Avid Media Composer 6.x Cookbook

By Benjamin Hershleder
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  1. Getting Assets into Your Media Composer Project

About this book

Avid Media Composer has become the tool of choice by editing professionals worldwide. Whether your project involves editing television programming, independent films, corporate industrials or commercials, this cookbook shows you exactly how to do so in a step-by-step and practical manner, and get the most out of Avid Media Composer editing.

"Avid Media Composer 6.x Cookbook" is an expert, clear and logically-sequenced resource with highly effective recipes for learning Avid Media Composer essentials and beyond. It's task-based approach will help users at all experience levels gain a deeper, more thorough understanding of the software.

It will help you master the essential, core editing features as well as reveal numerous tips and tricks that editors can benefit from immediately. Just some of the topics include understanding Import settings, mixing frame rates and understanding AMA (Avid Media Access), along with thorough explanations of Trim Mode, Segment Mode, and the Smart Tool. You will learn to customize your work environment with Workspaces, Bin Layouts, Timeline Views, Bin Views, Keyboard Mapping, and much more. The recipes inside are packed with practical examples, time-saving tools and methods to get you working faster and more confidently so that you can spend less time dealing with technical and operational issues and instead focusing on being creative.

Publication date:
December 2012
Publisher
Packt
Pages
422
ISBN
9781849693004

 

Chapter 1. Getting Assets into Your Media Composer Project

In this chapter we will cover:

  • A strategy for project organization at the desktop level

  • Understanding Media Creation settings

  • Mixing frame rates

  • Tape capture tip: Adding Markers while Capturing

  • Tape capture tip: Making Subclips while Capturing

  • Logging clips tip: Logging from the keyboard

  • Logging clips tip: Keeping the Capture Tool active after logging a clip

  • Quickly calculating total duration of clips (or any items in a bin)

  • Combining available drive space and/or controlling where media is stored

  • Making sure your Batch Capture continues without you

  • Modifying clips before capture

  • Modifying clips after capture: Adding tracks

  • Modifying clips after capture: Deleting tracks

  • Capturing and editing at the same time

  • Preparing to use AMA (Avid Media Access): Getting the plug-ins

  • AMA (Avid Media Access) linking

  • Getting the AMA file's image to display as desired

  • Consolidating (copying) AMA Master Clips

  • Transcoding AMA linked clips before beginning to edit

  • Transcoding AMA Master Clips after editing has begun

  • Consolidating an AMA sequence or subclips

  • Transcoding an AMA sequence

  • Importing stills and video files such as QuickTime

  • Importing audio

  • Adjusting audio levels before editing

  • Adjusting audio pan settings before editing

  • Setting stereo-audio tracks

 

Introduction


You've created your project, and now comes the sometimes time-consuming task of acquiring your assets. In this chapter, I'll get you thinking about organization, provide you with some common workflows, and give you some tips to hopefully make your work easier and/or more productive.

 

A strategy for project organization at the desktop level


Some words to the wise to help you avoid some common pitfalls.

How to do it...

Following are the steps for organizing the project at the desktop level:

  1. Determine a location for a folder that will hold items relating to your project that will not require being moved.

  2. Create a folder and name it something that is clear and concise, for example, either [Project Name] Materials or [Project Name] Assets.

  3. Inside that main folder, create additional folders for Avid Project Backups, files you will link to using the Avid Media Access (AMA) feature, Music, Sound Effects, Imports_Stills, Imports_Motion Graphics, Photoshop Masters, Fonts, After Effects Projects, and any others you think you'll need.

How it works...

By keeping everything organized and in a consistent location, you will have a much easier time keeping track of assets and changes to assets. Further, backing up, moving, archiving, or re-importing the assets will be easier.

The trick is to remember to copy assets into this folder before putting them to use in any way within your project. For example, copy music and sound effects from a CD to this folder, then import the audio file that's in the folder (rather than directly off the CD) into a Media Composer, or copy into this folder any fonts that you download before adding them to your operating system.

 

Understanding Media Creation settings


It's important to spend some time setting up your Media Creation settings. Essentially Media Creation settings allow you to set defaults, which will help ensure that the media files you create (for example, render files, imports, and so on) are stored where you want them and are of the resolution you need. Plus, it will save you time making selections in various dialog boxes and tools throughout the workday.

Getting ready

In your Project Window select the Format tab. Select the format of the media that you will be capturing, importing, and/or rendering. Media Composer will remember your Media Creation settings for each format that you configure. So, for example, if you're mixing SD and HD footage, you'll configure your Media Creation settings for each. Once your preferences are set in the Media Creation tool for each format, Media Composer will automatically switch to your customized settings whenever the format itself is switched.

How to do it...

The following steps will guide you through using the Media Creation Tool:

  1. Go to the Tools menu at the top of your screen.

  2. Select Media Creation.

  3. Proceed section by section to set defaults for the resolution of the media that you create, as well as for the destination for that media. See the following How it works... section for details.

How it works...

The settings are separated by tabs, described as follows:

Drive filtering and indexing

  • Filter Network Drives Based on Resolution: Selecting this will not allow media files to be placed on any network drives that Media Composer feels will not be able to reliably capture or playback files of a particular resolution. For example, you open your Capture Tool and set the resolution to 1:1. Then when you go to select a drive to store your media files on, you may see that one is grayed out and not selectable. If you then change your resolution to 3:1, you may find that it is now selectable as a storage drive.

  • Filter Out System Drive: Selecting this will not allow the media files to be stored on the same drive that your operating system is installed on.

  • Filter Out Launch Drive: Selecting this will not allow the media files to be stored on the same drive that your Media Composer software is installed on.

Video resolution

Under each tab you can select a default resolution. You are not locked into this resolution. Tools and dialog windows will still allow you to override this default whenever you want.

Apply to All: If you'd like to set a specific resolution and have it applied to all the different media type tabs, rather than having to do it one by one, simply click on the Apply to All button.

The benefit of breaking the media types into categories, such as Capture, Render, and Import, is that you can then set different defaults for each. For example, on a project with many hours of taped footage, you might elect to capture all of your footage at a low resolution in order to increase how much media will fit onto your drive(s). This will mean that when the project is creatively finished, you will go through a second process to recapture just the video portions that are being used at a much higher resolution, a process frequently called the Up-Res, so that the image quality will be higher. You may prefer to not have to go through a similar process for all of the titles, still images, and motion graphics, so you could elect to set the default for these media types at the level where you need them to be for the final master (for example, 1:1).

Video drive/Audio drive

Under each tab, you can select a default location for the media types to be stored. You are not locked into this. Various tools and dialog windows will still allow you to override this default when desired.

This selection is helpful for ensuring files go where required, and it allows you to send render files (known in Avid terminology as Precompute files) to a specific drive if required by your facility.

Apply to All: If you want the storage drive to be the same for all the different media type tabs, rather than having to do it one by one, simply click on the Apply to All button.

Media type

Changing this is only possible for SD video, as HD will always be in the MXF format. Media Creation settings will default to the file format called Material Exchange Format (MXF). You should not change this unless you are in the unique situation where you are generating media on one workstation that will have to be used on a much older workstation that can only play the Open Media Framework (OMF) file format.

 

Mixing frame rates


Yes, it's possible to mix footage with different frame rates. However, at the time of writing, the Media Composer only allows each Project to be at one frame rate. So, here's one method to make the mixing of frames rates possible.

Getting ready

You will create two separate projects, each at the required frame rate. Be sure to label them accordingly to avoid confusion. For example, one project would be named [Project Title]29-97 (project names cannot contain a period) and the other would be named [Project Title] 24p.

How to do it...

The following are the steps to mix footage with different frame rates:

  1. Capture and/or import your video into the corresponding projects based on the frame rates.

  2. Decide which project will be the main/primary project that you will actually work within to edit and craft your movie. Most likely, this will be the project that contains the majority of your footage or matches the final delivery format that is required.

  3. In your main project, ensure that no bins are currently selected in the Project Window.

  4. Go to the File menu and select Open Bin…. (Alternatively, you will find the Open Bin... selection under the Project Window's Fast Menu as well as in the menu that will appear when you right-click in the Project Window.)

  5. In the dialog window, navigate to the project that's at the other frame rate and contains the bin file that you want to open.

  6. Select the bin and either double-click on it or click on the Open button in the dialog window.

  7. The bin will open in your Project and you can access the contents.

  8. Once the bin is open, it will be inside a folder created by Media Composer labeled Other Bins. This is short for other projects' bins. It means that the bin file does not reside inside the same folder as your Project's bin files.

At this point you can elect to begin editing right from those bins, or you may elect to copy the clips into a bin that does reside in your Project folder. See the next There's more... section for two methods of copying clips, called Duplicating and Cloning.

There's more...

There are two methods you can use to copy the clips (making a Duplicate or a Clone), each with a unique behavior. Whether you Duplicate or Clone a clip, you will never create any new media files, but will simply create an additional clip that refers (or you could say points) to the media file(s). Media Composer calls this reference a link and would say that the clip is linked to the media file(s).

  • Duplicating a clip: Each clip acts independently of the other. For example, one clip could be named Horse and contain several Markers while the Duplicated clip could be named White Horse Runs and have no Markers. Making changes to the name, adding/removing I/O marks, and adding/removing Markers to one Duplicated clip does not have any affect on the other. Further, the creation date of a Duplicated clip will reflect the new date and time it was created.

