Media Composer — Best of 2017

By in Video Editing

2017 was a big year for Media Composer.  Avid introduced many cool features to help improve the everyday editing experience.  Some were big and grabbed a lot of attention (Hello, ScriptSync and 8K Project presets!) and some were smaller, but still very useful.  Many of them were requested and voted upon by our Avid Customer Association.  (Speaking of which, if you’re not already a member of the ACA, you should check it out.  At the very least, come party with us at Avid Connect before we kick off NAB 2018!)

Now, back to Media Composer.  You may have missed some of the enhancements Avid made to its flagship NLE in 2017.  As we close out the year, let’s look back at the best of the new features.  Also, make sure your subscription is up to date because 2018 is shaping up to be even better and you won’t want to miss out.  And if you’ve never tried Media Composer, make 2018 the year you do.

Here we go!

 

Projects and Timeline Improvements

8K Project Presets 

By now, you know that Media Composer is resolution independent, allowing you to create custom rasters. Digital signage?  Portrait mode video for phones?  Instagram?  Customize the raster however you like.  And with 4K becoming the norm, we’re pushing the envelope.  8K. That’s right.  Granted, it’s not common, but the industry used to say the same thing about 4K.  Media Composer already supported 8K, but now that it’s possible (and relatively affordable) to capture and monitor it, there’s no reason not to have it as a project preset.  We snuck this one in, so if you don’t see it in your Media Composer, make sure your subscription or support contract is up-to-date.

Auto-create New Sequences from Timeline Segments

This is another sneaky addition.  Introduced to help with interop between editorial and visual effects, this feature allows you to create an entirely new sequence based on what segments are selected in the timeline.  It’s even better when you pair it with clip coloring.  Color code your clips based on what effects house they need to go to and with a few clicks, you can extract each set from your current timeline into entirely new sequences. Send them wherever they need to go, while maintaining their position in your original sequence. Go check it out if you’re not already using this!

Timeline Clip Notes

Markers.  Clip text.  Color coding for clips.  These are just some of the tools for organizing your material.  We also introduced clip notes to segments in the timeline.  This is more than just another way of making notes and navigating quickly to different spots in the sequence. Used in conjunction with the Time Code Burn-In effect, this text can be carried forward into the video output so that anyone viewing the cut can see notes that were made during the edit session.

Move Clips Vertically using Keystrokes

You likely know the modifier keys you can use to move clips in the timeline with greater precision.  But… that generally involves using a mouse.  Whenever possible, use your keyboard to edit.  It’ll make you a faster editor.  This new feature will help even more.  In the command palette, you’ll find new buttons that are now automatically mapped for moving clips up and down across tracks. And, you won’t have to worry if you nudged them out a frame or two from their previous place in the sequence.

Be sure to also check out…

• More powerful trimming by extending multiple clips with different edit points

• Segment Drag Snap (for quicker rough cut assemblies)

• Position Bar Snap (for quicker scanning through the sequence to the first frame of each edit)

• Relinking sequences that have clips with mixed frame rates

Performance

What good are great tools if you don’t have great performance?  When you ask Media Composer users why it’s their NLE of choice, it’s almost certain they’ll mention stability and reliability.  “I know it’s going to get me where I need to be.”  While these are important, you also want your machine to be a fast, comfortable ride. Thanks to the many updates this year, Media Composer is even better at being just that.

 

XAVC-I 4K (4 Streams and Faster than Real-Time Export)

4K XAVC-I is increasingly in demand for acquisition and it can be demanding in an edit suite.  But Media Composer can handle it, to the tune of up to 4 streams of 4K XAVC-I – plus color adapters – playing back in real-time (please put your Mac Mini back on the shelf; this one does take some horsepower).  When it’s time to master that 4K sequence, Media Composer can also export it faster than real-time.

