Some Thoughts On Avid’s Audience

5 01 2008

The following comes from two conversations that I’ve had with Libby Shoemaker, a student at USC, about Avid’s user base. It actually goes to the issue of how a company like Avid can hope to address the natural user base that surrounds a company like Apple. It was prompted by my blog entry from January 2, called “Apple point the way for Avid’s Future.”

The podcasts are good yes, but I’m thinking more of Apple’s Pro Series training books as well as DVDs and free online tutorials that independent editors post. Do two searches on Amazon–the amount of materials on Final Cut Pro’s products vs. Avid’s products are staggering. And much more economically accessible than the ALEX training. Also, my understanding of the web site is that having AVID support of the software costs money — a lot of money. I know Apple has its own charges for support, but it seems less. And because it has such a public following, I can usually resolve a problem in FCP by looking at Creative Cow, LAFCPUG or other web sites. With Avid, there is a Creative Cow forum, but the only resource that tends to have answers is the support forum. I could be wrong about some of these things and welcome any suggestions you may have, but when I’m editing on AVID at home I feel like I’m in the struggle by myself. If there’s a problem in FCP, I feel fairly confident that I can find some information to resolve the problem.The target audience for editing software has undergone a transformation in recent years. You have everyone from the professional filmmaker to the guy who does videos for his friends. I’d be interested in knowing the answer to that question myself.

Avid’s current pricing structure eliminates a bunch of people who are willing to spend money. So the challenge there is to get people past the sticker shock. I think the academic pricing is great and that the software should be offered through all universities. Also, could donate to larger high schools as windows systems tend to be the norm. However, if they want to keep their market to professionals only, I feel if you’re spending $5,000 on just a piece of software and more for support, then you deserve a free six-month pass to ALEX and telephone support. Why? Because after purchasing the computer needed to run the software, the decks you need, the camera package–well, people HAVE to eat. I like Avid’s upgrade policy. They seem pretty flexible about giving nice upgrades out without much added cost. I think that could be pushed as an added bonus because Apple upgrades frequently and rarely gives out freebies, even if the software was purchased only weeks before.

Second thing is training. Avid wants $500 for a course. Why not expand contracts with others to license training courses for dvds and books? Kauffman’s book is good, we just need more and cheaper soruces. Books and dvd courses by the likes of the guys at dvcreators.net. would be nice. My first Final Cut Powerstart dvd used THEIR training techniques and they taught me little gee whiz things, like how to make a man’s head explode.

Here’s the last thing for tonight. Avid should get some focus groups together and do some simple usability testing on their web site. Sometimes a clear and easy path makes a lot of difference. And it is something they can do in-house. We did this often when I worked in corporate marketing. You would be surprised to see the difficulty folks have navigating some of the nicest looking web sites. People need a clear and easy path to buy, to find information. There’s great material inside the site. Make sure no one misses it.

The conversation started when she asked me what tools Avid gave potential users.

The points she raises are very valid. There is an entire industry, both paid and free, that grown up around Apple’s Pro Software — sites like rippletraining, the Pixel Corps and the podcasts and tips and techniques sites that have blossomed. The sites around Avid have, aside from the Creative Cow’s forums and a few random sites, are really contained within Avid’s own confusing web site (though I absolutely love the podcasts that Matt Feury is doing for them — click here to subscribe in iTunes). It’s hard to know how a company like Avid can do that. But we do know that it all needs to come from an enthusiastic fan base. Perhaps the Avid loyalists aren’t fans, in the way that Apple tends to inspire fans.

Anyway, I’ve always felt (since the days of Moviola and KEM, and later, Lightworks and Avid) that the user benefits from having more than one platform to work with. I really don’t want to say FCP become our only real choice (yeah, yeah, yeah, you can talk to me about Adobe Premiere — please), so we need to have beginning user support that is available equally on both platforms.

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18 03 2008
Avid’s “New Thinking” « H o l l y n - w o o d (Norman, that is)

[…] Avid announced yesterday revolved around the user community. Anyone who’s had the patience to listen to me babble over the last few years knows that I’ve felt that the company has not been doing a good […]

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