AVID VERSUS DIVA – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Avid and Diva

First, there was Diva. It was a “big format” video editing tool meant for use in television studios or advertising agencies. I didn’t work there, though I did go for one of those insane interviews where you have to meet everyone in the company from the guy who runs it, to the overnight backup guy.

I was impressed by the product and spent 20 hours interviewing with them. They obviously hired someone else and didn’t so much as send me a postcard to tell me they’d weren’t interested.

I never understood that. It happened a lot of times over the years. They keep you coming for interviews and you figure — after the better part of a week of interviewing everyone — that while you might not get the job, the least they could do was let you know they’d decided on someone else.

But they didn’t and as the years went on, this became common practice. Whatever happened to simply being polite?

Then, I was interviewed by Avid who was producing a nearly identical product. Diva did much better than Avid in the professional market in the beginning, but eventually Avid sold better, even though the products were nearly identical.

Today, both of them are “box” software, though Avid is also available as a subscription, like Adobe. Their “Pro Version” costs $999 if you want to buy it outright, which is a lot less than it used to cost.

Diva went another way and is available free as an open source product for the Gnome operating system.

Avid is a “paid” product sold largely to private users who want to make videos for the internet.

I have no idea who creates the software currently used by television studios, but from my encounters with that software (AVID — admittedly quite a few years ago), it sucked.

If you understand the concept of “look alike, feel alike,” it means that modules in a software “package” feel and look similar. That means a user can slide effortlessly from module to module with minimal training. The people who built that ridiculously expensive software apparently never heard of it.

They needed to hire real developers to produce software that made sense for people who just wanted to get a job done — without memorizing seven separate formats unrelated to each other. As it is, they had software using many modules. Each module was completely different from every other one. Their only connection was the main menu and the only function of that menu was to allow access to a particular area of the software. Which was limited by your job.

Thus a reporter could write scripts, edit film and post-editing (a separate function — I suppose you had to be an official editor to edit a written script), after it was sent back as “approved,” link the script with the digitally edited “news” and forward it to whatever slot to which it was assigned. To say this was confusing doesn’t begin to explain it.

I understood it because that’s what I did for a living. I figured out what the software — any software — did, then explained it (in a book) to people who had to use it. In this case, I had to figure out the software that Channel 7 was using, then teach Garry to use it. In one weekend.

If he didn’t get it, he’d lose his job the new old-fashioned way: inability to understand the computer.

My car had been hit by a truck that Friday and it was (I think) the fourth of July weekend, so we had three days. I told him I’d do it, but he had to never object to the tone of my voice and he had to do exactly what I told him to do no matter how many times I told him to do it. Repetition is the key to using most software and he had to keep doing it until he didn’t need to think about it.

First I asked him what he did. He told me. I looked at the main menu, doped out which parts of the product did the things he needed to do and by the end of those three days, he knew it. Of course, by now he has completely forgotten it — as have I. This is stuff you use or lose. I have dumped more technical data from my head than most people ever learn. At this point, my head is surprisingly empty. I barely remember what I used to do.

I was particularly good at learning very complicated material for a very short time, them emptying my brain and learning something completely different — for a very brief interval. That’s how people like me functioned in those days of tech. Everything was new and everything was a first. You didn’t really need experience, just a knack for computers and an exceptionally good short-term memory. Oh, and the ability to write and teach. Basically, I was teaching — just via a book, not usually in person.

Garry was my singular exception to teaching a real live person how to do something. I wasn’t bad in the classroom for the couple of years I taught, but I didn’t really like it. I like writing better than talking. And yet, I made more friends in the classroom than I made in all my years of office work. Hmm. I never thought about that before. I’ll have to do some pondering.

This is “Nerd History.”

You had no reason to learn it, have gained nothing by learning it, and I’m sure you wonder why I bothered to write about it.

Diva “product”

It’s the words. Avid to me is that “other” video editing company. Diva came first and Avid flipped the name around. Voila!

Diva always felt they should sue Avid for stealing their name — backward. But you couldn’t prove who came first and I don’t think they ever settled it, in or out of court. Eventually, it didn’t matter because other players entered the game and both companies stopped being especially important.

