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Avid Media Composer Notes

Intro - Avid Media Composer might be a bit more complicated and not as straightforward as Final Cut Pro or Premiere, but it is powerful, customizable, and very well supported.

There are a huge amount of tutorials and lessons on-line. My top resource suggestions include:

The program has been around for quite some time. So for whatever question you might have, chances are it's been asked and answered. Also, be sure you know how to get to the help pages. These come with the application and cover most everything the program can do.

Important info to know:

Oldest and most established and widespread editing application found in the majority of TV stations and production houses.

Works with 3rd party hardware like AJA and Back Magic Designs interfaces..

Can do 3D, SD & HD. Can NOT do 4K or odd pixel sizes (unlike Premiere, which can).

AMA (Avid Media Access) linking - This lets users link to a variety of file formats, such as Canon, Sony & Panasonic camera files. So instead of converting to an Avid codec users can work directly with native formats. It works fine for short projects but will result in sluggish performance for large projects (E.g. documentaries and features). It is highly recommended that you transcode to an DnxHD codec for long form projects.

IU students can purchase it with an academic discount (about $300 for MC).

Know where your media goes! - Avid Media Composer stores media files, project files, and user files in different places than you might be accustomed to with Final Cut Pro or Premiere.

Media files are transcoded/imported into the "Avid MediaFiles" folder. This folder must be set on a (fast) media drive at the top or root level. Avid will often create this folder on any drives other than your media drive- so be sure to check the dialog boxes carefully when importing or transcoding media.

Know where all of the various files associated with an Avid project are stored!

  • Media files - go into the Avid MediaFiles folders
  • Projects - are saved either in the Users/Shared or Users/Username folder, or can be saved into a specific place- such as an external drive.
  • The Attic Folder - where autosave backup files are stored. This can be found in the Users/Shared/AvidMediaComposer folder. (You can also search for it.)

T351 students - Create a folder called "Avid MediaFiles" on the top level of your media drive.

Starting Avid - the Select Project window - After you launch Media Composer, you'll be greeted with the Select Project window. You've got to select a project or make a new one. (Unlike FCP where you can have multiple projects open.)

Folder - This is the path where your project and all other supporting files go. In T351 you should set this to be your personal media folder on either your local or external drive.

Note that you can select your user profile. This will load your custom display and editing preferences.

Know where your project is stored! You can store the project anywhere you'd like, such as on your external media drive. "Private" will store the project in your personal user documents folder and only you will be able to read and write to it. "Shared" will store the project in the shared users folder and anybody who logs into the Avid will be able to open it and make changes to it. "External" lets you store the project on an external drive (outside of the default user or shared users folder. For Production Lab computers you use this 3rd option, storing your project folder into your personal media folder. Note this can be an external media drive.

Media Creation and Settings - Avid Media Composer is flexible and can work in a number of different resolutions, file formats and even supports 3D. You can have different resolutions in the same sequence. However when Media Composer transcodes or generates media, you need to specify what format/resolution you desire. Jim's suggestion for your class projects is DNxHD 145.

Once you've started a project -

Project Window: This is the main "go to" window where you access bins, settings, and effects. To see your bins, click on the "Bins" tab.

Note the little banded square icon (right underneath the "Bins" tab). This is a contextual "fast menu" that offers different choices depending on what's selected (Bins, Effects, Volumes, etc.)

Closing a Project

Command-Q will prompt you to leave the application. If you just want to close the project (say you want to edit a different project) use the banded square menu in the main Project Window. (Just make sure you have nothing selected or "close project" won't be an option.

Bins display

Be sure you see how to create new bins, delete bins, and nest them inside of folders. You can rearrange the columns and sort the contents by right clicking on a column heading. The pop-up fast menu at the bottom left corner of the bin offers many options and controls. The button just right of it lets you choose text, frame or script. The drop down menu next to this lets you see useful info (E.g. format and volume) and also lets you save/recall your bin settings.

T351 Students - Importing your first media files - Assuming you have footage on an SD or a CF card: Insert the card. A new bin should open with all of your clips. They are not on your media drive yet- they are still on the card and should be imported or transcoded. Let's transcode them by selecting all, right-clicking, and selecting the Consolidate/Transcode command. This will bring up the Consolidate/Transcode window. Choose the Transcode button at the top left. Directly underneath make sure that your T351 Lab's folder is selected. For Target Video Resolution let's choose DNxHD145 for now. (Good for most 1080i broadcast.) Lastly, click the Transcode button at the bottom right. Your clips should now start becoming transcoded and copied in the Avid MediaFiles folder on your media drive.

