MBAs Gone Wild

My article on Avid vs FCP served as a springboard for Frank Capria of Kingpin Entertainment to talk about the evolution of the Non-linear marketplace in much broader terms. It's an excellent post and an excellent blog. He touches upon a pet peeve of mine, namely Avid's inability to streamline its product line. Frank speaks to Avid's dilemma quite nicely so I won't repeat it here, but I think Avid has something else going on...

MBA-itis.

In business literature the Rule of 3s pops up all over the place. Got a product? Offer three versions of it. Want to make a sale? Contact your prospect three times. Got a message? Tell them what you're about to tell them, then tell them, then finish by telling them what you've just said. Everything in 3s. Avid's product line is similarly positioned - only taken to an extreme.

Shared storage: 3 major versions

Nonlinear editing: 3 major versions

But at what point does it end? 5 versions of the Xpress product line. Another 3 versions of the Liquid line. And at the high-end more fragmentation, how do you choose a Symphony over DS? I imagine most purchasers finally give up, they look to see how much is in their wallet and find the product closest to that number. Customer confusion is never good. And Avid, in their attempt to gather every dollar by covering every niche is probably leaving money on the table. If you had fewer choices, might you find another $2,000 to step up to a more full-featured product rather than the one that leaves an extra $1,000 in your pocket? Maybe. If the choice is clear and the products are effectively delineated it's a no-brainer. As it is now, spend what you got because the product mix is much too complex to determine if you need to dig deeper. The result of too many MBAs with too much time? Perhaps.

In contrast to Avid, Apple seems to missing a product. They have Final Cut Express and Final Cut Studio. Where's the third product? Since Express and Studio are so closely priced, that third product is probably at the high-end, should it ever appear. Some recent Mac rumor sites have mentioned a 2K version of Final Cut in the $10,000 price range. Certainly, the niche that needs 2K functionality are used to spending big bucks - so the price tag won't pop any eyeballs. And if you look at Apple's hardware the Rule of 3 is very much alive, why not on the Final Cut side? Especially since it could sell oh-so-many Xsans and Xserves.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a "high-end" Final Cut package at NAB.

I would be surprised to see Avid streamline its product matrix.

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Unity vs XSan

I had to take down the section of the Avid vs FCP article dealing with Unity. It seems my understanding of FCP SAN solutions is out-of-date. XSan seems to have had a real impact on large FCP installations. The FCP mailing list is buzzing as we're all being brought up to speed and I'll be going through some PDFs to better understand how it works.

I'm holding off wider distribution of the article until I'm sure its updated to fairly reflect current realities.

Geez. I had forgotten why I don't update this article very often... it's nerve-wracking trying to get it right.

- pi
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Peer Review: Internet Style

After posting the Avid vs Final Cut article I figured it would probably get picked up by other sites and I didn't want to have any of my details wrong. So I posted the link to a few of the FCP-centric email discussion lists I haunt. I asked for some critiques and had a dozen excellent responses. After originally posting it, based on the feedback, the article went through one complete re-write (thanks Martin) and dozens of smaller tweaks and revisions. About the time I had it finished a few sites started linking to it, which pulled in some more comments - resulting in some tweaks on how Avid handles the color corrector across their product line (thanks George).

It was an interesting exercise for me. From finished Draft to Peer Review to Final in about 24 hours.

Reminds me of the explosion of training materials for all the software apps we use. It's nearly impossible to know everything about anything other than some tiny teeny little corner of the world. And then, only if you completely wrap yourself in it. Otherwise, it's always smart to ask for some help.

Thanks to everyone who offered their critique to help ensure that article was as accurate as we could make it.

- pi
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Avid vs FCP 2006

It's finally up, the latest version of my Avid versus Final Cut Pro article. I originally wrote this article in 2002 and this is the second update to that article.

Also: I've been playing with a new plug-in that I think I'm going to do a quick write-up on... dealing with garbage mattes and rotoscoping from within FCP.

Stay tuned...

- pi
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Oodles of Noodles

Noodling.

I recently heard that term on a podcast by Franklin McMahon. It refers to the process of just opening some software and playing with it. Learning by stumbling. It's something I don't do enough - at least not recently, as I've focusing on getting Fini launched.

But starting the summer of 2004 and through the middle of last year I was doing tons of it over at PixelCorp. At the time I was thinking of moving into a different part of the industry. After a year of noodling with Shake, Image Modeler, Cinema 4D I decided I needed to focus. What do want to be when I grow up?

I decided to start at the end. I pictured where I wanted to be in 5 years - and Fini was born.

Now that Fini is nearly up and running, and since some of the skills I acquired over those 15 months are starting to rust, it's time to get back to doing some noodling. And learning how to restore and retouch photographs in a guided reading with the author of a Photoshop book... it's classic PixelCorp.

It's a healthy change of pace. But no teams for me this time around... can't lose sight of the 5-year plan.

- patrick
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