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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.
In Media Composer, if we need to work with multimedia files that are not supported for immediate linking via AMA then we will need to instead import the media. Examples of media types that we might want to import to Media Composer will be things like graphic files-- we can import a full variety, such as TIFF, JPEG, and layered Photoshop documents-- Audio--MP3, AIFF and WAV--HDV. Some HDV cameras shoot a file as well as to tape, producing M2T files, and then we have AVCHD, which produces MTS files, OMFI for audio sequences coming from an audio application.
AAF, which reads complex sequences from various applications--it's really a modern version of an EDL. MXF, Media Composer can AMA-link to most MXF media, but there is also the option to import it too. And then there is Windows Media for Windows-based systems only, and QuickTime. Again, we have the choice to either AMA to H.264 animation ProRes and Avid Codecs, but we can also import those files as well. So remember, in Media Composer import means something very different to what it means in FCP.
In Media Composer then, import refers to the process of reading from a source file and then either a) writing new 90MXF copy to the managed media file location-- for example, we will not be importing sequential TIFF files into a combined MXF clip--or b) copying the essence of a file to the managed media file location whilst rewrapping. So this might be, for example, importing QuickTime to MXF. Now the advantage of this is that once I am editing, I will have a seamless experience.
All the variables are minimized, I have the stability to accommodate a client- driven session, and processes like rendering or output will take a known amount of time. The disadvantage is that it's a frontloaded task where we have to spend time importing before editing can actually begin. Now, this is both similar and dissimilar to log and transfer in FCP. It's similar in the sense that when we import in Media Composer composer, we specify resolution for the new, or rewrapped, file, and when we log and transfer in FCP, we have the gear icon, which gives us access to the menu where we specify the resolution of the new version of the file that's created.
An import in Media Composer is also similar to log and transfer in FCP in that the process take some time depending on multiple factors, such as the density of the original codec in use, the frame size, the computing power, the speed of the drive, et cetera. On the other hand import in Media Composer is dissimilar to log and transfer in that there is no preview of the file inside of Media Composer, meaning there is way to mark in and out on your footage, and thus the entire file will need to be imported before any decisions can be made.
To initiate an import in Media Composer, the first thing we want to pay attention to is the status of our Format tab. I want to make sure that we are indeed importing at HD resolution at 1080, if that's what we're working at, or 720 or SD. So since my source file is indeed at 1080, I am going to leave the Project Type set at 1080, like so. In the 04_02 folder, I have got the Import Bin open, and I want to make sure that bin is active. Now I can't go to the File menu and import directly from here.
It's just above the choices for AMA linking. Alternatively, another way that I prefer is to just right-click in the bin and go to the Import dialog. Back on the Media drive, inside the catalyst_CONTAINER folder is a MP4 directory. Click on that, and inside you will find a file called hummingbirds. Before we go ahead and bring that in, let's just check a couple of things. First off, what resolution are we bringing the file in at? In this particular case, I am going to choose XDCAM HD50Mbits per second, and then the other important choice is, where are we importing it to? At the moment, I am pointing at the Macintosh hard disk.
That's not where I want my media to go. I want my media to go to the Media Drive, so let's make sure that is selected. Now, with the Resolution and the Destination selected and the source file ready to go, click Open. Now the file's into my bin. I can double-click on the file and play it back. (video playing) One of the benefits of importing to a managed-media file location like this is that the original file could now be moved to archive or even deleted, but the Avid MXF version of that file will remain safe in the Avid Media files folder on the root of the Media Drive.
Deleting the original would only really make sense if the source file was never needed again, for example if you have already imported that clip at the highest Avid resolution required for finishing the project. Now let's go to the import process again, but this time with some graphic files, and we will pay attention to some other important details of the process as it applies to images specifically. I am going to come to my target bin, right-click, and Import. This time, back on the Media Drive, inside catalyst source graphics.
Now the first thing I would like to talk about is out target drive. We mentioned in the previous example that we want to make sure that we are importing to the correct drive, but you are probably wondering why is it that the drive is specified, but there is no file path? And the reason for that is that Media Composer is going to import the material and automatically place it in the Avid MediaFiles folder on the root of the Media Drive. That way we don't need to specify the path, just the drive. I am going to check my Resolution.
This time I'm to bring the material in at XDCAM EX35Mbits per second, which is low resolution for graphics, but there is a good reason for that, which we'll cover a bit later. As we saw earlier in the course, we can actually predefine the media location and the resolutions using the media-creation settings. However, we always get a chance to override those settings here in the Import dialog. In Final Cut Pro, the best equivalent to the choice about resolution is to be found in Log and Transfer window, where you can set the resolution, for example Apple Intermediate Codec or a version of ProRes.
Items are added to the queue, and then the essence of the files is copied as it is rewrapped into an FCP-compatible file. The second detail of this process that I would like to call out is through the Options dialog. So click on Options, and let's look in detail at the import settings for images. The first choice is for media that's already the correct size for the current format. The second choice is for media that's very close to the correct size, but may need some cropping or padding for DV scanline differences.
The third choice is for any custom resolutions that we wish to preserve, and the fourth choice is for media that's incorrectly sized for the current format, in which case the system will resize it to fit the format raster. If you choose number one in error, you will most likely see a distorted version of your import. Here we are talking about the system adjusting for the difference between DV and standard NTSC. On the third option we might want to use this, for example, when importing an SD- sized image into an HD project.