Bins contain:

  • Clips - Master clips are what you get when you digitize or transfer media into your computer
  • Subclips
  • Sequences
  • Folders

Settings display

User profiles - you can create multiple user profiles for a single user (login identity)

Info display - Get system info here

Effects Palette display

Media Composer Windows:

  • Project
  • Bins
  • Timeline
  • Composer monitor

You can also have

  • Source clips
  • Tool & command palettes

Editing

Most editing controls or commands are already visible as buttons. More are available in the tear-off tool palette. You can customize (E.g. add buttons) using the Command Palette (Under the menu Tools/Command Palette).

Be sure you know the difference between splice-in and overwrite (yellow and red).

You shold probably print out the Cheat Sheet (especially page 6). A few important keyboard shortcuts include:

  • i = in
  • o = out
  • j, k & l = go backward, stop, & go forward
  • v = splice in
  • b = overwrite
  • Command-Z = undo (my favorite keyboard shortcut)

Starting a Sequence

Newcomers might be surprised to find that there is no sequence or timeline when you first start editing. No worries - Just pick a clip, set an in-point (I) and an out-point (O), and then use the Splice-In (V) or Overwrite (B) command. Voila! You have a sequence. Now is a good time to go to a bin and name it something more meaningful. You can come up with something better than "Untitled Sequence".

"Touring the Composer Monitor" Lynda tutorial

Duplicating Sequences

Once you have a sequence it's easy to duplicate them. Just go to the enclosing bin, right-click the sequence and choose "dupicate".

FYI It's good practice to periodically duplicate your sequences and give them new version numbers. When I'm working on large projects I make new versions every few days. That way I can go back and pick up something I might've liked from an earlier version.

Splice-in & Overwrite

If you haven't done so already, put a handful of clips in your sequence using the Splice-in (V) and Overwrite (B) commands. Do you see the difference?

Before getting too deep in and edit, it's usually a good idea to sync lock your tracks in the sequence window (by clicking the little button just right of the track display).

Adding Audio & Video Tracks

It's easy to add audio & video tracks. Just right click in the blank area above or below your sequence. Notice how you can create stereo audio tracks?

T351 Students - Add a stereo audio track.

Importing

Like most editing software, Avid will allow users to import a wide range of file types. While you can import MP3s, it's always a good idea to use uncompressed audio files (AIFF or WAV).

T351 - Import an audio file: Select an audio file from the iTunes media library. Show in finder. Convert to an AIF and copy that file onto your media folder. After it's copied into your folder, go to media Composer and import it.

Patching Tracks

Just like FCP you sometimes need to patch source tracks to the proper destination (V2, A3, A4, etc.) The source clip tracks are visible just left of the available sequence tracks. Click on different sources (audio, video, etc) and see how the source clip tracks change.

Converting (Modifying) 2 channel audio track clip to stereo

It's useful to know how to modify a 2-track clip, changing it from two mono channels to an actual stereo track. To do so just right-click on a clip. Modify will be an option.

T351 Students - Modify your imported audio clip. Double click the stereo track that you imported. Right-click and choose Modify. From the drop down menu choose "Set MultiChannel Audio". Then click on the stereo icon. Your clip is now seen as an actual stereo file.

Keyframe Mixing

Adjusting the audio levels of clips is often required. Keyframes are a great way to do this. In your sequence window be sure you have the Volume data turned on. Also make sure your keyframe control is turned on (left side of the sequence window). You can now select tracks and add and adjust keyframes. To add keyframes first enable the track and then press the apostrophe key (').

Adding Dissolves

 

Exporting

Make sure the monitor on the top-most track is selected. Enable all tracks. Set an in and and out point. You can match sequence settings (Same as Source) or convert to another codec (Format Options).

T351 Students - Output your finished sequence. Export your sequence as a Quicktime movie at 1920x1080 using the H.264 codec. Be sure to save it as your username.

Be sure you know now how to:

  • Select and unselect tracks
  • Mark in and out points
  • Add tracks
  • Patch tracks
  • Make a 3-point edit
  • Splice-in and Overwrite edit
  • View & Adjust Audio Levels
  • Generate tone
  • Add fades & dissolves
  • Add black or filler
  • Export media

 

 

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