Avid Xpress Pro 5.5

Avid Xpress Pro 5.5

Avid Xpress Pro uses the same interface as Avid's other editors, so if you know one Avid, you know them all.


Avid Xpress Pro 5.5 is a high-powered video editor brought to you by the company that put the digital into digital video editing. Not only does Xpress offer a long list of pro-level features, but it also sports file compatibility with higher-end Avid gear found in edit bays around the world. But Xpress still has some annoying quirks; namely, its Mac support has been pretty iffy lately, and it also costs nearly $400 more than Apple's Final Cut Studio ($1,299, www.apple.com), which has more features.


Xpress's core features have been in place for years - things such as flexible trimming tools, advanced color correction, real-time video and audio effects, multicamera editing, media consolidation, and a highly customizable interface. Version 5.5's most important improvement is that it can capture, edit, and export HDV and DVCPRO HD video as well. If you've jumped on the HD bandwagon, chances are that Xpress will work with that stunning footage you've shot. Plus, if you add Avid's Mojo hardware to the mix ($1,695 to $2,495), you can also work with uncompressed SD video. Xpress still doesn't support uncompressed HD, which is something that Apple's Final Cut Pro handles right out of the box.


Xpress does have something that Final Cut users will envy, however: the ability to combine different media formats on a single timeline without having to render them first. Nowadays, a project's footage can come from different cameras shooting in different formats, and Xpress's ability to seamlessly mix them all together is a time-saver. Another feature we dig is Xpress's built-in motion stabilizer, which can remove (or at least minimize) camera shake. Effects packages such as Adobe After Effects or Apple's Shake can do the same thing, but being able to do it right in your video editor saves time.


Arguably, Xpress's biggest advantage is that it's compatible with all of the high-end Avid workstations in the world (and there are lots of them, since Avid is considered the gold standard in film and TV production). You can do the vast majority of your work using Xpress, and then take your project to a rental suite and finish it up on a high-end Avid box. For example, suppose you shot your project in uncompressed HD, but you copied it to DV video tapes and edited those tapes on your Xpress-equipped PowerBook. (Why not a MacBook Pro? More on that later.) Once your edit is done, you could take your project file to an Avid Nitris, which would automatically recapture and reassemble your edited video using your HD master tapes, and apply top-tier color correction and other effects. (You could use the same strategy with Final Cut Pro, but it's generally harder to find high-end Final Cut systems to rent, as opposed to Avid gear.)





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