  • Cloning a clip: Cloned clips are able to communicate to their cloned brethren. For example, if you change the name of one Cloned clip, the other's name will also change. The same is true for adding and removing Markers as well as In and Out points. The creation date for all Cloned clips will be the same (the original date).

Duplicating clips

The following are the steps for duplicating clips:

  1. Select the clips you want to Duplicate.

  2. Go to the Edit menu.

  3. Select Duplicate. Alternatively, you could right-click on one of the selected clips and choose Duplicate from the Contextual menu, or use the keyboard shortcut cmd + D (Mac) or Ctrl + D (PC).

  4. New clips will be created and will have .copy added to the end of their names.

  5. Create a new bin by clicking on the New Bin button in your Project Window, or go to the File menu and select New Bin.

  6. Move the clips that you just created to the new bin.

  7. If you no longer want to have the borrowed bin appear in the Other Bins folder, select the borrowed bin and either press the Delete key or right-click and select Delete Selected Bins from the Contextual menu. It's helpful to note that you are not actually permanently deleting the bin file, but rather just telling Media Composer that you no longer want to use it. The bin is still intact inside the other project's folder. For emphasis, this only applies to bins that are inside the Other Bins folder. Deleting a bin created within the currently open Project will place it into the Trash.

Cloning clips

The steps for Cloning the clips are as follows:

  1. Create a new bin by clicking on the New Bin button in your Project Window, or go to the File menu and select New Bin.

  2. Select the clips you want to Clone.

  3. Press and hold the Alt/option key while you drag the selected clips to the new bin.

  4. New clips will be created in the desired bin when you release the mouse button. These clips will not have .copy added to them.

  5. If you no longer want to have the borrowed bin appear in the Other Bins folder, select it and either press the Delete key or right-click and select Delete Selected Bins from the Contextual menu. It's helpful to note that you are not actually deleting the bin file, but rather just telling Media Composer that you no longer want to use it. The bin is still intact inside the other Project's folder.

Sequences will never be Cloned

On a related topic, you can use either of the methods mentioned previously on a sequence. Both of the methods will produce a Duplicate of the sequence. In other words, both of the methods will make a sequence with the word .Copy added to it, and no matter which method you used to create that sequence, it will never, ever, communicate with another sequence in any way. They will always be totally independent. The changes made to one sequence will never be replicated in another.

Motion Adapters

Note that when you edit mixed frame rate clips into your Sequence, they are automatically adjusted. You'll see a small green dot on the clip that indicates that it contains what Avid calls a Motion Adaptor. The method used to adjust the image (for example, Blended Interpolated or Both Fields) can be changed by promoting the clip to a Timewarp effect. The Motion Adaptor is applied only to the video and preserves the original duration of the clip; further, the audio is not altered in any way.

 

Tape capture tip: Adding Markers while Capturing


This simple feature allows you to accomplish multiple tasks at the same time. As you capture material off tape, you can simultaneously add Markers to help you locate the takes you like and the takes that the members of the creative team like. For example, while Capturing and watching the footage with your director, you might use red Markers for what you deem to be useful takes and yellow Markers for the ones that the director likes.

Getting ready

This tip works when you're actively Capturing from the tape (the red light is blinking). Note that this tip does not work when Batch Capturing.

How to do it...

The steps that follow indicate how to add a Marker while Capturing:

  1. Open the Capture Tool by going to Tools menu | Capture Tool.

  2. Begin the Capture from tape (the red light is blinking).

  3. While the capture is in progress, press any of the keys F3 or F5 through F12 on your keyboard. F3 or F5 = Red Marker, F6 = Green, F7 = Blue, F8 = Cyan, F9 = Magenta, F10 = Yellow, F11 = Black, and F12 = White.

  4. See the There's more... section of this recipe for details.

How it works...

When the Capture Tool is active, it takes control of your F keys. Whatever you've mapped there for editing is replaced with several different functions, including the ability to add Markers.

There's more...

You can even add notes inside a Marker while capturing.

Adding notes in a marker during capture

  1. While the capture is in progress, add a Marker using one of the F keys mentioned in the previous How to do it... section.

  2. Press the Tab key to tell Media Composer you want to add a comment to that Marker (rather than naming the clip).

  3. Type your comment.

  4. Press the F4 key to tell the Capture Tool that the Marker entry is completed. This will return the Capture Tool to its previous behavior of allowing you to name and comment on Master Clips and Subclips.

  5. The markers will be visible once the capture is finished and the bin is saved.

 

Tape capture tip: Making Subclips while Capturing


While Capturing a long Master Clip, you have the ability to divide it into Subclips at the same time, which will save you time since you won't have to perform the Subclipping and labelling in a separate step. For example, you have a tape of an interview with the President of the United States and you need to get it into your Media Composer immediately. You can begin capturing from the start of the tape and by using the tip that follows in the next recipe, you'll also be able to create Subclips of each question and answer.

Note that this tip produces different types of subclip behavior depending on whether you are in a film Project or a video Project. If you set up your Project as a film project (for example, 16 mm or 35 mm) when you first created it, then the Subclips will be locked in their duration and cannot be trimmed longer in the Sequence. This is intentional in order to protect vital Key Code/Key Number information that is specific to film projects.

Getting ready

This tip works while you're actively capturing from the tape (the red light is blinking). Note that this tip does not work when Batch Capturing.

How to do it...

The steps that follow help us make Subclips while capturing:

  1. Begin capturing (red light is blinking).

  2. Press the F1 key when you want to begin a new Subclip. If you want to update the location for the beginning of that Subclip to a later point, press the F1 key again. You can update the In point at any time. It is not locked in until the F2 key is pressed.

  3. Begin typing to name the Subclip, if you want to.

  4. You, optionally, can also press the Tab key to move the cursor into the Comment Entry Box and begin typing to add a comment.

  5. Press the F2 key to end the Subclip. If you want to update the location for the end of that Subclip to a later point, then press the F2 key again. You can update the Out point at any time. It is not locked in until the F1 key is pressed again.

  6. Press the F1 key to begin a new Subclip and repeat the preceding steps.

How it works...

During this process, you are creating one Master Clip that will refer to, point to, or, as Avid says, link to the media file(s) of video and/or audio. The Subclips do not create new media files; they are just shorter references to, or subsections of, the longer Master Clip.

 

Logging clips tip: Logging from the keyboard


This is a quick tip to aid in the faster logging of Master Clips from a tape during the Batch Capture process.

You may be aware that when the Capture Tool is selected and is in Capture Mode, that pressing the F4 button will begin the Capture from the tape. Many are not aware that when the Capture Tool is in Log Mode, the F4 key will send the logged clip into your designated bin. Further, this button can be mapped to wherever you prefer on your keyboard.

How to do it...

The following steps indicate how to log from the keyboard:

  1. Open or create a bin.

  2. Open the Tools menu | Capture Tool.

  3. In the Capture Tool there is a pull-down menu labeled as Bin. From that menu, select the bin where you'd like your logged clips to be placed.

  4. At the top of the Capture Tool, change the tool's mode from Capture to Log. To do this, click on the button near the Trash Can icon that says CAP so that it reads LOG and displays a pencil icon.

  5. Log clips using the keyboard. You can control the following features using the keyboard keys:

    • Control the deck with the J, K, and L keys

    • Mark the start and end of your Master Clips with the I and O, or E and R keys

    • Use the Tab key to navigate to the name and comment entry boxes

    • Select/deselect the V1, V2, A1, A2, A3, and A4 keys using the 7, 8, 9, 0, -, and = keys respectively

  6. Use the F4 key to log a clip into your selected bin.

There's more...

You can map this logging feature to another location on your keyboard.

  1. Go to the Project Window.

  2. Click on the Settings tab.

  3. Open your Keyboard settings by double-clicking on it.

  4. Go to the Tools menu.

  5. Select the Command Palette.

  6. Click on the tab labeled Play.

  7. In the bottom-left of the Command Palette, select Button to Button Reassignment.

  8. Drag the Record button to your desired location.

    Note

    If you use the J, K, and L keys to control the tape deck, consider mapping the Record button to either the H or colon/semicolon key.

See also

  • The Logging clips tip: Keeping the Capture Tool active after logging a clip recipe in this chapter

  • Chapter 2, Customizing Your Work Environment includes an additional discussion of keyboard mapping as well as interface and work environment customization

 

Logging clips tip: Keeping the Capture Tool active after logging a clip


This is a quick tip to help with logging Master Clips from tape during the Batch Capture process.

When you are logging, once the clip is sent to the bin, the bin becomes active. This allows you to immediately begin naming the clip in the bin. However, what if you already named the clip in the Capture Tool, or are in a hurry to log, and plan on naming the clips more precisely later? In such cases, you may prefer that the Capture Tool always stays selected, so that you can log the clip to the bin and quickly return to shuttling the tape and logging more clips without having to select the Capture Tool again. The following setting will allow that.

How to do it...

These are the steps to keep the Capture Tool active after logging a clip:

  1. Open the Capture Settings by either of the following methods:

    • In the Project Window, select Settings tab | Capture Settings

    • Right-click on Capture Tool and select Capture Settings…

  2. In the Capture Settings window, click on the tab labeled as General.

  3. Deselect the setting labeled as Activate bin window after capture.

    Note

    Even though the name of the setting refers to capturing, this works for logging as well (that's why it's a bit of a hidden tip).

