Upgrading Avid Media Composer to version 8.3 and OSX to Yosemite

Upgrading Avid Media Composer is always part of being an Avid editor. I always need to stay up to date with the latest in video production technology and the options new software offers my video editing and production service. I wanted to make sure that I can edit in 4K (which Avid version 8.3 enables). So I decided to update my Avid edit suite from version 7 to the latest version 8.3 and at the same time took the opportunity to upgrade my MAC operating system from Mavericks to Yosemite 10.10.1.

Upgrading Avid Media Composer to version 8.3 and OSX to Yosemite
4K editing with Avid Media Composer

How the software updating process worked out

I’ve been editing for broadcast clients on Avid since 1998 and experienced in managing both straightforward one client and more complex multi-client system upgrades. Whist this was written some time ago the essential elements around allowing time to resolve problems without any transmission deadlines still apply.

Do you have free time

Before I started, I ensured I had scheduled some clear workdays. From experience, I know that significant upgrades usually have at least a few problems to resolve, which can take some time to fix. I think it’s always best to avoid upgrades when you are under pressure or have work deadlines to meet.

Should you upgrade

Whether to upgrade your operating system and Avid version is more straightforward for me compared to that for a post-production house or facility. Careful consideration needs to be given to Avid upgrades when working in a live broadcast environment with multiple clients and associated systems, for example, Avid Interplay and ISIS.  Avid always does release a document listing their qualified systems and compatibility. Even so, new bugs can appear that can cause a significant headache to your workflow and affect deliverables. In my experience, a workaround can generally be found with most new Avid bugs, but these can take extra edit time to resolve and implement.

Avid perpetual licence

I decided to buy into the Avid perpetual licence scheme which meant I had to pay £228 for the next whole year to use Avid. I could have stuck with Avid version 7.0.3, but that would have meant I could not edit native 4k. Buying into their perpetual licence scheme means that I also get the next years Avid upgrades and their technical support for the coming year as well. As I found out, it was to be technical support that I needed.

Backing up project and media assets

The first thing I did was to back up my Macintosh HD onto my Pegasus RAID 5. I also ran a Carbon Clone of that Raid 5, so I had protection should I have a RAID failure. I then had two copies of the Avid projects in a safe place in addition to my MAC 1TB hard drive. Once the hard drive had backed-up, I installed Yosemite, which all progressed smoothly. I then paid for and downloaded the latest Avid version. I followed through the usual uninstall routine first and then installed Avid 8.3. I then launched Avid Media Composer and got the error message ‘Bus Error Thread’. I reported the problem on the Avid Community Forum website to see if anyone had experienced the same situation. I then spent the next day going through the uninstall/install process and investigating the many usual fixes for Avid problems that I know.

Avid support

After being unsuccessful with a fix, I contacted Avid Support and then spent a couple of hours with their team on the phone trying various options.  I got a call back a few hours later with a suggested fix. They wanted me to check to see if creating a new MAC admin user would fix the problem. It did and resolved the Avid issue entirely, which was a significant relief. I didn’t pin down the exact file that was causing the problem. I just migrated all the essential data to the new admin user account. It was great to receive such a quick and professional response from the Avid support team.

Extra issues when updating an operating system

So after Upgrading Avid Media Composer and my operating system, I still had some more work to do as other software now needed updating. Carbon Clone required a new update for the Yosemite operating system. My old version of CS3 didn’t work, so I’ve had to join the monthly subscription to Photoshop CC. All extra costs on top of the Avid licence. PluralEyes also needed an upgrade to version 3.5. Before the update for PluralEyes, I had already AMA linked a set of media rushes and transcoded those in a new Avid project. When I came to sync the transcoded rushes up using PluralEyes, I discovered that I needed to update the PluralEyes version. After updating the version to 3.5, it still would not sync up the AAF export of the transcoded rushes. After trying a few things with no success, I deleted all transcoded, and AMA linked master clips and started again re-linking the camera files via AMA and transcoding. This time PluralEyes synced up the AAF export, and I was able to copy it back into the Avid bin and edit it in the timeline.

So a couple of weeks later after upgrading Avid Media Composer and my operating system everything thing has settled down and is working. I’m now looking forward to a problem-free and busy year. If you have any questions or would like advice on anything regarding your video production or post-production, please do drop me a message.

You might find these technical related articles of interest. For more advice and tips check out my video production blog.

Fixing a RAID 5

Resolving video audio sync problems

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Julian Langham

Julian started his career in media in 1994; shortly after Julian was invited to join the BBC where he was quickly promoted to Editor. Julian left the BBC to develop his freelance career in 2009. Highly-practised and skilled in constructing engaging narratives, Julian’s key strength is his ability to produce strong visually-led stories. In his work, Julian shares his passion for creating powerful synergies between story content, visual rhythm and music.