Avid are gradually discontinuing support for the Artist series of the now decade old control surfaces. Is this a big missed opportunity for the company?
In 2010 Avid acquired Euphonix along with its portfolio of products, including the EUCON protocol - a hardware/software interface for integrating deep control functionality into various hardware peripherals. Euphonix at the time had a unique blend of high-end professional solutions, as well as prosumer products like the Artist series. The Artist line of controllers were all priced around $1500 USD and were a variety of control surfaces aimed at desktop users who might not otherwise require the functionality of a full blown console. These products included the Artist Control and the Artist Color.
Using media composer
At the time of this corporate acquisition, I was editing a lot in Media Composer. One of the shows I was cutting was nothing but talking heads, and I spent a seemingly agonizing amount of time performing pan & zoom effects on text and graphics. Labouring along with a keyboard and mouse setting keyframes in Avid was tedious. I was very excited at the possibility of controlling various parameters like scale and x/y positing with a piece of hardware on my desk.
At Avid events I began bothering company representatives about their plans for the Artist series. I posted on Avid support forums back in 2011about mapping effects parameters to MIDI consoles for exactly this kind of work. Everyone agreed - it seemed straightforward and logical for this kind of integration to happen with Euphonix products. Only, it never did.
The Artist Control was a unique blend of audio mixer, transport controls, and a touch screen tablet serving as macros for common commands. At the time it was supported by Final Cut and Media Composer, as well as DAWs like Pro Tools and Logic. Unfortunately, software updates stopped and no new programs were added to the roster of support. The Artist Color is a perfectly serviceable 3-way colour corrector with a panel of rotary encoders and softkeys. Implementation of the Artist Color relies on any given application supporting the platform. Users of Baselight for Avid will praise how well this console is mapped in the software, where as Davinci Resolve users usually complain that the page layout for the soft keys is not intuitive and missing mappings for newer features like color boost.
While Avid expanded the Euphonix hardware offerings to include the S6 and the S3, the prosumer oriented Artist series has been left to languish without a refresh in a decade. The Artist Color ended sales in 2017 and product support will discontinue all together in 2020. After that, without updates to the EUCON drivers, there are no guarantees that these products will continue to work.
EUCON remains alive and well in the audio world, with a whole suite of different DAWs utilizing the deep integration features of current hardware devices in the likes of Apple Logic, Steinberg Cubase, and MOTU Digital Performer. What is particularly unique about the discontinuation of the Artist Color and Artist Control products is that, there are no more video oriented control surfaces utilizing the EUCON protocol, and therefore little incentive for software developers to utilize this toolkit.
Time goes on, and product cycles come and go. But for video professionals, the Artist series seems like a huge missed opportunity to own hardware controllers in the prosumer video market.
Update: Since this article was written, Avid has announced that Eucon will continue to be actively supported.
Avid told us, "Last week we announced Avid S1, a new audio control surface for professionals at smaller facilities and project studios.
Like the Pro Tools | S6 and Avid S4, the new Avid S1 is powered by EUCON to offer deep integration with Media Composer, plus native support for third-party applications, to dramatically speed up editing and mixing tasks.
We’re committed to supporting creators in every step of their journey and are always innovating, so stay tuned as we continue to roll out products."