See also

  • The Logging clips tip: Logging from the keyboard recipe earlier in this chapter

 

Quickly calculating total duration of clips (or any items in a bin)


After logging many clips you'll Batch Capture them. However, it's helpful to know the total duration of all the clips added together so you can make sure that your drive can accommodate that amount of media.

How to do it...

Below are the steps to calculate the total duration of selected clips:

  1. Select all the clips that you want to calculate the duration for. Methods include Shift + clicking to select a range of clips, or going to the Edit menu and choosing the Select-All command.

  2. Right-click on one of the selected Master Clips.

  3. From the menu select Get Bin Info.

  4. The Console window will open.

  5. There will be an entry in the Console that reads Total duration of selected items:. The duration is displayed as Hours:Minutes:Seconds:Frames (refer to the screenshot below).

There's more...

This is also useful for calculating the total duration of multiple sequences (for example, if your movie or TV program is still divided into separate sequences for each act).

 

Combining available drive space and/or controlling where media is stored


The Capture Tool has a feature that lets you create a Drive Group that designates more than one drive for Media Composer to be used for media storage. This is helpful in the following situations:

  • You want to make sure that the media files go to the drive(s) that you want when one becomes full, rather than Media Composer simply selecting the drive that happens to have the most free space

  • You have a large amount of media to capture but there is not one single drive that has enough space

  • Making a Drive Group is especially helpful when you want to leave the Capture process unattended

How to do it...

  1. Open the Tools menu | Capture Tool.

  2. Click on the Drive Selection menu. It's located directly below the Bin Selection menu and the Resolution Selection menu (refer to the next screenshot).

  3. From the Drive Selection menu select Change Group….

  4. A dialog window will open, listing all the available drives.

  5. Press cmd/Ctrl and click to select your desired drives.

  6. Press the OK button.

See also

  • If you're Batch Capturing, also see the Making sure your Batch Capture continues without you recipe

  • The Quickly calculating total duration of all logged clips (or any items in a bin) recipe may be helpful as you'll generally want to determine how much space is required for your media

 

Making sure your Batch Capture continues without you


You've logged many clips and are ready to begin Batch Capturing. You'd like to start the capture process and then run out for lunch. You just need to make sure that if the drive you've selected becomes full before capturing all the clips' media, that Media Composer won't stop and wait for you to tell it which drive to switch to. Further, you want to make sure that, if it has trouble capturing a clip, it will try a couple of times and then move on, rather than stopping on that one clip and waiting for you to tell it what to do.

How to do it...

Following are the steps to make sure your Batch Capture continues without you:

  1. Open the Capture Settings by either of the following methods:

    • From the Project Window select Settings tab | Capture Settings

    • Right-click on the Capture Tool and select Capture Settings…

  2. In the Capture Settings window, click on the tab labeled as Batch.

  3. Enable the selection labeled Switch to emptiest drive if current drive is full.

  4. Enable the selection labeled Log errors to the console and continue capturing.

There's more...

As an added measure and for more control, you may also want to create what Avid calls a Drive Group as discussed in the Combining available drive space and/or controlling where media is stored recipe.

 

Modifying clips before capture


There will come a time when something needs to be changed before a clip is captured (modifying clips after they have been captured is covered in the next section). The following are the typical issues:

  • The clips were logged by hand using the incorrect type of Timecode

  • The clips were associated with the wrong tape

  • The clips were created with the wrong tracks

How to do it...

Below are the steps to modify clips before capture:

  1. Select the clips. Some methods include Shift + clicking to select a range of clips or going to the Edit menu and choosing the Select-All command.

  2. Open the Modify window by using either of the following methods:

    • From the Clip menu, select Modify

    • Right-click on any of the selected Master Clips and choose Modify

  3. In the Modify window, click on the pull-down menu.

  4. In order to change the:

    • Type of Timecode, choose Set Timecode Drop/Non-Drop

    • Tape association, choose Set Source

    • Add or remove tracks, choose Set Tracks

 

Modifying clips after capture: Adding tracks


It's possible that you don't discover that you need additional tracks off the tape until after the capture is completed. You'll find that once a clip is captured, some modifications, such as setting tracks, are not possible without a little extra work called Unlinking.

Before we go through the process, an overview will be helpful. Unlinking is temporarily breaking the connection (in Avid terminology, the Link) between the clips and their media files. After Unlinking, you'll modify the clips to add the tracks you want. Then, you'll Relink the clips to the existing media. After the Relink, you'll capture the media that's missing.

How to do it...

Here are the steps to modify clips (adding tracks) after capture:

  1. Select the clips. Some methods include Shift + clicking to select a range of clips, or going to the Edit menu and choosing the Select-All command.

  2. Press the Shift key and the cmd/Ctrl key at the same time. As you're pressing these modifier keys, it changes the menu selection from Relink to Unlink.

  3. Select the Unlink command by either:

    • Selecting Clip menu | Unlink

    • Right-clicking on any of the selected Master Clips and choosing Unlink

  4. If the clips have become unselected, be sure to select them.

  5. Open the Modify window by either:

    • Selecting Clip menu | Modify...

    • Right-clicking on any of the selected clips and choosing Modify…

  6. In the Modify window, click on the pull-down menu.

  7. Choose Set Tracks.

  8. Select the tracks you want to add.

  9. Click on OK.

  10. If the clips have become unselected, be sure to select them.

  11. Open the Relink window by either:

    • Selecting Clip menu | Relink…

    • Right-clicking on any of the selected Master Clips and choosing Relink…

  12. Relink the clips.

  13. If the clips have become unselected, be sure to select them.

  14. Begin the Batch Capture process by either:

    • Selecting Clip menu | Batch Capture

    • Right-clicking on any of the selected Master Clips and choosing Batch Capture

  15. Optionally, if you only want Media Composer to capture the media that's missing, then in the Batch Capture dialog window, enable the selection that says Offline media only.

  16. Optionally, if you also need to capture new media files and at the same time get rid of the previous ones, then in the Batch Capture dialog window, deselect the option that says Offline media only. For example, you realize that you need to recapture the video at a different resolution.

    Note

    Deselecting this option deletes the existing media before it recaptures the new media.

See also

  • If you need to delete tracks rather than add tracks, there are a few more important steps involved. See the Modifying clips after capture: Deleting tracks recipe.

 

Modifying clips after capture: Deleting tracks


It's possible you don't discover that you have tracks that you don't need until after the capture is completed. In this case you'll want to:

  • Delete the unnecessary media to free up the drive space and ensure that you don't have orphan media files that are not linked to any clips.

  • Modify the clips so they no longer refer to media files that don't exist (since you deleted them). This will help avoid confusion during the editing process.

Before we get into the specifics, here is an overview of the process. First you're going to use the Media Tool to delete the specific media files that you don't need. Then you'll find that once a clip has been captured, some modifications, such as setting tracks, are not possible without a little extra work called Unlinking. This temporarily breaks the connection (in Avid terminology, the Link) between the clips and their media files. After Unlinking, you'll modify the clips to remove the unnecessary tracks, and, finally, you'll relink the clips to the media that remains.

How to do it...

The following are the steps to modify clips (deleting tracks) after capture:

  1. First, you're going to determine where the media files have been stored. Select the bin that contains all of your clips in order to make it active.

  2. Change the bin display to Text View from the Bin Display menu at the bottom-left of the Bin window.

  3. Open the Bin Column Selection window using any of the following methods:

    • In the Clip menu, choose Columns

    • Right-click in the bin and select Choose Columns

    • Right-click in the Column Headings section at the top of the bin and select Choose Columns from that menu

  4. The Bin Column Selection window opens. From the list of possible columns of information types, select Drive and click on OK.

  5. Take note of the media drive(s) your clips are referring to.

  6. Open the Media Tool by going to the Tools menu and selecting Media Tool.

  7. In the Media Drives column of the Media Tool, select only the media drive(s) that your clips are referencing (those listed in the Drive column in your bin).

  8. Click on the button labeled as Current Project, since you'd generally want to display media that belongs only to the currently open project and no other. If you did want to display media from other projects, you can Shift + click to select the additional project names.

  9. Select the Master Clips checkbox. Note that in the end, you'll still be looking at media files. It's just that they will be displayed in a more familiar way, as Master Clips.

  10. Deselect both the check boxes for Precompute Clips and Media Files and click on OK.

  11. A window will open titled Media Tool. This window has all the features of a bin.

  12. Arrange your Bin window and the Media Tool window so you can see both of them at the same time.

  13. The next few steps are going to ensure that only the correct clips become selected in the Media Tool. Start by selecting the clips in your bin.

  14. Go to the Bin Fast Menu at the bottom-left corner of the bin and choose Select Media Relatives. Note that the clips in your Media Tool have become selected.

  15. Click on the top title portion of the Media Tool so that it is selected/active. Make sure that when you select the Media Tool, you don't mistakenly deselect the clips.

  16. Press the Delete key on your keyboard.

  17. The Delete Media dialog window will open.

  18. Enable the check box for each track of media you want to permanently delete and click on OK.

  19. Another dialog window will open. If you are positive that you want to permanently delete the media files you've selected, click on OK.

  20. Close the Media Tool.

  21. The unnecessary media is now deleted, but you are left with clips in your bin that are still looking for that media even though it isn't there or, in other words, is Offline. This can be very confusing during editing, so the next set of steps will fix that. If the clips have become unselected in your bin, be sure to select them before continuing.

  22. In order to modify the clips, we have to temporarily break the connection (the Link) between the clip(s) and the media file(s), which is called Unlinking. To do this, press and hold the Shift key and the cmd/Ctrl key at the same time (this changes the Relink menu selection to Unlink).

