Diary of an Avid Switcher Part 6 – Media Composer 7 New Features
It’s been a while since my last installment of my Diary of an Avid Switcher and a lot has happened in the mean time. First of all Avid has released Media Composer 7 with a whole host of new features for a $299 upgrade price (£265 in the UK – again more expensive than the US).
This post will cover all the new features plus a few things I had to grapple with in finally finishing my first ever film cut on the hallowed Avid (version 6.5).
New features in MC7
There are loads of new features in Media Composer 7 including background rendering, dynamic media folders and FrameFlex for working with high res media. For a 4 minute overview of the best new features in MC7 check out Alex Walker’s overview above.
Editor Wim Van Den Broeck has tweeted 25 images, each highlighting a new feature in MC7 which editor Dylan Reeve has handily compiled on his site. Wim has also produced a series short videos explaining the 10 top changes in MC7. (Click the playlist button for the rest of the series.)
Steve Hullfish on Pro Video Coalition has highlighted a few of his favourite features including some of the new audio features with plenty of handy explanatory images too. In a second post Steve provides a detailed walk through the new ‘spanned markers’, covering the good the bad and the ugly. Its a helpfully balanced review that’s well worth a read.
The ever helpful Marianna from Avid has a growing forum post on everything you need to know about the new release, and the Avid Blogs site has a growing collection of articles on MC7 too. For a direct download of the MC7 Read Me click here. For example the minimum RAM recommendation is now 8GB.
If you’re itching to simply get installed and going Avid have a 12 part survival guide series to updating, including sorting dongles and AMA plugins. Also Panoptik tweeted this tip:
If you are working with AVCHD and have Macintosh v10.8.x (Mountain Lion) OS installed in your system, the AVCHD folder will appear as a QuickTime icon. When performing an AMA Link, you must right+click the AVCHD QuickTime icon and select Show Package Contents. Then you can see the BDV folder. Right +click the BDV folder and select Show Package Contents. Then you can see the files needed to perform an AMA Link. Also you must uninstall the AVCHD plug-in from Control Panel before installing the 7.0/11.0 version of the editing app.
NewBlue Titler Pro is now the third title tool within Media Composer, being a new addition to MC7. Here is the first part of a three part intro series from NewBlueFX. Dylan Reeve also has a quick run down of its features and how to upgrade to version 2.0 for only $100.
DaVinci Resolve Round Trip With Media Composer
Right, getting back to my Avid journey. I finally finished the edit on the first film I’ve cut on Avid and thought I’d best give it a grade in DaVinci Resolve Lite. Grading in Resolve was a treat but there were a few hiccups I discovered along the way.
First of all the most obvious thing to say is that you need to prep your sequence. It’s much easier to take off all grades/effects (although transitions do come through) and flatten it all onto one video layer if you can, before you AAF over to Resolve. This is a normal thing to do regardless of the NLE.
Secondly the best step by step guide I’ve found to getting from Media Composer to Resolve and back again is from Alexis Van Hurkman’s excellent (and free!) 600+ page DaVinci Resolve manual. Notes on the aaf round trip and a few Media Composer idiosyncrasies can be found on p185.
A quick tip on Rendering in Resolve
This stumped me for a moment the first time around. How do you get Resolve to render all the clips in a sequence? In the Render page – right click on the mini timeline and press ‘Select All’. The trick is that you don’t get a confirmation of anything – but it has selected all (which is confusing – would be good if they all turned orange) or you can also add a mark in/mark out.
Also I had to fix a shot that didn’t come across properly in the first AAF but I had already done the majority of the grade. The answer (which would be the same if you’ve made any edit changes in Resolve) should be to simply generate a new AAF from inside Resolve.
To do that when you export AAF just choose Generate New AAF. The problem is that in 9.1.3 it is instantly crashing – one answer on the LGG forum is to generate the AAF out of the delivery room (I was in conform room) – but it still crashed. Whatever I did I couldn’t get it to work, but as it had rendered the extra clip, I just found it in the Avid bin and copied it into final sequence.
Handily there is an ‘easy set up’ for MXF export in Resolve and this quick guide will also walk you through the AAF round trip. I’ve also previous blogged about round tripping with Resolve from all the major NLE’s here.
Understanding MC from a FCP mindset
As I’ve been editing on and off in Avid and then back in FCP every day there are a few things I’ve forgotten how to do along the way. Simple things like where the Avid version of ‘project settings’ are? They are under FORMAT in the Bins | Volumes | Settings | Effects tab.
Another problem that I encountered was that I had incorrectly set my project to REC 709 rather than RGB, which caused problems when I went to DaVinci Resolve and when I exported things and looked at them in QT Player outside of MC. Obviously the change in gamma made things look very different in and outside of the program.
The ever helpful Strypes In Post helped me out with this and also a question about the equivalent of ‘timeline settings’ in MC.
Timeline settings? MC is codec agnostic, just like Premiere. Just set your frame rate, your frame size (and color space) and you’re good to go. Very easy. Much easier than FCP in this regard.
I’m sure that if I spent more time inside Media Composer and less time snatching milage on it here and there, lots of these things would stick in my memory. It’s easy to forget what you don’t know.
Exporting from Media Composer
When mastering out a finished film, even if its just for the web, its always a good idea to export it with split-multi channel audio, so that if you need to re edit it, you can strip out any music or effects and just re-cut your dialogue. Kevin P McAuliffe has a handy tutorial on this very task.
Although being the noob that I am, I couldn’t seem to get this set up correctly, even after googling this Creative Cow thread, which lead to this Avid Knowledge base article. I was only trying to export 4 channels of audio, so under direct out I selected a 4 channel option, as per Kevin’s tutorial. In the end I didn’t have time to really mess around with it. If anyone has a fool proof methodology for this, I’d appreciate it. But I probably just need to re-watch the tutorial and sit in MC for a while.
Will I Upgrade to Media Composer 7?
Probably yeah, even though its another £262.80, I still want to learn Avid Media Composer properly so that I can work in the kind of places that use it. Which is a lot of places. Although half of my brain is secretly thinking I could stick with MC6.5 and buy FCPX and Compressor for the same money…