For the last few months, it seems that Avid has been working hard on releasing updates for every product in their software range except Pro Tools. Avid promised regular updates every couple of months with the express intent of offering frequent and regular updates, rather than waiting for one big upgrade. This was a significant part of the sales pitch for users to buy into the upgrade plans, but in the last 3 months, the cupboard has been completely bare for Pro Tools users whilst every other product has had at least one update.
The last update for Pro Tools was Pro Tools 2018.4, which was largely a re-branding exercise. As we explained in our article Everything You Need To Know About Pro Tools 2018 - Learn About The New Features - Is It Time To Upgrade? Now Check Out The Definitive Guide from Pro Tools Expert there have been precious little new features added to Pro Tools since 2018.1 was released in January 2018 with a raft of music production related features and improvements including Retrospective MIDI Record, MIDI Editing Enhancements, Track Presets, Playlist Comping Enhancements, Mixing UI Enhancements, "Start Collaboration" File Menu Item, and Flexible Licensing and Deployment. But since then no new features, just bug fixes and software bundles.
So what has been happening outside the Pro Tools range since the beginning of April?
Avid Media Composer 2018.4 - Released on April 7th 2018
Avid updated Media Composer to 2018.4 releasing on the same day as they released Pro Tools 2018.4. Media Composer 2018.4 came with a raft of new features including support for the new iMac Pro, Timeline Clip Notes Window Updates, Updates to the Marker Window, Customizing Timeline Views and Performing Insert Edit to an Exported Sequence.
Avid Sibelius 2018.4 - Released on April 7th 2018
On the same day as they released Pro Tools 2018.4 and Media Composer 2018.4 Avid also updated Sibelius and also brought it in line with the new version naming protocol. Sibelius 2018.4 brought Multi-edit workflows – Text and more, add ties intelligently across passages of music and a complete overhaul of note spacing.
Avid Sibelius First - Released on June 26th 2018
The final part of the releases on April 7th 2018 was Sibelius First, which has been designed to offer anyone with a suitable computer a streamlined notation toolset based on Sibelius including many of the same features, including music composition transcription, editing and unique cloud-based workflows, allowing composers to deliver scores faster and more efficiently. You can learn more about Sibelius First in our article Avid Releases Sibelius First - Their Free Music Notation Software - Download And Try It Today.
Avid Sibelius 2018.6 - Released on June 26th 2018
Sibelius 2018.6 picked up from 2018.4 and adds more note spacing features. Writing grace notes across multiple voices in Sibelius has been historically hard to do but now it can handle grace notes in multiple voices, note spacing of chords in multiple voices and changing notes by semitone across tied passages.
Avid Venue Software 5.7.1 Released on July 5th 2018
The Venue 5.7.1 software update for S6L systems delivered Mac OS 10.13 (High Sierra) support for workstations running Pro Tools over Ethernet AVB as well as numerous performance and stability improvements.
Avid Media Composer 2018.7 - Released on July 12th 2018
This by all accounts is a significant release. The star of the release is a feature called Live Timeline. There is now no need to stop and restart video playback to perform certain actions. Media Composer enables you to access menus, reveal tool tips and highlights, switch applications, zoom in and out of the timeline, add and remove bins, expand and collapse folder views, add and adjust columns, and much more—all without disrupting playback. There is also now support for 16K Project Presets, New High Frame Rate Projects (100, 119.88, 120), Support for NewTek® NDI Video over IP, Resize the Composer Monitor and Support for Full Frame Stereoscopic with Avid Artist DNxIQ.
What About Pro Tools 2018.7?
Well, that is a very good question to which we don't have a satisfactory answer. Has Avid been putting their development resources into Media Composer, Sibelius & Venue and leaving Pro Tools untouched? We don't know.
Perhaps Avid has had to trim back on development resources to help balance the books? Perhaps, but again we don't know. However, if they had to manage limited development resources how come they were able to release 4 products on the same day in April?
What we do know, is that Avid hasn't met its promise to release frequent updates. This is disappointing as it was a key part of their marketing strategy when they released the upgrade plans and was used as a selling point to encourage users to buy into the upgrade plan business model. The regular and more reliable revenue stream that the upgrade plans provided was intended to provide Avid with a more reliable source of income but for Pro Tools users it doesn't seem to have delivered the goods.
The last 2 Pro Tools updates, 2018.3 and 2018.4 didn't bring any new features to the table. Both did bring much-appreciated bug fixes, so the last new feature added to Pro Tools was added back in January.
Perhaps Avid is hard at work on Pro Tools 2018.7 or 2018.8, we don't know and even if we did know, we would be bound by an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) and could not say anything.
In our article What New Feature Would You Like Avid To Add Next To Pro Tools? we looked at the features at the top of the Pro Tools Ideascale Feature Request list and then each of the team shared their thoughts about what features they would like to see in a future release of Pro Tools. But again we don't know when that might be.
The next key date is IBC in September 2018, at which Avid might release a post-production friendly release. We shall have to wait and see...