 

40% faster rendering with AMD WX7100/9100 GPU’s

If you have to render, you want to get it done as fast as possible, even with Media Composer’s ability to render in the background.  AMD has optimized their cards so that Media Composer can transfer frames of video to the GPU in parallel to other frames being processed (asynchronous processing).  In other words, you can spend more time creating and less time waiting.

 

Media Caching

You can customize and maximize your video playback performance by caching both your video frames and your effects.  Anything that gets played back even once becomes part of the media cache in RAM, making playback even smoother. Another great excuse to load up your Mac or PC with more memory.

All Cores in Use for High-Res

Speaking of horsepower! Those of you with some big iron in the editing room will be happy to see Media Composer leveraging all your cores. Every piston will fire during playback of high-res media, giving you more real-time performance than ever before.

Audio

For a video editing system, some of the most useful enhancements have to do with audio.   Here are just a few…

 

Audio Ducking

This is a big time-saver for anybody working with a music bed under dialogue.  Even with great tools like the Avid Artist | Mix control surface, automation of levels is a real-time process, i.e., you have to ride the levels on the mixer while you watch the sequence play.  With Audio Ducking, you set the options to your music and dialogue level preferences and it takes care of the entire track for you—faster than real-time.

Sub-Frame Audio Slip

Is there anything more annoying than when you see that slate clap down and you just know the audio is slightly off?  Media Composer power users know that setting up a project as a “Film” project gives you the ability to do ¼ frame slipping of audio.  Now, in your Media Composer Source Settings, there is a new visual way to do this to your master clips, right down to the sample level.  It doesn’t matter if it’s linked media or clips in the Avid MediaFiles folder. You can slip and retime any clip, in any project format.

Narrow Mix Audio Window with Dynamic Meters

The Audio Mix window has been refined to give you better control over what you see in it and how much space it takes up.  There are even Dynamic Meters that show up on the screen as meters…until you hover over them with the mouse. Then, they become faders.  Why didn’t anybody think of that before?!  I don’t know.  But it’s here now and it makes working on a laptop, or any screen where space is at a premium, so much better.

Auto Pitch Correction During Off-Speed Play

Technically speaking, this is really TWO new features.  When we talk about an NLE being fast, it always comes down to that old timeline and how efficiently you can navigate it.  We all have our own methods and shortcuts for flying up and down those tracks, but now we can do it while still being able to understand the dialogue audio.  First, the Audio Project has a new switch for auto correcting the pitch of your audio when it’s playing faster than real-time.  But what makes this even better is the new setting for finer granularity and customization of the speed increments you can have during playback.   Definitely check this one out.  Seems like a small thing, but think for an off-speed second how much time you spend doing stuff like this.  I love this one.

Other honorable mentions are…

• QuickTime Exports with Multiple Discrete Audio Tracks

• Adjusting Memory Used for Audio Waveform Caches

The rebirth of PhraseFind and ScriptSync

Being able to find the right take fast is invaluable and PhraseFind is something EVERY editor can benefit from.  Type in a word, any word, and if it was recorded with a reasonable degree of clarity, PhraseFind will find any clip in your project where someone says that word.  If you want to speed up your productivity, this is how.

Since we can’t resist talking about ScriptSync… did you know you can now edit scripts even AFTER they’ve been imported into Media Composer?  This really helps to fix those takes (or re-takes) where the actors had to improvise a line.

This blog doesn’t come close to exploring everything new in Media Composer. For a full list, check out the “What’s New” guides and “Read Me” docs, which you can find here.

What’s in store for 2018?  Expect the kinds of great features that made Media Composer the most trusted storytelling tool in the industry.  So, stay tuned and stay up-to-date with your MC subscription and support.

See you in 2018 –  hopefully at Avid Connect!

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As the Director of Product and Segment Marketing for Pro Video at Avid, it's my job to lead the marketing strategy of Avid’s video editing systems and their related storage and infrastructure solutions. A big part of my job, and certainly my favorite, is the creation of content that educates and inspires existing and potential customers