Over the past couple of years, the audio and video editing industries have undergone a major revolution thanks to a combination of technological advances and drastically lower prices happening within a short period of time.
Both sectors have seen a mass migration towards digital formats, away from tape based platforms, though the video industry has been a lot slower than the audio side in doing so.
The impact this has had on the industries has been immense, as director of product marketing for desktop and enterprise solutions at Grass Valley, Mark Naveson explains: "As acquisition moves from tape to file-based formats – which might be solid state or some sort of removable disk and is one of the oldest part of the industry – the capture-for-edit stage is largely disappearing."
As he explains, the decrease in time taken dealing with this period has been replaced by issues such as compatibility, but also an increase in access to the technology.
Changing of the guard
However, this change is having an effect on the old guard. "We've found a downward trend in sales of specific audio editors," comments SCV London communications manager Matt Esau. "Digital audio workshops such as Sony's Acid Pro 7 have become much more comprehensive packages and most now offer enough audio editing for the general user."
It's a point Interactive Idea's Andy Miles echoes. "We are seeing an increasing amount of home users demanding more editing capabilities for their audio and visual recordings, for which they are very willing to invest more in to do so."
However, there is still a market to supply professionals, as Esau explains. "There is still a healthy amount of mastering and audio design users who need the professional features offered by the likes of Sony's SoundForge 9, so sales are still strong."
Indeed, Naverson believes that both groups are seeing a significant increase in demand – especially in the past few years – because of explosion in processing power available to both consumers and professionals. "The increase in computer power – and particularly the prevalence of multi-core processors – has made the modern desktop editor the remarkable tool that it is today. The same power is now moving to laptop computers, which in turn are becoming ever more popular. It is perfectly possible to perform sophisticated editing on a laptop."
Naverson adds: "For the professional editor, these developments mean more creative power and productivity. For the videographer, they mean that a wedding video can be as highly finished as a broadcast drama. But it also means that the amateur has access to editing facilities for utility tasks like transferring movies from VHS tape to DVD." He is keen to stress though that unlike other software, these programs still require some know-how, so it important to guide customers to the right purchase for their skill level and needs.
However, Esau is quick to stress that the impact increased processing has had much less of an impact on the audio editing sector. "I don't think that processing power has affected specific audio editing packages greatly – SoundForge 9 for example has a fairly low draw on the CPU. However, as he adds: "Where digital audio workstations are concerned, this has made a huge difference and users who need multi-track recording and utilise a lot of built-in effects benefit from this drastically."
Both Esau and Naveson had recommendations around how to boost margins in terms of accessory sales, with both echoing the point that equipment is and can be a valuable part of a solution. "The camcorder is the single most important accessory enabling everyone from the single user to large broadcast stations to access standard definition and now high definition video sources at reasonable prices," argues Naveson. "Whether your customer is an amateur looking to capture for a hobby or a top producer working on a high definition broadcast programme, the right camcorder is paramount."
However, it isn't just a consideration of what to stock, as Esau stresses: it's also what not to stock: "The traditional studio has been suffering more and more as the average home studio – ran from a single computer – has become a much cheaper route for music production and editing. This has seen the reduction in sales of outboard equipment such as EQ, compressors, FX units and recorders." Continuing, he advises that much of the equipment used these days are based around components, making it the ideal time for PC retailers and resellers to muscle into the market. "The decrease in outboard equipment has been spearheaded by the increase in focus of getting high quality sound in and out of the computer. This has seen sales of high quality soundcards, as well as microphones, increase."
Music to your ears
Regarding the best way to increase sales if you are already in the sector, or things to consider if you are thinking of diversifying into it, each expert has their own advice.
"Anyone interested in producing audio and video content, especially with the increasing popularity of sites like MySpace and YouTube – plus podcasting – needs a means of getting material into their computer," explains Esau. "Therefore, we have found an increase in sales of affordable but good quality microphones and speakers.
However, it isn't just accessories that have seen an increase in demand, says Esau. "There is also an increasing number of people archiving old tape and vinyl collections to computers, and wanting high quality playback comparable to their hi-fi."
