If you’re a Pro Tools user you hold your breath with every announcement from Avid. The thought that comes most often is, “How much will it cost me this time?” The next question usually is, “Is this for the stockholders or for the users?” The latter question comes to mind first with Avid’s recent announcement about moving it’s audio and video applications (including Pro Tools and Media Composer) to the cloud using Microsoft’s Azure platform.
For most single-station Pro Tools users, the announcement won’t have much of an initial impact. Cloud-based collaboration is something used in post, and it’s very useful in that regard. Who wants to use Dropbox or FTP when you can just shoot files around within a global ecosystem. Plus, having the app hosted in the cloud means that potentially you can work anywhere from any computer – at least that’s how the theory goes.
It all sounds nice on paper, but we all know that the app is only part of our working environment, and a major part (and often the bottleneck) is the plugins we use.
How many Pro Tools users do you know that are still on PT 10 on an outdated OS because they don’t want to either lose a precious plug that they use every day, or don’t want to incur the expense of upgrading dozens of plugs? Yeah, me too.
I read something somewhere were Avid has upgraded Pro Tools something like 7 quarters in a row, which on the surface is very commendable. The platform has been lagging behind in many ways, and many of these updates were to implement functions that other DAWs have had for years. Many of the more cynical users looked at each update as simply another way to eek some additional cash from some part of the company’s user base. The truth is probably a little of both.
While it feels like Avid is sometimes ignoring those single-station users based in the music business, one thing that it’s done well is support its postproduction users. Music people have plenty of DAWs available that can do the job, but if you’re in post, there are no alternatives at the moment. Avid knows that, but has responded with update after update to meet their needs.
I’m not sure how Pro Tools in the cloud is going to help me or you music users yet though, and the announcement of the collaboration with Microsoft seems like it’s aimed more at the stock market than the user base. One thing I’m pretty sure of is that my pocketbook is going to feel the weight of this announcement in some way down the road.