Featured: The End of EditingWhiz

Diving Into Media Composer: Day One


As I said in my series introduction, I am moving away from Final Cut Pro 7 in favor of Avid Media Composer. Today is my first day using Media Composer to cut a simple project. I have used MC before, but that was only briefly with some guidance. This is the first time I will be using it with only training videos and articles. For those who are looking for some extra help, Twitter has been an invaluable source. Everyone is extremely helpful with quick questions you may have.

Alright, now on with the show. One of the first things I learned about Media Composer when watching Avid’s training videos is the way MC works in terms of setting up and sharing projects. When creating a new project, there are three locations you can save it:

  • Private: that means the project files live on your local hard drive, in the Documents folder.
  • Share: this allows you to share your project with any other users. The files live in the Shared folder.
  • External: don’t want it on your local hard drive or share folder? No problem. You can also store it on an external drive.

Because this is my first project, and because Avid recommends it, I decided to store it as private (in my Documents folder).

One thing that got me a little confused was the color space. I didn’t have to deal with this in FCP7. I was not sure whether to use YCbCr 709 or RGB 709. After some quick search results and Twitter recommendations, I went with YCbCr.

The next step I did before trying to import anything was go to the settings. If you’re coming from Final Cut or pretty much any other NLE, you might think you go to Preferences. Actually, Media Composer has all of its settings in a tab in the project window. I prefer a darker UI, so I went to “Interface” and changed the “Interface Brightness” to a few notches to the left.

A great feature with Media Composer is bins. Unlike Final Cut, which has all your bins and sequences in a project file, Avid creates bins as separate files. So, you can share just a bin with another editor instead of the whole project.

Kevin P McAuliffe does a great job with explaining all the various settings inside Media Composer. If you haven’t already, I suggest you watch his videos.

Before importing video, I knew that the preferred codec for editing in Media Composer is DNxHD. While I could have used AMA linking, I decided it would be easier just transcoding to DNxHD.

SEE ALSO: Everything You Need to Know About Codecs

When I imported a video clip into MC, I noticed that it looked like it was loading the clip for some reason. I later learned (thanks to @Ital1anMeatball) that it’s actually creating MXF files for the video/audio and moving that to a media management folder. I wasn’t use to that in Final Cut.

After importing a few more clips, I decided to try out the Timeline. Prior to this, I had actually watched a few tutorials, so I knew that it functioned differently than FCP7 did. While I was testing it out, it reminded me of another NLE – Final Cut Pro X. Apple seems to have copied the smart tool in Media Composer over to FCPX as the position tool. In order to move a clip in Avid, you need to use the smart tool. And when you move or lift a clip, a filler or gap stays in it’s place. Anyone who’s used Final Cut Pro X knows that the position tool acts almost the same way! The position tool basically overrides the Magnetic Timeline and places a gap where there isn’t a clip.

After doing a few simple three-point edits, I decided to call it a day. I figured that learning most of the basics was enough for one day. Look out for day two!

« Next: Diving Into Media Composer: Day Two Previous: Does Your Editing Software Work With Mountain Lion? »

About The Author: Connor Crosby

Award-winning filmmaker, photographer, and website developer. Experience using numerous NLEs including Final Cut Pro 7/X, Premiere Pro, and Avid Media Composer.


  1. avatar

    As a feature film assistant editor, I’ve worked on some major films with FCP. I had to make the leap to Avid a few months ago, and I feel pretty good about it now. Avid does feel a bit clunky if you’re used to editing in the timeline, but other features make up for this. One thing that made me feel much more comfortable is to change the keyboard command for up and down arrows to FF/REW. To get it to work like FCP, you have to change the Composer settings to stop at head frames and Ignore track selectors. I’d also strongly suggest that you get a program like Keyboard Maestro or Quickkeys to use in conjunction with MC. You can program many of your FCP keystrokes to do many of the things you’re used to in Avid. Good luck!

  2. avatar

    In my humble opinion I really woulnt change avid to make it work like fcp. I mean, If you want to master MC, then dive into it completely. Cause you might miss something, and also, it’ll save you the trouble of reconfiguring the settings and all when you’re on a different project/machine or what not.

    Oh and good news, My MC6 works with ML. Phew!

Post a Comment