Avolites Media recently released Version 8 of the Ai media server software with the tagline “Everything you ever wanted.” Version 8 has many improvements and many new features. This isn’t a small performance boost with a few tweaks; this is a lot of new stuff.
The user interface sees many substantive changes that streamline the user’s experience. Many of these changes are targeted toward intermediate and novice users, allowing them to navigate the software more easily and use the more powerful features that have traditionally had a steep learning curve for new users. In particular, there are improvements to the node-based patching tool. Improvements are also seen in the new Output configuration page: There are now different tools based on the type of output you are configuring. This whole tool is brand new and further streamlines output configuration. A new surface modeling tool gives basic 3D workflow tools to novice users who may not have the experience or skill to work with a more powerful 3D program such as Cinema 4D or 3DS Max. Users can create simple 3D stages and shows within this tool with a very quick learning curve.
There is also a brand new feature within V8 that none of the competing servers have offered. You can use their software, along with an IP Webcam, to blend together multiple outputs as one large seamless projection surface. This eliminates the need for painful corner pinning and blend alignment. Similar but not identical functions are available in other servers that may have more depth and versatility, but the ease of use (assuming it works well) with this feature on Ai is a definite plus.
Among the other improvements, the software also has many performance enhancements. The render engine is said to handle a nearly 50% increase in video throughput when using Ai’s proprietary AiM codec. The SDI ports on the server can be used as inputs or outputs and can be configured in sets of four. The software now supports eight inputs or outputs or a mix of four and four, all at 1080p resolution. The new version also has further end-to-end support for CITP, focusing on compatibility with MA Lighting's grandMA series of lighting consoles.
V8 has been in the works for several months and is finally here. This is a big step for the Ai system which makes it significantly more powerful.