  23. Select the Unlink command by either:

    • Selecting Clip menu | Unlink

    • Right-clicking on any of the selected Master Clips and choosing Unlink

  24. If the clips have become unselected, be sure to select them.

  25. Open the Modify window by either:

    • Selecting Clip menu | Modify

    • Right-clicking on any of the selected Master Clips and choosing Modify

  26. In the Modify window, click on the pull-down menu and choose Set Tracks.

  27. Deselect the tracks that no longer have media to link to, since you just deleted it. In other words, make sure only the tracks that still have media available on the drive(s) are selected. Click on OK.

  28. If the clips have become unselected, be sure to select them.

  29. Open the Relink window by either:

    • Selecting Clip menu | Relink…

    • Right-clicking on any of the selected Master Clips and choosing Relink…

  30. Relink the clips. Additional information on Relinking is available in the Avid Media Composer Help.

 

Capturing and editing at the same time


If you're in a hurry, it's possible to edit the clip(s) being captured into the Sequence at the same time that you capture from the tape.

How to do it...

Here are the steps to capture and edit at the same time:

Create a new sequence or load an existing sequence into the Timeline Window.

  1. In the case of an existing sequence, clear any existing In and/or Out Marks.

  2. Place the blue Position Indicator where you'd like to begin adding the clips.

  3. Open the Capture Tool using any of these methods:

    • Tools menu | Capture Tool

    • Workspaces menu | Capture

    • cmd/Ctrl + 7

  4. Open the Capture Settings by either:

    • Right-clicking on the Capture Tool and choosing Capture Settings

    • Going to the Project window, selecting the Settings tab, and double-clicking on the Capture Settings

  5. In the Capture Settings window, click on the tab labeled Edit.

  6. Select/enable the feature labeled as Enable edit to timeline (splice, overwrite). Click on OK.

  7. Look at your Capture Tool. At the top, two new buttons have appeared, one for Splicing and the other for Overwriting.

  8. Select/enable either the Splice or Overwrite function in the Capture Tool.

  9. Begin capturing a portion of the tape.

  10. End the capture of that clip.

  11. That clip will automatically be edited into the Sequence.

  12. Continue to capture to add more clips to the Sequence.

  13. When you are finished, to avoid unintentional editing into the Sequence during a future capture session, be sure to either:

    • Deselect the Splice or Overwrite button in the Capture Tool

    • Disable this feature in the Capture Settings

 

Preparing to use AMA (Avid Media Access): Getting the plug-ins


AMA allows you to almost immediately begin editing with file-based video, without first having to go through another process, such as Transcoding or Importing. Essentially, you point Media Composer directly to the native files, and because of AMA programming/architecture, it recognizes them and links to them. However, Media Composer needs to be given the ability to recognize the files first. This is done by installing free plug-ins for each camera and/or video format (note that the QuickTime AMA plug-in is an exception and is installed by default). Using plug-ins means that they can be updated at any time independently from the Media Composer program, and, as new video formats are created, their AMA plug-ins can be made available by the manufacturer at the same time.

How to do it...

Here are the steps to get the AMA plug-ins:

  1. You will need to access the Internet.

  2. To get to the AMA plug-ins page at Avid.com, either:

    • To open the AMA Settings, go to the Project Window, select the Settings tab, and double-click on AMA Settings. In the AMA Settings window, click on the tab labeled Volume Mounting. At the bottom of the Volume Mounting window is a link labeled Check for additional or updated AMA plug-ins at Avid.com.

    • At the time of writing, you may visit one of the following links:

      i. http://www.avid.com/ama

      ii. http://www.avid.com/products/Avid-Media-Access

  3. On the Avid.com web page, you'll see a link labeled Download and/or there will be three tabs near the top labeled Overview, Features, and Plug-ins.

  4. Click on either the Download link or the Plug-ins tab.

  5. Before downloading a plug-in, make sure the file formats will work with AMA and your version of Media Composer. At the time of writing, there is a link below the Downloads column that states Please refer to the 'AMA Plug-ins and Media Composer Version Compatibility' table for software requirements.

  6. Download the AMA plug-ins for the formats that you'll be using and that correspond to the version of Media Composer that you're using.

  7. Each plug-in has its own installer and will guide you through the installation process.

    Note

    Avid also provides helpful, in-depth AMA user guides for different video formats on the same page as the download links. I highly suggest downloading them for the formats you will be using. They provide a good deal of helpful information that is outside the scope of this book.

There's more...

You can verify what plug-ins have been installed or check which version of a plug-in is installed.

  1. Open the Console window by either:

    • Selecting Console from the Tools menu

    • Pressing cmd/Ctrl + 6

  2. In the text entry box at the bottom of the Console window, enter the following: AMA_ListPlugins

  3. Press Return (Mac) or Enter (PC).

  4. A table will be generated in the Console window that lists the plug-in name(s) and its version number.

 

AMA (Avid Media Access) linking


AMA allows you to almost immediately begin editing with file-based video formats, such as P2, XDCAM, QuickTime, RED, and others, without first having to endure the very time-consuming Import or Transcode process before editing.

Note

Before undertaking a project using the AMA feature, it is highly recommended that you perform a small-scale test of the process to familiarize yourself with the options and results. Ideally, you would be able to perform your small-scale test prior to receiving the mission-critical files and prior to the intensity of working under a deadline.

Avid provides helpful AMA user guides for the different video formats. You'll find them on the same page as the AMA plug-in downloads (URLs provided below). They provide a good deal of helpful information that is outside the scope of this book. At the time of writing, you may visit one of the following links:

On the Avid.com web page, you'll see a link labeled Download and/or there will be three tabs near the top labeled Overview, Features, and Plug-ins. Click on either the Download link or the Plug-ins tab. You will find the AMA user guides there.

Getting ready

First, perform the steps as detailed earlier in the Preparing to use AMA (Avid Media Access): Getting the plug-ins recipe.

How to do it...

Following are the steps to link to files with AMA:

  1. Configure your AMA Settings by going to the Project Window, selecting the Settings tab, and then double-clicking on AMA settings.

  2. In the Bins tab, you may select how Media Composer will react when it automatically detects that you've mounted a volume (for example, a P2 card or a removable drive). This also becomes the action that Media Composer will perform when you manually AMA link to a volume, and in the Bin Selection dialog window that will open during the AMA linking process, you select Bin(s) Based On Current AMA Settings.

    • To use active bin, in this case, you would first select an open bin inside your Project before mounting or manually linking to the volume through AMA

    • Create a new bin:

      i. Default bin naming convention: The bin that's automatically created will have the name of the Project (with an incrementing number added for each new bin).

      ii. Volume name: The bin that's automatically created will have the name of the card or drive.

      iii. Specify bin name: The bin that's automatically created will have the text that you type into the entry box

  3. Some video formats provide multiple files with varying compression. In the Quality tab, you may select which files the AMA process will initially link to. Note that the files that are linked to can be changed later, and this is discussed in the later recipe titled Changing the link between different resolutions of media.

  4. Link Options sets a default for how to treat the audio tracks (for example, mono or stereo). Note that this can be changed later by selecting the clips and using the Modify command from the Clip menu.

  5. Click on the OK button to close the AMA Settings window.

  6. You're now ready to begin the AMA linking process. The following steps cover linking to files that have been copied off a camera card. You will see this referred to as linking to a Virtual Volume. If you want to link to the files directly off of the camera card, see the There's more... section that follows this section for details. The following steps presume that:

    • You have copied the files off the original camera card and organized them in a fashion as discussed at the beginning of this chapter, in the recipe titled A strategy for project organization at the desktop level.

    • The original file and folder structure on the card has been kept perfectly intact during the copy process to a drive. In other words, there are no differences between the contents of the card and the copy on the drive. Note that this is very important and is something you should discuss with the production team prior to shooting.

    • You have chosen to allow Media Composer to make a new bin when it creates the AMA link, rather than selecting a current bin.

  7. From the File menu, select Link to AMA Volume.

  8. The browser window will open.

  9. Browse to the location of your files keeping the following in mind:

    • XDCAM files: Select one folder above the Clip folder

    • XDCAM EX files: Select one folder above the BPAV folder

    • P2 files: Select one folder above the Contents folder

    • RED files: Navigate to the root directory

    • GFCAM files: Navigate to the root directory

    • QuickTime files: Navigate to the folder that contains the files

  10. Click on OK.

  11. A dialog window may open (usually when Media Composer detects multiple folders within a directory that contains media) and ask you how you would like to have the bin created.

    • Bin(s) based on current AMA setting: This is the default selection. Use this if you want the bin to follow your AMA settings.

    • Single bin named: This method allows you to override your AMA settings for this moment and set a specific name.

    • Single bin based on selected folder: If you made a main folder named AMA Media, and then placed the contents of three different P2 cards inside it (each card having its own folder) and named each P2 card's folder as card_1, card_2, and card_3, Media Composer would make just one bin named AMA Media, and the clips from card_1, card_2, and card_3 would all be placed within it.

    • Bin(s) based on subfolders: If you made a main folder named AMA Media, then placed the contents of three different P2 cards inside (each card having its own folder) and named each P2 card's folder as card_1, card_2, and card_3, Media Composer would make three separate bins. The bins would be named card_1, card_2, and card_3.

There's more...

Some more aspects of linking are mentioned in this section.