I’m sure this goes to show you that getting an early start in the tech field doesn’t mean you’ll still be a player a few years later. Almost all these early companies that I knew when they were effectively just getting started have gone bankrupt or just faded into the woodwork.

What was interesting for me was watching them come, get really big, become very important, then vanish as if they’d never existed. It’s a reminder that “big” in this world is temporary. Just because you used to be someone doesn’t mean you will be someone next year.

Just a little thought to keep in mind as you “bigly” your way through life.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

11 thoughts on “AVID VERSUS DIVA – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. I almost lost my mind when the TV station installed AVID. They gave us a week of lessons and I still didn’t comprehend. My job was clearly at stake, I was petrified. Marilyn gave me a weekend tutorial. Monday morning, I opened Avid like a pro.

    Thanks, Marilyn, for saving my sanity and my job.

    Like

    1. I don’t know what they tried to teach you, but clearly, it wasn’t much. You caught on pretty fast, once you understand what you were doing and WHY. Often, they teach how, but they don’t bother with “why.” Which makes learning a lot harder, if not impossible. Some of us really need to know why.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When I was in graphic design school, the editing software was called “Adobe Premier”. For video, film and graphic editing. The word editor (desktop publishing software) for typed or graphically manipulated words and text was a beast called “Quark” and like a real quark, that horrible software was mysterious and hard to understand. It’s sole appeal to the graphic field was the fact that you could add pictures and graphic design within it. I had been working with text software (and hard ware) from the time I entered the business world. Was an expert with Word Perfect and then Word. Quark made me twitch. It had a lot of stupid parameters and things the user had to program in for the finished product to look right. Now it’s much easier, you can insert pictures into Word without a lot of fuss and they have their own ‘text design’ where you can make the finished page ‘pretty’. Over the years I had to learn a lot of different software programs and how to even program on a limited scale. Teaching that stuff must be harder than learning it (well to me), because of the fact that everyone perceives things just a slight bit differently from their neighbor. Oddly (to me) I was called upon to train often at my last place of employment, because, like you, I had the trainee do the work over and over, their way, until they understood it. I think people like us who can do that are rare birds.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Quark was not designed for you and me. It was made for illustrators and graphic designers … and THEY understood it. I didn’t. I still don’t understand even a tenth of Adobe. I have learned what I need to know and I ignore the rest. It’s a gigantic complex program and not for the faint of heart.

      I suppose I could learn more, but at this point, I don’t want to. Blogging isn’t a job and I don’t get paid. I don’t need to make every photograph perfect. If I had to do that, I’d quit.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Back in 1980, I was a big recording fish in a podunk pond. While this seemed great at the time, it was only the crest of a big hill the only direction, of which, was down. I took a new job and moved to Utah to re-make myself professionally. When I returned to PHX, I was older and far wiser, taking nothing for granted. I knew I had to learn as much computer stuff as I could, and keep a steady pattern of learning or I’d get left in the dust. My profession was changing rapidly. I could have used a “Marilyn” back then. Years of tech experience, though, saved my life and my job and taught me the the “Techies Mantra” “when all else fails, read the directions.”

    As we all know, software manuals are often not in the language we are familiar with, having been written by individuals with limited knowledge, or actual experience in the fields they have designed the software for. Bottom line; Reading the directions was a chore but had to be done followed by lots and lots of questions, followed by prayers for a decent manual.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wrote good manuals, but that was because I tested every feature before writing it. A lot of the time, the information you got from developers was what they WANTED, but not necessarily what they got. It’s that testing that’s missing now. Everything is written by some form of software and often doesn’t actually make real sense. It’s not even written in real English.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I worked for more than 20 years on the computer with two different systems. It was software for exporting our products around the world, complete with goods from our stock room, invoicing it and completing the export documents and today I would not have a clue how those Programmes worked. You forget so quickly and today there is someone doing my job with probably a very different programme

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve essentially forgotten everything. One of the people I chat with often has a husband who was a physicist. He was looking at a book he wrote and asked her: “I wrote this? I don’t even remember it.” I’m amazed at how little I remember. With each passing year, I forget more. My son has mostly forgotten Hebrew and he spoke fluently. But with no one to talk to … it slithers away.

      Liked by 2 people

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