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Migrating from Final Cut Pro 7 to Avid Media Composer 5.5 is a thorough comparison of the interfaces, concepts, tools, and workflow behind each of these two programs, covering the key differences video editors need to know to master Media Composer and make the switch. The course covers the basics of editing in Avid Media Composer, including sequence creation, project organization and navigation, importing and linking media, timeline editing techniques, and how to work with audio and add transitions and effects.
Command+3, Command+3, Command+3. I said it three times because I want you to remember Command+3. This is the keystroke that brings up the Command palette in Media Composer, and once we have the Command palette open, there are three ways to use it--and it's very similar to the button list found under the Tools menu in FCP. First though, let's go to the 03_02 subfolder. Inside there we have bin called customizing_MC. A single click will open that up. Now load one of the GOPRO clips into the Source viewer and double-click on the sequence called roadtrip_stress_test.
Now, I am going to use that keyboard shortcut, Command+3, and there we have the Command palette. Before we start having fun with this, let me draw your attention to the bottom panel here. As I said, there are three ways to use the Command palette, Button to Button Reassignment, Menu to Button Reassignment, and Active Palette. Let's start with Active Palette. This makes the entire Command palette the hugest and most comprehensive toolbar you've ever seen.
Here on the Move tab, we can now use the buttons to manipulate the software, step forwards or backwards or single frame at time, or ten frames at a time, go to start, go to end, fast-forward, and rewind. On the Play tab, there is a tool over here called Video Quality menu that we haven't discussed yet. You'll find it also mirrored down here at the bottom of the timeline area. The Video Quality menu allows us to playback material at different levels of quality.
You can see that if I toggle the Video Quality menu here in the Command palette, it's also toggling at the bottom of the Timeline there too. You can see that the Video Quality menu has three modes: yellow, half yellow/ half green, and full green. On systems that have hardware attached, you may also have a full-green 10-bit mode as well. Now cycling through these doesn't of course affect the actual quality of my video. What it does is it allows Media Composer to scale down the resolution if I'm having a tough time playing back multiple layers of real-time effects.
Let me show you what I mean. Down here in the timeline if I bring this back and I play through this stack of real-time effects, we will probably see some frames drop as we go through. Yeah, there you go. It's stuttering. It's finding hard to play back full quality through that stack of effects. And when I stop, notice that I get these marks down in the timeline here, indicating that the system is dropping frames and unable to playback things smoothly. Of course, I could render these effects and they would play back just fine, but what if I'm in an iterative stage of effects creation, I am going in, tweaking, coming back out, reviewing, going back in, tweaking.
In that case, rendering effects is just going to fill up my media drive too quickly. What I can do instead is come to the Video Quality menu and drop it down to yellow mode, which takes the resolution down to a 16th of its normal size. Now, you can see the system has absolutely no problem playing back all of the effects in real time. I can make sure that everything is working correctly in terms of timing and pacing, and then I can render the effects, and you can see there's no marking now down in the timeline indicating any stress on the system.
I could try and take that up to maybe half yellow/half green mode, which is quarter res instead. I actually work like this most of the time. It's done a pretty good job. It might be dropping a frame here or there, but I actually like this. This is a good midrange. It's not as low res as yellow and it also gives me some of the flexibility of being able to play back more streams in real time. So that was an example of using the Command palette as the active palette. They let's look at Button to Button Reassignment.
Here under my Source viewer is the button for Match Frame. If I go to the Other tab, you can see that I've also got a button for Reverse Match Frame. If I wanted to add it to the interface here, now that I am in Button to Button Reassignment, all I need to do is drag it down and drop it in a blank space. Now, I have Match Frame and I have Reverse Match Frame, and if I wanted to remove a button, I could take the blank button and wipe over the top of whatever I like in my interface to get rid of it.
And then there's the ability for menu-to-button reassignment. In this particular case, what you must do is first come to the button that you want to reassign in your interface. I am going to click on this far-left button at the top of the timeline window here. Now, I am going to go up to the toolset menu and choose Source/Record Editing, and you could see there is no icon for Source/Record Editing, so the abbreviation is put on the button instead, SE. Let's do that again. Let's highlight a button, go to the Toolset menu, and let's keep mapping these so we have our toolsets mapped to the buttons in the top corner of our timeline.
Now I am going to choose Effects Editing, and then finally, I am going to choose Color Correction. So, we have looked at Active palette, Button to Button Reassignment, and Menu to Button Reassignment. There is another way to use the Command palette though, and that's to adjust our keyboard settings. So from the Settings menu, I am going to move the Command palette down here for a moment, I am going to pull up our Keyboard settings. Double-click to open that up, and now you can see that I can actually map buttons from the Command palette directly to the keyboard itself.
Of course I'd need to be in Button to Button mode to do that. What I am going to do is I am going to highlight the keyboard, hold down the Shift, and you can see that on the shifted version of my keyboard buttons, 1 through 4 are blank. What I am going to do this time is I am actually going to map buttons for my interface here directly to the buttons on my keyboard. I am holding down Shift, so this option will only be available when I am shifted, and there we go. So, now I will be able to very quickly access my toolsets, either from buttons in the interface or from the shifted version of my keyboard.
Let's go ahead and close the Keyboard settings. Let's go ahead and close the Command palette and back to the Bins tab. So as you can see, Media Composer is highly customizable. You can set it up to work how you like, or even set up special settings for certain projects. Incidentally, if you're interested, you might look around on the web, there are many people who have created FCP keyboards to map to an Avid Media Composer, and vice versa. They are fun to try out, but I heartily recommend creating your own settings from scratch when you get the hang of it.
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