Linking to files on a camera card

If you choose to work directly off the camera card rather than copy and organize your files, as discussed earlier in this chapter in the A strategy for project organization at the desktop level recipe, then follow the next set of steps:

  1. Launch Avid Media Composer.

  2. Insert the card into the card reader attached to your system.

  3. When the card is recognized by the computer and is mounted, Media Composer will scan the volume (the card).

  4. A bin will be created and named based on your AMA settings.

  5. Media Composer will grab the clip data from the card and create Master Clips. Then, it will link the Master Clips to their media files.

  6. After successfully linking, each Master Clip will display a chain link icon attached to it.

Changing the link between different resolutions of media

If your media type provides you with versions of the files at different resolutions, you may want to switch linking from one resolution to another. For example, you've initially linked to the low-resolution version of the media for editing, and now you'd like to change the link to the high-resolution version for finishing.

  1. Select the clips in your bin.

  2. Right-click on the selected clips.

  3. Choose Modify AMA Resolutions... from the menu.

  4. The AMA Resolutions Quality window opens.

  5. Select the video quality that you want for your video.

  6. Click on OK.

Having trouble with AMA?

You can get more information from the AMA plug-in Log File.

A note from Avid technology:

The Avid system creates an AMA plug-in log file when you link clips. The log file records errors and information about the clips. If you experience any problems while you link clips or if you receive an error message, check the AMA log file to get more information about the error (for example, a corrupt file or a bad filename).

You can view the log file from the following location on your system:

  • (Windows) drive:\Program Files\Avid\Media Composer\Avid FatalError Reports. The name of the log file is AMALoggerMM_DD_YY.log.

  • (Macintosh) Volume/Users/Shared/AvidMediaComposer/Avid FatalError Reports. The name of the log file is AMALoggerMM_DD_YY.log.

See also

  • The Getting the AMA file's image to display as desired recipe in this chapter

 

Getting the AMA file's image to display as desired


If you link to media using the AMA process and the clip does not match the aspect ratio and frame size set in your Format tab, then Media Composer will allow you to change the way it is displayed at any time.

An important note from Avid technology:

If you are working in an Interplay environment, do not change the Reformat attribute from the Stretch setting. If you use a different setting, and you then use 'Interplay Transcode' or 'Send to Playback,' the results might not be what you expect.

How to do it...

Below are the steps to display the AMA file's image as desired:

  1. Set your bin to be displayed in Text View from the Bin Display menu in the lower left of your bin.

  2. You're going to display the Reformat column. Start by going to the Bin menu and selecting Choose Columns.

  3. In the Bin Column Selection window choose Reformat.

  4. Click on OK to close the window.

  5. Select the clip(s) in your bin for which you want to Reformat the display.

  6. In the Reformat column of the selected clip(s), click to reveal, and also choose, the alternate display options. If multiple clips are selected, you can change the Reformat setting for one of the selected clips and have that setting applied to all of the selected clips.

  7. Note that if you loaded the clip into the Source Window, you will see the Reformat display change occur. Whatever you set here will be applied to the clip when it is edited into your sequence. However, if you have already edited the clip into a sequence, the version in the sequence will continue to display in the manner that it was set in when it was first edited into the sequence. This is to prevent changes being applied to the sequences that are considered complete and ready to export or master to tape. If you want to update all the instances of the clip in your sequence to use the new Reformat setting, this can be done without having to re-edit the clip(s). Follow the next set of steps:

  8. Select the sequence(s) in the bin.

  9. Right-click on the selected sequence(s).

  10. Choose Refresh Sequence.

  11. From the submenu select Reformatting Options. See the next section for details.

How it works...

Below are the Reformat options that are available along with the explanation of each.

  • Stretch: If the Project is set to display 4:3, then a 16:9 image will be stretched vertically. If the Project is set to display 16:9, then a 4:3 image will be stretched horizontally.

  • Pillarbox/Letterbox: This feature scales the image as large as possible within the currently set aspect ratio that you've set for your Project's display. If the Project is set to display 4:3, then a 16:9 image will be letterboxed (black bars on the top and bottom). If the Project is set to display 16:9, then a 4:3 image will be Pillarboxed (black columns on the left and right-hand side of the screen).

  • Center Crop: No scaling occurs in this option. If the project is set to display 4:3, then a 16:9 image will have the left and right hand side portions of the image cropped. If the project is set to display 16:9, then a 4:3 image will have the top and bottom portions cropped.

  • Center Keep Size: If the image is larger, when it is centered in the window, portions of the image on all the sides may be cropped. If the image is smaller, then its native size will be displayed and black color will appear around it.

Tip

Changing the project's aspect ratio display

Note that not all formats support multiple aspect ratio displays. Here are two methods that are available:

Method 1: Project Window | Format tab | Aspect Ratio menu.

Method 2: Right-click in either the Source Window or the Record Window and select Project Aspect Ratio, and then select the desired display from the submenu.

 

Consolidating (copying) AMA Master Clips


Consolidating is Avid Media Composer's method of making copies of media files.

Note

Consolidating (copying) is a process done by using the Media Composer software. It is not done by simply copying the files at the desktop level.

The Consolidation process specified in this recipe can be used either before you have begun to edit or at any stage during editing. What you'll be doing is making copies of your AMA files in their entirety. When completed, your Master Clips will link to the copied media (in the Avid MediaFiles folder) and Media Composer will create new clips that will link to the AMA media files. (For the clips that link to the AMA media, Media Composer will put an extension on them that says .old.) If you've already begun to edit, the sequence will link to the copied media rather than the AMA media.

Note

Before consolidating all of your files, it is highly recommended that you perform a small-scale test of the process to familiarize yourself with additional options and results. The steps below focus on only one specific result. Ideally, you would be able to perform your small-scale test prior to receiving the mission-critical files and prior to the intensity of working under a deadline.

The AMA linking feature can be very processor intensive, and Avid recommends that users Consolidate the media into what they refer to as the Managed Media environment (which means the Avid MediaFiles folder) as soon as is practical, in order to take advantage of faster processing and a linking architecture that is more mature and robust than AMA.

Some formats cannot be Consolidated (copied) using their original Codec, and Media Composer will alert you that they will also need to have their Codec changed during the copy process. This is referred to as Transcoding. Ideally, you would transcode your Master Clips prior to doing any editing, though there is a process available in case you have already started to edit. Information on this is available in the Transcoding AMA Master Clips before beginning to edit and Transcoding AMA Master Clips after editing has begun recipes.

If you want to Consolidate only the shorter portions of media that are being used by a sequence or subclips, rather than the entire Master Clip media, see the recipe titled Consolidating an AMA sequence or subclips.

Getting ready

If your media type provides you with versions of the files at different resolutions, you may want to switch linking from one resolution to another. For example, you've initially linked to the low-resolution version of the media for editing and now you'd like to change the link to the high-resolution version for Consolidating. If this applies to you, then follow the next set of steps; otherwise, proceed to the How to do it… section:

  1. Select the clips in your bin.

  2. Right-click on the selected clips.

  3. Choose Modify AMA Resolutions... from the menu.

  4. The AMA Resolutions Quality window opens.

  5. Select the video quality that you want for your video.

  6. Click on OK.

How to do it...

The following are the steps for consolidating the media clips:

  1. Select the clips in the bin.

  2. From the Clip menu select Consolidate/Transcode.

  3. In the top-left of the Consolidate/Transcode window, select Consolidate.

  4. In the Video/Data region of the window, select the drive (also known as the target drive) that you want the copied files to be stored on.

  5. Do not enable the selection that says Delete media files when done. In the case of AMA linked media files, they will not be deleted even if this is selected. Further, Media Composer will not create a Master Clip that links to the AMA media as it should.

  6. Click on the Consolidate button.

  7. The Copying Media Files dialog window opens.

  8. Select the second option that reads Relink Master Clips to media on target drive. This option also includes some helpful text that reads Selected Master Clips will be relinked to the new media on the target drive. Master Clips with a .old extension will be created and linked to the original media. In this case, the original media refers to the AMA linked files.

  9. Click on OK and the Consolidate (copy) process begins.

See also

  • The Consolidating an AMA Sequence or Subclips recipe in this chapter

 

Transcoding AMA Master Clips before beginning to edit


Some formats cannot be Consolidated (copied) using their original codec. Media Composer will alert you that they will also need to have their codec changed during the copy process, or you may wish to change the codec when you copy the media. This is referred to as Transcoding.

Before you Transcode all of your files, it is highly recommended that you perform a small test of the process to familiarize yourself with any additional options and results. Additional options include, but are not limited to, Debayer Settings (found in the Media Creation settings) for RED footage, which also need to be configured. Ideally, it is best if you are able to perform your small-scale test prior to receiving the mission-critical files and prior to the intensity of working under a deadline.

Note

As the title of this recipe suggests, the next set of steps would be used before editing and will focus on only one specific result. If you have already begun to edit, see the Transcoding AMA Master Clips after editing has begun recipe.

Getting ready

If your media type provides you with versions of the files at different resolutions, you may want to switch linking from one resolution to another. For example, you've initially linked to the low-resolution version of the media for editing and now you'd like to change the link to the high-resolution version for Transcoding. If this applies to you, then perform the following steps, or, if this does not apply to you, then proceed to the paragraph that follows these steps:

  1. Select the clips in your bin.

  2. Right-click on the selected clips.

  3. Choose Modify AMA Resolutions... from the menu.

  4. The AMA Resolutions Quality window opens.

  5. Select the video quality that you want for your video.

  6. Click on OK.

If you are Transcoding Standard Definition video to High Definition or vice versa, then you'll want to ensure the highest quality result using the next set of steps. If this does not apply to you, then proceed to the How to do it... section.

