From the dashboard in your car, the panel on your stove, the buttons in the elevator, the remote in your hand and the apps on your phone, to Google and Facebook, none of us can navigate through five minutes of living our lives without dealing with some sort of an interface.
They all have something in common: Whether artful or ugly, deeply integrated or not, someone took the time to craft every part of every interface we touch. Remember how after the iPhone launched, everything had to look like Jony Ive designed it? And oh, how we love to be critics of our beloved interfaces.
Yet none of us like the same thing. So how the heck can anyone agree? As critics we lash our lists onto everything, from surfing the web to editing in NLE apps to noticing the differences between browsing Netflix on our phones versus Apple TV.
Have we grown overcritical? And so, to all app designers and engineers everywhere including those at Avid, I say: No pressure! It needs an update! It is old. Quicken was made in So was MS Word. Photoshop arrived a year before Avid, in Do any of these apps look the same as they did in their early years? Well as the joke goes, Avid did. What prompted this more dramatic change in ? There were dozens of reasons, but one always bubbled to the top: Working with video on computers used to be hard.
It no longer is. All apps in general, even mobile, were much farther evolved in the consciousness of the new user base. But that was the problem: No this is dramatically different. The architecture for bins was moved to a whole new framework, and a lot of the generally slow interface responsiveness users saw in the timeline was finally confronted. They really did this one the hard way, and it shows.
The initial release of this new interface was on June 20, with MC It was the result of dozens and dozens of top editors and post pros all over the industry being tapped for their expertise as well as their long list of pain points, feature requests and current needs from a UI.
It is about the war that happens publicly and behind closed doors. Avid knows there is still a lot of work to be done. There is a massive backlog of features, and many of them were unable to be addressed until this new work was done. With many of the apps old hindrances now gone, much of that work can begin. As long-time Avid moderators, Randall L. Rike and I were honored to be sitting with him. Though unlike most of the people in the room, everything being announced was familiar to me.
I was approached by Avid a year prior to join a team of consultants that would help steer the development of this new user interface. As you can imagine, here in the audience at Connect I was extremely excited to see all of the work finally being shown. Later there was a session with Tom Ohanian, who was the eighth employee at Avid in its early days. We were equally humbled to be invited to something much larger the following day. Now really, who could pass THAT up?
Entering the room, I noticed the rectangular tables were fitted together into that right-angled horseshoe that is supposed to give some sense of an Arthurian roundtable. People were finding their ways into chairs and awkwardly smiling at each other in that way people do at conferences.
Pockets of us knew each other quite well. We were simply having fun discovering who else had been invited. Steve and I took seats near the center of the horseshoe. Across from me was the amazing Marianna Montague. The room was filling up with some of the top editors, assistant editors, audio pros and video engineers in the field — Scott Jacobs MIB: The gamut of postproduction was well represented.
The doors closed. The session began. Brainstorming session for the new UI The first rule was stressed: The second rule: They wanted a true brainstorming session. Screenshots and rough representations of ideas would be presented of what they are working on, and they wanted us to give them a heap of feedback. And so we did. The meeting lasted two-and-a-half hours. Randy Martens was introduced. You may remember him from a series of videos on MC6 that came out in We saw a pic of some initial sketches.
Sketches of new UI workspaces These were a basic draft of what the four primary workspaces — Edit, Color, Effects and Audio — could look like. Although workspaces have been around for years, a lot of Avid editors have simply never used them. So, to some this would be new territory.
I liked this a lot. We then saw the first concept for the interface. Proposed new paneled UI Cool! They demonstrated their initial thoughts, of how each item could move around inside of the panel, and how each might attach. Rather than a magnetic-style attachment, which would merely dock one window to the next like in older Photoshop or Encore apps, these could be made to work within one another, dynamically.
It was hard to grasp at first, especially in theory without visuals, so we all just kind of nodded and smiled. Even though they were going to make it possible for editors to operate in this new paneled UI, they were also going to make it possible NOT to do so. This was wonderful news. Decluttering of the screen real estate was stressed.
We were shown the idea of vertical tabs. There was a lot of skepticism over this design concept. Reading text at a degree angle? But some of us realized how this design could be used. For example, no more wasted screen real estate in Audio Editing mode. No one ever really needs to see all of the audio tools open at once. Proposed new UI: As the presentation went deeper, craftspeople were raising their hands.
Some things they were showing were just not going to work. Monica Daniel and Scott Jacobs both gave a wealth of praise and thoughtful caution.
They explained how some of these ideas might look cool, and might be useful to some industries, but would cause way too many extra clicks or inefficiencies for editors and assistants on long-format scripted series. They wanted to make sure that efficiency and logic should be stressed, as well as design. Steve Audette, ACE and I spoke from the documentary side, making sure that script-based editing and broadcast workflows were addressed.
Randy Rike provided perspectives from his experience dealing with users on the Avid forums and his many years as a broadcast engineer. The folks at Avid were all jotting down notes and responding to the criticism and advice. At times they defended the reasons behind some things, but only to engage more conversation, not to dig-in their heels. It was a wonderful interaction. Kate Ketcham and Randy Martens went back and forth, answering everything they could.
We were quite critical. He put an immediate end to our worries. Instead he proved it with action. This was going to be a fully funded, fully supported, all-hands-on-deck redesign. The entire backlog of feature requests was going to be looked at. Everything old was on the table.
Everything current was on the table. Every idea for the future was on the table. The future of Composer was at stake, and so big development dollars were going to be thrown at this.
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