How to Use Markers in Avid Media Composer to Track Revisions

By in Tutorial Thursday, Video Editing

Markers in Avid Media Composer can play a crucial role in post production workflows. I use them for a variety of reasons but mainly for revisions. In this post I’ll cover what markers are, how I use them in my revision workflow and some tricks and tips when using them.

What Are Markers?

Markers are a way for you to leave comments to yourself or other editors. In Media Composer they are attached to a timecode and located on a track just like any clip in a sequence would be. They appear as small colored dots in the timeline.

This is an empty timeline with markers on the top track that I renamed to my name and the date.

To add markers in Avid Media Composer you need to map one of the Add Marker buttons to a button on your interface or to your keyboard. You can watch my tutorial on how to do this here. Once you add a new marker a box will pop up for you to leave a comment. You can also change the name of the person leaving it (it will default to the name of the user settings) and change the color of the marker.

This is what pops up after you hit Add Marker. Type in your comment here and click OK.

Map one of the Add Marker buttons to your interface or keyboard.

You can open up the Markers Tool under the Tools menu and selecting Markers. This displays all the markers in the timeline in list form.

This is the Markers Tool.

Using Markers for Revisions in a Workflow

Revisions are going to happen. It’s best to have a workflow in place to deal with them. Here’s what I do with markers in my NLE.

I create a new top-most track. In Media Composer I use CMD+OPT+Y (Mac) or CTRL+ALT+Y (PC) to create a new track at a custom track number. Choose something like V20. I right-click on the track name and choose Rename Track. Then, I rename the track from V20 to my name and the date. You can leave the name off in a single-editor environment.

This is the track where I place all my markers. With Media Composer you can choose the color marker you want to use. I use cyan (light blue) for everything that I still need to do. Go through with the cyan marker and add a new one each time there is a change to be made. Write exactly what needs to be done so you don’t have to go back to refer to emails or sticky notes. When I make a change, I change the marker’s color to blue and write the word “done,” my initials and the date before my comment; for example: ‘DONE JMS 06.12.15 – Fix Dissolve‘.

When I work with the two colors I can quickly scan through the sequence to see how much I’ve done, how much is left to do and how many revisions I’ve made in total.

I use some of the other colored markers for other things besides notes on revisions. I use the magenta (pink) markers for random things like, “Remember you didn’t use that other shot because there was a logo in the background.” If there is something that I desperately need to remember in the future I’ll use a red marker. This will be for something that is usually outside of my typical workflow like if it has a weird export setting or there’s something about the video that can’t be used somewhere else or something like that. Whenever I open up a project I haven’t seen in awhile and I see a red marker I jump right to it to see what it says.

If (more likely when) another round of revisions come in, I create another track on top of my first marker track and rename it with my name and date. Then I do that round of revisions with the same workflow.

Isn’t Adding Markers a Waste of Time?

Well it could be a little wasteful at times BUT if you make it into a habit then the times that it is absolutely critical you keep good notes you’ll be a pro at it. And if you change a simple title five different times for a client, don’t you think you should know that and remember it for next time so you can charge more knowing that this project might take longer to complete?

At some point you may even have to prove that a client/producer/director told you to change something, even if it is to them themselves! They might say, “Oh, I never told you to change that!” But you can go back to your marker, find the date and go back and find the exact words they used in an email telling you to change it.

It also helps in a multi-editor environment. When you share a project you can leave notes for the other editor(s) about things to remember and things that need to get done.

Tricks and Advice!

  • In the Markers Tool, select column and hit CMD+E (Mac) or CTRL+E (PC) to sort the tool by the column.
  • Double-click a marker in the Markers Tool to jump the Position Indicator (the blue bar in the timeline) to it.
  • When Position Indicator is parked on a marker it shows up in the Record Monitor. Click the marker icon in the monitor to open up the box where you originally typed in your comment.
  • Add Go to Previous Marker and Go to Next Marker to your keyboard (You can find that under the Move tab in the Command Palette). I have these are mapped to Shift+, (comma) and Shift+. (period).
  • Keep markers on tracks without any audio or video on them. It keeps them out of the way and easy to see. This is purely a personal preference.
  • I have the cyan and blue Add Markers buttons mapped to my keyboard to F8 and F9 for what it’s worth.

Summing Up

Markers are a way for you to leave comments to yourself or other editors. Use them to track revisions in your editing workflow. Use different colors and different tracks to separate what you’ve done and when. This helps you to manage your time by seeing what you have to do and what you have done. This method will save you time and help you to better price out jobs with repeat clients.

What is your workflow for revisions? Do you use markers? How so? Share in the comments!

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I enjoy helping video editors, at all levels, improve their craft through online education and regularly publish about video editing on EditVideoFaster.com. I am a keyboard-shortcut enthusiast and love baseball, my dog, and family. I currently reside in the Washington, DC area.