  1. From the Project window, select the Settings tab and double-click on Render Settings.

  2. Select the Image Interpolation pull-down menu.

  3. Select Advanced (Polyphase).

  4. Click on OK.

How to do it…

Below are the steps to Transcode AMA linked media before editing:

  1. In the Project window select the Format tab.

  2. Select the Project Type and Aspect Ratio.

    Note

    Avid states: New clips created through the Transcode operation are in the Project Format. When you Transcode a clip across formats, for example if you Transcode a 16:9 clip in a 4:3 project, the Reformat bin setting determines how the clip is conformed to the new format.

    For details on the Reformat option, see the recipe Getting the AMA file's image to display as desired.

  3. Select the clips in the bin.

  4. Clip menu | Consolidate/Transcode.

  5. In the top-left of the Consolidate/Transcode window, select Transcode.

  6. In the Video/Data region of the window, select the drive where you want the copied media files to be stored.

  7. Select the video resolution that you want the copied media files to become.

  8. Click on the Transcode button to begin the process.

Tip

Transcoding is not magic

Transcoding cannot increase the quality of the image. For example, if your footage came from a MiniDV tape (the resolution is DV25) and you transcoded it to a resolution of 1:1 (uncompressed), the new file will take up more space on your hard drive but will not look any better. On the other hand, if you transcoded to 20:1, then the file will be compressed and the image quality will be reduced.

See also

  • The Transcoding AMA Master Clips after editing has begun recipe

  • The Transcoding an AMA sequence recipe

 

Transcoding AMA Master Clips after editing has begun


Before Transcoding all of your files after editing has begun, it is a very good idea to perform a small-scale test of the process to familiarize yourself with any additional options and results. Additional options include, but are not limited to, Debayer settings (found in the Media Creation settings) for RED footage, which also need to be configured. Ideally, you would be able to perform your small-scale test before receiving the mission-critical files and prior to the intensity and pressure of working under a deadline.

When you Transcode Master Clips, Media Composer automatically makes new Master Clips (with the .new extension), and those new clips will not link to a sequence that was created from them automatically. So, you'll have to make the sequence link to the new Master Clips with a process called Relinking.

Getting ready

The steps given in the How to do it... section presume that:

  • You have begun to edit

  • You have already followed the steps in the recipe Transcoding AMA Master Clips before beginning to edit

  • You now have a bin(s) with new, Transcoded Master Clips

How to do it…

The following are the steps for Transcoding after editing has begun:

  1. Open all the bins that contain the .new Transcoded clips.

  2. Open the bin containing your sequence.

  3. Select all the .new Transcoded files in all of the open bins.

  4. Select your sequence.

  5. Go to Clip menu | Relink. (You may also right-click on the selected sequence.)

  6. In the Relink window, enable the selection that says Selected items in ALL open bins.

  7. At the bottom of the window, make sure to enable the check box that says Create new sequence and click on OK.

  8. At the completion of this process, a new sequence will be created with the text Relinked at the end. This sequence is now linked to the Transcoded clips. If you load the sequence into the Timeline, you'll see that the clip names will also have the .new extension on them.

 

Consolidating an AMA sequence or subclips


Before consolidating a sequence, it is very highly recommended that you perform a small test of the process on an unimportant sequence to familiarize yourself with additional options and results. Additional options include, but are not limited to, Debayer settings (found in the Media Creation settings) for RED footage, which also need to be configured. The steps of this recipe focus on only one specific result.

Consolidating a sequence or subclips simply means you'll be making copies of only the portions of media files that are being referred to by your sequence or by the subclips. Essentially, Media Composer will take each shot used in the sequence, or each subclip, and make a brand new Master Clip for it.

You'll have the option to add handles. Handles are additional media added to the head and tail (beginning and end) of the new Master Clips that are not currently being used/seen/heard in the sequence or subclips. Handles are helpful in case, after Consolidating, you need to do some trimming within a sequence or need to add a transition effect like a dissolve.

You'll also have the option to delete the original media after the Consolidate (copy) process is completed. Deleting the original source media would be helpful with a sequence if you had completed all of your editing and wanted to save drive space, or with subclips, if before you began editing you only wanted to keep portions of Master Clips. On the other hand, one use of not deleting the original media would be if you wanted to give a coworker a copy of your sequence or a portion of a clip to work with.

Getting ready

Before consolidating a sequence, it is always a very smart idea to make a backup copy of the sequence and place it into its own well-labeled bin (for example, My Movie Before Consolidate). This extra version will not only protect you in case you make an error, but will help keep your project organized for future reference (not to mention bring you additional peace of mind).

How to do it...

Here are the steps to consolidate an AMA sequence or subclips:

  1. Select the sequence or the subclips.

  2. Clip menu | Consolidate/Transcode (you may also right-click on the selected Sequence or Subclips).

  3. The Consolidate/Transcode window will open.

  4. In the upper left-hand corner of the window, select Consolidate.

  5. In the Video/Data region of the window, select the drive where you want the copied files to be stored.

  6. In the Handle Length entry box, enter the number of frames you want added to the head and tail of each new Master Clip.

  7. If you are Consolidating a sequence, be sure to select the Create new sequence check box. Even though I suggested earlier that you make a backup copy manually prior to the consolidate process, this provides an additional layer of protection.

  8. For the Delete original media files when done choice, my instruction here will be to not select this check box. In other words, I am instructing you to not delete the original media files after Media Composer has completed making copies of just the portions of media that are being used by your sequence or subclips. If you do indeed want to delete the original media, then you would select this option.

  9. Click on the Consolidate button at the bottom of the window.

  10. The consolidate process will begin.

  11. On Completion of the process you will have the following:

    • Master Clips that have the extension .new added to them. The duration of each Master Clip will be only whatever it is in the sequence or subclip, plus the added duration of the handles.

    • A new sequence with the addition of .Consolidated at the end. This sequence is linked to the .new clips.

    • Your original sequence will remain linked to the original Master Clips that you edited from.

    • In the case of subclips, Media Composer creates new Master Clips that are the total duration (including handles) as well the as new subclips that are the duration of the original subclips.

 

Transcoding an AMA sequence


Before Transcoding a sequence, it is recommended that you carry out a small test of the process to familiarize yourself with additional options and results. These additional options include, but are not limited to, Debayer settings (found in the Media Creation settings) for RED footage, which also need to be configured. The steps that follow focus on only one specific result. Ideally, you would be able to perform your small-scale test prior to receiving the mission-critical files and prior to the intensity of working under a deadline.

Some formats cannot be Consolidated (copied) using their original codec, and Media Composer will alert you that they will also need to have their codec (also known as resolution) changed during the copy process. This is referred to as Transcoding.

Transcoding a sequence simply means that you'll be making copies of only the portions of the media files that are being referred to by your sequence. (Essentially, Media Composer will take each shot used in the sequence and make a brand new Master Clip for it.) Further, as it generates new media files, it will also be changing the media files' codec.

Unlike Consolidating, Transcoding does not offer the option to delete the original media files after it has completed the Transcoding process.

Getting ready

Before Transcoding a sequence, it is a very wise idea to first make a backup copy and place it in its own well-labeled bin (for example, My Movie Before Transcode). This extra version protects you in case you make an error, and will help to keep your project organized for future reference.

How to do it…

The steps to Transcode an AMA linked sequence are as follows:

  1. First, review the information presented earlier in this chapter, in the Transcoding AMA Master Clips before beginning to edit recipe.

  2. In the Project Window select the Format tab.

  3. Select the Project Type and Aspect Ratio.

    Important note from Avid Technology:

    New clips created through the Transcode operation are in the project format. When you transcode a clip across formats, for example if you transcode a 16:9 clip in a 4:3 project, the Reformat bin setting determines how the clip is conformed to the new format.

    Note

    For details on the Reformat option, see the Getting the AMA file's image to display as desired recipe.

  4. Select the sequence in the bin.

  5. Clip menu | Consolidate/Transcode (you may also right-click on the sequence).

  6. In the top left of the Consolidate/Transcode window, select Transcode.

  7. In the Video/Data region of the window, select the drive you want the copied files to be stored.

  8. In the Handle Length entry box, enter the number of frames you want added to the head and tail of each new Master Clip.

  9. Be sure to select the Create new sequence check box. Even though I suggested earlier that you make a backup copy manually prior to the Transcode process, this provides an additional layer of protection.

  10. Click on the Transcode button at the bottom of the window.

  11. The Transcode process begins.

  12. On completion of the process you will have the following:

    • Master Clips that have the extension .new added to them. The duration of each clip will be whatever it is in the sequence plus the added duration of the handles.

    • A new sequence with the addition of .Transcoded at the end. This sequence is linked to the .new clips.

    • Your original sequence will remain linked to the original Master Clips that you edited from.

 

Importing stills and video files such as QuickTime


We're often given still images in formats such as .jpg, .gif, .png, or even as a layered Photoshop file, all of which can be imported into Avid Media Composer. Further, there will be instances when you'll need to import a QuickTime file rather than AMA link to it. For example, you've been given a motion graphic that contains an Alpha Channel (transparency information) that is meant to be composited on top of video. AMA linking will not recognize the Alpha Channel, so you must import it. Another example is regarding Broadcast Wave Format (BWF) files. AMA should never be used with BWF files as the Timecode will be incorrect and offers no control over Pull-up and Pull-down Sample Rates. See Avid Media Composer Help for additional information. The search term is BWF.

