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We’ve discussed at length the technical aspects of NLE’s in other posts including Avid products so I won’t go into detail. However, Rob is quite right. Avid is the ‘Grandmaster’ and all other NLE’s stand in it’s shadow. It does have a fairly steep learning curve initially, but once you learn it all other NLE’s are a snap. The biggest advantage it has is its compatability with the high and low-end Avid versions and its crossplatform capabilities. No matter if you’re using DV Express Pro on a single offline computer or a full Symphony/Unity array with 50+ linked machines you can transfer the basic portions of the project around to other editors whether they’re on a PC or a Mac. That’s pretty hardcore. That and all of the hardware support gear available and most graphic/mographic/animation software has Avid support built-in. That’s a tall order to follow.
It’s main strength is at the high-end its capabilities for project finishing is top of the line. Everytime there’s a new visual medium it usually someone using Avid products who figures out the best way to manipulate it at the highest potential. It’s main weakness has always been how expensive it is. The cheapest it ever got was with the non-pro DV Express for PC which was in the $450 range. The ‘pro’ version always hovered in the $1,000+ range and Media Composer until very recently was Mac only and hovered in the $5,000 plus range for a stripped down software only package for an Avid hardware rigged Apple. Symphony when it was PC only you couldn’t look at the box for less than $20k. Though it was a weakness as far as a mass market went, it wasn’t much of one because there were tons of schools and large production companies more than happy to fork over the loot to get their systems. Also Avid makes most of their money from tech support.