2duo is fine for or SD but the i5 better and the i7 is the best for HD.
For customers that are using PCs and not on the Avid qualified list (Lenovo, Toshiba, Sony, etc), we would suggest something like this:
Good – SD only - Intel Core2duo with 4GB memory and any of the Avid approved graphics cards
Better – SD and HD - Intel i5/i7 quad core with 4GB or more of memory and NVIDIA graphics
Best – SD/HD/3D/RGB 444 - Single or dual chip Xeon quad core or 6 core with 6GB/8GB/12GB of memory and NVIDIA Quadro graphics (Q2000 or Q4000)
Version Matrix: Avid has created a Version Matrix so that you may quickly identify compatibility requirements for each specific version of Avid Media Composer – PC and Mac. Place your mouse on top of your version of Media Composer for a clearer view, or click the version of Media Composer to launch the ReadMe documentation.
Also note on the Media Composer Version Matrix there is now a link for the list of current patch releases Avid Professional Editor Patch Updates Customers can now subscribe to this document and each time it is updated, be notified via email that a patch is out.
Using the Production Suite components with Media composer 5.5.x (32 bit applications ): The Media Composer 5.5.x product either a new license or an upgrade (shippable box only), came with over $3800 (US MSRP) worth of complimentary applications designed to help you get the most out of your editing system. Software downloads DID NOT come with the Production Suite components so if you bought a new license as a software download or an upgrade as a software download you would not havereceive the production suite components.
Inside the Media Composer shippable box was a 5 disc CD sleeve that contained the following applications:
- Avid DVD by Sonic - Author professional DVDs and Blu-ray discs quickly and easily, with complete control over the entire process with Avid DVD by Sonic, which works with Windows-based systems (PC Only)
- Avid FX - Easily create dazzling 2D and 3D composites, titles, animation, and effects with Avid FX, a powerful collection of creative tools designed by Boris FX. This latest version sports a new interface and offers new 16-bit color, clone paint tool, image brushes, motion path and key tools, vector trace, optical stabilization, subtitle generator, and more.
- Boris Continuum Complete - Create the look you want with nearly 200 filters at your fingertips - including 15 new filters - using the new Boris Continuum Complete. This latest version offers significant performance gains and enhancements, so you can create dramatic effects quickly and easily.
- SmartSound Sonicfire Pro - Create music soundtracks for your films, TV shows, commercials, and other video effortlessly with SmartSound Sonicfire Pro. Choose from a variety of loops and pre-recorded soundtracks and then customize the music to fit your scene.
- Sorenson Squeeze - Optimize and deliver content in a create-once-publish-anywhere world. With Sorenson Squeeze, you can optimize content in a variety of formats (including HD, DVD, MPEG-2, MPEG-4/H.264, Flash, and 3GPP) for web or DVD delivery, author DVDs and Blu-ray Discs on Windows, and burn discs on a PC and now Macs too.
Note: Media Composer 5.5.x Academic only received Avid DVD.
To activate each of these 5 applications, there are serial #'s for each located on the back of the 5 disc CD sleeve that came with the Production Suite.
Note: The Production Suite from v5.5 and earlier is no longer available from Avid.
Using the Production Suite with Media composer 6.5 or Symphony 6.5 (64 bit application):Media Composer 6.5, Symphony 6.5 and NewsCutter 10.5 products either a new seat or an upgrade (shippable box and software download), now come with several complimentary applications designed to help you get the most out of your editing system. The applications provided will vary per editing product purchased ( see below).
· Media Composer 6.5 or an upgrade to Media Composer 6.5 comes with:
Sorenson Squeeze, Avid FX and Avid DVD
· Symphony 6.5 or an upgrade to Symphony v6.5 comes with:
BCC, Sorenson Squeeze, Avid FX and Avid DVD
· NewsCutter 10.5 or an upgrade to NewsCutter 10.5 comes with:
Sorenson Squeeze, Avid FX and Avid DVD
The third party applications are part of the editing application installer and once you install Media Composer, Symphony or NewsCutter you will have a production suite folder installed that contains theses applications.
How to obtain the Third Party Serial #'s to activate your applications:
Online Store purchase: If you purchase a new or an uprgade to Media Composer 6 from the Avid Online Store, once you have gone through the checkout process, the serial numbers used to activate the third party components are located in My Account along with your MC 6.5 activation ID. If you bought a Media Composer to Symphony 6.5 Crossgrade or a Symphony 6.5 Upgrade then once you have gone through the checkout process, the serial numbers used to activate the third party components are located in My Account along with your activation ID.
Shippable kit purchase: The Third Party serial #'s will be located on a label affixed to the CCD sleeve inside the box.
Support Contract Customers: You would go to www.avid.com/MC3party to retrieve your serial #'s if eligible - you must have register the product first.
Academic 4 year free: You would go to www.avid.com/MC3party to retrieve your serial #'s if eligible. You must have registered the product first.
Using Hardware you already have (Third Party hardware): Several hardware vendors work closely with Avid to provide editing solutions for use with Media Composer 6.5 and Symphony 6.5 and our new Open I/O. Currently, we recommend and approve products from Matrox, MOTU, AJA, Bluefish444 and Blackmagic as well as a number of Firewire cards, deck control products, etc. Technical Information, compatibility and FAQs on these and other products can be found on the Knowledge Base.
· Open IO Frequently Asked Questions http://avid.force.com/pkb/LegacySearch?DocId=422991
· Third Patry Partner FAQ's
· BlueFish 444 Open IO Frequently Asked Questionshttp://avid.force.com/pkb/LegacySearch?DocId=420619
· AJA Open IO Frequently Asked Questionshttp://avid.force.com/pkb/LegacySearch?DocId=420591
· BlackMagic Open IO Frequently Asked Questionshttp://avid.force.com/pkb/LegacySearch?DocId=420615
· MOTU Open IO Frequently Asked Questionshttp://avid.force.com/pkb/LegacySearch?DocId=420611
· Matrox Open IO Frequently Asked Questions http://avid.force.com/pkb/LegacySearch?DocId=420595
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