This way the image is displayed as it was, without being blown up all the way to HD. And then the fourth option allows Media Composer to scour the image up or down to fit the currently selected format of the project. The image will maintain its aspect ratio though. So it may import with either black side bars or a letterbox, depending on where it's coming from and where it's going to. My advice would be for you to spend some time experimenting with this dialog and using two or three known files, until you have it down.
It won't take long. Since we are going to be importing a collection of different-sized files, I am going to choose option three, Do not resize small images. In the top-right area we have Field Ordering in File. We can use Ordered for current format, for example, Even or Low ordered for NTSC, Odd or Upper ordered for HD1080i. This is the default option. If the file is odd ordered and you are importing it into an even-ordered format, then choose the next option down, Odd (Upper Field First) ordered.
If the file is even ordered and you are importing it into an odd-ordered format, then choose the bottom choice. Even (Lower Field First) ordered. You might be importing NTSC into a 1080i HD project. We are going to leave it on Ordered for current format. Beneath the Field Ordering Options, we have the Alpha Channel support. If you are not expecting an alpha channel or if you wish to disregard the alpha channel information in the file we are importing, then choose Ignore.
Doing this will cause the file to import as audio/video only, and it will show up as a regular clip in your bin. The next choice up is Do not invert, black=opaque. Select this option to import the image using the existing alpha channel information. However, in Media Composer, you are going to want to top choice, Invert on Import, white=opaque. This reverses the black-and-white elements of the Alpha Channel, because Media Composer uses a white background, a black foreground, and a gray transparency blend between the two.
So we are going to leave it on Invert on import. Moving to the left, we have File Pixel to Video Mapping. If you are importing files that use RGB graphic levels, for example material that's been output from say Adobe Photoshop or After Effects, then choose Computer RGB (0-255). The RGB color values are re-mapped to either 601 color in SD or 709 color in HD. If you are doing a high-resolution import that use RGB graphic levels and also contain gradients or other sensitive information then choose the next option, Computer RGB, dither image colors.
Again, the RGB values are mapped in the same way, but with dithering to help those gradients and fine details out. And then finally, 601 SD or 709 HD, and this is of course is for importing files that use the video color space. We will leave that set to Computer RGB, and then finally, underneath here, we have Frame Import Duration. So, for importing a still frame, how long is it going to be? Let's change this from 3 seconds to 30 seconds, like so.
If I had sequential files, like a whole bunch of TIFF files or JPEG files that are numbered, then if I choose this option here, Media Composer will take all of the files in the correct order and make a single new clip out of them. So, we've settled our options. Let's click OK and begin the import process. I can select a single file or all of the files in one go and choose Open.
This process is very much like adding to the queue in FCP log and transfer. Each clip is being converted sequentially. Now that the files have imported, let's come over here to the Import bin and choose the Script view. Scrolling through now, we can see that some of the files have filled up the frame and others haven't. That's because we specified that the import would not resize smaller images. Here, for example, I have got 720 inside an HD frame size.
Here I have got 601 PAL inside a 1080 HD frame size, and so on, until of course we get to 1080 itself, a full raster, and will be filling the full 1920x1080 frame size. Notice also that each of these files has been created with a perfect circle in the center. This tells us straight away there was no distortion as we imported these files into Media Composer, and by way, the hole itself is where the transparency is. That's where the alpha channel is cutting out a hole that we could use to show other material through from a layer below.
It is important to note that Media Composer can also import multilayered Photoshop documents. When imported, they produce multiple files, depending on the number of layers in the document. Before we move, what I would like you to do is to move back to Text view in the bin, multi-select all of the graphics that we just imported, and let's just drag and drop them all into the timeline to create a very quick sequence. Let's give the sequence a name. Let's call it GRAPHICS. Save All, and we will return to this sequence later on.
Okay, so we have looked at importing video, we've looked at importing graphics. To finish up this section, let's look at importing audio. From the bin, I am going to right-click, choose Import, from the Media Drive, from the catalyst_ CONTAINER, to catalyst_SRC_Music. Inside the giantbluemusic folder are two files. We already have this one in our system, so let's chose the other one there, Cyclodrone. I am going to want to check to make absolutely sure that I'm importing to the right location.
We are going to the Options, but this time to the Audio tab. The first choice here converts source sample rate to project sample rate. This is going to make sure that everything coming in is going to conform to the 48 kHz or the 96 kHz that we've set up ahead of time. Same here for converting the source sample bit depth. Now this is a cool option. I really like this. If we have some material that we know is all going to come in fairly hot, like a CD for example, or some other audio files that have very high audio levels, we can specify to bring all of those types of files in at a reduced level.
We can also center pan monophonic clips and auto detect groups of monophonic broadcast wave files. Up in the top right-hand corner, we have Multichannel Audio. If we click Edit here, we can actually bring the first two channels together, the second two channels together, and so on and so forth. I am going to leave mine separated, so it will come in as dual mono tracks. Click OK. With everything set, let's choose OK, and open the file. It's written to Avid Media file folder, and here it is now in the bin, ready for playback.
Okay, so there we go. We have imported video, audio, and graphics now to the managed-media location, the Avid Media files on the root of our Media Drive.
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