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Mixing down is the process of taking multiple clips or layers of media and condensing them down into fewer clips or layers. Media Composer supports playback of up to 16 tracks of audio simultaneously; however, there are 24 audio tracks available in your Timeline. One way to get all 24 tracks to play back using those 16 live tracks is to mix some groups of tracks down into stereo pairs.
Here, in this sequence, I have sync material on audio tracks 1-4. I then have music on A5 and A6, and then I have percussion on A7 and A8. If I wanted to mix all of this down into a single stereo pair, the way I'd do it is as follows. First of all, I'm going to mark the entire sequence. I'm going to hit the End key on my keyboard and use the O key to mark an out, and now I'm going to hit the Home key on my keyboard and use the I key to make a mark in.
Now I've selected the entire Timeline. Now obviously I don't need the video track selected. I'm going to go to the Special menu and choose Audio Mixdown. Here, I'm going to select Stereo, and then the new Target Track will be Track 9. I'm also selecting the bin here, where my mixdown file will reside when it's done, and also the drive to which we want to render the new mixdown file. I'm also going to choose to save my premix sequence.
Click OK. A new audio track is written to the managed media files folder and placed in my Timeline, on audio track 9. You can see that this is a stereo track, because there's a ghosted audio icon here, as opposed to the single audio icon on my primary tracks. Here in my bin, you can see now, that I have the earlier version of the Timeline without the mixdown, and now the new version of the Timeline that I've created with the mixdown.
If I was doing this, in order to consolidate the number of tracks in my Timeline for real-time audio monitoring, the next stage will be to go ahead and remove these tracks here. Highlighting my Timeline, I'm going to hit Delete on the keyboard. I'm asked to confirm, and I click OK. Those tracks are now removed, and the entire contents of audio tracks 1-8 will now play back from audio track 9. I'm going to open up my Track Control panel, make sure I'm monitoring the track and play back.
(Video playing.) Okay, there we go. So that's a way for me to consolidate space in my Timeline and make room for more track to play back live. Now we can do a similar thing with video. There are 24 video tracks available in your Timeline for creating effects and composites, but sometimes, even when effects have been rendered, your system may struggle to play back very complex or fast-cutting sequences.
This will be especially true if you're using high resolution material and/or an older computer. As such, you may need to mix down some or all of your video tracks in a sequence before you can output to tape or file. By combining the result of all the layers in your sequence into a single new clip, your computer will have a much easier time playing back the entire sequence without dropping any frames. Another reason that you may want to mix down is that you have a mixture of codecs in the Timeline and want to output your work as a DVD-compliant file or as a QuickTime reference movie.
In this case, you'll need to mix down in order to create a new file, which is all one codec - for example, the Avid DNxHD codec. Once this is done, you'll be able to export your sequence to almost any file type and to other applications as a QuickTime reference movie. Let me show you how I do that. I'm going to select all of my video tracks. I've still got my entire Timeline selected, back to the Special menu and now, to Video Mixdown. Target Drive again. This is where the file will be rendered.
I'm told how much space is available on that drive, and then my resolution and therefore, how much space would be required. If I bump the resolution up, more space will be required. Let's choose DVCPro HD. I'm going to click OK, and now the mixdown takes place. So, all of the layers of effects and titles are being combined down into a single clip. That single clip will be deposited in my bin, ready for editing.
There it is. That's the file. I can load it into my Source viewer and scrub through it. See, it contains all of the layers that we had in the Timeline, and now if I wanted to, I could patch that up to V6, deselect these tracks, add this to my Timeline, invert my video selection and now Delete those tracks. I have one video track and a stereo audio track, which represents all of the work that I've done.
Editing is a mixture of art and science. Even as we enjoy our moments of creative excitement, we'll need to keep our attention on processing efficiencies and media management.
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