Avid have been canvassing the user base though their Avid Customer Association about future directions for Pro Tools and their other product ranges. I have just completed the questionnaire and was very interested in the some of the questions they are asking because it might give us a peak under the hood as to where Avid might go with future developments.
In the email I received having already taken part in round 1 Avid say..
The Avid Customer Association (ACA) invites you to participate in its inaugural vote. It's your second and final chance to focus attention on what matters most to you. Continued feedback from ACA members has helped inspire and guide Avid's strategic direction, products, solutions and future offerings, and the vote is one of the key ways the ACA collects information to do so.
In round 2 they offer you different sets of questions depending on what part of the industry you work in and so these are the questions they presented me as someone who works in audio. Round 2 is open until March 3rd 2017.
Section 1 - Pro Tools Features
This section is all about Pro Tools where Avid ask us to drag and drop the topics below to rank them on level of importance.
New Post workflows - Folder tracks, multiple sessions open at one time.
Enhanced MIDI Functionality - New MIDI tools to further music creation workflows.
Enhanced AVE (Avid Video Engine) Workflows - Support of new codecs, enhancements to existing video interop inside Pro Tools.
Virtual Instrument Upgrades - New VI tools inside Pro Tools and better integration with 3rd party VIs.
Enhanced Voice Capability for Pro Tools Native HD Systems - Larger voice count for Pro Tools HD Native.
iOS App for Pro Tools - iOS version of Pro Tools for mobile recording, editing & sharing of ideas for collaboration.
Immersive / 3D Audio Integration - Further integration of Dolby ATMOS and other 3D formats into Pro Tools mixer.
New low cost hardware audio interface with network capabilities and sync - Adding a new hardware interface for Pro Tools that would retail under $1K US and include DANTE and up to 16 I/O.
On Premises Collaboration - Bringing current cloud collaboration to work on premises with local storage.
Enhanced Integration: Pro Tools & Sibelius - Improved workflows to allow better integration between Sibelius and Pro Tools app .
The 1st one is very close to my heart as I have been asking for both these features to be implemented and I am not alone, with folders being the most popular feature request on the Pro Tools Ideascale and multiple sessions being the 7th most popular feature yet to be implemented.
Enhancing the Avid Video Engine, is an interesting one because as a community the AVE seems to have been a Marmite feature, you either love it or hate it, but it is good to see that Avid believe there is more work to be done here.
Adding voice counts to the HD Native system would make it an even more powerful option and would mean that using the Thunderbolt option with a network capable interface like the Focusrite Red4 and Red8Pre interfaces would be a powerful and convenient solution especially for Mac users who don't want to have to get into having a PCIe expansion chassis.
Avid need to embrace the immersive and 3D formats as soon as possible. This sector is a major growth area with more and more movies being produced in Dolby Atmos or Auro 3D. Then there is the whole area of virtual and augmented reality that is using ambisonics. We need Avid to embed these options into Pro Tools asap.
I am very pleased that Avid are looking at offering the collaboration features in a closed network. As we have said here before, the film post production business is very conscious of security and there is no way they will allow collaboration over the internet, but to have the collaboration features available in a closed network could significantly enhance the film post production workflows within a studio complex.
It is very interesting that they are looking at a low cost hardware audio interface with Dante support and sync that would retail under $1K. We have been saying that there has been a hole in Avid's product portfolio for a sub $1k interface and for it to have sync and dante would be a very interesting product, so could this be an outcome of the Avid Focusrite collaboration, especially now Tim Carroll has moved from Avid to Focusrite?
I have deliberately not commented on the music features, what do you think about these and how they would enhance your workflows, do share your thoughts in the comments below.
Section 2 - Alliance Partners
In this section Avid are asking what third party product would you most like to see integrated into Avid's ecosystem?
This is a very interesting selection of choices and shows that Avid are looking at possibly bringing some 3rd party plugins inside the Pro Tools architecture. Maybe Avid have looked at what Presonus have done in Studio One? Imagine Auto-Tune or Melodyne built into Pro Tools or some Native Instruments VIs or UAD plugins. What would appeal to you? Do share in the comments below....
Section 3 - Live Sound (Workflow Requirements)
Avid offered me this set of options in this section, again to drag and drop to rank these topics on level of importance.
Media Record and Playback - Simultaneous record/playback on USB flash drives
Waves Plug-in Integration - Ability to invoke and edit Waves plug-in the Venue software UI
Venue Software on iOS - Tablet version of Venue software for remote control
High Channel DANTE Card - Expanding upon current DANTE implementation to add larger I/O counts
MADI Sample Rate Convert - Ability for current MADI card to support real time sample rate conversion
Then Avid asked what third party product would you most like to see integrated into Avid's ecosystem?
It is interesting to see what direction Avid are looking to add in the live sound arena including Dante and MADI connectivity, Waves Plugin integration, why just Waves? Does this show a closer partnership with Waves?
Moving onto the 3rd party options it is interesting to compare the list for live sound and studio workflows, especially which brands are on both lists like Antares and Universal Audio and which brands are only on one list like Waves and Slate Digital. What do you make of this? Do share your thoughts in the comments below.
Section 3 - Virtual Reality
It is very interesting to see that Avid are taking this sector seriously enough to have a dedicated section for it. They start by asking how important is VR/AR to your strategic growth plan.
Next they ask what business models are you considering for VR / AR?
Advertisement based monetization
Sponsorship by leading VR hardware and software companies(such as Samsung, HTC, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, etc.)
Not sure yet (still investigating)
Then there is a raft of questions digging further into this.
It is great to see Avid so interested in VR and AR but the questions are only aimed at content producers, the questions don't really fit those in the production workflow. Also I was surprised that education wasn't in the range of topics as I believe AR and VR will play a very strong part in education, at all levels.
Section 4 - Deployment & Services Preferences
In the final section Avid appear to be wanting to explore our use of the cloud. They start by asking what will you use the cloud for in the future? Drag and drop to order these topics, using 1 to indicate the most and 5 to indicate the least prominent need.
I don't intend to use the cloud
Agility: Speed & efficiency
Improved ease of collaboration (i.e. Pro Tools Collaboration)
Burst capacity (temporary additional capacity)
Next they ask about our preference for which software licensing option you would prefer:
Subscription (recurring monthly fee)
Perpetual (own software outright)
Finally they ask what do you value most in service & support from Avid? Please select all that apply with a maximum response of 3 answer choices.
Technical Support (phone)
Technical Support (email)
Technical Support (chat)
It is interesting in the use of the cloud that they are exploring how we use the cloud outside of Pro Tools.
I have to say I struggled with the last set of options but then I rarely need to turn to Avid for help, but I acknowledge that I am not a typical Pro Tools user. Do share your thoughts about this section in the comments below.
So there you have it. A very interesting and in places revealing questionnaire into Avid's thinking for possible future directions. What do you think?