"Rescue Your Vinyl and Tapes, enables home users – without any extra expensive hardware or advanced technical knowledge to convert older recordings to current media files and edit them in a whole manner of ways." explains Miles.
Naveson takes a different tact focusing on video, but echoing the message about helping customers convert legacy formats. "Particularly in the amateur and hobbyist section, which are primarily the retailers' market, remember that old standards take a long time to die. You need to be sure that you support legacy video and audio formats – like VHS – as well as emerging ones."
For any retailers that are considering diversifying into these areas, PC Retail publisher Intent Media also publishes two audio and instrument specialist trade magazines. Please contact subscriptions on 01580 883 848 for more details.
Sony Creative Software
Audio and Video Editing
Sony's Creative Software range caters for a wide collection of customers from intermediate users all the way through to professionals. Its Vegas Movie Studio and Acid Music Studio are both aimed at intermediate users in audio and video editing, while Acid Pro 7 and Vegas Pro suites are for professionals.
Level: Vegas and Acid Studio: (Intermediate) – Acid and Vegas Pro (Professional)
Distributor: SCV London
Audio and Video
Magix's easy to pick up range of audio and video software has been designed with those not versed in this type of software. Its Samplitude Music Studio 14 and Rescue Your Vinyl are its audio products, while the latter is aimed at those with large vinyl collections that they want digitising. Rescue Your Video acts similarly to its vinyl software, albeit for digitising old VHS videos.
Distributor: Interactive Ideas
Audio and Video Editing
Avid is one of the giants of the editing sector, producing the industry standards for both the video and audio industry in Liquid and Pro Tools respectively. It also produces consumer versions of video software through its Pinnacle and analogue-todigital Dazzle subsidiaries.
Level: Pinnacle Studio 12 & Dazzle range (Beginner) Avid Liquid 7 & Pro Tools (Professional)
Audio and Video Editing
Apple's editing packages are amongst the highest rated editing suites on the market today. GarageBand is seen as the benchmark for consumer audio editing, and iMovie is also respected. Both its Final Cut and Logic packages are contenders for the market standard.
Level: GarageBand & iMovie (Beginner) Final Cut & Logic Express (Advanced) Logic Pro & Final Cut Studio (Pro)
Corel's VideoStudio is one of the longest established consumer video editing software packages and for good reason. Its simple and stable user interface has helped it to develop a strong community of users. Ideal for those looking for a simple to use, but powerful beginner-level video editing package.
Thompson Grass Valley EDIUS
Video Editing Suite
EDIUS is a non-linear video editing application, which is designed to support a huge number of video formats including almost all moderns standards as well as several archaic platforms. It is designed primarily for broadcast and post production environments, which might be forced to work with several different formats to be made into a single production.
CuBase is a specialist computer program designed for editing and producing music on PCs and Apple Macs. A combination of MIDI, music sequencer and digital audio editing software, it is one of the flagship programs in the audio sector.
Adobe Creative Suite
Audio and Video Editing
Adobe's CS4 is the market standard in the photo editing and design sectors, and also has strong offerings in the video and audio markets too. Premiere Pro has been used in Hollywood blockbusters and its audio editing software Soundbooth is designed for use in video composition by people whose specialisation is not audio production.
Distributor: Ingram Micro
Roxio Creator 2009
Roxio's Creator 2009 suite is a general package of media editing software that will provide a basic, but solid solution for anyone looking to do some light video editing. It's also great if you have customers looking for an all round editing package for their PC. Archiving music, editing photos and backing up data are other features of the suite.
Arbiter: 0208 207 7860
Avid: 0207 534 2800
Corel: 0800 376 9271
Edirol: 0870 350 1515
Gem: 01279 822822
Ingram Micro: 0870 405 3000
Interactive Ideas: 0208 805 1000
SCV London: 0208 418 1470
Thompson Grass Valley: 01189 230 400
Westcoast: 0118 912 6000