What does Avid Media Composer mean when it uses the term Import? In Media Composer, Import means that new media is created during the import process. The format of the media created is dictated by the settings in your Project Window's Format tab. The resolution is dictated in your Media Creation settings. For comparison, Adobe After Effects also uses the term import, except that in its case it is only pointing (linking) to the file rather than making new media as Media Composer does.

Note

If you want to animate within a still image (often referred to as The Ken Burns Effect), you will most likely not want to import the image since that restricts the image size to that of your current format, which would mean having to scale the image up in order to pan and tilt across it. Scaling up reduces the quality of the image. If you are looking to create the Ken Burns Effect, then you'll want to check Avid Media Composer Help regarding the Avid Pan & Zoom effect. If you have the Boris Continuum Complete (BCC) effects package installed on your system, I also suggest checking out the BCC Pan & Zoom effect. You may also want to investigate other plug-ins available for this effect from the Marketplace menu.

Getting ready

Organize your files. Some suggestions are in the A strategy for Project organization at the desktop level recipe, earlier in this chapter.

How to do it...

Here are the steps to import video and still image files.

  1. Project Window | Format tab.

  2. In the Format tab set the Project Type, Aspect Ratio, Color Space, and Raster Dimensions for the media you'll create during the import.

  3. Open the Media Creation settings using any of these methods:

    • Tools menu | Media Creation

    • cmd/Ctrl + 5

    • Project Window | Settings tab, and then double-click on Media Creation

  4. In the Media Creation window select the Import tab.

  5. Set the Video Resolution for the media you'll create during the import.

  6. Set the drive where you want the media that you create to be stored.

  7. Click on OK to close the Media Creation window.

  8. Open your Import Settings by selecting the Project Window | Settings tab, and then double-clicking on Import Settings.

  9. In the Import Settings window, click on the Image tab.

  10. In the Image tab, you'll select the appropriate options for your situation. A brief explanation of these options is in the There's more… section that follows this recipe of steps.

  11. Click on the OK button to close the Import Settings window.

  12. You can now import with one of the two following methods:

    • Method 1: Drag the file(s) from their location on a drive directly into a bin. All the settings you previously set will dictate how the media will be created and on which drive the media will be stored. Once you drop the files into the bin, both the Master Clips and media will be created. Layered Photoshop files will open an additional dialog window. Those options are discussed after the There's more… section that follows this recipe.

    • Method 2: Select an open bin. Then, either right-click within the bin and select Import from the Contextual menu or go to the File menu and select Import.

  13. The following steps relate to using Method 2 for import.

  14. Be aware that when using Method 2, note that in the Select Files To Import window you will have the ability to do the following:

    • Click on the Options button to access the Import Settings

    • Set the resolution for the media you'll create during the import

    • Set the drive where you want the media you create to be stored

  15. In the Select Files To Import window, navigate to the file(s) you want to import.

  16. Select the file(s).

  17. Click on the Open button.

There's more...

The Import Settings window can be a bit confusing, so let's go over the options in the Image tab.

Image size adjustment

This selection relates to how the image will be scaled during the import:

  • Image sized for current format: This means that the file is the same frame size as the video format you are using. In other words:

    • 648 x 486 square pixels for an NTSC SD 4 x 3 project

    • 864 x 486 square pixels for an NTSC SD 16 x 9 project

    • 1920 x 1080 for a 1080 HD project

    • 1280 x 720 for a 720 HD project

  • Crop/Pad for DV scan line difference: If your SD project is the full raster of 720 x 486 and you import an image sized for DV (720 x 480), then Media Composer will add in (pad) the six missing lines. On the other hand, if your project is DV and your graphic is 720 x 486, then Media Composer will remove (crop) the extra six lines. By either padding or cropping, it means that your image will not be subtly distorted.

  • Do not resize smaller images: Images smaller than your video format will not be resized and will appear in the center of the frame. Images with an Alpha channel will have a transparent area surrounding them while those without will have black surrounding them.

  • Resize image to fit format raster: Whether larger or smaller, the image will be scaled to fit within your video format's size. If your image is longer horizontally, then it will be scaled until it reaches the left and right edges of the frame. If your image is longer vertically, then it will be scaled until it reaches the top and bottom edges of the frame. Any remaining areas will be filled with black. Note that if your release of Media Composer is not allowing this to work within a 16 x 9 SD project, the workaround is to switch to an HD format, import, and then switch back.

File Pixel to Video Mapping

This section relates to how the luminance (brightness) and the chrominance will be interpreted during the import:

  • Computer RGB (0 - 255): Choose this if your file came from a computer graphics application such as Photoshop, After Effects, or Apple Motion. Selecting this option tells Media Composer to adjust the image during the import so it fits properly into the broadcast levels. Specifically, the darkest value in the graphic is mapped to the level of video black for your video format and the brightest value is mapped to the level of video white. All other values are adjusted proportionately.

  • Computer RGB, dither image colors: This is used in the same situation as Computer RGB, except it performs one extra operation on the graphics file. If the file has fine gradients and you notice there is banding in the final imported image, try this. The extra operation it performs adds some noise (dithering) that may help to reduce or hide the banding.

  • 601 SD or 709 HD (16 - 235): Choose this only if your file is already at the proper broadcast levels for your video format. For files created in other applications, such as Photoshop or After Effects, this will be infrequent. However, good examples of files that are already at broadcast levels include the SMPTE Color Bars file that Avid provides inside the Test_Patterns folder, and video files such as P2 that can be imported.

Additional selections

The following are the additional selections within the Import dialog window:

  • Frame Import Duration: When you import a still image, you can tell Media Composer how long you'd like the duration of the Master Clip to be. Media Composer will only create a frame or two (which Avid calls a Slide) of actual media, so you can set any duration you like without worrying that the media will take up a lot of drive space. This simply instructs Media Composer to refer to the "slide" over and over again for the duration that you specify.

  • Autodetect Sequentially-Numbered Files: Choose this option if you are given a folder containing many files where each represents one frame (for example, of an animation). They'll be numbered in order (sequentially). During import you would select only the first file in the folder (not all the files). Media Composer will then automatically look for file number two, then file number three, and so on (autodetection). When the import is completed, Media Composer will have assembled all the files (frames) into one single Master Clip.

    Note

    Be sure to leave this option deselected if you are not importing sequentially-numbered files for the purpose of assembling them into a single Master Clip upon import.

  • Field Ordering in File: This is not to be confused with Field Dominance; these options only apply to interlaced video formats. If your video format is progressive, these options will not be displayed. Before you can know what to select here, it's pretty helpful to know what the native field order is for different video formats:

    • NTSC is Even (Lower Field First)

    • HD is Odd (Upper Field First)

    • PAL is Odd (Upper Field First)

    • PAL DV is Even (Lower Field First)

    With that knowledge, the details on the Field Order import selections, which follow, will be more useful:

    • Ordered for current format: Use this for still images without fields, and for importing still images and video files with fields that match the field order of your video format. For example, the video file is NTSC and your project format is NTSC, or your video file is HD and the project is HD.

    • Odd (Upper Field First): Choose this option if there is a mismatch between the graphic file's field order and the video format of your project. Specifically, the file is a format with Odd field order and the project's video format has Even field order.

    • Even (Lower Field First): Choose this option if there is a mismatch between the graphic file's field order and the video format of your project. Specifically, the file is a format with Even field order and the project's video format has Odd field order.

  • Alpha Channel: The Alpha Channel is grayscale and is used to define the opaque and transparent areas.

    • Invert on Import (white = opaque): This is the most common setting choice you'll make and is used when you get a graphic from a designer who has used After Effects, Photoshop, or similar applications to create it. This takes the grayscale Alpha Channel information in the file and inverts it to conform to how Avid Media Composer likes it (black is opaque).

    • Do not invert (black = opaque): You'll rarely use this. However, if a designer's application happens to create the graphic file with the Alpha Channel the way that Media Composer likes it (black = opaque), then this is the choice you'd make.

    • Ignore: The Alpha Channel information is discarded during import, and the file that is created will be opaque rather than a Real Time Matte Key.

Layered Photoshop files

When you import a Photoshop file with two or more layers, Media Composer will give you an additional dialog window with the following options:

  • Sequence of Layers: Media Composer brings in each individual layer as a separate Master Clip. It also assembles each Master Clip (layer) into a completed sequence just as in the Photoshop file.

    Note

    Media Composer will not recognize Layer Styles (for example, Drop Shadow, Bevel, and so on). If you have applied Layer Styles, you'll want to first duplicate your Photoshop file (as a backup version). Then, within that duplicate, you will need to merge all the layer effects into the layers themselves before importing into Media Composer.

  • Flattened Image: All the layers in the graphic file are married together into one single Master Clip.

  • Select Layers: This feature allows you to choose just the layers you want from the file. Each layer will become a separate Master Clip. Naming the layers in your graphic file will be very helpful if you plan to use this option.

See also

  • If your file also contains audio, then the Adjusting audio levels before editing, Adjusting audio pan settings before editing and Setting stereo-audio tracks recipes may be helpful

 

Importing audio


There are a couple different methods to import audio files (or files containing audio), which I'll cover here. Check out the sections that follow for some additional audio tips and settings.

