Avid Xpress Pro 5.5

Avid Xpress Pro 5.5


Xpress includes a mixed bag of sidekick applications to help polish your digital productions. For text titles, Avid's Marquee excels at creating layers of animated 3D text, with multiple light sources and other effects. SmartSound's Sonicfire Pro 4 lets you compose royalty-free music from loops and predefined melodies, and it can also change your music's orchestration depending on different mood keyframes you set (there are keyframes such as dialogue, heavy, light, and so on). Xpress also includes a full-blown version of Sorenson Squeeze Compression Suite ($419), which encodes QuickTime, Flash, and DVD video using high-quality codecs.


But Xpress's sidekick applications don't feel as strong as the apps found in Apple's Final Cut Studio. They don't offer quite as many features, they don't share a common interface, and they don't work together quite as tightly as Final Cut Studio's companion apps. (For example, it's not as easy to pass a project from one app to another and then back again.) Finally, while PC Xpress users get a DVD-authoring app, the Mac version doesn't offer DVD authoring at all. To make a DVD, you'll have to use Apple's consumer-oriented iDVD, or buy Final Cut Studio simply to get Apple's excellent DVD Studio Pro. Having no DVD support is a problem for Xpress, and it's something that Avid should address.


Another chink in Xpress's armor is that Avid is often slow to bring feature updates to the Mac. Case in point: The Windows version offered HD goodness almost 18 months earlier - that's just not cool. Avid took more than four months to fully support Mac OS 10.4 when it first shipped. And, as of this writing, Xpress 5.5 isn't a Universal application, so Avid recommends that you not run it on Intel-based Macs - although the company assures us that a free Universal binary update should be available by the time you read this. It's not that Avid has bad Mac support, but history shows that Apple is much faster in issuing useful updates to Final Cut Studio (which is Universal), as well as in taking advantage of new hardware and OS features. One last knock: Xpress requires you to connect a USB dongle.


The bottom line. There's no denying that Xpress is a powerful tool, especially if you want to fit into the larger Avid family. But membership in the Avid family only goes so far. What Avid really needs to do is give Xpress the same attention on the Mac as it does on the Windows side.


COMPANY: Avid Technology
CONTACT: 800-949-2843, www.avid.com
PRICE: $1,695, $49.95 upgrade
REQUIREMENTS: G4 or faster, Mac OS 10.4.6 or later, QuickTime 7.1 or later, 1GB of RAM, 128MB of video RAM, 40GB disk space
Full of pro features. Works with popular HD formats. Compatible with higher-end Avid systems.
Historically iffy Mac support. So-so companion apps. No Universal binaries. Pricey.





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