If you are importing BWF (Broadcast Wave Format) audio files, see Avid Media Composer Help for additional information. The search term is BWF.

Getting ready

Organize your files before importing. Some suggestions are in the A strategy for project organization at the desktop level recipe.

How to do it...

These are the steps to import an audio file:

  1. Go to the Media Creation settings using any of these methods:

    • Go to the Project Window, select the Settings tab, and then double-click on Media Creation

    • Tools menu | Media Creation

    • cmd/Ctrl + 5

  2. Select the Import tab.

  3. From the Drive menu set a destination for the imported media.

  4. Click on OK to close the Media Creation window.

  5. This is an optional step: adjust Import Settings as discussed in the Adjusting audio levels before editing, Adjusting audio pan settings before editing, and Setting stereo-audio tracks recipes.

  6. You can now import with one of the following two methods:

    • Method 1: Drag the file(s) from their location on a drive directly into a bin. All the settings you previously configured will dictate how the Master Clip will be set (for example, level adjustment and/or stereo tracks) and on which drive the media will be stored. Once you drop the files into the bin, both the Master Clips and media will be created.

    • Method 2: Select an open bin. Then, either right-click and select Import from the Contextual menu or go to the File menu and select Import.

  7. The following steps relate to using Method 2 to import.

    When using Method 2 note that in the Select Files To Import window, you have the ability to do the following:

    • Click on the Options button to access the Import Settings

    • Set the drive where you want to store the media you will be creating

    • Set the Resolution for the video media that you may create during the import

  8. In the Select Files To Import window, navigate to the file(s) you want to import.

  9. Select the file(s).

  10. Click on the Open button.

See also

  • The Adjusting audio levels before editing, Adjusting audio pan settings before editing, and Setting stereo-audio tracks recipes

 

Adjusting audio levels before editing


There will be times when a Master Clip's audio levels are too loud (as is very often the case with imported audio) or too low, and you want to adjust the level setting before playing it in the Source Window or editing it into your sequence. There are three methods available. The steps that follow present one method, and the other two can be found in the There's more... section. None of the methods make any changes to the actual media file(s). Each method just applies a setting for the Master Clip that can be adjusted at any time, including in the sequence.

How to do it...

This method is a fast and simple way to adjust one or more clips in a bin:

  1. Import or capture clips into a bin.

  2. Select the clip(s) you want to adjust.

  3. Clip menu | Apply Gain.

  4. The Apply Clip Gain window opens.

  5. Enter the value that you want to be applied.

  6. Click on OK.

There's more...

The following are two additional methods to adjust audio levels before editing clips into the sequence:

Using Import settings

This is particularly helpful when importing music and sound effects, as they generally come in very loud. I find that adjusting to a level of -14 is a good starting point, as it can always be adjusted later:

  1. Open the Import settings: Project Window | Settings tab | double-click on Import.

  2. Select the Audio tab.

  3. Enable/check the setting that says Apply attenuation/gain effect on Import.

  4. In the entry box, type in the level value that you want to be applied.

  5. If you want this setting to be applied only to audio coming from a CD rather than from all the audio files, check the box that says CD Only. Since I organize my files as discussed in the recipe titled A strategy for project organization at the desktop level, I leave this selection disabled/unchecked.

  6. Now, when you import an audio file (or a video file containing audio), this level setting will automatically be applied.

Using the Audio Mix tool

This method only affects one clip at a time:

  1. Open the Audio Mixer tool from the Tools menu.

  2. Set the Audio Mixer to Clip Volume and Pan mode, which is abbreviated simply as Clip. This is done by clicking on the Audio Mixer Mode button in the upper right-hand corner of the Audio Mixer tool.

  3. Load a Master Clip into the Source Window.

  4. With the Source Window active, the level adjustment you make to the Master Clip using the Audio Mixer will be applied before you edit it into your sequence.

 

Adjusting audio pan settings before editing


This is particularly helpful when you have a mono clip (for example, a voice over) or separate mics on each channel of a multitrack clip (for example, an interviewer on channel one and the interview subject on channel two). In these instances, there's no need to edit the audio onto two tracks to make it play out of both the left and right speakers (channels). Instead you can set the clip to split the one signal out to both the left and right channel, so you only have to edit it onto one track. This panning operation goes by several names (center pan, mid, or mono), but it all means the same thing.

One thing to be aware of is that when you center pan a clip, the audio level will be reduced by about 3 dB due to the nature of how Media Composer deals with how we perceive audio levels when panned (called the Pan Law). So, depending on your situation, you may find that after setting a clip to mid you will need to increase the level by 3 dB in order to return it to its level prior to being center panned.

There are three methods available to center pan a clip depending on your needs. This recipe presents one method, and the other two can be found in the There's more... section. None of the methods make any alterations to the actual media file(s). This is just a setting that is applied to the Master Clip that can be adjusted at any time, including in the sequence.

How to do it...

This method is a fast and simple way to adjust one or more clips in a bin to center pan. It's also important to note that this method will affect all the tracks in a Master Clip.

  1. Import or capture your audio file(s) into a bin.

  2. Select the clip(s) you want to adjust.

  3. Go to the Clip menu and select Center Pan.

  4. A confirmation window opens.

  5. Click on OK.

There's more...

The following are two additional methods to adjust audio pan before editing clips into the sequence:

Using the Audio Mix tool

This method affects only one clip at a time:

  1. Open the Audio Mixer tool from the Tools menu.

  2. Set the Audio Mixer to Clip Volume and Pan mode, which is abbreviated simply as Clip. This is done by clicking on the Audio Mixer Mode button in the upper right-hand corner of the Audio Mixer tool.

  3. Load a Master Clip into the Source Window.

  4. Select the pan entry/display box (see the following screenshot).

  5. Enter one of the following values:

    • 0 (zero) to set the pan to MID

    • -100 to set the pan to 100% left channel

    • +100 to set the pan to 100% right channel

  6. Press Enter.

Using Import settings

This method only works if the source audio file is mono to begin with.

  1. Open the Import settings: Project Window | Settings tab | Import.

  2. Select the Audio tab of the Import settings.

  3. Enable/check the setting that says Automatically center pan monophonic clips.

  4. Now, when you import an audio file (or a video file containing mono audio), this pan setting will automatically be applied.

 

Setting stereo-audio tracks


In Avid Media Composer, you can have Master Clips that are interpreted by the software as mono, stereo, 5.1 surround, and 7.1 surround. Each type can only be edited onto matching tracks in your sequence. For example, a stereo Master Clip can only be edited onto a stereo track.

There are three methods available, depending on your situation and needs. The recipe will present one method and you'll find two alternative methods in the There's more... section.

How to do it...

This method is used on one or more clips in a bin:

  1. Import or capture your clip(s) that contains audio tracks into a bin.

  2. Select the clip(s) you want to effect.

  3. Go to the Clip menu | Modify.... (You may also right-click on the selected clips and choose Modify....)

  4. The Modify dialog window opens.

  5. From the pull-down menu select Set Multichannel Audio.

  6. From the menu below the tracks, configure how you want the audio tracks to be interpreted by Media Composer (for example, as stereo).

  7. Click on OK.

There's more...

Here are the two additional methods for setting tracks to stereo:

Using Import Settings

The steps that follow indicate how to set tracks to stereo using Import Settings:

  1. Open the Import Settings by going to the Project Window, selecting the Settings tab, and then double-clicking on Import Settings.

  2. Select the Audio tab.

  3. In the section labeled Multichannel Audio, click on the button labeled Edit.

  4. The Set Multichannel Audio dialog window opens.

  5. From the menu below the tracks, configure how you want the audio tracks to be interpreted by Media Composer.

  6. Click on OK.

  7. Now, when you import the clips containing audio, they will automatically be configured as you set.

During capture from tape

Following are the steps to set tracks to stereo during the capture from tape:

  1. Open the Capture Tool.

  2. From the menu below Audio Track Selectors, configure how you want the audio tracks to be interpreted by Media Composer.

About the Author

  • Benjamin Hershleder

    Benjamin Hershleder (Hershleder.com) currently freelances as an Avid Editor and Director. He has been teaching Avid Media Composer since 1995, and became an Avid Certified Instructor in 1997. He teaches as an adjunct professor at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, at Avid Authorized Training Partner institutions, and also provides private, customized training to individuals and facilities. Hershleder is an award-winning Producer-Director and accomplished Editor. He has produced and/or directed a variety of projects for such companies as Shapiro/West, The Spark Factory, and Old Fashioned Pictures. This work includes co-writing and directing the award-winning (including an Emmy and the Gold Ebenseer Bear) short film "Paul McCall" and directing and editing the Telly award-winning documentary "The Bronx Boys – Hosted by Carl Reiner", which aired on PBS and as part of the Cinemax anthology series "Reel Life". Benjamin is currently completing the follow-up to this film. It is again hosted by Carl Reiner and is titled "The Bronx Boys – Still Playing At 80". His other credits include developing, producing, and directing the pilot of "Spoilers" (not to be confused with Kevin Smith's new production of the same name), serving as a Consulting Producer on comedian Andy Kindler's concert film "I Wish I Was Bitter", and editing Paramount Studios' "The Original Latin Kings Comedy" (George Lopez, Paul Rodriguez, Cheech Marin). His background in post-production also includes editing the indie-feature film "Hollywood Capri", two years as an editor for E! Entertainment Television, and editing an hour-long pilot episode of "In Search Of…" for Fox.

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